Chocolate Tasting in Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador’s colonial capital city, Quito, has a lot to offer. Take a walking tour to learn about and see colonial sites, do day trips from Quito to the Mitad del Mundo Monument and other sites, or explore the city on your own. Not to mention, you can also sample some of the very best chocolate on the planet.

Seriously!

The chocolate in Ecuador is very good and the Pacari company has worked hard to produce some of the best in the world. In 2013, at the International Chocolate Awards World Final in London, Pacari competed against several other premium chocolate makers and took home several gold medals for their unfinished dark bars. Their success comes from working hard to find the best national beans, only using the finest organic ingredients, and producing chocolate in small batches. This results in superior, unparalleled chocolate that you can learn about and try on a chocolate tasting tour.

Take the tour to Pacari’s tasting room in Quito and you will learn how organic chocolate is made, and how their certified process provides more benefits to local communities. Partakers in the tour also learn about ten varieties of Pacari chocolate bars. Best of all, though, take the tour and you also get a complimentary gift box of some of the very best chocolate in the world!

Have time to kill in Quito? The Pacari chocolate tasting tour is a good choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Delights of Ecuadorian Cuisine

When we travel, we don’t just board planes to dive coral reefs, hike in areas with spectacular mountain scenery, and experience world-class bucket-list destinations. We also travel to experience local culture and food is always a big part of the local scene. We like to taste cuisine that we can’t find at home, and sample the delicacies associated with different regions within the same country.

Although Ecuadorian cuisine has yet to make big waves on the international foodie circuit, anyone who travels to Ecuador comes to the quick realization that the trip is going to be a delicious one. When it comes to good food, Ecuador has a lot more to offer than most people realize, and given the long history of Ecuador and the nation’s very different regions, this should really come as no surprise.

Upon arrival in Quito, you can sample scrumptious potato-based dishes, other high-Andean fare, and even sample gourmet, locally produced chocolate.

After leaving Quito, stays in haciendas near Otavalo and other highland areas are accompanied by hearty, high-Andean recipes that are made with local produce, and cooked with care.

Venture into the Amazonian lowlands, and you will enjoy meals accompanied by fresh fruit juices, plantains, and other jungle ingredients.

Fare on the other side of the mountains has some similarities but also includes fantastic, fresh seafood.

Get ready for a fantastic eating experience on a trip to Ecuador. You can also learn how to make some of those delicious recipes!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Discovery and Adventure on a Trip to Ecuador

There’s a very good reason why you may have seen ads for visiting Ecuador during sports events, online, and other venues. To put it plainly, this exciting South American country is quickly taking center stage as one of the newest, must-see places on the globe.

The reasons for visiting Ecuador are too many to mention and that about sums up why thousands of people are scheduling trips to this equatorial nation. The following are a small sampling of adventurous activities and places awaiting discovery during an Ecuadorian trip:

  • Otavalo: This famous market town is a bucket list destination of its own. The colorful indigenous market at Otavalo is filled with handicrafts, hats and scarves made from fine Alpaca wool, and other locally made wares.
  • Bungee jumping in Banos: Although this highland town is most famous for wonderful hot springs, you can also go bungee jumping into a deep Andean canyon, enjoy the scenery in the surrounding countryside from a mountain bike, horse, or hike, and rush down a mountain river on a raft.

    Bungee jumping in Banos.

  • Quito: Ecuador’s capital colonial city has plenty to discover. See Spanish cathedrals and old plazas on a tour through the colonial sector of the city, sample locally made chocolate, and discover Ecuadorian cuisine.
  • The Galapagos Islands: Few places beckon for discovery and adventure more than the Galapagos. Sign up for a cruise to experience the wonder and beauty of this unique archipelago.

    Blue-footed Boobies in the Galapagos.

These are just a few things to add to an Ecuador itinerary. Of course the best way to experience this exciting country is to go to Ecuador and discover it for yourself.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Operational Excellence – New Sustainability Manager at Tropic

As part of our National Geographic World Legacy Awards celebrations and 21st anniversary and as part of our constant desire to improve the quality of our service. Tropic is glad to announce that a new manager, Jose Luis Quintero, a professional in the areas of marketing and business administration has been officially incorporated onto our team.

José Luis Quintero is Venezuelan and living in Ecuador since 2009. He earned his degree as an industrial engineer in Venezuela and then a master’s in business administration from INCAE Business School in Costa Rica with a focus on sustainable development and finance and economics.

Jose Luis Quintero at the Huaorani Ecolodge

Jose Luis Quintero at the Huaorani Ecolodge

His most recent achievement was the launch of Rail Cruise (Tren Crucero) tourism product in Ecuador, achieving a successful national and international positioning, reflected in significant recognition of the tourism industry as a World Travel Award 2014 “Best luxury train in South America” ​​and British Guild of Travel Award 2013 “Best tourist product outside Europe”.

