The breathtaking surroundings of the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve look and feel like a dream—misty clouds, crashing waterfalls, and endemic species of wildlife found in the Ecuadorian Chocó, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Take the unparalleled opportunity to visit both a cloud forest and a rainforest—each rich with a myriad of flora and fauna species in every layer from below the forest floor to above the canopy.
Spend your days exploring hidden paths, discovering colorful flora and fauna, and relaxing amidst the contemporary comforts of Mashpi Lodge, located within this private reserve consisting of roughly 70% lush primary forest in its 3,212 acres.
Day +1: Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Arrive at your hotel to relax and refresh before tomorrow's full day of activities.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena
Day +2: Mashpi Lodge / Mashpi Reserve
After an early breakfast, depart via group transfer, journeying through the northwest corner of Quito's Metropolitan District. Embrace the sweeping landscape along the western flank of the Andes next to Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world), which marks the equatorial line. Along the way, stop to stretch your legs before continuing the final descent into the Mashpi Reserve. Observe the changes in vegetation with every significant drop in altitude, following the course of the Rio Blanco.
After 3.5 hours, arrive at Mashpi Lodge, where the staff and your naturalist guides greet you and conduct a quick briefing.
Enjoy lunch, settle into your room, and perhaps take a brief rest. In the afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to begin one of several optional activities. Take a guided hike to one of several waterfalls or follow the Howler Monkey Trail to the Life Centre, which educates visitors about the butterfly's life cycle and other wildlife found in Mashpi. Here, relax in lounge chairs set on an expansive observation deck to spot wildlife, and later, visit the adjacent butterfly house.
As the evening sets in, take an optional guided night walk along the Luminous Trail in search of large and small (and some transparent!) creatures, including frogs, snakes, insects, and even tarantulas.
Overnight: Mashpi Lodge (B,L,D)
Day +3: Mashpi Lodge / Mashpi Forest Canopy Exploration
As morning breaks, listen for the bright songs from the menagerie of birds stirring around the lodge. A staggering 400 species of birds—including some 36 endemics—are estimated to inhabit the forest and flutter through the canopy.
Mashpi is also home to a plethora of plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to a vast variety of orchid species—many newly discovered, which biologists come from the world over to observe.
For those who would like to enjoy the beauty of dawn in the forest, early morning activities are organized before breakfast. Spot birds and visit a hummingbird garden (host to 32 hummingbird species) with breakfast al fresco. The birds will be active and calling, and the views are often the most spectacular.
After lunch, take an opportunity to view the Mashpi Forest canopy during a guided ride aboard the Dragonfly—an aerial cable car that offers a unique and spectacular way to see an expanse of the reserve. Go for the entire two-hour ride, or opt to combine the Dragonfly experience with a guided nature or waterfall hike.
Located close to the lodge, the Sky Bike makes for another unique and exciting way to explore the forest canopy. Designed for two people to use at once, you can pedal between two points of the forest approximately 655 feet apart. Next, climb the Observation Tower to take in the reserve in its entirety, and watch the sun set behind the clouds.
This evening, join fellow travelers to hear a collection of lectures by a resident biologist or naturalist, perhaps including “Secret Wildlife of Mashpi: the Camera Trap Project,” “The Chocó: a Biological Hotspot” about the formation and diversity of the Chocó, or talks about current scientific research projects.
Overnight: Mashpi Lodge (B,L,D)
Day +4: Mashpi / Quito / Main Program Begins
After a leisurely breakfast, take a group transfer to Quito to join guests arriving for the main program. (B,L)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Space is limited on the Mashpi pre-tour, so it's recommended to reserve early for best availability. This pre-tour is not escorted by an Orbridge Expedition Leader, however, staff naturalists at the Mashpi Lodge are available for assistance with activity planning.
Guests should be able to physically tolerate vehicle motion of a long (3.5 hours) drive on bumpy roads, as well as be sure-footed on stairs and able to walk at least one mile on rocky, uneven ground. Some nature hikes will be on irregular, steep, and/or muddy/slippery terrain.
