Posts tagged with "Ecuador"

Yacht, Kontiki, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery

Kontiki Small-Yacht Expeditions

New Kontiki small-yacht expeditions will launch this fall and is now accepting bookings for sailings along Ecuadorian coast

After an extensive planning and construction period, the start-up Kontiki Expeditions will launch their maiden voyages this fall. A new concept in luxury ocean vacations focusing on conscious travel and immersive experiences, Kontiki small-yacht expeditions include both under-the-water and on-land richesse. Kontiki’s first two itineraries, The Toquilla Expedition and The Spondylus Expedition, travel along the Ecuadorian coast and take full advantage of the country’s wealth of birds, animals, flora, fauna, indigenous foods and cultural traditions while adhering to a philosophy of sustainability and giving back to communities.

“We are pioneers in offering luxury sea expeditions along seldom-traveled routes,” commented Carlos Nuñez, Founder and CEO. “Our new expeditions reveal the beauty and authenticity of coastal Ecuador, passing through small, uncrowded towns and historical sites; forests and wetlands; pristine beaches; and protected ecological reserves,” he continued.

A fundamental part of the Kontiki program is supporting the communities visited while also enriching the guest experience. “We believe strongly that conscious travel is especially important as we connect our guests with local communities. Giving back is as important as receiving,” Nuñez noted.

The first ship is scheduled to set sail in December. Initially introducing with two eight-day itineraries, Kontiki will transport guests to untouristed areas in Ecuador to explore and celebrate the indigenous cultures within a context of wellness. Kontiki’s luxury boutique yachts, which have only nine staterooms each, are able to visit smaller ports.

The programs are led by 10 crew members and two local experts committed to sustainability and conscious travel. Onboard, wellness professionals, naturalist guides and a local chef add to the distinctive Kontiki experience. Guests can expect to see the country’s beloved blue-footed boobies along with sea lions and howler monkeys. Gastronomic experiences featuring local chocolate, seafood, and produce will be enjoyed both onboard and on land.

The yachts are 128 feet-long and include nine staterooms, a sundeck, a gourmet salon, two outdoor lounges, bar, Jacuzzi, and a gym and fitness area. Guest and crew health and safety are priorities and sanitization and wellness protocols are summarized on Kontiki’s website here. Pricing begins at $7245 per person per week, based on double occupancy, and includes all activities, meals, transfers to and from ports, park entrances, guided expeditions and more. Solo traveler rate and private charter rates are also available.

“Ecuador is home to our first expedition and we look forward to expanding our concept of small-yacht luxury to other countries as well. We are excited about sharing our beautiful yachts and destinations with adventurous travelers who share our passion for exploration and conscious travel,” he added. For more information and reservations, visit www.kontikiexpeditions.com/en.

About Kontiki Expeditions:

Kontiki Expeditions are pioneers in conscious luxury travel, offering immersive and sustainable small-yacht expeditions. Sailing the untouristed Ecuadorian coast, the nine-stateroom Kontiki yachts introduce a maximum of 18 guests to the richesse of the land and sea. Multi-stop itineraries feature hiking, snorkeling, meetings with locals, in-depth cultural explorations, wellness activities and gastronomy. Kontiki travelers experience the area’s flora, fauna and animals including indigenous blue-footed boobies and howler monkeys, all in a protected environment where sustainability and uncrowded venues are paramount. Kontiki prides itself in giving back to the communities visited with resources and education. For more information, visit their website, call +5933984364149, or email Kontiki Expeditions.

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South American Travel

 Hue & Cry—a creative communications agency—is delighted to announce its PR representation of SouthAmerica.travel, the ultimate travel planning service specializing in trips to South America. With a mission to share the most authentic experiences possible, SouthAmerica.travel provides travel enthusiasts with the opportunity to delve into the continent’s many cultures through diverse experiences, ranging from exploring Colombia’s “coffee country” to touring local markets with indigenous ingredients in Peru. The handcrafted tours go beyond simple customization, taking travelers style, pace, and mind into consideration, coupled with recommendations based on SouthAmerica.travel’s expertise to ensure travelers are checking dream destinations off the bucket list. When booking with SouthAmerica.travel, each guest will experience the brand’s educational component: to ensure travelers understand why and what they see, rather than just showing them around.

