Ted Travels: Mashpi Lodge
I’m still in South America, and today I’m writing from Ecuador, where I have been lucky to visit and experience Mashpi Lodge.
It took us just over 3 hours to climb onto the western slope of the Andes to reach the lodge. The last hour was the “massage” section: a narrow dirt track twisting and turning upwards. It was a pleasant surprise to find this lodge literally in the middle of nowhere. Mashpi is better described as the Land of Clouds and a Biosphere reserve.
This private reserve is set on 3212 acres, a lush green canopy that harbours a myriad of butterflies, jungle frogs and around 400 species of birds, plus plants and trees. It is a remote place that once was a timber mill. The only flat bit of land hosts now the unique lodge. I wander how they managed to cart all the equipment up a dirt mountain track to build this place!
The main attractions of the lodge are the many activities you do out in the cloud forest with the expert guides, such as the very difficult trek to see the Cock-of-the-rock bird. This trek starts at 3 am with a walk scrambling in the dark. It takes about 2 hours to get to a view point to see the male birds trying to impress the female with their ritual which lasts about 20 minutes. The small group that went out, came back covered in mud and loved every minute of it. Knowing that they come back to this luxurious lodge and all the modern comforts and more.
I did the soft Butterfly Life Centre Walk, where we saw lots of beautiful coloured birds including “toucanets” – very small toucans – and The Hummingbird Garden. We also glided above the tree tops in a gondola called the Dragon Fly because of the 360-degree views, and then rode the Sky Bike over tree tops and deep valleys. From the Observation Tower and the Sky Bike you can have a unique view of the landscape and reach into places where only birds can fly to.
I got to know the excursion leader, a young biologist called Carlos, who told me that before the lodge was build he spent 5 months living in the forest researching the best sights for birds and finding possible trails.
Mashpi Lodge is a unique place where in case the lodge had not substitute the old timber mill, today this could be a barren waste land. It was well worth the effort despite the bad roads to get to this place and experience a land of mystery and an oasis for wildlife. You can send your clients to this amazing accommodation with our new package Ecuador’s’ Natural Selection including the Cloud Forest, Quito and the Galapagos Islands. I will tell you more about this on the next column!