“You know what would be a great idea?” Coen asked as we moved up the last steps of the stairs that brought us to a 30-meter-high watchtower.
“What?” David, our guide, asked.
“To serve champagne upstairs. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic surprise?”
David didn’t respond and we continued our way up.
“That’s not just a great idea, but we already implemented it – sort of,” David said with a smile as we all arrived on the platform.
José, our second guide, stood there like the perfect waiter with his arms folded and a big smile. He had gone up the watchtower while David and I were doing our aerial bike ride among 30-40-meter high tropical tree tops and Coen was busy photographing, well pretty much everything.
We had grown used to José carrying a backpack. During our trip to a waterfall he had surprised us with a little bag of peanuts; when watching hummingbirds at the observation tower he had given us local fruits. These details are simple yet make such a difference in how you experience a place, I find.
For example, a couple of minutes before returning to the lodge, David would radio the kitchen about our arrival and while we were changing our muddy rubber boots – provided by the lodge – for our shoes, a staff member would hand out cold wet towels with a scent of mint for our hands and face, and offer a fruit juice.
The Mashpi Eco Lodge in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest knows what service is.
We had spent two days in David and José’s companionship and we thoroughly enjoyed their companionship. We connected with them. David, the naturalist guide, was full of stories about the forest while José constantly was aware of every single movement around us: he spotted the tiniest creatures, beautiful birds, and since he has always lived in the forest, he had much to share about the practical, nutritional, and medicinal use of plants.
While during some activities we were with more travelers in a group, this afternoon it was just the four of us. For some reason being here on this watchtower felt special. We were extremely lucky as for once the clouds had budged, giving way for the sun to show itself. A big red ball colored the sky in beautiful tinges and even David and José, who must have seen their share of sunrises here, were impressed.
Okay, so it wasn’t champagne, but red wine. A good one, obviously. It came with pieces of bread, cheese and cold cuts. What a simple yet wonderful treat.
Whether it was the company, the alcohol, the setting, or a combination of all three, I felt a feeling of friendship and while the sun set we shared personal stories and drank our wine.
For a moment, life was perfect.
- The Mashpi Eco Lodge lies in the cloud forest just three hours north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Part of the reserve is the Choco Forest, one of the most biodiverse forests on the planet, but of which only 10% remains.
- Activities on offer: aerial bike, view from the watchtower, hummingbird observation center, butterfly Life Center, hiking (sometimes to waterfalls), and this year they will open a 2-km-long cable car. The lodge also has a wellness center with a Jacuzzi and massages/treatments.
- For more information, check out their website.
Thank you Mashpi Lodge, for hosting us!
- To prepare for your trip to Ecuador, check out this Insight Guide.
- For more stories on Ecuador see here or check out the Ecuador stories on our Landcruising Adventure website.