The Ecuadorian Andean-Choco

When talking about Ecuador, several images come to mind. First and foremost: the Galapagos Islands, with its unique and endemic wildlife. Next up: the imposing Andes. And sometimes: its lush amazon region. However, Ecuador’s dramatic change in altitude, running both east and west of the Andes mountain range, allow for the existence of some rather impressive climatic regions that are lesser known to those new to Ecuador. Sometimes, they’re unknown even to Ecuadorians. The Ecuadorian Andean-Choco Region – part of the Choco biogeographical region-  is just one of these magical places awaiting to be discovered. The many beauties hidden within it will leave you breathless!

What is a Biogeographical Region?

A biogeographical region is the biggest biogeographical category. This division reflects similar biological patterns that occur on a global scale. Biogeography is a scientific discipline that studies the distribution of living organisms on planet Earth, analyzing exactly how it is that these regions originated, changes, or what factors can cause them to disappear. It’s an interdisciplinary science that belongs to both biology and geography.

Landscape of Mashpi Reserve in the Ecuadorian Andean-Choco

Landscape of Mashpi Reserve in the Ecuadorian Andean-Choco

Characteristics of the Choco

The biogeographical Choco region runs from Panama, Colombia’s Pacific Coast, and part of its Caribbean coast all the way to Ecuador’s own coast and the northernmost region found up in the Peruvian Andes. It covers an area of 187,400 km2 (72,355 mi2) and reaches altitudes as high as 5,000 metres above sea level here in Ecuador. Its landscapes vary from alluvial planes, to narrow valleys and steep mountainsides. It is considered one of the regions with the highest level f rainfall which, along with its tropical climate and isolation from the Amazon region, have contributed to making it one of the most diverse regions in the world. Around 25% of its animal and plant species are endemic to the region.

The Ecuadorian Andean-Choco

The Andean-Choco territory in Ecuador has been declared a “Model Forest,” making it one of 28 places that fall under such a category in the entire world. To be considered a “Model Forest,” the area has to meet certain requirements such as: governance, association, activities, programs, sustainability, networking, and sharing of knowledge. The development of sustainable tourism proposals on the area where Mashpi Lodge is found were key in it being recognized as a “Model Forest.” Around 16,000 hectares of degraded forest have been recovered so far, and the efforts continue.

Cucharillos Waterfall in the Choco Rainforest, Ecuador. This area of jungle is the Mashpi Cloud Forest in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador, South America. Photo by: Mathew Williams Ellis

Cucharillos Waterfall in the Choco Rainforest, Ecuador. This area of jungle is the Mashpi Cloud Forest that’s found in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador, South America. Photo by: Mathew Williams Ellis

What to see and how to see it

Many Parks and Reserves comprise the Andean-Choco. One of the best managed and preserved ones is called the Mashpi Reserve. It’s located in the north-western area of the Quito District and is around 3 hours away from the Ecuadorian capital. When stopping in Quito, before heading to or from your Galapagos cruise, you won’t want to miss Quito’s colonial downtown by staying at the beautiful Casa Gangotena. And if you’ve already set some time aside to visit Quito, you will definitely want to visit the Ecuadorian Andean-Choco. We cannot recommend it enough! Quito’s lesser known side will blow your mind, to say the least.
Hidden in the inner-most area of the Reserve’s primary forest as one of its secret gems is Mashpi Lodge. A luxury hotel and member of the prestigious National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. The strictest sustainable practices, along with a five-star hotel service, make this the most amazing experience you will have in the Andean-Choco. A lush forest goes as far as the eyes can see, life is felt with every breath, and waterfalls rejuvenate both body and soul. Feeling the essence of our planet and its beauties will never be felt with so much intensity as it here in this 12,000 hectare Reserve, where hospitality and science go hand-in-hand. We won’t give away any more spoilers but rest assured – numerous surprises await! So allow yourself to follow your own curiosity and thirst for adventure, and get ready to have your jaw drop!

Sky Bike at Mashpi Lodge

Sky Bike at Mashpi Lodge

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Nathalie Moeller is of Ecuadorian and German descent. As a child she spent her summers in the Galapagos Islands, where her mother grew up, and from a very young age learned to love the beauty and uniqueness of the archipelago. She studied Journalism and Humanities in Barcelona, after living in Madrid and Germany for a couple of years. This gave her a culturally broader view of the world, which is reflected in everything she does. Blogging gives her the opportunity to combine her passion for travelling and writing.

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