What is roughly the same height as Cinderella’s Castle and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, surrounded by hundreds of birds, and moves?
A sky bike, of course.
Tucked away in Ecuador’s 3,200 acre Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve is an innovative way to explore the Andean cloud forest canopy. The sky bike is a human-powered, two-seat bike, dangling from a 656-foot cable stretched between two points in the forest. Reaching up to 196 feet, the areal bike is perfectly at home among the treetops.
About 70% of the diversity of a tropical forest can be found in the high canopy, and people have found a number of mechanisms to access the top of the forest, from hot air balloons to mechanical cranes. But the sky bike has advantages other contraptions do not – it is noiseless, does not disturb the wildlife and moves at a pace you choose. Riders leisurely explore the forest canopy as well as enjoy the views when crossing a river gorge. Guests have been using the bike – this one is the latest of five prototypes – since 2012.
The sky bike allows guests to feel a part of life in the treetops. Savor unique views of trees full of mosses, bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes, and come across some of the other inhabitants of the forest from butterflies to monkeys to sloths. Listen to some of the 400 to 500 species of birds believed to inhabit the reserve such as indigo flower piercer, Chocó vireo and yellow-green bush tanager.
And if that is not enough high wire time for you, there is the Dragonfly, an innovative cable system that carries you under, through and above the forest canopy. The Dragonfly consists of two stations, six towers and four ‘gondolas.’ Each gondola can carry four guests plus a guide. It travels gently and slowly along a 2-kilometer/1.2-mile cable between the two stations. It really offers you a bird’s-eye view as it moves sometimes below the canopy, sometimes through it, and sometimes far above it. It also passes over some of the reserve’s trails, rivers and waterfalls.
Once you have finished your areal adventures, you can retreat to the five-star, one-of-a-kind Mashpi Lodge in the heart of the Equatorial Chocó Bio-Region, regarded as one of the planet’s most important “hot spots” of biodiversity. Even here, you remain an integral part of your surroundings with stunning views of forested mountains right up close through its floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass windows. The lodge was built using the latest techniques of sustainable construction and is designed to blend perfectly with its natural environs.
You feel like royalty in your own private castle that embraces you like a luxurious cocoon amidst the cloud and tropical forests. Explore the sky trails of this ancient forest on our 14-day Private Sanctuaries of Ecuador.