Pushing the boundaries of experiential travel to the natural world, Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge has launched its highly-anticipated Dragonfly canopy gondola for guests to enjoy captivating bird’s eye views of the 1300-hectare Mashpi Rainforest Reserve via a cable-driven system of gondolas that glide above, below and through the tree canopy up to 200 metres above the ground and travelling two kilometres across the magical cloud forest with Mashpi’s resident naturalists to identify the sights and sounds of the forest.
Comprising three different stations and embarkation points located at different altitudes, guests can choose whether to combine a ride on The Dragonfly with a testing hike through the forest and along the riverbed, or to take the full two-hour return trip for a more relaxing experience, while still accessing hidden waterfalls, swimming holes and walking trails. Adhering to Mashpi’s sustainability ethos, The Dragonfly was carefully constructed over a period of 18 months largely by hand and without the use of any heavy machinery, to ensure minimal impact to the Reserve and its wildlife. Much like the lodge itself, The Dragonfly is powered by renewable energy and designed to blend seamlessly and silently into the surrounding forest.
Opened in April 2012, and last year selected as a founding member of National Geographic ‘Unique Lodges of the World’, Mashpi Lodge is an intimate cocoon in the clouds, accommodating 44 guests in 22 understated yet luxurious rooms. The contemporary glass and steel structure features floor-to-ceiling windows, giving remarkable views of the forested mountains on one side and the rainforest up close on the other.
A paradise for nature lovers, Mashpi Lodge features an immersive Life Centre, where wildlife enthusiasts can learn more about the Reserve’s magical inhabitants including 500 species of bird, as well as butterflies, frogs and monkeys. The Hummingbird Viewpoint offers avid birders an unrivalled setting for bird-watching, featuring a shelter with seating and feeders for the birds strung from its roof. Mashpi’s unique ‘Sky Bike’ is another truly thrilling way to explore the canopy up close, as guests pedal their way along a cable stretched between the trees, while the climb to the top of the 26m-high Observation Tower rewards with panoramic views across the forest.
Back indoors, guests can be pampered in the Wellness Area, indulging in specialised massages using natural ingredients from the forest. The double height dining room offers exquisite Ecuadorian cuisine inspired by flavours of the forest, utilising regional ingredients such as naranjilla, papaya, palm heart, coffee, manioc, chocolate and plantain.
Rates start from $1437 per room per night based on two sharing, including all activities, meals, guiding and return transfers from central Quito hotels.