Opened in April 2012, Mashpi Lodge is part of a 2,600-acre conservation project started by one of Quito's former mayors, in the heart of Ecuador's cloud forest. Made almost entirely of steel and glass, the strikingly modern lodge is about two-and-a-half hours northwest of Quito and provides guests with the opportunity to immerse themselves in one of the world's most unusual and diverse ecosystems while also enjoying first-class accommodations and cuisine. The lodge was built using the latest techniques in sustainable development and, by 2013, is slated to run entirely on hydroelectric power. Every effort is being made to tread lightly on the pristine area. For example, guests are requested to use the supplied bio-degradable soaps, shampoos, and conditioners that don't affect the water-treatment system. There's even a permanent biologist on site, and researchers have already identified new plants, insects, and wildlife in the area. Some of the more ambitious projects planned include an aerial tram that will glide guests above the forest (set to open in May 2013); aerial bicycles that will allow two people to pedal across cables stretched above the forest; and 85-foot-high observation towers (one is open, several more are planned). A stay here includes all meals and guided excursions.
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