“As SouthAmerica.travel continues to grow and approach our 20th anniversary in November, we retain our commitment to authenticity. Hue & Cry understands our brand, which is why we are thrilled to have the agency as an extension of our team” says CEO and Co-Founder, Juergen Keller. “I couldn’t agree more that this partnership is a natural fit; Hue & Cry’s specialization in unique travel brands aligns with the custom, bespoke tours we offer here at SouthAmerica.travel” says C.O.O and Co-Founder, Bradley Nehring.

Highlights of Tours From South America.travel Include:

Brazilian History 101: On the Colonial Gems & Historic Cities in Brazil Tour, guests can explore the country’s colonial wonderlands with a Brazilian Historian as their guide. Experiences include touring the baroque churches of UNESCO world heritage site, Ouro Preto, to riding an antique cable car down to one of the world’s oldest gold mines in Mariana. In Paraty, history-buffs can learn about the eventful path to Brazilian Independence through the town’s cobblestone streets, notable landmarks, and historical edifices, which together encompass the country’s rich Portuguese heritage. Outside of Brazilian Imperial-era, guests will visit Inhotim Brazil Art Park—one of South America’s largest open-air art museum featuring over 500 pieces of artwork. For the 12-day/11-night experience, prices start at $3,670 per person.

Path of the Incas and the Amazing Amazon: A bucket-list experience, guests can book the Machu Picchu and Amazon Jungle Tour, and follow in the steps of the Incas: from the colonial wonderland of Cuzco through the indigenous markets of the Sacred Valley to the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival by train to Aguas Calientes, SouthAmerica.travel brings adventurers to Machu Picchu’s less-visited Watchman’s Hut and Inca Bridge. In Puerto Maldonado, head into the jungle for authentic lodging run by local tribes, which will be provided by the Peruvian Amazon Lodge – run by local tribes – before setting out to visit a parrot clay lick, a natural formation caused by erosion where parrots, parakeets, and macaws go daily. Tour-goers will complete the day with learning more about the rainforest’s herbaceous ecology, all under the guidance of one of the area’s expert naturalists. For the 8-day/7-night experience, prices start at $1,900 per person.

Land and Sea Adventures in Patagonia: Nature Enthusiasts will have the chance to breathe in the fresh, crisp air of the mountainous Patagonia region with the Patagonia Deluxe Tour. The expedition invites travelers to cruise one of the most remote corners of the world aboard the luxurious, Stella Australis. Highlights include crossing the Nassau Bay and entering UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Cape Horn National Park, a rocky promontory overlooking Drake Passage, known as “End of the Earth,” and the shipping channel that was the sole navigation route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans for several years. The region is a sanctuary blessed with glacial landscapes, which presents opportunities such as hiking the verdant Magellanic forest to a cascading waterfall with viewpoints of Garibaldi Glacier—one of the only three glaciers in Patagonia gaining mass. Travelers will disembark from the Stella Australis and transfer to Explora Lodge in Torres del Paine National Park, where if the weather permits, travelers will visit a Magellanic penguin colony en route to Explora Lodge in Torres del Paine National Park. They can visit a veritable penguin colony. For the 14-day/13-night experience, prices start at $11,925 per person. For additional package deals visit American Airlines vacations.

About SouthAmerica.travel

SouthAmerica.travel is a tour operator specialized in custom South America tour planning for travelers worldwide from its offices in Seattle, Lima, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Stuttgart. The website offers hundreds of sample itineraries as well as local phone numbers in 88 countries. SouthAmerica.travel offers 4-star & 5-star South America tours to Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and more. Licensed and bonded in the U.S., SouthAmerica.travel has been sharing its love of travel to South America since 1999 and is proud of its A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and ASTA affiliation. SouthAmerica.travel – Our name is our passion™

Make Earth Day Every Day

Make Earth Day, Every Day when you Travel

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to be surrounded by Mother Nature’s gifts while simultaneously helping her grow? The following companies offer travelers unique and fun ways to give back to the communities they visit and places they travel to, not just on Earth Day but all year round.

Offer a Student Their First Wilderness Experience with Discover Outdoors

Explore our parks and mountains with Discover Outdoors and provide a student the same opportunity. For every hike and trip taken, a portion of each payment funds a student’s very own trip to experience the best of the outdoors. The Discover Outdoors Foundation has provided hundreds of deserving youth with the opportunity to explore the intricacies of our world for the first time. The core of Discover Outdoors is a commitment to making the natural world available and accessible to all people while positively impacting learning.

