3-DAY / 2-NIGHT PACKAGE:
Morning departure from Quito (please check for Hotels and pick-up times and details). Heading north of the capital, we take the Highway leading to the Equator Monument and site of the Earth’s Latitude Zero. Then we climb up to an Andean pass, leading to the winding descent into the tropical forests of Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. After about two and a half hours ride, we arrive at the Entrance of the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, which extends for approximately 3.000 acres of unique wildlife, luxuriant vegetation and magnificent nature. We receive our Welcome to the property at the Hummingbirds Observatory. Here we meet our guides and hosts and have the opportunity to admire those fantastic flying machines, the mythical hummingbirds, of which Ecuador has one of the largest numbers of species in the world. Then we proceed along an additional 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) aboard electrically powered buggies, leading us finally to the Lodge itself, around noontime. After a refreshing welcome drink and a simplified check-in, we settle into our luxury rooms and soon we are headed for the first lunch at the Lodge.
The afternoon activities will vary according to factors such as groups’ size, interests, physical abilities and weather conditions. Please check the List of Activities offered by the Lodge. Before dinner, guests meet with their Naturalist Guides for a short briefing about the next day’s activities. Then it is time for a delicious dinner at the Lodge’s high-ceilinged panoramic dining room. Optional night activities, led by the Naturalist Guides, may be offered, out from the Hotel, after dinner. These will be explained during the pre-dinner briefing.
A host of activities can be taken, again depending on passengers’ interests, abilities, group sizes and weather conditions. The List of Activities, detailed separately, will explain the main alternatives. For those who want to enjoy the magic beauty of dawn at the forest, which is the time of the day when birds and many of the other animal species are most active, early morning activities are offered, before breakfast. Following breakfast, new opportunities to explore the forest and the Reserve’s many attractions can be undertaken; returning to the Lodge for lunch. The adventure continues in the afternoon, with more action (or relaxation if you prefer); followed by the guides briefing; dinner and optional night walks.
On the last day, there is an early breakfast, followed by a short morning activity and/or some time to relax and enjoy the Lodge’s facilities; watch a video presentation or bird-watch from the terraces. A substantial snack is served around 10:30 am and we leave the Lodge by 11:00 am. After about one hour, we make a stop to visit the intriguing Archaeological Site of Tulipe, an important hub of the ancestral Yumbo Culture. We then continue back to Quito, arriving around 3 to 4 pm, depending on traffic and Hotels’ location.
NOTE: For an extra day activities to be conducted will be similar layout to varied choises of activities as Day Two.
- Accommodations, all meals, soft drinks (water, juice, sodas) guided daily excursions (in English and Spanish only) to primary forest, aerial tram, rivers and lagoons along the reserve, and specialized lectures. Rain ponchos and rubber boots.
- Transfers in/out (shared) from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colón, Swissôtel, Marriott, Dann Carlton), to coordinate these transfers we must have guest´s hotel contact.
- Transfer in (Quito-Mashpi) includes guide and driver, entrance fee and visit to the Tulipe Archaeological Site, snack.
- Transfer out (Mashpi-Quito) includes guide and driver, lunch at El Crater Restaurant at Pullulahua´s crater rim, Entrance fee and visit to the Intiñan Museum.
- Gratuities, bar, gifts and additional items. Activities outside the reserve ( kayak, bike, kanopying etc)
List of activities offered by the lodge
Canopy Gondola: A truly distinct highlight of the Mashpi Lodge and Reserve will be the Canopy Gondola or Aerial Tram. This stunning feat of engineering, built with maximum care to avoid negative environmental impacts, will be ready for guests’ enjoyment in September 2012. This cable system extends over 2 kilometers (1.25 miles), between two main embarking stations over a deep mountain gorge. An additional middle tower and station will allow for combined hiking and gondola tours. This outstanding new way of exploring the forest will offer guests unique and exciting opportunities to literally glide through and well above the forest canopy, with varying choices to explore the trees’ ecosystem from roots to tops, providing a complete vision of the different life-zones and types of forest.
Nature Trails: The Lodge and Reserve offer two main nature trails, absolute paradises to see, hear, smell and sense the magic world of the forest. The Howler Monkey Trail, named after the namesake primates which can often be heard or a bit more rarely seen; and the Cucharillo Trail, named after a local oak tree; are the open-air natural venues for guests to learn from the Naturalist and Local Guides a host of information about the myriad plants, insects, reptiles and other animals which inhabit this universe of high bio-diversity. Due to the predominantly mountainous and irregular topography of the area, trails are rarely flat. Even though relatively short in length, both trails are steep and involve descending and ascending through the most diverse ecosystems. However, the project has looked at every detail, crafting the trails in creative manners, to produce firm paths and steps which facilitate the visitors’ transit through them, thus making the experience easier. Both trails link up with the “Cotinga Tower”, at the center of the Canopy Gondola System, to allow for multiple alternatives to move about the wide array of ecosystems.
