Ecuador's Cloud Forest
• Pristine Cloud Forest • More than 600 species of birds • Amazing flora and fauna • Luxury lodge in a malaria free zone
Three and a half hours scenic drive from Quito lies Mashpi Lodge - a cocoon in the cloud forest situated on its own private 1,100 hectares of the endangered Choco forest and surrounded by another 18,400 hectares of natural protected area. With incredibly rich biodiversity, the area is internationally renowned as one of the best places on earth for bird watching. The area is free of malaria.
Hosting up to 48 guests, the award winning luxury lodge offers tasteful accommodation without trying to compete with the real attraction - the forest outside! Picture windows everywhere allows guests to feel part of their surroundings and at night, the only lights outside are the dance of myriad fireflies or the sparkle of the stars. An exciting addition to the Mashpi Lodge activities is the introduction of the 'Dragonfly', a gondola system that gently glides guests and their naturalist guide more than 2 km through the jungle canopy. Great food and expert guides so knowledgeable in all facets of flora and fauna found in this unique environment, will create enduring memories.
Day 1: Quito > Mashpi Lodge This morning you will be met at your hotel in Quito and transferred with fellow guests to Masphi Lodge, located three and a half hours (110km) by road from Quito in the evergreen wilds of the Andes' western slope. Departing Quito on the highway north and after passing the Equator Monument and Latitude 0, the sudden shift in altitude (from 2800 metres above sea level to 1000 metres above sea level) will allow you to discover the spectacular natural diversity 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.
Spend two nights at Mashpi Lodge including all meals, guided activities and excursions within the reserve. There are walks, bird-watching and nature encounters, the Sky Bike, an informative Life Centre, waterfalls and a hummingbird garden. Wi-Fi, unlimited soft drinks and use of rain ponchos and rubber boots are all included.
After settling in, you are introduced to your naturalist guides who will briefly speak about the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities you will be offered during your stay, and helpful tips about what to wear and bring to the excursions. This is followed by lunch.
After lunch enjoy a hike in the cloud forest on the Cucharillo Trail - named after the Cucharillo tree (Magnolia dixonii), which in Spanish means 'little spoon', an Ecuadorian endemic that is common at Mashpi, although otherwise threatened throughout the country. The trail requires some physical condition due to its steeper portions, but has been made less demanding thanks to recycled plastic crates that have been used to form steps and make paths firmer. At the end of the trail find a large waterfall and rocky riverbed with beautiful ponds and smaller waterfalls. The excursion takes about 2 hours to complete. There is some time to relax before an optional evening excursion.
The forest transforms by sunset: the sounds and smells intensify and other senses are awakened. You will discover the evening croaking of nocturnal frogs and incessant buzz of insects. Turning off flashlights, you will be able to observe sparkling fireflies and feel bats zipping by and on the ground, discover the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi all around. Owls and other nocturnal birds may call into the night, while the rustling of branches above us may mean that we're in the presence of kinkajous (Potos flavus), an arboreal mammal relative to the raccoon, making their way through the trees in search of ripe fruit. The excursion begins at 7 pm and takes about 45 minutes to an hour. We then return to the lodge to enjoy a delicious dinner.
Day 2: Mashpi Lodge Spend a full day enjoying many of the activities on offer which include: • Hikes along primary and secondary growth trails through the cloud forest, so incredibly rich in bio-diversity • Dragonfly aerial gondola above the forest canopy • Life Centre, including explanation and displays of butterflies, frogs and toads, along with a wonderful selection of orchids and bromeliads • 26-metre high observation tower - ideal for wildlife viewing • The Sky-bike - a unique way to cycle 200 metres along a zip line in the canopy of the forest • Hummingbird viewpoint, with some 16 species of this colourful bird commonly on display • Traditional medicinal plants - their uses and benefits explained • Swimming in beautiful natural pools
Day 3: Mashpi Lodge > Quito This morning is an early start for bird watchers with a guided tour - the Ecuadorean cloud forest is one of the finest eco-systems on earth to view an amazing variety of avian life. After breakfast, head to the Copal Waterfall, a beautiful 2-hour hike through a landscape of moss-covered trees, bromeliads and orchids. Return to the hotel by noon for check out before heading back to Quito, stopping on the way to enjoy enjoy lunch at an excellent local restaurant and brewery. On arrival in Quito you will be dropped at your hotel.
• Tailor-made journey • Transfers to from central Quito hotels • 2 nights' accommodation including all meals and soft drinks • Forest excursions with expert English-speaking guides • Specialised lectures • Wifi at the lodge • Waterproof ponchos and rubber boots • A visit to the archaeological site of Tulipe
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Departs Daily, year round
Daily, year round
Booking conditions You may extend your time at Mashpi Lodge and World Journeys will be happy to quote additional nights. Why not combine a visit here with the Amazon or to the Galapagos Islands? These offer a totally different experience and wonderful contrast for those interested in nature and the environment.
You may extend your time at Mashpi Lodge and World Journeys will be happy to quote additional nights. Why not combine a visit here with the Amazon or to the Galapagos Islands? These offer a totally different experience and wonderful contrast for those interested in nature and the environment.