There are few places on the planet which can rival the Ecuadorean cloud forest for biodiversity. From slithering snakes and disconcertingly large spiders to flittering emerald-hued hummingbirds, this verdant wonderland is bursting with life.
Unlike the Galapagos, however, with its abundance of lazy snoozing fur seals and sun-baking marine iguanas blocking every path, this wildlife is a little more elusive. The creepy crawlies hide in the undergrowth, revealing a hairy leg from time to time, whilst the beautiful birds fly high and rare mammals slink through the canopy above.
Luckily for us, the team at Mashpi Lodge have engineered a rather genius solution. Enter the Dragonfly: a pioneering rainforest gondola which takes guests right up into the canopy and beyond, allowing them to come face-to-face with nature. Travelling along a two kilometre system of cables, the Dragonfly traverses Mashpi’s forested peaks and valleys, offering glimpses of species rarely seen by humans.
At the end of the journey, guests have the option to undertake a challenging hike through virgin forest, stopping off to shower under icy waterfalls and plunge into hidden swimming holes.
In line with Mashpi’s philosophy, the Dragonfly was designed to minimise impact upon the natural setting; constructed largely by hand to avoid bringing heavy machinery into the fragile forest environment. Powered by renewable energy, the gondola is designed to blend seamlessly and silently into the forest.
As you rise through the canopy and get up-close-and-personal with jewel-toned birds and sleepy sloths, you’ll see them entirely at ease in their natural environment. As you stare in awe, they’ll peer at you, curious, before moving on with their everyday lives. Just another day in the jungle.