Nestled into the Andean hillsides three hours outside Ecuadorian UNESCO Heritage Site, and capital city Quito, the already-award-winning Mashpi Lodge opened last week beckoning those looking for adventure (or a retreat) in the rainforest. Located on the private 3,000-acre Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve, the Lodge brings travelers close—very close—to nature, combining glass and steel, and a prime location to minimize distance between you and the wildlife. Even the bathtubs in the suites provide a view of the forest.
Comprised of 22 rooms including three suites, the lodge maintains a low-impact profile in the dense tropical forest, using electric buggies to transport visitors from the edge of the preserve and employing sustainable methods like biological waste water treatment, composting and recycling. An aerial tram (available in September) which covers nearly a mile-long route in the canopy, provides observers with a birds-eye view of the rainforest's creeping, crawling, flying, and climbing inhabitants as well as access to different areas in the park.
Guided hikes, bicycle tours, and dips in the surrounding rivers and waterfalls offer a chance to immerse yourself in your lush surroundings while you learn about the importance of this ecologically diverse region known as the Tumbez-Chocó-Darien, of which the reserve is only a small part. As part of the Lodge's sustainability endeavors, educational visits with local residents are offered, including lessons in making dark arriba chocolate from the cocoa beans found in the forest.
But there is no need to subsist on chocolate alone (although we wouldn't blame you if did). The Lodge's dining room uses local ingredients from the village of Mashpi, which lowers carbon output needed for transportation and makes for some exotic fare. The menu offers a wide variety of fruit and traditional and modern dishes to provide sustenance after a day's trek. Feed the soul with a soak in the Jacuzzi and a massage.
Rates start at $1,296 for a minimum two night stay, and include meals, taxes, guided tours, tram rides, outdoor gear including rubber boots and ponchos, and transport to and from the lodge from Quito with fees included for sights along the way. For more information, go to MashpiLodge.com.
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Photo Credits: Courtesy Mashpi Lodge