Tag a Hammerhead Shark and prevent extinction with PELORUS travel specialists

Experience a Yacht Expedition to the Galapagos with PELORUS and not only will you dive around the island of Mosquera, observing hammerhead sharks; you can also help tag these sharks and monitor their whereabouts upon your return home. As the sharks become increasingly endangered, scientists are searching for ways to help their population rebound. Thanks to tracking data generated from tags, scientists have some of the first evidence showing pregnant hammerheads from those Galapagos islands may be migrating to mainland South American countries like Ecuador to give birth. If they can further confirm these findings, it may help governments better protect the species before it slides closer toward extinction.

Restore Coral and Support Communities at Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

This Earth Day at Bawah Reserve, a secluded luxury private archipelago off the coast of Singapore, guests can take part in a conservation dive and participate by developing coral tree nurseries or monitoring and protecting sea turtles.The Bawah Anambas  Foundation (BAF) aims to improve the overall ecosystem in the Anambas, both underwater and terrestrial, as well as sustainably lifting the community’s welfare.

Adopt an Iguana at San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Belize

Recognized as the #1 thing to do in San Ignacio by Trip Advisor, spend the day at the Green Iguana Conservation Project at San Ignacio Resort Hotel. The project is an interactive exhibit that offers a close look at green iguanas while conserving and looking after this endangered species. Through educational efforts in the community, the public is informed about the green iguana’s role in the Belizean ecosystem. When you donate through the “Adopt an Iguana Program,” you help this endangered species story be told and impact the length of their survival while simultaneously funding student scholarships.

Experience the Biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest with Delfin Amazon Cruises

As part of your Amazon riverboat expedition with Delfin Amazon Cruises, you will visit the Rescue & Rehabilitation Center of River Mammals (ACOBIA). Here you will have the chance to feed manatees and learn why they are on the endangered species list. Amazon South America river manatees are unique and docile creatures, which is why so many people have taken to adopting them illegally as pets. The ACOBIA foundation is dedicated to saving and rehabilitating rescued manatees from various communities and markets of Amazon South America. On your Amazon riverboat expedition, you will learn about these amazing creatures also meet other animals rescued from captures, such as monkeys, river otters, and caimans.

IGTOA

The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) has called upon the government of Ecuador to limit land-based tourism growth in the Galapagos Islands and to regulate more carefully this rapidly growing sector of the islands’ tourism industry.

In a letter sent to Ecuador’s Tourism Minister, Enrique Ponce de León on Feb. 5, IGTOA expressed its concern that the rate of growth in land-based tourism over the last decade is unsustainable and may result in irreversible harm to the islands’ famed ecosystems and extraordinary wildlife.

Between 2007 to 2016, according to Galapagos National Park statistics, overall visitor arrivals in the Galapagos Islands increased by 39 percent (from about 161,000 to over 225,000). During that same period, the number of visitors participating in land-based tours increased from around 79,000 to 152,000 (a 92 percent increase), while ship-based tourism actually decreased, from approximately 82,000 visitors to just over 73,000 (an 11 percent percent drop).

“Many of our member companies sell land-based tours to the Galapagos.  We are not opposed to land-based tourism per se, and, properly regulated, we support it,” said Jim Lutz, IGTOA’s Board President and the President of Vaya Adventures.  “But the reality is that 100 percent of the growth in Galapagos tourism in the last 10 years is due to growth in land-based tourism. And unlike ship-based tourism, where there is a de facto limit on the total number of passengers, there is no limit whatsoever on the number of people who can engage in land-based trips.  It is simply not sustainable to have never-ending growth in land-based tourism in this fragile environment.”

From the 1970s to the early 2000s, the vast majority of Galapagos tourists participated in ship-based tourism, which has long been recognized internationally as a model for limited, well-regulated tourism. Ecuador’s government has placed stringent quotas on the total number of berths (beds) allowed on the Galapagos cruise ship fleet and has placed a cap of 100 as the maximum number of passengers any ship can carry. There are no similar restrictions or regulations governing land-based tourism. If the current rate of growth continues unabated, there will be more than one million visitors per year in the Galapagos Islands in less than 35 years.

The international media is beginning to take note of the potential implications of this uncontrolled tourism growth. Both CNN and guidebook publisher Fodor’s recently placed the islands on their lists of destinations not to visit in 2018, citing concerns about the increasingly negative impacts of tourism there.

In 2007, UNESCO took the extraordinary step of placing the islands on its List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in response to a variety of threats, including unrestrained tourism and population growth. The islands were removed from the list in 2010, but in July 2016 UNESCO once again rang the alarm bells by releasing a report that cited Ecuador’s lack of a clear strategy to discourage rapid tourism growth as a source of grave concern.