Life Centre: Located a short distance from the Lodge’s main installations, the Centre is a place of learning, discovery and ongoing investigation. It hosts a Butterfly Study Lab, where, with the aid of the guides, guests will learn fascinating facts about the life of the more than 200 species of butterflies already identified in the Reserve and watch their magic evolution from eggs to pupae, to chrysalis and finally winged wonders, seeing then a variety of the most amazing colors, sizes and startling designs of these magic creatures, the butterflies. Other learning points include a variety of frogs and toads inside glass terrariums; as well as dozens of beautiful species of orchids, bromeliads and passion flowers. At the Life Centre, you can watch young biologists conducting their investigation while you can also choose the place as an ideal venue to contemplate the views, lie back in a hammock or enjoy a fresh fruit or a brew of locally-grown coffee, all from the Lodge’s premises. Right by the Centre, a special area has been devoted to the growing of medicinal plants (many of them perfect for a herbal infusion) as well as for the growing of bananas, plantain, citrus fruits, cacao, coffee, bread fruit, manioc and other delightful produce of the rich soil, which serve as material for the Lodge’s meals, as well as an attracting factor for numerous species of birds, insects, rodents and some mammals, which thus can be unexpectedly and easily seen from the Centre’s natural spaces.
Observation Tower: Soaring to eight-stories of elevation (26 meters or 85 feet high), this sturdy metallic structure of stairways and platforms, ten minutes away from the Lodge, allows the visitors to enjoy thrilling bird’s eye-views of the forest uppermost levels. The Observation Tower is the ideal place for wildlife observation and bird-watching, particularly at dawn and dusk, when the forest creatures become more active; as well as to have breathtaking panoramic views of the spectacular surroundings provided by a maze of inter-twined lower cordilleras at the western flanks of the Ecuadorian Andes. Some of the frequent bird sightings from here may include parrots, toucans, tanagers, barbets and tanagers.
Aerial Bicycle: Also located a short distance from the Lodge, the aerial bicycle is one more original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy, close-up, practically touching it. Designed for two people to use at once, guests can pedal the bike along a secure steel cable, stretched between two points in the forest, approximately 200 meters (655 feet) apart, crossing over a gorge above a river flowing down below. Silent, easy to use and fun; this is an activity which can even be used by children, from 8-years of age and above, accompanied by an adult, for a new and different perspective of feeling and seeing the forest. The project plans to install several more bicycles along the Lodge and Reserve’s premises.
Night Walks: The Mahpi forest transforms at night with even more activity than during the daylight hours. This is the time to discover rare and fascinating nocturnal creatures and their behaviors, ranging from giant moths to miniature glass-frogs; owls, rodents and the amazing fox-fire, an Avatar-like luminous fungus. Optional walks are offered from the Lodge, after dinner, to immerse oneself into an astounding and truly magic world, seldom explored and ready to be discovered in expert company.
Hummingbirds Observatory: The striking entry into the Mahpi Reserve and Lodge is the Hummingbirds Observatory, a sheltered rustic hut with seating, located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, offers spectacular views of the Reserve’s forested hills. Here, guests can admire the incredible hummingbirds, true magicians of flight, of which the reserve has identified some 22 species and 16 are often observable by the guests. Feeders, strung from the roof, allow for close-up views of these dazzling colorful and remarkably aero-dynamic birds.
Refreshing Waterfalls: Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve and water is a basic element for the super abundance of life in the area, often forming small waterfalls, cascades and natural pools. Water temperature averages between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius (64 to 68 F). These are ideal places for a refreshing and fun dip at the end of a nature hike.
Leks: These are rare and often secluded places where the males of some bird species gather to engage on elaborate displays devised to seduce females. Their antics include vocal, acrobatic and choreographic “performances”, which, added to the bright colorfulness of their plumage, will attract their mates. Our guides and resident biologists have found several of these courting centers, but you must reach them often at pre-dawn hours or at distant locations which require some long walks, but the show is worthwhile. Fully identified by now are two leks of the Long-Wattled Umbrella-bird; one of the fantastic Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and one of the Club-Winged Manakin Bird.
Specialized Activities: Mashpi is a natural wonderland for photographers, naturalists, bird-watchers, botanists, orchid-lovers and many more specialized themes. Special interests can be accommodated upon request.
Transportation within the Reserve: Electrically-powered buggies are employed within the Reserve’s ample territory, to facilitate mobility from one attraction to the next, particularly for those who may want to reduce walking times.
