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

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Finalist in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 20th’ Anniversary

World’s Best Awards 2oth Anniversary

Visionary Company Recognized for its Eco-Tourism Work with Communities in Ecuadorian Amazon and on Floreana Island, Galapagos 
Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards

Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards

To anyone in the travel industry, the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards represent a standard of excellence and we here at Tropic are proud to be the only TOUR OPERATOR category in Ecuador selected as a finalist.
The 2015 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards survey will be conducted online from November 3, 2014 to March 2,2015
at tlworldsbest.com
Twitter/Instagram, the official hashtag: #TLWorldsBest.

Facebook: posts at facebook.com/travelandleisure

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The Antisana Ecological Reserve

The Antisana Ecological Reserve, located in the Province of Napo about 50km to the south east of Quito, offers a multitude of attractions for the tourist: impressive landscapes, hikes through Andean and mountain forests, camping, climbing, lakes, wild life and cultural life. Among the park’s natural features, the Fallarones of Isco stand out. A group of rock walls located close to the park, the Fallarones are one of the main resting and nesting places of the almost mythological Andean condor.

The major attraction in the highest areas of the park is the volcano Antisana itself. This massive snow capped mountain has a height 5,758 meters; it is the highest point of the Reserve and one of the highest peaks of the Ecuadorian Andes. In the area surrounding the volcano the visitor will see evidence of flows of lava from past eruptions. Close by is the Micacocha lagoon which, apart from providing water for the capital, is famous for the large size of the trout that can be caught here.

For those interested in climbing Antisana, the way up the mountain starts with a path located in the Valley of Tambo in the end north west of the Reserve, close to the limits of the Cayambe–Coca Reserve. In the valley there are also hot springs where the visitors can relax; the waters have a high mineral content and are famed for their healing properties. Here the visitor will find good quality tourist infrastructure.

For anyone interested in experiencing the beauty of the area at first hand, the Tambo valley is also the starting point of a trail that leads to Cotopaxi National Park. It is known to trekkers and more adventurous travelers as a difficult hike where good physical condition is necessary, but finally one well worth the effort.

It is also possible to camp near Santa Lucía Lagoon (Mauca Machay), a seasonal lake of glacial origin, located on the north western flank of Antisana. It is a well known place to camp as the surroundings provide a beautiful landscape typical of the altitude.

One of the important cultural attractions of the Reserve’s area of influence is the Chagras. The Chagras were Andean cowboys, employed by the great haciendas to look after cattle. They are still around today, and can be seen dressed in their distinctive llama-fur chaps and ponchos designed to keep out the cold winds of the high Andes. In this region traditional festivals still celebrate the prowess of the Chagras, whose riding skills are legend. When a tournament is called the word spreads fast, and the Chagras come from far and wide in order to show their grace and skill on horseback. The festivals usually end with popular bullfights.

The mountain forests of this international biodiversity hotspot contain almost half of the plants species known to exist in Ecuador, many of them unique to this region.

Of the 416 bird species found here, 150 are classed as vulnerable, notably hummingbirds, woodpeckers, parrots, flycatchers and gloriously colored tanagers. The Antisana paramos or moorlands are also vitally important for the protection of the rare Andean condor. They nest in the ravines of El Isco, which is consequently one of the best places to observe them. Some of the endangered mammals to be found in the Reserve include spectacled bears, tapirs and pumas.

Highlights:

The Micacocha lagoon is surrounded by ancient lava flows, and is one of the Reserve’s most picturesque spots.

The Tambo Valley, with its healing hot springs, and trail to Cotopaxi National Park. Trails also lead from here to the Antisana volcano.

The strange waves of lava in Antisanilla emerged from the ground rather than from the crater of the volcano, and create an extraordinary landscape.

Climate:
Depending on the altitude, the average annual temperature ranges from 3 to 17 °C.

What to Bring:
Warm clothing.
Waterproof jacket.
Sun screen.
Walking shoes/boots.
Sunglasses.
Hat.
Binoculars for bird-watching.
Rain poncho.
Flashlight.

How to get here:

The three main access roads to the Reserve are:
The Quito–Píntag–Laguna La Mica road, which take you to the Antisana paramo;
The Quito–Cotopaxi National Park – Valle Vicioso road, which requires a 4×4 vehicle: and
The Quito–Baeza– Jondachi–Tena road, which leads to the east of the Reserve.

As much of the Reserve is private property, trips should be arranged in advance with the Ministry of the Environment.

The area by numbers:

• 73: Species of mammals identified in the Reserve.
• 26: The percentage of all the bird species identified in Ecuador which are found in this Reserve.
• 3-17: The average annual temperature range, in °C. depending on the altitude.

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Yellow Eyelash Palm-Pitviper Discovered in Ecuador

Recently, a team of herpetologists from Tropical Herping were working in Ecuador and discovered a snake that had never been seen in South America.

An Oropel, or Yellow morph Eyelash Palm-Pitviper

The serpent in question is the yellow morph of the Eyelash Palm-Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii) or “Oropel” and the following are some of the reasons why this is such an important discovery:

  • A famous first for Ecuador: Although the mottled green form of the Eyelash Palm-Pitviper occurs in humid forest habitats of northwestern Ecuador, until this discovery, the yellow form was only found in Central America, and had never been found in South America. Its striking golden coloration makes it one of the most searched for arboreal vipers in the neotropical region.

    The regular green morph of this species.

    Another Eyelash Palm-Pitviper.

  • Humid forests near the coast: In Costa Rica, the Oropel typically occurs in humid forest in the lowlands and foothills. In Ecuador, it was found in similar habitats near the coast. It has yet to be found east of the Panama Canal or in Colombia and Venezuela. Previous reports from Venezuela pertain to specimens from Costa Rica.

    A close look.

  • Why the bright yellow color?: It seems strange that a brightly colored snake can survive in rainforest habitats and the reason for the eye-catching golden color is unknown. However, some herpetologists suspect that it might need less camouflage during the night.

    A gorgeous snake!

  • A new species?: Preliminary DNA studies seem to indicate that the Oropel in Ecuador is probably an undescribed species distinct from the Oropel of Costa Rica. The other varieties of Eyelash Palm-Pitviper in Ecuador might also be undescribed, cryptic species.
  • A threatened snake: The Eyelash Palm-Pitvipers in Ecuador, including this recent discovery, are threatened by habitat loss as well as collection for the pet trade. Since less than 3% remains of its humid lowland forest habitat, this probable new species is very likely also endangered.

    It's easy to see why this beauty would be targeted for the pet trade.

Learn more about the rich herpetofauna of Ecuador at the Tropical Herping site.

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