Deep in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, a little over three hours from Quito, lays Masphi Lodge. Recognised as one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and uncovered by the BBC in Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby, this is not your standard lodge – far from it.
Set on 3,200 acres of cloud forest (of which 80% is original primary growth) and sitting in biogeographical region of Chocó (that also runs along Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), the lodge impresses with floor-to-ceiling windows as far as the eye can see. Guests are in prime position to enjoy local fauna and flora at the drop of a hat.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be roughing it in the jungle though; luxury and comfort is king at Mashpi and every detail is accounted for – right down to the last treat you add to your snack bag (and honestly, they’ll be the best gummy bears you’ll ever eat!)
With 22 rooms that are stylish, modern, comfortable and most importantly, offer undisrupted views out into the canopy, it’s hard to do anything but relax, unwind and immerse yourself in nature whilst lapping up the luxe-life.
When you do manage to pull yourself away from the serenity of your own room, you’ll be able to enjoy world-class food and drinks, spa treatments, their perfectly-placed jacuzzi and of course, join guided tours out into the magical cloud forest.
Mashpi Lodge: Eco by Name, Eco by Nature
From the moment you step in the door, it is clear that although the Mashpi Lodge seeks to show guests the best of the cloud forest in comfort and luxury, it’s never at the expense of the incredible ecosystem in which they are placed.
Construction of the lodge was painstakingly slow as the owner of the land refused to cut down any trees for the project. Instead, workers carried the materials onto the site so as not to disturb any flora or fauna.
Food is sourced and grown locally, informative environmental sessions are offered, breeding and conservation programmes are supported, locals are trained and employed (to protect the environment, where once they might have exploited it) and reusable products are used whenever possible.
Activities at Mashpi Lodge
Throughout your time at Mashpi, you’ll have the pleasure of being teamed up exclusively with one or two guides. Together with them, you’ll opt into a range of activities to suit your physical abilities, timeframe and interests.
Spending two nights at Mashpi meant that Nathan and I got to enjoy all of the main activities and a few additional ones. All of them were fabulous and of course, the longer you stay, the more you’ll be able to do!
Join us as we share our favourite activities from our time at the lodge…
If you’re looking for the best way to really immerse yourself in the cloud forest, the Dragonfly’s for you!
A slow cablecar ride into the cloud forest, you’ll find yourself at a range of heights and perfectly positioned to spot a range of animals and creepy crawlies. Keep your eyes peeled for the incredible blue morpho’s iridescent wings down on the ground!
Staying two nights? Be sure to talk to your guide about the possibility of heading out on the Dragonfly for breakfast and a spot of bird watching. We were lucky to spot two gorgeous toucans calling and a very rare hawk!
The Sky Bike
Keep your fear of heights in check and again take to the skies on Mashpi’s Sky Bike! Carrying two people at a time, guests take in the incredible views whilst getting a fair workout in the process.
Just don’t look down…
Cloud Forest Hikes
Always on the lookout for animals, Nathan and always love an opportunity to head into the forest.
With gumboots on our feet and snacks in our bags (remember those gummies?), we ventured out with our group to swim under waterfalls and snap photos of butterflies and hummingbirds in their natural habitat – does it get better?
The Life Centre
Ever focused on conservation, Mashpi employ locals who train over time to help breed and care for the incredible array of butterflies they have in the cloud forest.
Though you’ll also see these gorgeous creatures in the wild, it’s great to see the detail on their wings up close and even more special knowing that your accommodation money is going towards the research and breeding programme that the lodge runs.
One of the real marvels of the Americas, hummingbirds are readily found in the Mashpi forest. To supplement their diets (and give you the perfect photo-op), bird feeders are put out and guests are welcomed to marvel at these tiny birds as they seemingly float through the air.
If you’re in the cloud forest hoping to get up close and personal with Ecuador’s creepy crawlies, then night walks are the activity for you!
If you’re a bit more like me and love little frogs and snakes (from a distance, mind), it’s definitely still worth pushing your boundaries and heading out into the night with your guide. There aren’t many other places in the world that are as ecologically diverse as this cloud forest and you’d be doing yourself a real disservice not to get out there.
Fine Dining in the Cloud Forest
Often the highlight of a high-end hotel stay for me, I’ve always been a fan of a great big breakfast and fortunately for me, Mashpi know how to put on an awesome breakfast spread!
With a wide range of fresh breads and pastries alongside eggs, cheeses, deli meats, cereals, fresh fruit and more, you’ll be well-set to start your day of adventure.
Served buffet style, lunch at Mashpi is something to seriously look forward to! With a new menu on offer each and every day, guests are treated to a range of fresh soups, vegetables and sandwiches alongside a selection of Ecuadorian and international dishes.
With options like ceviche, perfectly cooked BBQ ribs and melt-in-your-mouth lamb, going back for seconds as all too easy!
When you are ready for a sweet treat, you’ll also find a great spread of fresh fruit-juices and tropical desserts.
Are you getting hungry? I am!
If there were a time to get your glad-rags on at Mashpi, dinner time would be it! A more formal affair, dinner in the dining room is just magical. With glowing lanterns and the faint light of the cloud forest enveloping the building, dining just doesn’t get much more memorable.
With menus changing according to season, there’s no shortage of mouth-watering options, all of which are prepared onsite by qualified chefs using local ingredients.
Dinner options include dishes like the following:
- “Encebollado” of the Woods: Red seared tuna in a tuna broth, infused with local spices, served with manioc
- Llapingachos: Mini potato patties aromatized with smoked red onion oil, served with a quail egg, avocado with citrus and Ecuadorian artisanal chorizo
- Rack of Lamb in a Chillangua, Mixed Herbs and Olive Oil Sauce. Served with our daily selection of Ecuadorian root vegetables
- Fettucine with Mountain Garlic. Served with a mountain garlic reduction and sautéed shrimp
What’s Included in a Mashpi Lodge Stay?
- Transfers in and out of Quito (from specific hotels)
- Five-star hotel accommodation
- Guided excursions and activities in the reserve, including those mentioned above. Only the Dragonfly carries an additional cost
- Daily nature talks
- Unlimited soft drinks and juices with meals
- Use of rain jackets and rubber boots
- Use of the drying room
- A cloud forest survival pack: Insect repellant, a branded water bottle and a mini waterproof bag
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner for each night you stay
- Snacks galore and filtered water
- A lunchbox for your ride back to Quito
Mashpi Lodge: An Essential Stop on your Luxe Ecuadorian Itinerary
We’ve stayed in some pretty incredible places now but never anywhere quite like Mashpi.
Immersed in nature with the local ecosystem at its heart, your memories of the lodge will last long after you take your last look at the lodge and drive back into the cloud forest.