“There’s no other place on Earth like Galapagos, a place where you can really get up close and personal with the wildlife,” says IGTOA board member Marc Patry, of IGTOA member company CNH Tours. “I’ve always been impressed by the work the government of Ecuador has done to strictly manage ship-based tourism there.  But frankly, I’m not seeing any evidence that it’s dealing with land-based tourism with a similar degree of concern.  We’re seeing a tsunami of growth in that sector. Unless something is done soon, it risks undermining all the good work that has been done to date,” said Patry, who was with the Charles Darwin Research Station for four years, followed by 11 years working at UNESCO’s World Heritage Center.

According to scientists, uncontrolled tourism growth poses several serious threats to the Galapagos Islands. Chief among them is the potential for devastating new invasive species to arrive as cargo shipments and passenger plane arrivals increase. Highly invasive Wild Blackberry, for example, has led to the loss of 99 percent of endemic Scalesia forests on the two largest islands, Isabela and Santa Cruz.  With any increase in land-based tourism comes more shipments of cargo, more infrastructure, more roads, and more pressure for continued growth, something that will only become harder to stop the longer it continues.

About the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA)

IGTOA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of travel providers dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos Islands. Through its Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, IGTOA raises money to support critical Galapagos conservation initiatives and educates travelers about the challenges facing the islands. Since 1997, IGTOA has donated over $1 million in support of Galapagos conservation initiatives, including efforts to improve the biosecurity of the islands and combat invasive species. See: http://www.igtoa.org/.

Robert Grant’s Adventures In Quito

As I boarded the flight to Quito from Miami airport, I left my expectations unchecked (as I usually do with my carry-on luggage. I’ve learned to pack light). I arrived 4 hours later at my 21st international destination. Ecuador has always been high on my list of places to see so I figured I might as well add it to my goal of visiting 30 countries before 30. Mariscal Sucre International is on the smaller side, as far as international airports go, and is easy to navigate. Outside the customs and baggage area, there is a host of ground transportation options, such as taxis or buses, and I was able to nab a seat on one of the buses without difficulty. The Aeroservicios bus was both efficient and cost effective (approx $9 one way, air conditioned, and free WiFi). The new Quito airport is quite a hike from Centro, the downtown area, so you can expect at least an hour ride. Hailing a cab from the central station will get you to the city center in 15 minutes or less and should cost no more than $8. Some conversational Spanish is recommended to engage in conversation with cab drivers and with the locals in general.

Being new to solo travel, I tend to gravitate towards urban and expat areas when selecting accommodations. These areas typically have great access to public transportation and are, for the most part, safe. Hostels are an inexpensive accommodation and have become my go-to for short trips. While in Quito, I lodged at Hostal L’Auberge Inn, a quaint, locally run B&B near the downtown area. The homey atmosphere, friendly staff and awesome on-site restaurant made me fall in love with this place. The rooms are cleaned daily and the front desk staff are extremely knowledgeable about the sights and happenings in Quito. Location is paramount as well and I soon found that I was, in fact, very close to all the action.

Plaza Foch, also called “La Zona”, is a well-known block that is extremely friendly to foreigners – so much so that the locals endearingly refer to it as “Gringolandia.” Needless to say, this was the perfect place for me to start. On any given night the square is full of activity. Locals of Quito, known as Ticos, and foreigners alike hang out at bars and restaurants until all hours of the night. Nightlife is unpretentious and people are very approachable. Most bars are centered around the square. It’s definitely worth stumbling into a few. There’s something for everyone however karaoke, jazz and hip hop bars seemed among the most popular. I frequented Touch, an intimate, LGBTQ friendly bar/dance club. It’s impossible to be a wallflower around here; everyone loves to dance. I found myself unable to resist the blare of Latin dance music mixed with Top 40.

I recommend El Espanol for a casual cafe-style meal before a night out. I chose a sandwich with pechuga de pollo (chicken breast) and two glasses of wine which was more than satisfactory. The morning after I headed to the periphery of the plaza and found local eateries serving desayunos (breakfast) and almuerzos (lunch) complete with an appetizer and entree for as little as $3.

My daytime strolls through the city quickly acclimated me to the high elevation of the region. The winding streets and hilly terrain of Quito deem it a true Andean City. As the second highest capital in the world, it lies extremely elevated at 9,350’ (2,850 m) above sea level. The views from TelefériQo- the city’s cable car attraction- are absolutely breathtaking and allow one to take in the entirety of this sprawling metropolitan area. Truly a must see!

