Activities and Experiences at the Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve
The Mashpi experience is about discovering life in the tree tops, trekking along trails, listening to animal calls, absorbing each and every color, bathing in pure waterfalls, spotting butterflies and birds, encountering amazing creatures, or simply relaxing with a view of clouds playing hide-and-seek with the forest. Share the passion for the awe-inspiring rainforest and explore it, as nature comes alive before your eyes.
Dendronautics - Aerial Tram
From the Greek words dendron (tree) and nautica (navigation), dendronautics is the exploration of the rain forest canopy. Hop on board the Aerial Tram for an unforgettable extended exploration of one of the Earth's richest and least-explored biomes, the tropical rainforest canopy! Designed as the backbone to the reserve, the tram carries guests from one end of the reserve to another for exploration, canopy viewing, or trekking opportunities.
Mashpi is focused on respecting and benefiting the local people and the environment as part of its sustainability goals. Casa Campesina is a hands-on Interpretation Center that provides guests with a better understanding of both the natural and human aspects of the rainforest habitat. It features the chance to meet and get to know a local family, an intercultural experience you will never forget.
Casa Campesina is surrounded by plantations of different local products including yucca(manioc), bananas, hearts-of-palm and coffee, allowing guests to harvest their own lunch. Those with a sweet tooth can learn how to turn native cocoa beans into dark chocolate as well as sample the final result.
This educational and fun structure houses local species of butterfly that flit around areas that mimic the streams, minerals and wild flowers of the forest outside. Hundreds of caterpillars feed on their host plants in a natural yet protected environment that assures the best development of pupae and butterflies.
Rainforests support a very broad array of fauna including mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates. In the Serpentarium a different side of one of the least understood of the rainforest creatures is represented: snakes. Learn about the myths and truths that surround them and how they fit into the natural environment.
Saparium Frog Exhibition:
There is evidence that frogs have been around for more than 200 million years, and that they once shared the Earth with dinosaurs. At the Saparium enter the fascinating world of frogs, a calm, green oasis where one minute you can hear the water trickle and the next be surrounded by a chorus of rhythmic calls, guttural croaks and high-pitched songs. Learn about the frog life cycle and observe tadpoles in every stage of their metamorphosis.
Epiphyte Nature Gardens:
Epiphytes, also called ï¿½air plantsï¿½ because they do not root in soil, grow on other living plants but are not considered parasitic. The best-known epiphytes include mosses, orchids, gesnerias and bromeliads. Ecuador is the top country in the world for the number of classified orchids and Mashpi guests will enjoy an impressive array of orchids found in the Reserve, conveniently collected in attractive, serene gardens.
Run by the local community, the tree and shrub nursery project teaches local farmers and loggers about the natural richness of the forest and conservation of native trees, discouraging extractive and harmful practices. The funds from this project are used for improvement of sanitary conditions, education and organic production in the surrounding villages.
Guided Nature Walks:
Equipped with rubber boots, rain gear and binoculars (provided by Mashpi), be ready for an expedition into the dense green rainforest. Specially trained local guides will take you along hiking trails that wind through this natural sanctuary, pointing out the unusual flora and fauna and helping you to find nature's hidden treasures and medicines. The interpretation skills of the local team of expert naturalists will be a great way of enhancing the beauty of the rainforest.
Nocturnal Safari Adventures:
Adventurous guests will not want to miss an unforgettable nocturnal guided safari! Once the sun sets on the Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve, many of the most fascinating creatures emerge and become active.
It goes without saying that birdwatchers will absolutely love the Reserve. At Mashpi, however, you'll have the rare chance to hike to a lek (a place of avian courtship: think of it as a birdy singles' bar) where up to a dozen male birds flit from one branch to another in a dazzling extravaganza of colorful plumage displays, sing-song challenges and mating dances as they seek to attract females. This awesome, seldom-seen sight is sure to be one of a favorite memory!
Massages and Treatments:
Guests at Mashpi Lodge are privileged to enjoy a variety of specialized massage. Relax in your rainforest hideaway and immerse yourself in specialized treatments employing natural local ingredients such as earth, stone, herbs and leaves. Soak under the rainforest canopy in one of the two large jacuzzi tubs, listening to the sounds of the forest surrounding you.
Tulipe Ancient Solar Culture:
On the way to Mashpi you can visit Tulipe, an ancient astronomical and solar observatory. The pre-Hispanic Yumbo culture (800 to 1660 AD) honored the Sun, the greatest deity in the Andean world. Tulipe was an important ceremonial center and features various stone structures, including pools used as water mirrors.
The Pululahua Crater:
Just north of the Equator, the natives considered the crater of Pululahua (ï¿½cloud of waterï¿½) Volcano to be the navel of the Earth. Standing at the rim of the crater of this dormant volcano, feel the energies that account for Pululahua's quasi-mystical power of attraction. The huge crater is large enough to have its own micro-climate and has been inhabited for centuries by farmers who till its rich soil in colorful patches. As the clouds stream over the mountain, the serene, surreal landscape comes and goes like a summer dream.
The Equator makes water spin in different directions in different hemispheres...right? The dividing line between the northern and southern hemispheres has fascinated people for centuries, resulting in an over-abundance of myth, legend and hearsay. Stand with one foot in each hemisphere and find out for yourself.
Adventures at Mashpi Lodge
Canopy Gondola - Glide through the forest canopy on one of two gondolas for a unique view of Mashpi's ecosystem. The gondola cable system extends over 2 km (1.25 miles) between two end/boarding stations.
Nature Trails - Enter the realm of the rainforest and observe the flora and fauna of Ecuador. Each trail has been adapted to make walking easier.
Life Center - Enter the Life Center to learn about the ecology of the forest and the butterflies which make it their home. The center is a great place for guests to disconnect from their modern lives and experience nature at its finest.
Observation Tower - Take in a dramatic bird's-eye view of the forests which surround the lodge from the observation tower. This metallic tower climbs to a height of eight-stories and is an ideal location to observe Ecuador's wildlife. Dawn and dusk are the best time to access the tower.
Sky Bike - The Sky Bike treats guests to an original and unique way to explore the canopy. Located close to the lodge and stretching 655 feet long, the aerial bike is designed to hold two people at once and carries guests above a river and through the trees.