Mashpi Lodge – Ecuador’s Premier Lodge Changing Lives and the Planet

Trees towered above our vehicle in layers upon layers of green, birds swooped around us, and big drops of water fell down on our windshield with a heavy splash. As if someone snapped their fingers…just like that…I was in the middle of a rainforest. Just moments before we were driving through wide-open farm land; it’s as if we had crossed some magic line and things changed in an instant. Little did I know, but this was the start of my eco education. I sat in awe as we descended into a cloud towards the famous Mashpi Lodge and Reserve.

There was a magic line – the boundary of the reserve. One side of the line represented the natural state of mother nature if left to her own devices. And the other was side was what effect humans have when just trying to survive.

Before Mashpi became a protected area, the logging companies were busy cutting down all of these trees. In addition, the locals cleared the land for farming; it was the main source of business and opportunity in this area. However, a forward-thinking group of people purchased the land from the logging company with the goal to preserve this unique rainforest and cloudforest. Their plan was to not just save this special area, but to provide new jobs in the reserve for locals; giving them a new career path that was lucrative and made them ‘keepers’ of forest. If the locals looked at the area differently, with preservation as a way to make a good living, then real change would happen. And it did.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Welcome to Mashpi Lodge and Reserve
Things to do at Mashpi Reserve
Mashpi Naturalist Guides
Get Involved with Citizen Science and Research
How to Visit Mashpi Reserve and Common Questions
How many days should you stay?
When is the best time to visit Mashpi?
What should you pack?
What photography gear should you bring?
How to get to Mashpi?
What are the Mashpi Lodge rates?

Welcome to Mashpi Lodge and Reserve

The journey to this new world was only 3 hours from Quito, but the last 5k was on a single lane muddy ‘road’ riddled with pot holes and so many S curves it felt like you were on a slippery roller coaster. The van wobbled about jostling us from side to side as we descended deeper into the clouds.

You have to really want to come here to make the journey to Mashpi.
But in my experience – if a place is hard to get to – it means it’s a very special destination.

Located in the northwest of Quito’s Metropolitan District, within the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve that stretches throughout South America, the Mashpi Reserve is a 2,500-acre private reserve. It is both a rainforest and a cloudforest (a rainforest that sits at a higher elevation). The reserve is home to over 400 species of birds, 43 species of amphibians, and 65 species of reptiles many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

It is a vital hub for research and education with a dose of hospitality and tourism thrown in.

Mashpi rainforest waterfall

Other Hard To Get To Destinations That Are Worth It!

Canadian Arctic Inuvik

Wrangel Island Far East Russia

Subantarctic Islands in New Zealand

Wrangel St. Elias and McCarthy Alaska

Mashpi Lodge

Most visitors make the journey to Mashpi for the Lodge itself; it’s the crown jewel of the reserve.

Sitting at over 3000 ft. the lodge feels perfectly in sync with its surroundings. I had one of those rare moments where you walk in the front door of the building and immediately let out a little gasp of awe as I stared into the dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows over 3 stories high. On the other side of that glass were trees. So. Many. Trees. The lodge was cradled among tree of all sizes, it felt like a blanket of green keeping you cozy and safe.

The Lodge is located on the site where the timber company’s sawmill stood which allowed the build to have very little new environmental impact. The reserve land was bought for conservation, not tourism. I had the opportunity to meet Roque Sevilla, former Mayor of Quito, entrepreneur, and Chairman of the Board of Metropolitan Touring, an environmentally and socially responsible travel company that owns Mashpi Lodge. He believes that helping local communities feel responsible for conservation is crucial. The goal was to have everyone in the area feel that they are a part of the project, that they own it, and take pride in it.

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