When it comes to unique accommodation around the world, Mashpi Lodge is a prime example. Set among the cloud forest of Mashpi Reserve in Ecuador, this lodge offers an unforgettable experience – a chance to enjoy first-class service, food and accommodation while staying in the heart of the cloud forest.
Mashpi Lodge is widely considered to be one of the best rainforest resorts in the world and has been recognized as one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. This prestigious selection celebrates world-class luxury accommodation with a focus on sustainability as a core value.
Mashpi Lodge has been on our radar for years, so when an opportunity came up to experience this Ecuador lodge firsthand, we couldn’t say no. In February 2022, we spent 2 nights and 3 days experiencing a stay at Mashpi, one of the best jungle lodges in Ecuador.
About Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi is a strikingly contemporary lodge set on a 6,177-acre private nature reserve, meaning you are literally surrounded by the incredible Andean cloud forest. The lodge is nestled between the rainforest and cloud forest in Ecuador and is an unexpected oasis of luxury urban accommodation set amidst lush greenery.
Mashpi Lodge is located in a biodiversity hotspot known as the Tumbes-Chocó-Darién, an important region for global conservation efforts.
The main visionary behind Mashpi Lodge is Roque Sevilla, a successful businessman and environmentalist. He is the former mayor of Quito and the Chairman of the Board at Metropolitan Touring, one of Ecuador’s largest travel operators. His vision for Mashpi has been to help people find the magic of the natural world in a rainforest hotel away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Mashpi is not what you might imagine when you think of a rainforest lodge. It is a sophisticated contemporary hotel, with spacious rooms, a personalized fine dining experience, and a variety of all-inclusive guided activities. It is a so-called luxury cocoon in the rainforest that serves as an ideal springboard to explore the surrounding rainforest, waterfalls and wildlife species.
The lodge is decorated with warm earth tones, that blend beautifully with the floor-to-ceiling windows bringing nature closer to you even while indoors.
Sustainability and Conservation
Sustainable practices are at the heart of the operations at Mashpi Lodge. The lodge was built using the latest techniques in sustainable construction with the goal to prevent any damage to the trees and the surrounding environment. The building itself was designed with the natural environment in mind and built around the topography of the forest.
The property is committed to being a carbon-neutral operation. As such, they have developed a program that measures the amount of CO2 emissions per guest and offsets that amount through investments toward the expansion and protection of the cloud forest.
Aside from offering tourist accommodation and activities, Mashpi Lodge also operates a research station that is focused on rainforest protection. There are countless scientific studies and projects undertaken in the reserve to discover new species and figure out how to blend sustainable tourism and forest preservation.
Mashpi Lodge is also committed to robust recycling and water treatment programs and are making strides towards a zero plastic undertaking across all lodge operations.
About Mashpi Reserve & Cloud Forest
The Mashpi Reserve is a very unique place, part of an uninterrupted rainforest called the Chocó-Darién region, known as one of the most important biodiverse places left on earth. The 1,300-hectare private concession known as Mashpi has been protected since 2004 and is one of the last remaining natural cloud forests in Ecuador.
The unique flora and fauna found there are especially outstanding. The Reserve is home to 400 species of birds, 300 species of moths and butterflies, and a variety of other animals including monkeys, peccaries, ocelots and even pumas.
Mashpi Lodge offers 24 rooms spread out across three floors in the main building of the lodge. The rooms are designed to immerse guests in nature, and feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Ecuadorian cloud forest.
Inside the rooms, the decor features sustainable materials like wood and stone that blend in with the natural environment rather than disturb it. The rooms have minimalist neutral decor and feature contemporary furniture with natural lighting and automatic blinds.
Bathrooms are spacious and feature a rain shower and biodegradable toiletries.
There are three different rooms layouts available to guests:
- Yaku Suites (3 available) are perfect for couples looking for a more intimate stay. The spacious rooms look straight out to the trees, feature a large king-size bed and stunning en-suite with a hot tub offering incredible views into the forest. Prices are around $1500USD per night for two people, full board.
