Cruising the Galapagos Islands is an experience that appears on many bucket lists(Including mine). It is an amazing experience and the only place in the world where the wildlife shows no fear of humans, meaning you can observe it from just a few feet away.
Before or after a Galapagos cruise many clients request to add on Machu Picchu. Although this is quite popular I would recommend against it because it does involve quite a bit of flying. I would recommend visiting Machu Picchu on a separate trip along with touring in Peru.(I plan some amazing and adventurous itineraries in Peru in partnership with Big Five).
Instead, I would recommend a stay in Ecuador at Mashpi Lodge, a luxurious rainforest lodge. Closer to Quito than the Amazon rainforest, yet offering the same adventure experience, Mashpi Lodge is every nature lover’s dream. Following all health and safety protocols, Mashpi Lodge is the place to encounter 400 species of birds, trees, and frogs found nowhere else in the world, complete with crashing waterfalls and incredible flora. Get ready to trek down hidden paths, splash through rivers, rise at dawn to spot rare birds, or fly high above it all aboard our Dragonfly canopy gondola.
DISCOVER THE MAGIC OF MASHPI’S RAINFOREST
Should you glide high above to take in the full masterpiece or trek within, getting under its skin and feeling its essence flow through the veins of its numerous rivers? Do you stand at a distance to perceive how each part comes together to form the whole or experience it up-close: leaf-by-leaf, bird-by-bird, species-by-species? Hike by day or wander by night? Whatever you choose to do, Mashpi’s attractions and exploratory activities have virtually every angle covered.
The accommodations are beautiful. My favorite are the Yaku Suites.
The lodge’s three Yaku Suites (Yaku is a Kichwa word meaning “water”) are located on the first floor, at the lodge’s northwestern end.
Each of the 495 sq ft suites features a large bathroom with twin washbasins and Philippe Starck-designed bathtubs that have a view into the forest. All of the Yaku Suites have king-size beds.
EXPERIENCE A TRULY UNIQUE MOMENT IN THE FOREST - THE DRAGONFLY
The highlight of any trip to Mashpi is the Dragonfly – an exciting, open-air cable car system that carries you over, across and sometimes even directly through the forest canopy, offering you a relaxing way to enjoy the reserve from overhead.
The entire setup consists of two main stations, six towers (with an intermediate station that guests can get off at if they wish), and four gondolas. The gondolas are equidistant and separated by a distance of 1,640 feet. Each gondola moves along the 1.24 mi length of cable at a low speed of 160 feet per minute. The guides can stop the gondola at any point to allow for an extended observation of any flora or fauna that catches your eye. An entire circuit (roundtrip) takes about 40-minutes to complete. Gondolas can carry up to 4 guests (plus 1 guide).
THE SKY BIKE - ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL VIEW FROM ABOVE
Located close to the hotel, the Sky Bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a beautiful gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, providing guests with the chance to fly over the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens. The ride takes 10 minutes or 20 round-trip.
ENJOY AN ENDLESS VIEW OF THE CLOUD FOREST - THE OBSERVATION TOWER
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Mashpi is from the observation tower. From here, we can appreciate a wonderful view of the canopy and the complex structure of the tropical forest, and on clear days we can see the lodge, the Reserve’s boundaries and a mosaic of forest, crops and little villages beyond.
The tower is a metal structure with a staircase that rises about eight stories (26 m or 85 ft), ideal for the wildlife lovers. Species spotted from here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots, as well as birds of prey.