As its namesake suggests (República del Ecuador translates to Republic of the Equator) the true hallmark of Ecuador is Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). Truly a once in a lifetime experience, here you can actually see where North, South, East and west converge and be at the center of it all. I literally straddled the northern and Southern Hemisphere. The tourist center features tons of local vendors and museums, an exhibition on cacao and even a brewery tour. Another highlight is the Egg challenge in which you can attempt to balance an egg on a nail-a  tribute to the force that governs all things on earth, gravity.

My recent visit to Quito was both thrilling and centering. Standing on the equator was unbelievably sobering and solidified my wanderlust. Plaza Foch gave me a few unforgettable nights under the lights. Looking into the valley atop TelefériQo was perspective-shifting and reminded me of the reasons I choose to explore and discover myself and the big world around me. On a weeklong trip to Quito you can expect incredible food, exciting nightlife and sights and sounds you won’t experience elsewhere. Si te vas…

Next stop Tokyo!

Links:

Elespañolgourmet.com

Mitaddelmundo.com

Teleferico.com.ec

http://www.booking.com/hotel/ec/hostal-auberge-inn.html

http://www.quitoadventure.com/leisure-ecuador/fun-entertainment-quito/hot-spots/plaza-foch.html

Natural Habitat Adventures

Natural Habitat Adventures Announces New Galapagos & Machu Picchu Trip Linking Two South American Icons in One Seamless Journey 

Natural Habitat Adventures, the world’s leader in nature-based travel, introduces a new 15-day expedition that pairs Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands with Peru’s Machu Picchu.

 

“These are two of South America’s quintessential destinations,” says Natural Habitat Adventures founder and president Ben Bressler. “This is a rare opportunity to combine two coveted UNESCO World Heritage Sites in one exclusive itinerary, traveling in a small group with top guides and unprecedented access.”
Galapagos & Machu Picchu: Icons of Nature & Culture combines two of Nat Hab’s most popular trips on a single itinerary. A week of live-aboard Galapagos exploration by private chartered yacht is followed by a land-based journey to Machu Picchu and the Inca ruins of the Sacred Valley.

This comprehensive itinerary adds time for more exploration, circumventing logistical hassles of trying to piece together distinctly different destinations. A professional naturalist Expedition Leader leads guests from start to finish on a rich, interpretive dive into the natural and cultural history of these diverse locations. Small groups ensure a personalized experience.

 

The trip begins in Quito with a transfer to Ecuador’s Andean Highlands. During a 2-night stay at the deluxe Hacienda Zuleta, guests are immersed in 400 years of colonial history, enjoying locally grown food from the 4,000-acre estate as they look for rare spectacled bears, pumas, condors and owls in habitat protected as part of the estate’s conservation mission.

 

After a flight to the Galapagos, guests explore the islands aboard the Ocean Spray, a 113-foot luxury motor catamaran. With just 16 passengers accompanied by two Expedition Leaders, this is the best guide-to-guest ratio in the islands. Travelers split into smaller groups for daily snorkeling, panga excursions and walks among iguanas and boobies. Guests also have the option to overnight at Nat Hab’s exclusive private Tortoise Camp, sleeping in a raised canvas safari-style tent or treehouse while ancient tortoises roam freely on the grounds.

 

On the final leg, travelers fly to Cusco for a 5-day discovery of ancient Inca civilization. Luxurious accommodations include Palacio del Inka in Cusco, the award-winning Sol y Luna boutique hotel in the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, set among orchid gardens along the Urubamba River.

Four departures, capped at 16 travelers each, are offered in 2018: March 29-Apr. 12, June 7-21, Aug. 2-16 and Nov. 8-22. The per-person double rate is $12,995 ($2000 single supplement). Included are activities, accommodations, land transportation as detailed in the itinerary, round-trip train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, airport transfers when using Nat Hab’s preferred hotels, snorkeling gear and wetsuit, all but two meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 15, guiding by Natural Habitat Adventures’ professional Expedition Leaders, most gratuities, taxes and service charges. Internal airfare and park fees are not included.

For complete details please see: http://www.nathab.com/galapagos/machu-picchu-galapagos-adventure/ 

For information about all of Nat Hab’s trips, including descriptive itineraries, availability and reservations, call 800-543-8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the new 2018 catalog.

 

About Natural Habitat Adventures

Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places. Nat Hab has donated more than $2 million to WWF and will continue to donate 1 percent of gross sales plus $100,000 annual through 2018 in support of WWF’s mission.