Monthly Archives: March 2014
All lovers of nature tourism have in Ecuador an ideal country to find different ecosystems and natural wonders very close to each other. For that reason, it was awarded the World Travel Award for best Green Destination in 2013.
With this recognition Ecuador was paired with destinations as: 2012 – Machu Pichu, Peru; 2010-2011 – Cousine Island, Seychelles; 2007-2009, Tobago Main Ridge Rain Forest; 2008 – Costa Rica.
The awards sponsored and directed by the prestigious Wall Street Journal, conduct their selection through a strict selection process which involved more than half a million travel professionals and consumers of direct travels (Selected Voyagers) from over 170 countries and all continents.
CONNECTIVITY: Reaching this beautiful country, Ecuador is simple, as it is located in a privileged place where you can enjoy four different worlds (Regions) within little distance from each other. Ecuador has enabled 27 airports in its different provinces.
Great time off to take advantage and travel to new places in Ecuador. With four days in our hand, we decided to travel up the highland in to the amazing Andes Mountains to the Province of Chimborazo (named after this wonder of nature, the Chimborazo Volcano). I will share my pictures that can show you how fun it was and a really interesting gastronomic adventure. I decide way before the trip started that I will try just any interesting local treat along the road.
We planned to drive through local highways up to the mountains, which gave me a chance to check all that luscious vegetation that can only be found in a place like Ecuador, from the tropical Coastal greenery to the dry high altitude -Paramo- vegetation when crossing the Chimborazo.
Our trip was going to start at 5 am, which meant that BK was our first option to try on the road trip. So our first food stop was Pallatanga, which is a very small town about 3 hours from Guayaquil, just when entering in the Province of Chimborazo and the road starts claiming up hill. Here we found a Tortillas shop with the most amazing natural herbal infusion that really help me with the altitude and the cool weather.
Another purpose of this trip to the Chimborazo Province was any woman’s favorites: shopping, I was told that in the Town of Guano (another 2 hours on our road trip), I could find great leather shows, handbags and any leather accessory… they were so right, I was in real need for flats, and I found the most amazing designs and colors, also they felt so soft that I bought 3 pairs at $35 USD each, all leather and fit me perfectly.
Since was late morning, we needed a small snack, what better treat then CHOLITAS… is the one hundred year old traditional delight in this village. CHOLAS, what? Yes, Cholas, here I’ll explain. A Chola is made of a sort of biscuit like dough, with a center stuffed with delicious brown sugar, it is rolled into a ball and later baked in a wood-burning oven. You usually get 7 for a dollar.
After this treat, we decided to head back to the City of Riobamba for a quick lunch and to visit the place, this was about a 25 min drive from Guano. Here the traffic was chaotic, a lot of road construction and everybody was on the streets playing Carnaval, that is a serious festivity here up the mountains of Ecuador…. And we had to be so careful on avoiding no to get wet or hit with water balloons or Carioca foam…
Sadly Carnival in Ecuador has been known to be quite savage. Living it up has come to mean dousing your neighbors, family, friends and any other passerby with every liquid imaginable. The water is sometimes topped off with flour to make you a really sticky mess. There is Carioca a colored foam similar to shaving cream that has become very popular. It’s also less messy. 🙂
A law prohibiting Carnival savagery has been passed in Ecuador. During the weeks leading up to the days of partying, repeated television announcements are run urging the people to play nice.
Carnival used to be a two week affair in Ecuador, but with this new law you are usually safe up until the weekend before Ash Wednesday. And the streets are not safe with players seen in all out war, armed with their buckets and water guns.
So we basically decided to go for a quick bite in the City of Riobamba, park the car close to a deli that look nice and run in to avoid getting wet. On our way out getting into our car, one of us was almost hit by water thrown from a passing car, good thing they missed the shot, we just drove fast out of the city.
Our next stop was this nice Hacienda Hotel located between Rioabamba and Ambato. An incredible Spanish style hotel, every detail was in place for a great boutique experience, what an amazing lodging place… La Andaluza.
We enjoy our stay at the Hosteria, and for the next days we took small trips around the area to visit different highlights in the central part of Ecuador, like The Chimborazo Volcano were we found Vicuñas; and El Tren del Hielo (dress warm since it is 3600 meters above sea level and gets cold). Also Villages like Lago de Colta, Penie and Guayabamba.
On the way back, we decided to visit another Province of Ecuador, Bolivar, I need to taste those local hand made cheese, chocolates, and other sweets.. Salinas de Guaranda, in the Province of Bolivar, images speak by themselves, we bought Mozzarella and Fresh Cheese, Home made marmalade, cocoa tablets to make hot chocolate and few sweets for our friends back home.
Road Conditions — Most of the major highways in Ecuador are in pretty decent shape. But once you venture off the major thoroughfares, the situation deteriorates dramatically.
Even the major highways and tourist destinations are only sporadically marked with up-to-date signs and markers. And once you get off the beaten path, you may not encounter any signs or indications as you pass intersection after intersection.
Always keep an eye out for the sudden appearance of a pedestrian, bicycle rider, dog, or cow, even on major highways. It’s best to avoid driving at night, as very few roads or highways are illuminated.
The road through the Province of Bolivar was in a poor condition, there were lots of pot halls and un even pave road, which made driving difficult and slow us down a lot. It is always hard to drive in Ecuador; the way locals drive plus weather conditions like fog can be very challenging. It is best if you opt for the help of a local driver, or take your time to familiarize with local driving before you hit the road.
Some of my friends decides to visit some beach locations in Ecuador, they complain of a large crowd and everything more expensive than usual. Maybe is good to avoid those local’s hot spots and travel some other great places in Ecuador, check in the near future some of the images send by my friends..
Enjoy Ecuador, until next time…. Adios.