For those who want to enjoy the beauty and magic of dawn in the forest – which is when most birds are active and calling, as well as when views are often most spectacular – early morning activities are organized before breakfast. After breakfast, guides will recommend activities based on ime of day, season, weather, physical abilities of the group and where they believe wildlife is more likely to be found. Along the way, naturalist guides and a local guide will educate you about the myriad plants, insects and animals that inhabit this biodiverse universe. Possible options include:
Howler Monkey Trail
The Howler Monkey Trail is mainly through primary forest, roughly 1.25 miles up a steep hillside. This path crosses primary forest dominated by many ancient trees, including the emblematic “copal.” The steep pitch, specially adapted to make walking easier via steps made of embedded recycled plastic crates, naturally enables more light to penetrate the forest and increases the diversity of plants and animals for observation.
The Magnolia Trail, named after an oak, is mainly through secondary forest, roughly 0.5 miles up a steep hillside. The steep pitch, offers steps made of embedded recycled plastic crates to make walking easier. Like the Howler Monkey Trail, the pitch of this trail naturally enables more light to penetrate the forest and increases the diversity of plants and animals for observation.
Another popular trail ends at the San Vicente waterfall after roughly an hour-long steep hike that demands good physical condition. You can also hike the Oxibelis trail to a small waterfall before heading back to the lodge. The Copal Waterfall trail offers a beautiful 2-hour-long hike featuring a landscape of moss-covered trees, bromeliads and orchids at every corner. The trail ends at a spectacular waterfall over 164 feet high. Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve close to the hotel, many forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools that invite you to take a dip in the 64-68 °F water.
The Life Center offers a great view of the forest from the comfort of an expansive wooden deck. Spot wildlife, explore the tropical orchard nearby and learn about the 200 species of butterfly that have been identified to date in the Reserve. The many nearby varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, tobacco, coffee, bread fruit, and heart of palm, not only attract wildlife but also appear in dishes prepared back at the lodge.
The Observation Tower is a metallic structure, with a staircase that climbs 162 steps to a platform 100 feet off the ground, enabling an exciting bird’s-eye view of the dramatic panoramas that surround the lodge.
The Dragonfly Gondola canopy ride lets you glide through the tree tops at a relaxed pace. In 40 minutes, the Dragonfly covers 1.25 miles, passing through dense forest interrupted by cascading waterfalls, contrasting what can be seen on trail walks below.
Silent, easy-to-use and fun, the Sky Bike is designed for two people to use at once, with one person pedaling the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest. The roughly 655 feet of cable takes about 20 minutes, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Children over 8 years-old may enjoy this activity when accompanied by an adult.
Ecuador plays host to the most hummingbirds in the world, and the forests of Mashpi boast 32 species identified to date, with around 19 species alone observable by guests. The Hummingbird Viewpoint shelter with seating provides the ideal setting to see these amazing creatures, with feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s forested hills.
The Mashpi forest is transformed at night, with far more activity visible than during the day. Optional night walks depart from the hotel after dinner. Observable species range from moths as big as your hand to miniature glass and tree frogs, croaking toads, birds, owls, rodents and mammals, and even fox fire, an Avatar-like luminous fungus.
The peaceful surroundings of the Reserve allow for spiritual moments to unite body, mind and spirit. Keep up your practice at the yoga deck or just lie back and enjoy a massage, spa treatments or time in the outdoor hot tub.