Jose Luis has exciting plans for Tropic. “I think tour operators have not fully explored the potential of Ecuador, a country where diversity of cultures, landscapes and wildlife- is simply astonishing. As Alexander von Humboldt -the German naturalist- noted in the 19th century, when you transverse Ecuador from the Amazon rain forest to the snow line of Cotopaxi, it equals a journey from Brazil to northern Canada in terms of climate changes and plant formations, nowadays we can complete that journey in one day” points out Jose Luis “this is the type of direction we will give to Tropic: to find new, unexplored and rich natural areas of Ecuador and to open access for our clients in a respectful, low impact way. I think that in the age of globalization, journeys to other planets and ultra-fast communications, some people think there is nothing left to explore on our planet. To me Ecuador is a proof that it is not true yet”.

We welcome and wish every success to Jose Luis in this journey to nature and spirit.

With kind regards,

The Tropic Team

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes

Although there is a lot to see and experience in Ecuador, that’s an understatement. A two or even three week trip isn’t enough to take in all of the sights and activities in this exciting country. One of those many possibilities is situated just south of Quito, and it goes by the evocative name of the Avenue of the Volcanoes.

As one might guess, the Avenue of the Volcanoes does indeed feature several volcanoes. However, before we let our imagination get the best of us and envision a road between dark red mountains with lava running down their slopes, we need to talk about the reality of volcanoes in Ecuador.

Although there are a few active volcanoes along this scenic avenue, most volcanoes in this Andean nation are inactive or extinct. Both the active and inactive volcanoes are incredibally scenic, majestic mountains capped with snow and ice. Yes, although they are on the equator and happen to be volcanoes, their height puts them into the cold reaches of the sky.

When traveling through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, fantastic mountain scenery is visible in every direction, including beautiful Cotopaxi, a 5,897 m (19,347 ft), snow topped mountain and second highest active volcano on the planet. Scenic hiking and horse-back rides are possible at Cotopaxi and in other parts of the avenue, as are stays in cozy, classic Ecuadorian haciendas.

Take a trip through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to enjoy spectacular mountain scenery during your Ecuador trip!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dive Tours in the Galapagos

A cruise is the best way to visit the Galapagos Islands but once the cruise is over, the adventure doesn’t have to end. The quiet beaches and tranquil atmosphere of this bucket list destination makes it an ideal place to relax for a few days more.

During that post-cruise R and R, if you still feel the need for some adventure, you can go for hikes in the unique habitats of the islands, take more pictures of the Giant Tortoise, and enjoy romantic dinners with that special person. However, one of the most exciting things to do after a cruise is exploring the waters around the islands.

Giant Tortoise

The marine environments of the Galapagos host more life than the dry forests and unique volcanic landscapes up on the islands. The best way to experience the beautiful waters of the Galapagos is with dive tours that take in the underwater sights in the bays and around the reefs of this exciting destination.

While many a cruise results in sightings of rays, sharks, sea turtles, and other marine wildlife seen from the ship and while snorkeling, dive beneath the waves of the Galapagos and you will see those animals, colorful reef fish, and other wildlife, sometimes face to face!

A Sea Turtle in the Galapagos Islands.

It’s easy to sign up for dive tours right after the cruise, and there are several options. A dive tour is also a wonderful way to finish off a fantastic trip to Ecuador.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tropic’s Work Receives National Geographic World Legacy Award

Tropic’s Work with Indigenous Huaorani In Ecuador’s Amazon Receives National Geographic World Legacy Award

QUITO, ECUADOR, March 17, 2015 – Ecuador’s leading purveyor of extraordinary experiences, Tropic Journeys in Nature (Tropic), walked away from ITB Berlin in March as one of five winners in the National Geographic Society’s 2015 National Geographic World Legacy Award.

Jascivan Carvalho, innovative founder and owner, accepted the award on behalf of Tropic (http://www.destinationecuador.com/) that submitted its vision and strategy and results in the Engaging Communities category. A pioneer in community-based tourism in Ecuador, Tropic started working 20 years ago in the remote Ecuadorean Amazon with the indigenous Huaorani people. Today, Huaorani Ecolodge is operated by Huaorani community members who set their own wages and manage the day-to-day business, sharing the skills they have learned with other Huaorani indigenous communities. Tropic is now continuing its successful community-based tourism model on Floreana Island in the Galápagos.

Jalsa Urubshurow, Founder and CEO, Nomadic Expeditions; Jascivan Carvalho, CEO Tropic Journeys in Nature, Costas Christ, Chairman World Legacy Awards & Editor at Large, National Geographic

The Engaging Communities award recognizes direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.

 

The winners in the other four categories were Orange County Resorts, India – Earth Changers; Cavallo Point Lodge, US (California) – Sense of Place; Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile – Conserving the Natural World; and Aruba, Caribbean – Destination Leadership.

More than 150 entries representing 56 countries across six continents were scrutinized.  Winners and finalists in five categories were selected by 18 international judges led by Costas Christ, editor at large for National Geographic Traveler and chairman of the World Legacy Awards. An on-site inspection to document sustainable tourism practices in action was part of the judging process.

