Reventador Volcano-Activity Increases

July 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Reventador Volcano has shown increased activity and government officials ask no one to approach.  Revenatador is located 90 km west of Quito and has a long history of activity.  In November 2002 the volcano erupted for the first time in 26 years destroying roads between Quito and Lago Agrio.  The 17 km high ash cloud affected 2 million people as it spread over the provinces of Pichincha, Napo and Suscumbios and forced the closure of the Quito Airport causing flights to be rerouted to Guayaquil or Latacunga.  A subsequent eruption in November of 2008 effected residents of El Chaco in the Amazon basin.

The Geophysical Institute of Ecuador stated “it is clear that the volcano appears significantly more active than in previous months, this being much more noticeable in recent days ” Rash on the volcano Reventador occurs “significantly active than in previous months” and “in these circumstances the presence of people near the crater of Reventador is dangerous and in no way recommended to climb to the summit.”

New Highway Makes Traveling from Ecuador to Peru Easier

July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Departing Peruvian President Alan Garcia Perez traveled to the northern Piura region today to inaugurate a 66 kilometer highway linking Ecuador and Peru.

The new road (Highway 4) will drastically reduce travel time between Alamor, Ecuador and Sullana, Peru from 4 1/2 hours to 1 1/2 hours.  The Alamor – Sullana is one of three overland crossings from Ecuador to Peru. This crossing links the Loja area with the Piura area.  The other crossings are either along the coast connecting Huayaquillis with Aquas Verdes or in the cloud forest between La Balza and La Balsa.

The Sullana Crossing is generally considered the safest and easiest crossing with the two immigration points located only 200 meters apart. However poor road conditions kept the route from being as popular as the Huyaquillis crossing. The improvement of this route cost 27 million dollars and will directly effect passengers traveling from the Southern Andes Region area via Loja to Peru.

Ecuador makes plans to avoid measels outbreak

July 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Measles is a disease we learned in school no longer exsited or at least was no longer a modern day threat due to childhood immunizations.  However in recent years many parents have opted against the vaccination due in part to a theory that ties the vaccine to the onset of autism.  The result of this decision has led to recent outbreaks of both the measles and German measels (rubella) in Europe and the U.S.

The government of Ecuador has launched a campaign to avoid the spread of the disease to their country.  They are requesting all travelers who are not already vaccinated to receive a vacination at least 15 days prior to their arrival.  Additionally tourist agents, hotel staff, airport and migration authorities in Ecuador are all being vaccinated as a preventative measure.  Travelers to Ecuador who have not received their shots can take advantage of health centers at the Quito and Guayaquil Airport where visitors can receive the immunizations free of charge.

New Airport in Quito to Open in 2012

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

The new 683 million dollar airport servicing Quito, Ecuador is now 78% complete.  Officials predict that the airport will be finished by April 2012 and in full operation by October 2012.

The new airport will replace the existing Mariscal Sucre Airport in the center of the city. It will be located in Tababela, roughly 15 miles outside Ecuador’s capital heading north towards Otavalo.

The existing Mariscal Sucre Airport is located within the Quito city limits and has a limited runway as well as noise restrictions.  The new airport will open up the ability for Quito to receive larger planes as well as increase exports from the country.

The majority of travelers visiting the Galapagos Islands fly into Quito and visit the city’s historic old city prior to visiting the Galapagos. 

The Guayaquil Airport on the coast of Ecuador was voted the #2 Airport  by Skytracks Researchbehind the Lima Airport.   The new airport in Quito, will provide passengers with similar services as both the Guayaquil and Lima airports ushering in a new level of service for air travel to Quito.

Inti Raymi at the Pyramids of Cochasqui

June 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

The trenches on the top of Pyramid 13 mark the solstices and equinoxes each year

Cochasqui is located approximately 40 miles (65 km) north of Quito virtually on the equator 0°3′ and 35″. Here at an elevation of 9,000 feet (3100 km) between 950 AD and 1250 AD the Cara people built a series of 15 pyramids and 20 funeral knolls that is the largest solar calendar in the Americas.

The flat topped pyramids were constructed out of adobe and a volcanic material (cangahua) and have perfect alignment with the surrounding mountains. The name Cochasaqui translates to Lake of the Stars, undoubtedly due to the incredible panoramic vista from the site. Here on this high Andean plateau during the day you are able to see all the major volcanoes of the area including Cayambe, Pichincha (and the city of Quito), Antisana, Cotopaxi and Illinizas. While at night you can observe the stars of the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time.

