BREAKING: Andean Choco Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve!

We are pleased and delighted to announce that UNESCO has officially added the Andean Choco to its list of Biosphere Reserves! Here at Metropolitan Touring, there’s no greater honor than to have one of the destinations we share with the world be included as part of this highly renowned category of Reserves! Such a title now gives our beloved Mashpi Lodge – which is nestled directly within the Reserve – more relevance than ever before!

mashpi lodge Andean Choco Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

The Reserve itself is located just 45-minutes away from Quito (the capital of Ecuador) and Mashpi Lodge is just a few hours further in. This particular National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World offers visitors and guests an unforgettable and luxurious experience inside of this newly-designated Biosphere Reserve and many of the natural treasures it holds close.

Why was the Andean Choco declared a Biosphere Reserve?

The Andean Choco is a tremendously biodiverse region, occupying roughly 30.31% of the province of Pichincha. Its total area is approximately 286,000 hectares (706,721 acres), ranging from 360 to 4,480 meters (1,181 – 14,698 feet) above sea level. With this new addition to UNESCO’s list, Ecuador will now officially have 7 Biosphere Reserves under its belt, the rest of which include:

mashpi lodge ocelot

Some 270 species of mammals have been classified within the reserve.

According to UNESCO, the Andean Choco is home to a tremendous amount of flora and fauna that includes iconic species such as: the spectacle bear, the cock of the rock, the black-breasted puffleg, ocelots, and countless other insects, amphibians and reptiles. The Reserve is also a considerable source of potable water, agricultural production and even provides surrounding urban areas with electricity. Around 880,000 people live within the Andean Choco.

Tarsicio Granizo, Ecuador’s Minister of the Environment, states that the Andean Choco has been internationally recognized as being “an incredible place for birdwatching, while also being a unique place to witness a plethora of endemic plant and animal species.”

It fills us with an immense level of pride and satisfaction to know that we are a part of this monumental category, giving us one more giant reason to continue working for the cause and protecting this highly special patch of our Earth.

cock of the rock mashpi lodge

Did you know? Each hectare of forest is capable of absorbing up to 250 tons of carbon!

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere reserves encompass all terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. The purpose of each designated reserve is to help foster solutions and ideas with respect to conservation and sustainability.

A biosphere reserve, in effect, helps to encourage the investigation and understanding of social and ecological systems. Perhaps more importantly, however, is that it focuses on managing the changes and interactions between these two systems.

mashpi lodge structure

Upon arriving at Mashpi Lodge, you are entering far more than just a five-star hotel in an exquisite location: you are accessing a research station that is at the forefront of rainforest protection.

There are nearly 700 biospheres in existence today, spread out across 122 countries. The reserves typically consist of three zones:

  • Core Area: Consist of a highly guarded ecosystem that contributes immensely to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems and species.
  • Buffer Zone: Surrounds and encompasses the core area. It is typically used for activities that involve ecological research that will go on to help with scientific studies, ecological training and education.
  • Transition Area: The part of the reserve where the greatest amount of human activity is permitted. This is also where eco- and socio-sustainable practices are implemented so as to help develop a sustainable form of economy.

With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia.

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