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Three to four hours northwest of Quito, Ecuador (Sector La Delicia, Parroquia Pacto) in the 3,200-acre Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve located in the Ecuadorian Chocó forest. Along the way you can visit the touristy Center of the World complex (Ciudad Mitad del Mundo) and/or the competing Center of the World monument a few miles away. If you’re prone to carsickness, the drive can be torturous, but the end destination is more than “worth it.”
22 rooms and three suites – all with floor-to-cieling glass walls. No TV (who cares?); but slow Wi-Fi (yikes!). Feels like you’re sleeping in the middle of a rainforest, which, well, you are.
Traditional Ecuadorean. Think ceviches, yucca, plantains, and…popcorn.
Since the lodge is located in the reserve, many miles from civilization, you’re lucky that there are ample activities to partake in. Whether you’re a fleet-footed early bird, or the slow-to-wake sedentary type, Mashpi has you covered.
Because biking across the chasm of a rainforest valley is something you never knew you wanted to do.
Guided Nighttime Walk
A highly recommended excursion is a guided nighttime walk. There are multiple walks you can take – each with their own highlights. One walk, very close to the lodge, takes you near a small stream and waterfall. In that area, you’ll be treated to several different frogs living in their happy place. In fact, Mashpi has it own tree frog, the Mashpi Torrenteer (Hyloscirtus mashpi), which was discovered in the reserve in 2015.
Great for kids. Great for adults. Great for adults who want to feel like kids. Great for big kids. Great for kids who want to be kids forever. Great for adults who aren’t kids (but still act like kids according to their spouses). Great for adu-kids (that a cross between an adult and kid, kind of like an animal hybrid). Great for…ok, I’ll just stop.
For the adventurous person, there are a couple of waterfalls on the reserve. One smaller waterfall is close to the lodge, the other, larger waterfall, is about a two-hour hike away. For the larger waterfall, you’ll get to walk directly through the rainforest and observe all of the sights and sounds that come along with it. At the end of your walk, life will reward you with lunch and access to your own personal waterfall.
If you are even remotely interested in birdwatching, this is THE place for you. In fact, I think this hotel is on every serious birder’s bucket list.
You can spend more time watching hummingbirds of all shapes and sizes up close here, at Masphi, than you have your entire life combined. Meaning, like, at least an hour or so.
Mashpi is a rainforest…or maybe it’s a cloud forest? Not sure. I do know that it’s a forest with a lot of rain and a lot of clouds. But even on the cloudiest days you can get above it all by climbing their observation tower.
Pros v. Cons
Pros – You’ll be able to tell your friends you stayed in one of National Geographic’s Unique Hotels of the World; You’ll see plenty of exotic birds that you never even knew existed; You might become one with nature; You’ll see an pristine rainforest before…gulp…it goes away 🙁
Cons – You may vomit on the drive from Quito to the preserve and lodge if you are a weak human being; Wi-Fi is conspicuously absent at the times you need it the most; There is no television for you to stay in your room all day and watch; There is no swim-up pool bar (only because there is no pool); Surprisingly, it’ll rain a lot in the rainforest.