Costas Christ said: “Tourism is based on selling cultural and natural heritage experiences, whether that is a trip to see Angkor Wat or a wildlife safari in Africa. With more than a billion international tourists last year, and the number growing, we must make sure that tourism is an opportunity and not a threat to the people and places travelers want to visit. The World Legacy Awards are about helping to lead the way forward.”

Gary Knell, President and CEO, National Geographic Society, said, “National Geographic believes that when carefully planned and managed, tourism can be a powerful force for protecting the planet’s fragile ecosystems and improving local livelihoods. The World Legacy Awards are about showcasing the visionaries in travel today who are committed to protecting our shared global heritage for future generations.”

The call for entries for the next World Legacy Awards starts on June 1, 2015.

http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/05/national-geographic-and-itb-announce-world-legacy-awards-winners/

Tropic, in partnership with the Huaorani community operate the remote Huaorani Eco-Lodge deep in the Ecuadorian rainforest.  For information on a variety of stays and programs offered, see: http://www.destinationecuador.com/huaorani-ecolodge-ecuador.html

 

About Tropic

Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability.

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / US Toll-free: 1.888.207.8615 / Website: http://www.destinationecuador.com.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is where most travelers arrive to this exciting country. Although you could leave the capital city to visit the amazing traditional markets at Otavalo, take a train tour through the scenic Avenue of the Volcanoes, or fly to coastal Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, most people stay in Quito for a few days because this beautiful high mountain city has its own set of attractions.

The city itself is a colonial gem, the old section being a UNESCO heritage site. Many visitors to Quito start their stay in the colonial part of the city because they choose one of several historic hotels for lodging. After settling in, they might get their first taste of delicious Ecuadorian cuisine, or head out into the surrounding neighborhoods on a walking tour of Quito. Tours of colonial Quito visit the main plaza, old, beautiful churches, and other buildings that date back to the 17th and 16th centuries.

Later on, or the next day, some folks sign up for a fantastic chocolate tasting tour. Given that participants can try ten different types of 100% organic Ecuadorian chocolate, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular tours in Quito!  Since this tour takes place in Quito’s trendy La Floresta neighborhood, it’s easy to finish off the day in one of several fine restaurants.

Don’t forget to make time for Quito when visiting Ecuador!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Three Reasons to Take the Train in Ecuador

Train rides can be fun, a romantic adventure, long, boring trips, or all of the above. Although you can’t take the train to Ecuador, you can indeed take train rides once you are in country and they aren’t exactly “boring”. The following are just three of many reasons why a ride on an Ecuadorian train is an exciting addition to every trip to Ecuador.

  • Spectacular scenery: Train rides tend to be a good means of taking in scenery. As the train rolls on, all you have to do is look out the window and enjoy the landscape. However, in Ecuador, the scenery is a bit more than farm fields and small towns. Take the train in Ecuador and you get treated to stunning views of craggy, snow-capped mountains, small Andean villages, and breathtaking landscapes that look like they came straight off a postcard.

Some scenery from the train in Ecuador.

  • Comfort: The train in Ecuador isn’t any ordinary railroad. While trains in other places act as a means of basic travel with equally basic levels of comfort, the train in Ecuador is only meant to be taken as a comfortable tour that combines insights into local culture, great food, comfort, exciting stops, and beautiful surroundings.

Enjoying dinner during the train tour.

  • Visit a glacier: Yes, when you take the train tour in Ecuador, the train makes a stop to visit the glacier that tops Chimborazo Volcano. Passengers even have the chance to chip some ice from the glacier.

Highlight a trip to Ecuador with the train tour!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wildlife at the Huaorani Ecolodge

The Amazon jungle is famous for an incredible variety of wildlife and the Huaorani Ecolodge is no exception. Since this western corner of Amazonia is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, guests of the ecolodge can expect to see quite the assortment of creatures. The following are a very short list of possibilities:

Macaws and other parrots: Flocks of screeching parakeets and parrots are commonly seen along the rivers near the lodge and at the lodge itself. Macaws are also seen, including stunning Blue and Yellow Macaws.

Blue and Yellow Macaws

Toucans: Yes, there are toucans in the Amazon and 7 species live around the Huaorani Ecolodge. Keep an eye on the canopy of the forest and you will have en excellent chance  of seeing these exotic, colorful birds.

Monkeys: Several species of monkeys live in the forests of eastern Ecuador including the incredibly cute Pygmy Marmoset. The more commonly seen species around the Huaorani Ecolodge are Squirrel Monkeys, Dusky Titis, and Red Howler Monkeys.

Amazing insects: Thousands of insects live in the rainforests near the ecolodge. They play a big role in the food chain and come in incredible forms and colors. Since most are nocturnal, your best chance of seeing them is on a guided night walk.

A beautiful grasshopper from eastern Ecuador.

Many other animals also live in the majestic rainforests near the ecolodge but incredible, natural camouflage and an inherent ability to avoid predators keeps them hidden. However, when you hike the jungles of Ecuador with the trained eyes of a local Huaorani guide, you will be amazed at what you find!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment