For the Napa Trail tour after settling into our respective rooms, we are introduced to our naturalist guides who will briefly speak about the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities you will be offered during your stay, and helpful tips about what to wear and bring to the excursions. This will take place before lunch at our library (lasts around 30 minutes).
The trail is named after the Cucharillo Tree (Magnolia dixonii), which in Spanish means ‘little spoon’, an Ecuadorian endemic that is common at Mashpi, although otherwise threatened throughout the country. The trail requires some physical condition due to its steeper portions but has been made less demanding thanks to recycled plastic crates that have been used to form steps and make paths firmer. At the end of the trail, find a large waterfall and rocky riverbed with beautiful ponds and smaller waterfalls. The excursion takes about 2 hours to complete.
The forest transforms by sunset: the sounds and smells intensify and other senses are awakened. We will discover the evening croaking of nocturnal frogs and incessant buzz of insects. If we turn off our flashlights, we will be able to observe sparkling fireflies and feel bats zipping by. On the ground, we’ll discover the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi all around. As we turn our flashlights on again, we’ll quickly notice the reflection of hundreds of tiny insects. As we continue on, owls and other nocturnal birds may call into the night, while the rustling of branches above us may mean that we’re in the presence of kinkajous (Potos flavus), an arboreal mammal relative to the raccoon, making their way through the trees in search of ripe fruit. The excursion begins at 7 PM and takes about 45 min to an hour. We then return to the lodge to enjoy a delicious dinner.