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, allows for 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 waiting 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.

Beautiful 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 187,400 km2 (72,355 mi2) and reaches altitudes as high as 5,000 meters 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 of rainfall. Along with its tropical climate and isolation from the Amazon region, it has 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 must 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 was key in its being recognized as a “Model Forest.” Around 16,000 hectares of degraded forest have been recovered so far, and the efforts continue.

Mashpi Lodge in the Andean Choco reserve at sunset.

Beautiful sunset at Mashpi Reserve.

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. The strictest sustainable practices and 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.

Impressive sky bike at Mashpi Lodge.

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