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This is a bit of a retrospective on our trip to Mashpi cloud forrest (in Ecuador) before we flew to Buenos Aires last September, as it somehow didn’t get blogged, and deserves more than a mention.
The story of Mashpi Lodge begins in 2001, when the local mayor bought a section of the Mashpi Cloud Forest. I was initially skeptical regarding his motivation, but ended up convinced of the purity of his rationale to protect this area of astounding biodiversity, after years of deforestation and exploitation for gold-mining had threatened its unique and curious flora and fauna.
Our days were spent hiking hilly trails cunningly converted into steps by setting plastic drink-bottle crates deep into the mud, and splashing along tinkling streams. The vistas, were vast and ubiquitously spectacular. We discovered untold medicine trees, the Mashpi Magnolia (unique to this nature reserve), and so many fabulous birds. Butterflies abounded. While the rare Spectacled Bear managed cunningly to elude us, we did have a rather memorable encounter with some black howler monkeys. Bella and I were out for a sunset hike, and we spotted a troop in the trees directly above us and tried to track them as they leisurely swung from branch to branch towards their sleeping spot. It was a rare siting, and just as we were starting to feel rather smug, they weed on us. A LOT. Turns out monkey wee REALLY stinks! But the real question is, is it more lucky than bird poo?
Most of our walks took in a waterfall or 2 where we could have a shower or a dip. They tended to be on the ‘refreshing’ side, but inspired awe and reflection about how special and rare it is to experience such remote and beautiful places.
Our guide, Lizardo (for real!) not only looked the part, but was incredibly knowledgeable, and had a passion for tiny frogs that turned out to be rather infectious (the passion not the frogs!). He was locally born, and totally self-made (taught himself great English from scratch in 3 months using Duo Lingo which renders our reciprocal Spanish efforts using the same app rather pathetic). In one of his past lives he was a climbing guide hence ninja with ropes, which made for some fun tarzan swinging:
Mashpi Lodge has some great gimmicks which serve both to reveal different aspects and perspectives of forest life and appealed to the kids (including the big kids!) in our party. The skybike is like a push-me-pull-you trans-forest-self-propelled vehicle. Its heavy and therefore a LOT harder work than it looks. But that (obviously!) didn’t stop us.
The Dragonfly (a form of open-air cable car) is a lot longer, and mechanically driven hence less hard work. Our first trip consisted of 45 minutes of ‘flying’ through a cloud, but we caught some amazing views and a few cool birds next go.
Other than some spectacular cocktails (inspired by the forrest) 2 other highlights of the Mashpi experience include the Humming Bird station where feeders attracted literally hundreds of birds – beautiful to watch, rather frustrating to photograph……
And the thrills and spills of night walks:
We celebrated the end of this first ‘holiday’ section of the greater Monicofamilytravels adventure with cocktails in the jaccuzzi.
Next stop was BA, 1st school term kicking off, and our Argentinian vida.
2 furry friends to see you off!
And some less furry ones