The pyramids were covered by dirt to protect them when the Incas invaded the area. A serious study of the area did not begin until 1933 when German archaeologist and treasure hunter Max Uhle destroyed the largest pyramid, No. 9, in the hunt for gold.

Today only a few of the pyramid have been partially excavated.  The most important is pyramid 13.    On the top of this pyramid are several trenches built into the stone top.  One of the trenches aligns perfectly, casting a shadow in the trench with the sunrise on December 21st, the summer solstice.  While others mark both the equator and the equinoxes. A final trench marks the sunset on June 21st the winter solstice.  The trenches have a tilt of 23.5′  corresponding to the axis of the earth.

Each year between June 19 – 22 locals come to Cochasqui to celebrate the festival of Inti Raymi a festival celebrating the passage of the sun. This is a celebration that has been passed down through generations.  In ancient times their ancestors would meet here on the solstices and equinoxes  to celebrate the solar seasons.  These seasons indicated the time of sowing and harvesting. Potatoes, corn, beans and quinoa were the most important crops for the inhabitants of the area. Shamans would gather at the sacred site of the pyramids in order to bless the multitudes of people who come and to bless the coming harvests. The shamans believed the sun to be the true “giver” of life on our planet and that Cochasqui is a special place to honor the sun.

Top Places to Visit in Galapagos – Bartolome

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

View of the Summit of Bartolome

The most photographed spot in the Galapagos Islands is our #9 choice for the best places to visit in Galapagos – Bartolome Island.

This small island located off the coast of Santiago is home to lazy sea lions, Galapagos Penguins and Galapagos Hawks.  The Pinnacle Rock is the most recognized part of the island.  On either side of the Pinnacle are beaches the closer beach offers snorkeling with sea turtles, sea lions and penguins while the far second beach is an interesting stroll where you can view Galapagos Hawks and white tip reef sharks and rays.

The highlight of a visit to Bartolome is a hike to the island’s summit for the spectacular vista of the Galapagos Islands.  During the hike visitors learn about the geological history of the islands viewing splatter cones, pioneer plants and the moonscape of Sullivan Bay just beyond.

Bartolome is one of the most visited islands in the Galapagos and can be reached visited during either a Galapagos Cruise or as a day trip from Santa Cruz.

Quito – American Capital of Culture 2011

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

For those traveling to the Galapagos Islands your international itinerary includes either Quito or Guayaquil. While Guayaquil is the commercial center of Ecuador, Quito is rich in history and culture.

- From the Quito Convention Bureau

Declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO 32 years ago, Quito was named last September American Capital of Culture 2011 by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals (IBOCC).

In 2011, Quito will be a global cultural reference point, motivating locals and foreigners alike to learn about the city’s treasures and understand why it has been chosen as the American Capital of Culture.

One of these treasures is the Historic Centre, an artistic jewel covering 320 hectares, with monuments and 5.000 building listed as heritage sites. Quito’s Historic Centre is considered the largest, least altered, and best preserved in America.

Quito was the cradle of ancient peoples and cultures that over the centuries have converted the city into a unique place. Nowadays, it amasses four centuries of memories, creation, faith, art, ancestral knowledge, consciousness and rebelliousness, life, determination and hope.

Throughout history, Quito has played host to religious orders, scientists, warriors, architects, emperors, and a great number of men and women that understood the value of this land and contributed to the development of this metropolis.

Thus, being declared the American Capital of Culture is not merely a title; it is a merit to all those generations that transformed this city into the cultural treasure it is today.

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil

When planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands travel requires that you typically need to spend at least one night before your Galapagos Cruise and one night after on the mainland of Ecuador in either Quito or Guayaquil.

Quito is located at 9,600 feet elevation in the Andes Region of Ecuador.  It is a beautiful city and a UNESCO world heritage site.  For those wanting to explore Ecuador and get a taste of the country – Quito is an excellent base for your exploration.  Quito, Cuenca, Otavalo and many destinations in the Andes Region have wonderful hotels with character, charm and the history of Ecuador.

Guayaquil by comparison is located in the coastal region.  It is a bustling port town full of commerce.  The coast of Ecuador was a favorite destination for pirates during the 18th century and as a result many of the original buildings were burned down or destroyed.  Hotels in Guayaquil until recently have been international  chain hotels that you can find in any city or hotels for local tourists lacking the services required to attract international guests.  This has changed with the introduction of the Mansion del Rio Guayaquil.

