Mashpi Lodge to Debut in Andean Rainforest in April 2012

Looking to combine that trip to the Galapagos with an immersion into the Ecuadorean rainforest? A 2 ½-hour drive northwest of Quito will bring you to the slopes of the Andes and a new upscale green resort called Mashpi Lodge, ready to be unveiled in April. Smack dab in the middle of the 3,000-acre Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, you’ll leave each morning to go on guided hikes to secret waterfalls through a rainforest overflowing with ferns, bromeliads, and hundreds of orchids. A mind-boggling 500 species of birds inhabit the forest, including hummingbirds and those multi-hued toucans. Also expect to see monkeys, the pig-like peccaries, even pumas, especially aboard their aerial tram that glides above the rainfortest canopy. Back at the lodge, you can refresh yourself in a Jacuzzi or opt for a massage. Many of the herbs found in the meals are indigenous to the local rainforest. The lodge is owned by South American travel company, Metropolitan Touring, who also just opened a 31-bedroom boutique hotel, Casa Gangotena, in a restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco in Quito.