Want to experience the Ecuadorian cloud forest but don’t fancy roughing it in some hostel? To the Mashpi Lodge with you, in that case. You will marvel at its sustainable architecture and sleek, minimalist interiors. You will coo over its two-level dining room (with impeccable wine list and local organic fare), nestled amid the mist-shrouded wilderness. But most of all you will be amazed by the sheer majesty of the primordial forest, seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows that are a feature of every room.
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Nature takes the starring role at Mashpi, located 900 meters above sea level in the Chocó forest, a couple of hours North West of Quito. The area is considered one of the world’s richest in terms of bio diversity. More than 300 different birds have been recorded at the lodge,from the glorious, glistening green Tanager to the scarlet Cock-of-the-rock and the delicate and unforgettable violet-tailed Sylph hummingbird, flitting in and out of the hanging vines and countless varieties of rambling orchids. Waterfalls cascade, frogs croak and howler monkeys, well, howl. You might even glimpse a puma or an ocelot.
Conservationist principles determined that not one tree was felled to make way for the 19-room, 3-suite lodge. Instead, an amazing array of facilities has been introduced into the natural environment with minimal impact. They include a “life center” for viewing butterflies (or for simply lounging in a hammock and taking in the view) as well as a 26-m observation tower. From May 2013, an aerial gondola will glide through the forest canopy, taking guests on a thrilling 30-minute, 2-km ride. A resident biologist is on hand, along with a team of expert guides. Best of all, when you get back to your room after a long day on the trail, you can sink into a Philippe Starck-designed bathtub, cocktail in hand, while the forest continues to work its magic through the surrounding glass.
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