Mashpi Lodge stands amid a mist-swathed forest, full of noise and movement and life. Saved from loggers by the forward-thinking owner and one-time mayor of Quito, Roque Sevilla, Mashpi stands in stark contrast to the surrounds, its minimalist décor, exposed tubing and bare tile floors at odds with the traditional impression of a jungle lodge. The resolutely modern monolith draws on local traditions and materials though, using recycled steel, tropical wood and glass to ensure that tit’s the forest that takes centre stage.
Rooms are simple but stylish, with expansive glass walls that look out into the branches. Secure one of the vast Yaku suites to make sure you can look out over the jungle from your luxurious bubble-filled Philppe Starck designed tub
Start your day with a yoga class on the terrace or scour the cloudforest with binoculars for birds with exotic plumage. Let an expert naturalist teach you about the area’s lepidoptera at a butterfly briefing. Get kitted out in Goretex and boots though to head into the trees and let a top guide lead you on a nature trail in search of orchids, hidden waterfalls and wildlife such as monkeys, peccaries and even puma. Explore the canopy on an innovative series of gondolas that glide silently though, below and over the tree tops in the company of an expert who can help you spot birds and animals from this exclusive vantage point. Pause at the Hummingbird Station to witness these tiny winged marvels or climb the 26m tall observation tower to look for toucans, parrots and other forest birds. Board the Sky Bike to pedal through the canopy on a sort of jungle tandem, silently investigating the forest canopy.
After a day immersed in the rainforest, settle back and reflect. There’s no pool so soak in the spa instead, which lets you glimpse the forest through wooden slats or head out to one of the secret waterfalls close by and splash about to your heart’s content. In need of some soothing treatment? Try the wellness centre and let a practiced masseuse work on you with nutrient-rich forest ingredients. Fancy a different sort of pampering? Join a chef for a session sampling chocolate instead.
In the evening, snag a dining table by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that soar to two stories or secure the sole outdoor table for al fresco eating. Sustainable dining is trumpeted here and you’ll be treated to inventive, local dishes full of spices, exotic fruits and forest-foraged herbs. Look out for sea bass ceviche, palm hearts and oh-so tender steaks. Let the expert sommelier select an Argentinean or Chilean wine to accompany your meal. After dinner, take your digestif or a tropical cocktail from the Explorer’s Bar onto the open-air terrace to listen to the night sounds of the forest. Alternatively, head back out into the forest on a night walk and see how the trees come alive with nocturnal activity.