What is it about waterfalls that inspire us to meditate, dream, and feel so very alive? Dare we describe a brave jump into cascading water as imbuing a gentle euphoria? Absolutely. There is more than meets the eye. Bathing in waterfalls can trigger a biochemical reaction that boosts the mood hormone serotonin, lifting depression, soothing stress, and recharging energy.
The Mashpi Reserve, located 3 hours northwest of historic Quito, Ecuador, is a dream destination for travelers who feel the magnetic pull of the ‘falls. There are just under 30 waterfalls in the Reserve, which was a logging site up to 15 years ago and is now the home of the luxury 24-room Mashpi Lodge. These magnificent falls are fed by the grand Mashpi River, which crisscrosses the 2,500-hectare Reserve bringing life to everything in its path.
Mashpi Lodge guests can jump and swim in four and observe the other waterfalls from the heights of the Dragonfly. With water temperatures between 18 and 20 °C (64° F and 68° F), swimmers and loungers are enveloped by sunlight and mist. The breathtaking cascades beckon you to submerge in their pools and stand under the shower-like chutes.
View from the Dragonfly.
(Image by Tommy Clarke)
The Copal Waterfall
The Copal Waterfall is one of the most accessible of the four.
The Magnolia Waterfall
The path to Magnolia is steep in parts, with a stunning viewing platform about halfway that looks over the forest and a celestial pool for bathing at the bottom – an all-natural Jacuzzi!
The Healing Waterfall
The Healing Waterfall is one of the most challenging to reach but undeniably worth the journey.
The Malalimpias, a favorite of the guides, is one of the most challenging and longest trails, but the effort is rewarded with one of the largest waterfalls in Mashpi, which cascades down 60 m (197 ft). Guests can return to the hotel via the Dragonfly.