MASHPI LODGE, ECUADOR
Wrapped in jungle greens, mist-soaked views and pristine cloud forest with a world of unique animal life to discover, Mashpi Lodge brims with biodiversity, located on a high plateau four hours from Ecuador’s capital Quito.
A ‘hotel in the clouds’, Mashpi Lodge is your entry point into the wilds of the forest and Mashpi approaches every step with sustainable care, so you know your experience will be in harmony with the surrounding nature. Knowledgeable on-site naturalists will introduce you to the forest on guided tours which follow trials that pass by ancient trees and lead to gushing waterfalls, night treks to spot frogs and snakes and specific birdwatching tours to glimpse rare residents. With over 400 species, you will see and hear monkeys crashing through the canopy, admire butterflies the size of your hand and brightly hued hummingbirds flitting through the trees.
“Even downtime in your bedroom means immersion into rainforest life as floor-to-ceiling windows let the sights and sounds of nature in from dusk until dawn.”
Don’t miss out on the thrilling ‘air bicycle’, a 200-metre-long cable, 30 metres above the ground, where you’ll have an unrivalled view of the treetops, river and ravine. The Life Centre is the place to come to observe different species of birds and mammals that visit fruit feeders.
PIKAIA LODGE, THE GALAPAGOS
The place where Charles Darwin figured out his ‘Theory of Evolution’, The Galapagos is one of the most biologically diverse group of islands in the world. Although you can explore by boat, there are some good reasons to be based on an island at a comfortable lodge, heading out each day for walks, boat trips, diving or kayaking.
We like Pikaia Lodge, based on Santa Cruz Island, not just for its dramatic location on the edge of an extinct volcano but also because the lodge has environmental sustainability at its core – Pikaia is not only carbon neutral but has wildlife protection as the motivation for everything they do from re-forestation to waste water management. The lodge itself is an structural masterpiece, created from volcanic rock and steel, with fantastic views out to sea. Inside, it’s bright and airy and bedrooms come with either a balcony, garden or private pool and elsewhere you can read up on Galapagos wildlife in the library or relax in the spa.
“A model in sustainable tourism, Pikaia Lodge is a hotel that helps safeguard this primeval paradise for the future.”
As perfect as Pikaia is – exploring The Galapagos is the real excitement. Head out on the lodge’s own expedition ship to discover islands further afield, snorkel to get closer look at a Galapagos penguin, dive amid hammerhead sharks or cycle the forests, meeting The Galapagos’ weird and wonderful creatures at every turn.
CASA OROPENDOLA, COLOMBIA
Hidden by dense jungle and coffee fields, yet with an astonishing view that stretches to the Caribbean Sea, Casa Oropendola is an absolute find, located in the heart of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. Away from crowds and up in the hills, Casa Oropendola is a peaceful hideaway, perfect for those that like to get away from it all.
You may be remote, but you certainly won’t want for anything. Casa Oropendola is set up as a comfortable and homely lodge with some lovely touches to make your stay special like evening fire pits overlooking the incredible view with wine and tapas, picnics by the waterfall deep in the forest and yoga in the lush garden. With just three bedrooms, the lodge is never crowded and if you’re travelling as a group, you might have the place to yourself. Doorstep walks are part of Casa Oropendola’s appeal, and a guide will help you spot the wealth of animal and birdlife in this pristine jungle.
“Clasped by pristine greenery, staying at Casa Oropendola means disconnecting from life as you know it, and embracing its peaceful nature and fascinating local customs.”
Have a glimpse into agricultural way of life at Casa Oropendola during the coffee harvest (from October to December) and help with coffee picking. You can also join chef in the kitchen to learn how to cook some local dishes, using produce from the garden and surroundings including avocados, cacao, honey and coffee.
AMANTICA LODGE, PERU
Imagine staying on a small island on Lake Titicaca which also happens to be one of the world’s highest island lodges. This is Amantica Lodge in Peru, an extraordinary outpost of authenticity, all to be experienced in your own private house.
With just two bedrooms, it’s ideal for a family, couple or small group, and clasped to the edge of the rocky shore of Lake Titicaca, lake views surround the property, facilitated by floor to ceiling windows in the bedrooms and communal lounge area. As well as sensational panoramas, you also get to observe the patterns of your local neighbours including bringing the sheep down to the lake to drink, fishing for trout and farming on the pre-Inca terraces. Owner Oswaldo is also your connection to a world of discovery – he can make introductions to local shamans or together you might like to make an offering to the Inca god Pachamama.
“This truly is one of South America’s most unique lodges. Away from crowds and tourists, live like a local by Lake Titicaca, feasting on regional delicacies and watching the play of light on the water.”
Visiting the floating islands of Lake Titicaca is a must, but use your stay as an opportunity to connect more deeply with your environment – visit a local community, have a reading using coca leaves, fish for trout or listen to a local band play soulful music.
CHALTEN CAMP, ARGENTINA
Characterised by domineering mountains, ice fields, swirling rivers, deep lagoons and glinting glaciers, Patagonia is one of the world’s most far-flung and remote regions. Coming here is an adventure and staying within its wild pockets feels intrepid, especially at Chalten Camp, made up of 18 domes which merge the inside and outside while presenting a truly ecological way to experience this pristine part of the world.
This unique glamping experience is located in Los Glaciares National Park, surrounded by the mesmerising peaks of Fitz Roy. You will fill your days easily with hiking the enormous scenery around you and back at camp, expect delicious home cooked Argentinian fare and strategically placed hammocks where you can recover from demanding days. As well as hiking you can also try your hand at salmon fishing, kayaking and birdwatching. Fall asleep watching the stars pinprick the inky sky from your geodesic structure.
“Wild and remote, sleeping in a dome and trekking the high mountains, Chalten Camp in Patagonia is an extraordinary experience, highlighting the power and fragility of nature.”
There is a lot of terrain to cover here and whether you are hiking, on overland trips, ice trekking or rock climbing, it all feels wild, untouched and far, far off the beaten track. Spend your days delving deep into wild pockets of nature without another soul in sight – perhaps spotting huemul deer, torrent ducks and Patagonian woodpeckers.