Highlights from the Train Tour in Ecuador

Deciding upon an itinerary for Ecuador can be a challenge. After looking into possibilities, it can seem that this exciting country almost has too much to offer. One of those exciting possibilities is the train tour. Buy a ticket for this train and you will experience stunning High Andean scenery, visits to local markets, and more while traveling in comfort on a beautiful vintage train. These are some of the other highlights when taking the train in Ecuador:  
  • Cozy Haciendas, Quaint Inns: After riding the easy-going rails during the day, nights are spent in classic haciendas and small inns surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.
  • Visit a Glacier: On the second day of the tour, the train pulls into Urbina station, a stop located at 11,840 feet (3,600 meters) above sea level. The station is also located near the Chimborazo glacier and passengers will actually visit it with one of Ecuador’s last ice traders.
  • Authentic Andean Cuisine: If you thought the food was good in Quito (and it is!), just wait until you try the local delicacies in the markets and haciendas visited during the train tour.
  • The Devil’s Nose Descent: This is the name of a famous, steep decent down the Pacific slope of central Ecuador. This feat of engineering takes the train through several switchbacks for 800 meters down a nearly vertical slope.

Want to experience stunning scenery and activities from the comfort of a beautiful, vintage train? Get tickets for the train in Ecuador!

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Why are the Galapagos Islands a Bucket List Destination?

Everyone has their own set of bucket list destinations. Paris is one of the most common bucket list cities but it’s also one of the easiest to visit. The Great Wall of China also makes it onto the destination lists of some people, as does Mount Kilamanjaro, and other famous sites. Take a look at the bucket lists of folks starting out with travel or having visited dozens of countries, and you will probably see the Galapagos Islands written there.

This archipelago is famous for many reasons and not just for its history. Visit the Galapagos and you cruise through a series of scenic volcanic islands set in what seems like the middle of the ocean. While the spectacular views are enough to warrant a cruise, visitors to the Galapagos also experience a host of unique and amazing wildlife.

The sea cliffs are alive with calling seabirds flying to and from their nests. In the ocean, pods of dolphins might swim past and eagle rays make occasional leaps out of the water. The rocks at the shore host brightly colored Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Marine Iguanas, and sunning Sea Lions. On land, we can visit a breeding center for Galapagos Giant Tortoises and watch unique mockingbirds and Darwin’s Finches hop around. All of these animals are also tame and make fantastic photography subjects. Add wonderful food and drink on a comfortable ship, and a trip to this bucket list destination also becomes a memorable trip of a lifetime.

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The Amazon Experience at the Huaorani Ecolodge

A visit to the Amazon can take the form of a trip to a local town, a boat ride down a river, a stay at a lodge where the primary rainforest has been cut down, or an authentic experience that includes local Amazonian native peoples and wildlife in primary Amazonian rainforest. The latter experience is the exception because although general ideas about the Amazon basin often involve stories of deep, dark forests haunted by Jaguars, Anacondas, and other exotic jungle animals, this is pretty far from the truth. Yes, big cats and large snakes do occur but they are shy, difficult to see, and only live in remote areas. Most areas along roads and other easily accessible sites have been deforested, and few animals can be seen there.

A river flows through the Amazon rainforest.

An authentic Amazonian experience is possible but involves some travel, and a stay at a unique ecolodge. This is what we find at the Huaorani Ecolodge, and getting to and from this award winning lodge is part of the adventure. For example, after a short plane ride from Quito, Ecuador to the Amazonian lowlands, guests board dug-out canoes and travel down a river through intact Amazonian rainforest. There aren’t any roads to the lodge and it shows with wildlife being seen on the trail cams at the ecolodge and by guests hoping to spot toucans, monkeys, and, for lucky ones, a Tapir. After a few exciting days of hikes through primeval jungle, learning about Huaorani culture, and learning some jungle survival tips from people who actually use such skills to survive, guests leave the lodge with another boat ride along a remote jungle river.

A trail cam at the Huaorani Ecolodge captures a view of an Amazonian Tapir.

Visit the Huaorani Ecolodge for a true Amazon experience.

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Family Fun in the Galapagos Islands

There are many reasons for visiting the Galapagos Islands. This exciting destination makes it onto the bucket list of most travelers on account of its unique wild beauty, interesting endemic wildlife, and history. It’s also a wonderful place to experience by way of a cruise ship, especially when the ship comes with a certified naturalist guide, comfortable berths, and delicious meals.

The unique beauty of the Galapagos also make this archipelago a fine destination for a romantic getaway, and as a fun, fantastic family vacation. These are a few of the reasons why the Galapagos are just as fun for the family as they are for couples and the adventurous, single traveler:

  • Comfortable: Did we already mention comfortable? It always deserves a second mention when taking a cruise in these beautiful islands. There are several ships to choose from and they vary in terms of amenities but all are going to give every traveler a comfortable, easy-going experience.
  • Adventure: Yes, a visit to the Galapagos is a blend of comfort and adventure. The naturalist guide will take you on hikes through unique landscapes, point out flamingos and other exotic birds, and explain how to tell the difference between Land and Marine Iguanas.
  • Giant Tortoises: Kids of all ages love seeing these huge reptiles, and you can’t see them anywhere else. Learn about them at breeding centers for these amazing reptiles.
  • Beautiful beaches: Visit them during the cruise and spend some quality time with the family on quiet beaches after the tour is over.

Take the family to the Galapagos, Ecuador for a trip of a lifetime!

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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.


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.

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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!

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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.

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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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