Mashpi Lodge – Programmes
3-Day / 2-Night Package
The adventure starts at around 08:30 am from one of the main hotels in Quito.
Mashpi lodge is located three hours away, 110 Km (70Milles) from Quito in the western slope of the occidental flank of the Andes. The rapid change in altitude (from 2800 msnm to 1000 msnm) allows you to discover the wanders of the Andean landscape. The road crosses the valley of Pomasqui dominated by Andean dry forest, and then to the western flank of the Andes through the Cloud Forest and the road ends in Mashpi at the beginning of the tropical rainforest. The monument of “La Mitad del Mundo” (“Middle of the World”), mark the place where you cross the equatorial line and the obelisk commemorates the visit of the geodesic mission in the XVIII century as part of their studies measuring one arc of the meridian and their efforts to proof the elliptical shape of the earth.
Depart from Quito
After been comfortably settled in your room you will be greeted by one of our naturalists who will give you an introductory talk about the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities during your stay and some helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions. This talk will take place before lunch at our library and lasts around 30 minutes.
Afternoon Excursion, Napa Trail
At 15:30 we will gather together at the lobby in order to head to the Napa Trail.
This trail starts at the side of the road, across areas where the forest is regenerating and large patches of pristine forest. For this reason this trail is ideal to explain the ecological succession processes and the importance of forest conservation for the Chocó region. Also this is a trail of great scenic beauty and toward the end of the trail you will find one of the unique attractions, a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), which wood is used in different ways, mostly in house construction. This is also a very good trail for bird watching. It is a moderate difficulty trail and the excursion takes 2 hours.
Every evening for all our guests interested in knowing more deeply the cloud forest ecology, we have prepare a series of different lectures like the “Secret Wildlife of Mashpi, the trap camera project”, the “Chocó, a biological hotspot” about the formation and diversity of the Chocó, or about our scientific research projects. The lectures will be given by one of our naturalist or our resident biologist at 19:30.
Early Bird Watching
For the "early birds”, the forest has its rewards, as the first rays of sun filtered the forest; the atmosphere is filled with the sound of birds in search for food. A good place for bird watching is the hotel terrace from where you can appreciate not only the beauty of the cloud forest essence but also many species of birds that come to feed on insects or fruit in the trees around. Always accompanied by a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, our guides will share with you their skill in handling the telescope to show closely our incredible birds richness. This activity begins at 6:30 and last an hour, after this you enjoy breakfast.
Sky Bike and Observation Tower
We will depart at 08:30 to the Sky Bike and Observation tower, which are located close to the hotel, 15 minute walking. The Sky Bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it's an activity that provides guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens.
The minimum height for this activity is 1 meter tall (3.2 feet) and children have to be accompanied by an adult.
Towering above the treetops, Mashpi´s observation tower allows our guests appreciate all the protected forest in all its glory and the Lodge embedded within. With a height of 30 meters (100 feet) this is the ideal place for nature lovers and not only allows you to appreciate the complex structure of the forest but also the incredible species richness that inhabit the treetops and constitute 70% of the diversity throughout the forest. To reach the top, visitors have to climb up 162 steps, but the rewards are worth it.
The bike ride takes no more than 10 minutes and although it may be a round trip or if you want you can go just one way and walk back to the lodge walking one of our trails. The Oxibelis trail takes you to a small waterfall near the road and then back to the lodge. Another alternative is take the limones trail to the San Vicente´s waterfall; it will take between 45 minutes to an hour to reach this beautiful waterfall. This is a difficult hike and demands to be in good physical condition as the trail is steep. This combination of the bike, the observation tower and the hike, takes between 2-4 hours depending on the trail you choose to walk.
We will be waiting for you with a refreshing natural juice and fresh towels so you can get ready for lunch with a delicious variety of dishes that will delight your palate.
Afternoon - Howler Monkeys Trail and Life Centre
The best way to get to Life Centre is through the forest, so you take the Howler Monkeys trail (Aulladores). This trail goes across one the original forest were many of the centenarian trees survive login, being the “copal” tree (Dacryodes cupularis) the most emblematic. Along this trail our local guide will listen to any sound in the forest, so he can show you maybe a colorful bird or the very elusive howler monkeys (Alouatta palliate), while our naturalist guide will take any opportunity to talk about the ecology and conservation of the forest. Both will share their extensive knowledge of forest plants and their uses.