- Wayra Rooms (20 available) can accommodate up to 4 people and are thus are perfect for families. 7 Wayra Rooms out of the 20 rooms feature king-size beds, the rest have 2 full beds. The rooms are spread out across the three floors of the lodge and offer views of the canopy or the forest floor. The nightly rate in Wayla Rooms is around $1000USD per night for two guests, full board.
- Wawa Room (1 available) caters to solo travelers for an intimate private experience. The room is smaller than the others but still offers a full-size bed and large bathroom. Occupancy is for one only, and you can still enjoy the amazing surroundings over the forest right from the bed. Prices start from $1200USD per night for one person per room, full board.
We stayed in one of the Full Bed Wayra Rooms during our visit, as it was the only option available for our dates. While the room size and its amenities were fantastic, we found the beds to be too small for us to share. We opted to sleep in separate beds – a less than ideal setup for a couple. The Yaku Suites with a king bed and that beautiful en suite would definitely be our preferred option in hindsight.
Full Board Rates
Mashpi Lodge offers an all-inclusive stay so that guests can enjoy everything that the lodge has to offer including all activities and food.
Included in the nightly prices are:
- Accommodation on a per night basis
- Three meals per person per night
- Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
- Tours of the reserve
- Activities, including the Life Centre, Sky Bike, observation tower and more
- Rain ponchos, rubber boots and walking sticks
- Free Wi-Fi
- Transfers to and from hotels in Quito, Ecuador
At first glance, a nightly rate of $1000+ per couple may seem like a pricey proposition, but if you account for 3 meals per day plus snacks, drinks and excursions, the equation becomes a lot more reasonable.
Experiences & Activities
There’s so much to do and a large area to explore around Mashpi Lodge. With plenty of activities and facilities to enjoy during your stay, we recommend at minimum a 2-3 night visit. The location of the cloud forest eco-lodge is undoubtedly the real highlight, so it’s ideal if you give yourself enough time to go exploring with some of the experiences on offer.
All activities below are included in the full board package stay at Mashpi Lodge.
Dragonfly Canopy Gondola
The Dragonfly cable car is considered one of the highlight activities for guests. The open-air cable car carries you across the canopy allowing you to observe the forest and its residents from above. The cable car passes through six towers stretching across 2km of the jungle. The entire circuit trip on the Dragonfly Canopy Gondola takes around 40 minutes, allowing you to get striking angles of the forest and birds around the treetops.
This was by far our most relaxing and scenic experience at the lodge. We got very lucky with a clear morning and took to the Dragonfly before the other guests. The sunny weather for a pleasant ride and beautiful views of the canopy, but we weren’t too lucky with wildlife viewing. The hotter weather meant that most of the wildlife stayed deep in the canopy.
Note: The Dragonfly Canopy is one of the few activities not included in the full-board package. It’s available to all guests for an additional cost of $50.16 per adult.
The Sky Bike at Mashpi Lodge is designed as an aerial bike on a ropeway. The bike is located within walking distance from Mashpi Lodge and makes for a fun and short activity. Stretching for 200m across the canopy, the Sky Bike provides a different way to appreciate the forest canopy. Only one person operates the cart across the cable, so it’s a great and easy activity, even for families with kids.
With only 2 days to spend at the lodge, we opted against the Sky Bike ride but heard that it was a fun way to glide through the rainforest.
Rising above eight storeys high on a plateau, the Observation Tower is the best place to be for wildlife photographers and nature lovers. Views from the tower stretch across the treetops, towards Mashpi Lodge and even down to the local communities on the boundary of the reserve.
The Observation Tower was another spot we missed out on during our short visit. We were told that it is best combined with a Sky Bike.
There are an astounding 32 hummingbird species identified so far around Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador. To make it easier for guests to spot them, the hotel has placed hummingbird feeders around the Hummingbird Garden. A visit to the garden is a great afternoon activity, allowing you can sit back and watch as the birds and other wildlife rain or shine.
