Insider Blog

Filter By Month: January 2013
  • Hit the Trail, but Stop to Smell the Roses

    If you are headed north of Quito, stop when you get to Cayambe and visit a local store to taste the “biscochos” and “hoja de queso.” Then check out the local market in Otavalo for artistan crafts. And along the way be sure not to miss the pristine lakes such as Mohanda or Cuicocaha, of Imbabura Province.

  • Tagua: The Renewable Ivory

    Take a look at the buttons on your jacket or shirt.  Most likely they are manufactured from plastic.  Since plastic has been around only since the 1950s, have you ever wondered what those buttons were made of 70 years ago, before the invention of plastic? Nuts!

  • Photo: Homero Ortega & Sons

    The Panama Hat of Ecuador (Not Panama)

    It is the misnomer of the hemisphere – a product whose origin, material, and continued production in one country have been attributed to an entirely different place for more than 160 years.

    When visitors come to Ecuador they see a common hat for sale in the airports and throughout the tourist neighborhoods and markets: The Panama Hat, world-renowned capstone of tropical apparel.

  • Photo: Piedra de Agaua

    Great Spas of Ecuador

    As if Ecuador did not have enough to see and do (Galapagos Islands, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle, haciendas, beaches, lodges, great food, colonial towns), people are beginning to come for another reason: their health.

    Spas and Resorts have made a significant presence in the tourism circuit of Ecuador, from the Andes to the coast, with settings as magnificent as tropical rainforests to more stark, but beautiful high altitudes of the Andes. Many of them take advantage of Ecuador’s natural geothermal hot springs.

  • Photo: Napo Wildlife Center

    Visiting the Amazon Basin Along the Napo River

    It is surprising that many people still do not realize Ecuador is part of the Amazon Basin.  After all, the Amazon was “discovered” by the Spanish Explorer Francisco Orellana, when he departed Quito in 1541.  He began the river expedition from what is present day Coca, where the Coca River (which is born from the Antisana Volcano runoff) meets the Napo River (born from the Cotopaxi Volcano runoff).

    Ebbing 885 kilometers eastward through three countries, the Napo River winds through one of the most ecologically diverse regions of the world, to which thousands of tourists are drawn each year.  Before it leaves Ecuador, this Amazon River tributary passes through two biosphere reserves – Sumaco and Yasuni – where more species of plant and trees can be found in a couple of hectares than in all of North America.

  • Photo: Karina Dávila

    Whale Watching in Northern Peru

    If you are a nature lover and would like to observe some of the most amazing marine fauna, head to northern Peru. There you will be able to relax and recharge your batteries to continue the journey.

    Los Organos, located around 1200 km north of Lima, has a heavenly beach where you can surf and try local sea food. From August to October you can see Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), which arrive in Peruvian waters for breeding and calving.

  • Photo: Jorge Gobbi

    Money in Argentina: The Easiest Ways to Pay

    Travelers might be surprised to discover that U.S. dollars are widely accepted as payment in Argentina. In fact, many hotels and tour companies offer slight discounts—sometimes up to 15%—if payment is made in the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars. If you plan on booking tours or accommodations ahead of time, be sure to check first to see if you can get a discount by paying in U.S. dollars. It’s also worth asking at restaurants, with cabdrivers and at markets. Lesson learned: Bring a generous amount of hard cash, in the form of U.S. dollars, and you may be able to bargain for discounts. What you don’t need that day you can keep in your hotel safe.

  • Photo: Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador

    Ecuador’s Protected Areas

    More than 97 percent of the land and surrounding water of the Galapagos Islands are designated as a national park or reserve, making it one of the most protected areas on the planet. The Galapagos, though, are not the only protected region of the country. For those looking to explore relatively pristine and off-the-beaten-path areas, visitors have a number of choices.

  • Photo: Thomas S.

    The History of Pisco

    Peruvian Pisco Sour is a national cocktail that you must try as soon as you arrive to Peru. It has become a welcome drink of our country. If you want a taste, you can also try a shot of its base liquor Quebranta Pisco.

    What is the history behind this Peruvian grape-based liquor?

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