Once in the Life Center you can enjoy from the comfort of the expansive wooden deck all sorts of wildlife, from birds to rodents and other mammals – the most of them visiting our fruit feeders in front of the deck. The center is conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also where guests can disconnect, where they can contemplate the views. Inside the Center our guest will learn more about the butterflies that inhabit the region, being shown the process of these creatures from eggs to larva or caterpillar to chrysalis or pupa to winged wonder. Other points of learning include various species of host plants use by the butterflies to lay there egg and feed the larvae, like passion flowers, birds of paradise, milk weeds and many others in beautiful gardens all around the structure. Close to the Centre, we have established an area for growing useful plants and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, hot chilli pepper, coffee and wild raspberries.
Evening Excursion, Night Hike (18:45)
The forest is transformed completely during the night, the sounds and smells are intensified and other senses are awakened. On this “night safari”, unlike others, our guests find the beauty in the small details, the croaking of frogs or the hum of insects. And if you turn off your flashlight you can observe the sparkling of fireflies in the woods, or listening to the flutter of bats and if you look carefully to the ground the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi (foxfire or fairy fire) surrounding you. When you turn on the lights again you can see the reflection of hundreds of tiny eyes of insects all around. As we continue our way you can hear the call of owls and night birds or the rustling of the branches above you when the kinkajous (Potos flavus), an arboreal mammal relative to the raccoons, open their road through the treetops, searching for ripe fruits. No doubt, this is an overwhelming experience. The excursion begins at 19:00 and takes about 45 min to an hour, and you will be back on time to enjoy a delicious dinner.
Early Bird Watching Along the Road
On your last day, there’s more time to explore the forest trails, head to a different waterfall or find a nook to let the whole experience sink in.
Guests will leave the Lodge for transfer back to Quito before noon on their last day. A complimentary box lunch will be provided.
- Transfer in (shared basis) from four hotels in Quito: Swissotel, JW Marriott, Hilton and Casa Gangotena.
- Transfer out (shared basis) to four hotels in Quito: Casa Gangotena, Hilton, JW Marriott and Swissotel.
- Hotel accommodation
- All meals at the Lodge (B/L/D) per night’s stay.
- Guided activities and excursions within the Reserve: walks, birdwatching and nature encounters, Sky Bike, Life Centre, waterfalls and Hummingbird Garden.
- Unlimited soft drinks
- Use of rain ponchos and rubber boots
- Dragonfly cable car ride: $40 + taxes per person per stay for all activities that incorporate this service; $20 + taxes per child under the age of 12.
- Spa treatments
- Alcoholic drinks
- Taxes and service charge, currently: 12% Value Added Tax, 10% Service Charge
- Gratuities, tips and personal expenses
The highlight of any trip to Mashpi is the canopy gondola or air tram. The four gondolas will take the guests through and above the canopy to an exciting exploration of the Reserve.
The air tram consisting of two stations, six towers (with an intermediate station, which you can embark and disembark), and four gondolas which are equidistantly arranged and separated by a distance of 500 meters (20 minutes) were designed to explore the forest from within. The gondolas travels through a cable 2000 m long at low speed (3 km / h to 50 m / min) and in certain occasions, the guides can stop the gondola allowing a longer observation of flora and fauna. Each lap takes about 40 minutes to complete.
The entire system were designed to combine some trails with a gondola ride, and the capacity each gondola is four guests plus a guide.
Located near the lodge, the Life Center was conceived as a place for learn and discover, but also where guests can disconnect, while they admire the scenery and lie comfortably in a lazy chair.
Guests will learn about many butterflies found in this region. You will see the process of metamorphosis from eggs into a beautiful butterflies. About 200 species of butterflies have been identified to date in the Reserve, and about a dozen can be seen in the center.
In the center, we have established a small orchard with medicinal and ornamental plants and many varieties of shrubs and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, cassava and cocoa. This attracts all kinds of wildlife, from birds to mammals - which facilitates the observation from the large wooden deck. Most of the interpretation in the center will be provided by our local and naturalist guides or people from the local community involved in the project. Guests will find several of the ingredients from these gardens in the dishes prepared in the restaurant.
Within the reserve we have 11 trails, where we do nature walks always accompanied by a bilingual naturalist guide and a local guide, they are responsible to teach our guests about the different wildlife: plants, insects and animal of this biodiverse forest. The guides they are not only environmental interpreters, they are also responsible for the safely and they will watch that everybody follow the rules for the conservation and protection of the reserve.