Despite rainy weather, we had a great time at the Hummingbird Garden. We spent a few hours enjoying the hummingbirds and other curious creatures that paid a visit to the observation area during our visit. A few cheeky bananas helped the guides to lure a family of weasels and a coati out of the bush. We also spotted a plethora of birds in the garden!
The Life Center is an incredible learning center located about 20 min walk from the hotel. Guests can visit the Life Center to admire the scenery and discover more about the wildlife and birds found in the cloud forest. It also acts as a butterfly sanctuary where you can observe the whole process of metamorphosis from eggs into beautiful butterflies.
We weren’t expecting much from the Life Center aside from the butterflies but were pleasantly surprised to see a number of other birds during our visit. The most memorable was an incredible sighting of two toucans that posed on the branch right in front of us.
If you enjoy hiking, you’ll be happy to learn that Mashpi Lodge has more than 10 different trails to explore. The trails range in length and difficulty, many lead to beautiful waterfalls hidden inside the reserve. We didn’t get a chance to experience all trails during our short stay but we really enjoyed spending a few hours on the Lagoon River Path.
This trail wound its way along the river’s bedrock, forcing us to waddle through the river bed, and climb over rocks en route to the waterfall. A swim in the refreshing waters of the waterfall at the end was a much-needed reprieve.
Night walks are a great way to see some of the nocturnal wildlife around Mashpi Lodge. The Torrenteer Lagoon and the path to the Life Center are the two best places to go exploring.
It rained heavily both nights during our stay, but we used the complimentary Mashpi ponchos and rubber boots to brave the elements on 2 fun night walks. We spotted lots of frogs, including the elusive Mashpi Frog and a newly discovered, Mashpi Glass Frog.
Morning Bird Viewing on the Terrace
In our opinion, this is the least advertised but most enjoyable activity at Mashpi. Every morning, at around 6am, the guides come out to the terrace for an hour-long bird spotting session with the guests. Binoculars are available for use and guides were fantastic at pointing out rare bird species and helping us capture them on our cameras.
Spa & Wellness
In addition to activities on-site, Mashpi Lodge also features a spa and wellness center on the second floor of the main building. There are two massage rooms, offering a range of body and beauty treatments.
There is also an open-air hot tub, which is unfortunately inaccessible due to COVID during our visit.
Food & Drink
The restaurant at Mashpi Lodge is just as amazing as the rest of the place. Being one of the few all-inclusive Ecuador lodges, Mashpi offers a full board stay and includes 3 gourmet meals per day for the duration of your stay.
The dining room is beautiful a open two-story room with floor-to-ceiling windows that allows for ultimate rainforest immersion. There is also outdoor seating if you want to literally eat in the rainforest.
The cuisine is gourmet, comparable to some of the best restaurants in Ecuador. The chef uses fresh and local ingredients to showcase the specialty dishes from a variety of diverse regions of Ecuador. The menu changes daily and always includes a few options to choose from.
For breakfast, we enjoyed a selection of fresh fruit, pastries, cheeses, jams and choose-your-own style of eggs. The morning Detox Juice was our favourite!
Lunch was usually light and consisted of an appetizer, like a ceviche, or a salad, followed by a dish of vegetables and protein.
Dinner was a more elaborate affair. An appetizer often featured a soup or a fish tartare and was followed by a main and dessert. Max really enjoyed their slow-cooked meats. Meanwhile, I had a really nice vegan barley risotto, a unique take on a much loved classic dish.
The bar serves an extensive cocktail menu, with expert mixologists preparing the perfect drink for your meal. We tried a few of the recommended specials and were pleasantly surprised.
The Bottom Line
You shouldn’t have to think twice about a stay at Mashpi Lodge. It is 100% worth the splurge! There are so many activities, wonderful meals and incredible unique experiences available at Mashpi. It makes this Ecuador cloud forest lodge worth the money.
It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experience and a must-add to any Ecuador itinerary!
Have you added Mashpi Lodge to your Ecuador bucket list? Do you have any questions about our stay?
Disclaimer: Our 2-night stay at Mashpi Lodge was provided courtesy of Metropolitan Touring, the parent company behind Mashpi Lodge, but, as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own.