This is the Mashpi Lodge, located on a ridge at 3,100 feet above sea level with sweeping views of a 3,000-acre private reserve in the northwestern foothills of Ecuador.
The visionary conservationist former mayor of Quito, Roque Sevilla, and Metropolitan Touring, opened Mashpi in mid-2012 to preserve this patch of rapidly disappearing Chocó rainforest.
From the 22 eco-friendly guest rooms, you can spot some 500 species of birds, including quetzals and emerald toucanets. From the three Yaku suites you can even watch the wildlife from Philippe Starck-designed bathtubs or with a glass of wine on the roof deck.
The Lodge was designed as the ideal springboard for exploring the unique world of the Mashpi Reserve, located in the heart of the Equatorial Chocó Bio-Region, regarded as one of the planet’s most important “hot spots” of biodiversity, just three hours from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A hideaway in the forest, only accessible to its privileged guests and located on a scenic plateau, Mashpi features amazing views of the surrounding forested mountains right up close through its floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass windows.
Mashpi Lodge was built with the latest techniques for sustainable construction and is designed to blend perfectly with its natural environs. It features contemporary, minimalist decor, mixing warm earth tones, notes of bright color, clean lines and striking angles and vistas: a luxury cocoon amidst the cloud and tropical forests, a unique natural world just steps away, ideal for discovery, exploration, contemplation and relaxation.
On hikes through their rugged trails, your guide’s expert eyes will come across rare birds, like pygmy owls and the Andean cock-of-the-rock, or spy frogs that are almost entirely transparent.
There’s an otter-like tayra that you might see playing in a waterfall. At night, a 10-minute walk from the lodge, there’s a microscopic fungus called foxfire that glows with bioluminescence.
When you’ve had enough of misty cloud forests for the day, there are multi-course meals made from regional products, a cellar full of South American wines and a house cocktail list utilizing wild fruits and herbs from the property.
There’s an aerial bicycle with a couple of seats hanging from a zip line 190 feet above the forest floor. Propelled through the air by pedals with little noise, it’s an invention you won’t find anywhere else.
You can stay in bed enjoying the A/C (or in the Jacuzzi) while watching the wildlife out the window, or — better yet — put on your rubber boots and actually look for it. Either way, at rates around $1,460 per person, you will be treated first class while being immersed in jungle wilderness.