El Chocó is an isolated, virtually unexplored, natural rainforest. The incredible bio-diversity of the Mashpi reserve is a result of its unique location, where the Andes and the Equator converge. The lodge – all floor-to-ceiling windows, air-conditioning and Egyptian cotton – is a perfect springboard for exploring the reserve.
The biodiversity of the Chocó had previously been threatened by deforestation and mining. That is when Roque Sevilla, economist, environmentalist, orchid enthusiast and visionary behind Mashpi Lodge, decided to invest in a small piece of land to protect the area. That was eleven years ago. Now Mashpi reserve totals 3,200 acres and is the most bio-diverse area on the planet – a crucial launch pad for scientific research documenting the evolution of species and a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the uninterrupted beauty of the rainforest.
“The idea was not to destroy this marvellous place, but share with people the beauty and biodiversity of the region”, explains Sevilla. Years before, a logging company had destroyed an area on the side of the mountain to build a mill. When Sevilla bought the land, Mashpi lodge was erected in its place. “There was no need to cut down a single tree”, he grins proudly.
“Mashpi does not compete with the beauty of nature”, Sevilla goes on. “The hotel is dark in colour and steel and glass are predominant. One can see the forest from any place within the lodge. The effect is incredible. You are in constant contact with the environment, totally unique in the world. You are also in a bubble, surrounded by nature.”
The Mashpi experience is about discovering life. “It is incredible how diverse the forest is”, says Sevilla. “Life is found in different forms.” You will glimpse night butterflies of different colours, see over two hundred different species of birds (there are over 500 species to be found), delight in the tiniest orchids on the planet – and be awed by the biggest orchid known to man. You will spot pumas and tigrillos (small tigers) creeping through the forest while you glide through the clouds on the extraordinary sky bike. Guests will interact with indigenous communities, learning bush craft and local hunting techniques, and there are opportunities to canoe on white waters, swim in waterfalls, trek through the forest and gorge on exotic fruits of every conceivable shape and size.
After a day exploring the forest floor and the clouded skies, Mashpi lodge is a comfortable and sophisticated refuge. The kitchen safeguards traditional values of Ecuadorean food, presenting local dishes with a modern twist. Retreat from the ever-changing moods of the forest and spy the wonders of nature from every corner of the lodge.