What about to spend time in nature? eating fresh food? watching the unique birds species in the world? learn about the process of cacao into chocolate? spend time on a farm doing volunteer work? sharing and learning new things with the local community? or maybe just go to the must luxurious lodge located in the deep of the cloud forests of Ecuadorian Chocó? Yes! All these activities in one place, unbelievable right? So, now we can understand why Ecuador is always telling us in its tourism campaign “Like nowhere else, all in one place and so close”.
This Reserve is located in the northwest part of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the International Airport Mariscal Sucre is the closest one (4 hours drive). Mashpi Reserve is also part of the Chocó Darién Eco-region, well known as the most biologically diverse region in the world. The Chocó Region runs from the southwest Panama, the entire Pacific coast of Colombia and the northwest Ecuador; divers unique species of flora and fauna are found here, for this reason, Mashpi Reserve is known as the Bird Watching Paradise and at the same time a perfect place to conduct research.
Volunteering in Mashpi Shungo Farm and Reserve
People who are interested in volunteering, internships or research in areas such as Ecotourism, organic agriculture, analog forestry, ecological research and social work are welcome in this place. Mashpi Shungo is located in Pacto, with an extension of 56.6 hectares at 500 m.a.s.l, it’s 80% of the territory is forest and the leftover percentage is regenerated with the cultivation of cocoa that after being harvested they produce a tasty artisanal chocolate (Mashpi Chocolate Artesanal).
How to get there?
From Quito, go to the monument Mitad del Mundo, from there take the Calacalí – La Independencia road towards the coast, after passing the town of San Miguel de Los Bancos, at kilometer 104 take the secondary road that is on the right side of the road, drive 30 Km more until you reach the farm.
Mashpi Lodge offers to it’s visitors a luxurious and calm oasis deep in the cloud forest, the infrastructure of the lodge has a modern, futuristic style, with an impressive view from the rooms, restaurant, in other words, from all its interior thanks to the gigantic windows that cover it (like a wall); there is no more beautiful experience in the world than waking up to the sound of birds and watch the intense green color of the forest, with the purest aroma of the planet which the place offers to its guests. We can not leave aside the delicious taste and aroma of the Ecuadorian food prepared by the Chef’s of the lodge, even better when they let you know that products used in the elaboration of this dishes are organic and provided by the farmers of the community, and of course, we can not forget about the guides, no one knows more of a place than the one that has lived all his life in the territory. There is not a better description of sustainable tourism practices than the one given by Mashpi Lodge.
How to get there?
Mashpi Lodge service:
Three hours far from the capital of Ecuador, Quito, the lodge offers to their visitor's transfers, where they collect their guests from different hotels in Quito, and also private transfers with an extra cost.
On your own:
From Quito, go to the monument Mitad del Mundo, from there take the Calacalí – La Independencia road towards the coast, you must pass Nanegalito, Gualea, Pacto, Pacto Loma, finally arriving at La Delicia, where within a short distance you can find the entrance of the Reserve.
For people interested in community tourism, the community of Mashpi is a destination of great interest, the houses are made of wood and zinc roofs, the community and its inhabitants have been preparing for the development of tourism as a source of additional income to the usual (the inhabitants live on the cultivation of plantain, corn, also agriculture and cattle farming), they really wanted to be well prepared to share tourist their culture and at the same time offer their visitors: community restaurant, community accommodation, agro-ecological farms, orchids farms, tourist facilities such as camping area for 20 people, toilet facilities and showers, directed to people visiting its establishments or those who visit the river. From the shores, people can see how the fish glide through the waters of the Mashpi River. As I mentioned before, tourists can visit the farms, but also, they carry out adventure activities, such as those that go from the town of Pacto to the community by bicycle, making use of the narrow and dirt roads, observing in its passage beautiful waterfalls and streams, without forgetting the beauty and colorful of its flora and fauna.
Mashpi, one of the best places for Bird Watching in Ecuador
Ecuador is one of the best places in the world where visitors can do Bird-Watching, the country has approximately 1,600 bird species, Ecuador has a birds diversity twice as many bird species as the United States, this means that the country holds a big percentage of the world's bird species in an area. The Metropolitan District of Quito enjoys this high biodiversity, thanks to the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems that have, such as Cloud Forests, Montane High Forest, Dry Forest and Paramo, Lower Montane Forest, High Andean Scrub, Piemontano Forest. When we talk about flora, most of the biodiversity is found in the region due to its cloud forests; a total of 2330 species of vascular plants and 250 endemic species have been registered in the territory. On the other hand, in the area registered a total of 111 mammals species divided into rodents, carnivores like the wolf of paramo, monkeys, and others. In the humid tropical and subtropical forests of the northwest, 542 species of birds were registered, several of them are endemic to the region, nevertheless, is important to emphasize that some are in danger of extinction.