Because of the mountainous topography of Mashpi, the trails have steep slopes and for that reason we have to place recycled plastic crates in order to make steps. The most of the trails are of moderate difficulty, but the inclination of the trails is an advantage because the slopes allow more light to penetrate into the different strata of the forest, increasing the diversity of plants and animals that can be observed at every level.
The trails are on average between 1.50 and 2 meters wide.
|1||LIMONES||2200 m||2 Hours|
|2||AULLADOR||680 m||30 min.|
|3||ESTACIÓN||600 m||30 min.|
|4||OXIBELIS||800 m||30 min.|
|5||STAFF||700 m||45 min.|
|6||MALIMPIAS||540 m||1 Hour|
|7||CUCHARILLOS||750 m||45 min.|
|8||NAPA||800 m||45 min.|
|9||VERRUGOSA||350 m||20 min.|
|10||CENTRO DE VIDA||360 m||30 min.|
|11||CASCADA SAN VICENTE||320 m||1 hour 45 min.|
The Mashpi forest transformed at night, with much more activity than during the day. Optional night walks they will be undertaken before or after dinner to discover their nocturnal creatures and their behaviors. We can find insects of all sizes, glass frogs, tree frogs, nocturnal birds or mammals, and the glowing bioluminescence of a mushroom. It's a magical world, often surprising the micro level rarely explored, and ready to be discovered in the company of experts.
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Mashpi is from the observation tower. From here, guests can see the wonderful view of the canopy and the complex structure of the tropical forest, and in a clear day you can see the lodge imbibe within the forest. The tower is a metal structure with a staircase that rises about eight floors (26 m) ideal point for the wildlife lovers, the species spotted from here include toucans, woodpeckers, tanagers and parrots as well as birds of prey.
Located near the hotel, Sky bike offers an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designated for two people to use it simultaneously. A person pedal the bike along the cable that runs between two points in the woods, with a distance of about 200 m, crossing a ravine on a river flowing between rocks and trees. Quiet, easy to use and fun, is an activity for everyone, providing guests the opportunity to observe the natural world near the Lodge.
Water is essential for life on Mashpi, and there is nothing more refreshing than a dip at the end of a hike. Several rivers flow through the Reserve forming small and big waterfalls and pools. The water temperature varies between 18 and 20°C.
- Accommodations, all meals, guided daily excursions (in English and Spanish only) to primary forest, aerial tram, rivers and lagoons along the reserve, and specialized lectures. Rain ponchos and rubber boots
- Transfers out (shared basis), includes entrance fee and visit to the Pululahua Crater and the Tulipe Archaeological Site
- Transfer out (Mashpi-Quito, shared basis).
- Gratuities, bar, gifts and additional items. Activities outside the reserve ( kayak, bike, kanopying etc).
Guests will be supplied with rubber boots. Please ensure you send us your size. We also have binoculars for guests to use. The lodge also supplies walking poles, but you may want to bring your own.
- Sun block
- Walking shoes/sneakers
- Socks: we recommend joggers’ socks that don’t slip easily inside rubber boots. Asics Tegan Knee-High or Kayano Classic Quarter are both good options. 2 pairs per day are ideal.
- Light-weight, earth- or dark-coloured, long-sleeved T-shirts and shirts
- Earth- or dark-coloured, light-weight trousers
- Light fleece/sweater
- Goretex jacket – guests will also be supplied with waterproof ponchos
- Insect repellent (natural, not chemical like DEET)
- Good binoculars (Guides will have pairs to share)
- Small backpack for trails
- 6 Ziploc bags of different sizes for keeping things dry
- Sealable bag for packing dirty laundry in luggage
- Headlamp (or Flashlight)
- Extra batteries
- Appliance chargers. Plugs in Ecuador are US-style, 2 flat pins 110 volts. 220 volt adaptors can be supplied upon request.
The small boutique at the lodge sells a range of books, guides, clothing (T-shirts, shirts, hats, buffs), crafts, as well as essentials (batteries, health care products, etc.).
We kindly ask that luggage not exceed 45 lbs (20 kilos) in weight, with one item per person.
Due to the Lodge’s waste water management system, we request guests only use biodegradable soaps and shampoos (the Lodge supplies these as part of its amenities), and only flush toilet paper in lavatories.