For travel to Ecuador, visitors need a valid passport, extending its life for at least six months beyond the intended stay. Nationals of the United States, Canada and several European, Latin American and other countries, do not require visas. For detailed countries’ information, please ask us or contact the nearest Consulate or Embassy of Ecuador. No Vaccines are required for the areas in and around the Mashpi Reserve. However, it is recommended to check for updates a few weeks prior to departure.
For more detailed information about travel facts for Ecuador, please check the “Country Information” section about Ecuador on our website, or ask us.
CLOTHING, WHAT TO BRING AND WHAT TO WEAR:
Essential elements to bring are good walking shoes such as sneakers with firm soles; long pants for better insect protection; long-sleeved lightweight shirts and T-shirts, preferably of cotton fabrics; a cap or wide-brimmed hat; bathing suit and a light sweater and/or windbreaker for the cooler evenings. Highly recommended items include sunscreen and high solar protection; insect repellant; sunglasses, personal medicines; photography and/or video equipment.
A SUGGESTED PACKING LIST:
Guests will be supplied with rubber boots. Please ensure you send us your size in advance. The lodge also supplies walking poles, but you may want to bring your own if you prefer. Essentials to pack:
- Sun block
- Walking shoes/sneakers
- Socks: we recommend joggers’ socks that do not slip easily inside rubber boots. Asics Tegan Knee-High or Kayano Classic Quarter socks are good options. 2 pairs per day are ideal.
- Light-weight, earth- or dark-coloured, long-sleeved T-shirts and shirts
- Earth- or dark-coloured, light-weight trousers
- Light fleece/sweater
- Goretex jacket. (Guests will also be supplied by the Lodge with waterproof ponchos)
- Insect repellent (natural, not chemical like DEET)
- Good binoculars (Guides will have pairs to share)
- Small backpack for trails and nature outings
- 6 Ziploc bags of different sizes for keeping things dry
- Sealable bag for packing dirty/wet laundry in luggage
- Headlamp (or Flashlight)
- Extra batteries
- Appliance chargers. Plugs in Ecuador are US-style, 2 flat pins 110 volts. 220 volt adaptors can be supplied upon request.
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Guests are kindly advised to inform us in advance of medical conditions; physical limitations or disabilities; dietary restrictions or requirements and all other relevant information which may help make your voyage more enjoyable, secure and care-free.
For further Safety, Dietary or Medical Facilities and other travel facts, please consult the relevant section of Ecuador’s Country Information on our website, or ask us.
We kindly ask guests to bring just one piece of luggage per person (plus the small day packs); not exceeding 45 pounds (20 kilos) of weight.
Due to the Lodge’s special water and waste management system and to keep up with environmental regulations and practices, guests are requested to only use biodegradable soaps and shampoos. The Lodge supplies these at no extra cost, as part of the in-room amenities.
The small boutique at the Lodge sells a range of books, guides, T-shirts, shirts, hats, buffs, crafts, health care products, batteries and a small selection of other useful essentials.
Mashpi Lodge and Reserve is a one-of-a-kind nature tourism experience, geared for those who want a truly unique and different, off-the-beaten-path, yet dramatically rich in natural elements; spectacular sights, changing ecosystems and innovative, avant-garde exploration systems, whether on foot, special trails or gliding securely over the forest canopy. The Lodge offers five-star accommodations and service, while keeping up with strict environmental practices and collaborating with education, biological investigation and participation of the nearby communities in many aspects of the project. The location, though just a few hours away from Quito; is still remote, secluded and its access involves one half of the way in or out, through winding secondary roads, yet surrounded by magnificent nature and scenery. The expedition outings involve walks over often muddy terrain and steep hillsides (the Lodge provides rubber boots and walking canes). Weather is unpredictable, combining periods of cloudiness and fog, with rain downpours or entire days of sunny spells. Temperatures in general are not overly hot as you might expect from an ecosystem with tropical components, but it can be warm and humid, especially at midday hours. Nights and early mornings can be surprisingly cool for a jungle environment, thus the need for appropriate clothing (please check our suggested packing list). The varying climatic conditions also regulate the lesser or greater chances of seeing wildlife at close-range. As in most wilderness areas and moreover on such a peculiar one as the Mashpi Reserve, the rule of thumb is “expect the unexpected”. You cannot guarantee specific animal sightings, but you can be sure that each visit will provide different and thrilling experiences and sightings for everyone. If your idea is to get away and feel totally discontented, practically “in another world”; just on a remote yet accessible and not-too-distant oasis of luxury, in the middle of a unique forest, this is the ideal retreat for total silence, relaxation and peace.