This fascinating – and National Geographic-approved – rainforest lodge will make an eco warrior of even the most reluctant Goretex wearer, with conservation centres and low-impact activities that bring biodiversity front and centre – alongside its home-harvested food and forest-surveying spa. Here’s why you should stash some natural mosquito repellent in your multi-pocketed vest and book a guilt-free getaway now…
No trees were harmed in the construction of Mashpi Lodge: the land it’s built on was wrested from loggers, and the striking recycled-steel, glass and tropical-wood structure was built offsite and reassembled with as little disruption as possible.
REALLY WILD SHOWS
Kinkajous, tayras (above), howler monkeys, and the occasional puma: Mashpi Lodge offers dress-circle seats for the Chocó region’s brilliant biodiversity, starring a varied cast of critters through lowland and floodplain habitats. Attend a guided nighttime nature walk with the on-site naturalists to see luminescent fungi and spy a vast-winged Atlas moth.
LIFE FINDS A WAY HERE
The totem of Mashpi’s commitment to conservation, the Life Centre (set a 30-minute trek from the hotel) is captained by resident biologist Carlos Morochz, whose wholly local team works to introduce new species, protect the surroundings and find new methods of saving energy.
Mashpi Lodge couldn’t get a licence for boat rides, but if we’re honest, we find the Sky Bike’s jaw-dropping treetop safari far superior. Hop on the tandem ET-esque ride to pedal through clouds, wave to howler monkeys and rose-faced parrots, and see the misty and magical Andes unfold from on high.
Follow a guide past liana-entangled trees to witness the brilliant flutter of activity at the Hummingbird Station. Or wander through the colourful and camouflaged residents of the butterfly garden, an observation centre housing more than 200 species, many introduced by the lodge’s biologists.
Hidden within thick clusters of trees are unspoilt waterfalls where guests can swim or stop for a picnic. The less-taxing Oxibelis trail leads to a small waterfall-splashed clearing, but if you have the stamina, the Limones trail to San Vincente’s waterfall is worth the extra effort. Post-trek, guides will meet you with revivifying towels, juices and snacks.
Parrots, rainbow-billed toucans and raptors with razor-sharp talons may draw top-billing for the sky ballet visible from Mashpi’s observation tower (a 30-minute trek from the hotel), but we’re rather taken with the red-headed Cock of the Rock (Peru’s national bird) and Bond-girl-monikered flutterers Indigo Flowerpiercer and Black Solitaire.