Casa Gangotena – Quito
The elegant, five-star Casa Gangotena is located across from Plaza San Francisco in the heart of Quito's Spanish Colonial Old Town. The hotel offers easy access to the rich culture, tradition, and charm of the city's historic center—a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.
Embrace the property's well-adorned interior, featuring Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements dating back to the mid-1920s. Antique furniture pieces, restored painted tin ceilings, and endless hallways lined with Egyptian marble are among the unique qualities of this sophisticated and divinely comfortable hotel. See why readers of Condé Nast Traveler have voted Casa Gangotena among South America's top 25 hotels and resorts.
During leisure time, stroll the gardens, enjoy tea on the patio, or relax on the rooftop terrace while admiring the spectacular sweeping views of Quito's historic district.
Luxury Room Amenities: Individual climate control, flat-screen cable TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, phone, bathrobes and slippers, safe, and en suite bathroom with separate shower and bathtub plus L’Occitane sundries and hair dryer.
Portable oxygen tanks—to assist in preventing ill effects of altitude sickness—are available and may require an additional fee. Per the hotel's policy, oxygen will be provided after a consultation with the house physician or a release is signed. As the supply of oxygen tanks is numbered, these should be requested in advance through Orbridge's Guest Services department or at the time of check-in for best availability.
Mashpi Lodge was created by Roque Sevilla, a passionate environmentalist and former mayor of the city of Quito. The thoughtfully designed lodge is perched more than 3,000 feet above sea level within a private reserve between the rainforest and cloud forest. The area teems with rich biodiversity that provides endless opportunities for visitors.
This property has been recognized with nearly 20 prestigious awards since 2012, including Condé Nast Traveler – Reader’s Choice Awards – Top 20 Resorts in South America and World Travel Awards' Ecuador’s Leading Green Hotel. The spa at Mashpi Lodge has also been noted as Latin America’s Best Resort Spa and as Ecuador’s Best Resort Spa through votes cast by leading spa and wellness tourism professionals, as well as hundreds of thousands of spa consumers from across the globe.
Guests can relax in the serene atmosphere of this blissful hideaway, amidst the breathtaking views from the lodge's floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows. The lodge was designed with sustainable materials and features décor that combines warm earth tones, steel, stone, and glass.
Visit the open-air terraces for seemingly endless treetop views, see biologists conducting studies and experiments in the resident research lab open to guests, take advantage of the full-service spa (additional fees apply), relax at the outdoor hot tub and yoga deck, or enjoy the Expedition Room where you can view a selection of nature DVDs or peruse materials in its extensive library.
The property also features a boutique that offers souvenirs, gifts and travel essentials, such as rain hats, other rain gear, socks, and more.
Room Amenities: One king or two full beds, complimentary Wi-Fi, phone, safe, reusable water flask, fresh filtered water, bathrobes and slippers, and en suite bathroom with premium sundries and hair dryer. Dehumidifiers, which may help you adjust to the relatively high humidity found in the rain forest, are available upon request at check-in.
Pre-tour rate is per person based on double occupancy except where noted as Single, in U.S. dollars. Single availability limited. Airfare not included.
- 1 night accommodations at Casa Gangotena in Quito and 2 nights accommodations at award-winning Mashpi Lodge
- 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners
- Entrance to Mashpi Reserve
- Dragonfly aerial tram experience
- Full guiding services, including interpretation on all activities and experiences within the reserve, and use of spotting scopes and binoculars
- Specialized lectures and field presentations on research conducted in the reserve by local experts
- Souvenir reusable stainless steel water flask for filtered water available throughout the pre-tour
- Use of rain gear (waterproof poncho, rubber boots) and walking sticks
- All transportation for excursions using vehicle transport in the reserve
- All gratuities and porterage
- Group transfers from Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport to Casa Gangotena during suggested arrival times, from Casa Gangotena to Mashpi Lodge, and return to Quito to join the main program