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil Salon

The Mansion del Rio is a boutique hotel located in Las Peñas section of Guayaquil.  Originally build and called Villa San Antonio, the hotel is located in in the northeast corner of the city centre; is the artistic centre of the city. Many of the area’s 400-year-old houses have been converted into art galleries and several notable artists have studios in the area.  It is within walking distance of the Malecon 2000, Cathedral, and Iguana Park – the most visited sites in Guayaquil.

Completely renovated the Mansion del Rio Guayaquil gives guests the sense of travelling in time to the early 20th century (1900) Guayaquil and offers a unique atmosphere of comfort and exquisite details not found anywhere else.   The Mansion del Rio Guayaquil boasts guaranteed exceptional and customized service and accommodation that is full of grand old style luxury.  All rooms include fresh roses, a breakfast buffet, morning paper and afternoon tea.

Galapagos Checklist: Six Points to Remember

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cruising the Galapagos Islands

We are frequently asked about the question – What is the best trip to Galapagos.  Really that depends on who is traveling.   Galapagos Cruises allow you to visit the more remote islands, however for people who like a less structured program an Island Based Program like our Finch Bay and Sea Finch Program is perfect.  Time Magazine printed this article which provides one traveler’s impression on how to pick the perfect trip.

By Erik Torkells for TIME Magazine

The frustrating thing about once-in-a-lifetime destinations is that only after visiting them do you really know how to do them right. Take the Galapagos Islands, which I went to earlier this year. I learned a lot about how I should have gone about my trip — but I’ll never return. (As wonderful as it was, there’s too much else in the world to see.) Maybe you can benefit from my newfound knowledge.

1. Go for a Smaller Boat
Ecuador licenses 77 boats to sail to the islands. My partner and I were on the Eclipse, which holds 48 passengers. While there were moments when the number of people came in handy — if I grew tired of someone, I could avoid them at the next meal — I occasionally felt like I was spending more time studying humans than the animals for which the islands are famous. Plus, the more people, the more time you’ll spend waiting — at meals, to disembark, to rinse your wet suit and so on. One day, we spotted a catamaran that our guide said held 14 passengers, and it looked like heaven on water.

2. Get Used to Being Herded
When I travel, I like to explore. That’s impossible to do in the Galápagos, and for good reason. The plants and animals on the islands thrived because of isolation; invasive species, tracked in by humans, are a threat to their existence. As a result, travelers cannot wander off trail.

3. The Water Is Your Haven
My favorite moments involved kayaking (we ducked into a cove where the guide, back on the dinghy, couldn’t see us, making him very anxious) and snorkeling. When you’re in the water, you can drift to the edge of your group, where you’ll feel much more alone — and you’ll likely see animals no one else sees. Don’t forget to splurge on an underwater camera. While snorkeling, I had a play session with a baby sea lion that I wish I’d photographed.

4. Your Cabin Isn’t Important
Our cabin was neither the largest nor the smallest, but size is irrelevant. We were never in it except to sleep. When we did have downtime, we spent it on deck because the scenery was nonstop gorgeous.

5. Guide Quality Is Variable
We had three (you couldn’t choose whose group you’d be in on any given excursion). One was obsessed with snorkeling, one came most alive around the birds and iguanas, and one — well, one wasn’t great. In fact, at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, he announced, “Personally, I just don’t believe that human beings evolved from worms.” What?!

6. Research Your Timing
One of the photos that made me want to go to the islands in the first place was of male frigate birds puffing out their red chests. Well, that tends to only happen during the peak of their mating season, which is around March and April. We saw much more that was exciting and strange, but if there’s something you really want to experience — hammerhead sharks, baby sea lions, whatever — make sure you’re going during the right time of year

Check out our Galapagos Calendar to help with your timing.

Tungurahua Volcano Eruption Sends Ash into the Air

November 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

Tungurahua Volcano

Tungurahua Volcano in the Southern Andes of Ecuador

From EFE and El Universal QUITO - Quito – A sudden eruption of the Tungurahua volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes sent a column of ash more than 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) into the sky, the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School said Tuesday.

The eruption occurred at 10:35 p.m. Monday and the incandescent material “shot into the air and then descended onto the slopes of the volcano,” the institute said.

It said that the powerful eruption was followed by smaller ones and that reports have come in of ash and pebbles falling on Choglontus and other villages west of the volcano.

The eruption was soundless and was perceived as an earthquake.

“The column of ash from the first eruption was vertical and flashes of light could be seen inside it. For several weeks there have been the seismic phenomena of rocks breaking up and the movement of fluids that have not been very powerful but showed internal activity,” the institute said.

Tungurahua, 5,019 meters (16,456 feet) high, began erupting in 1999 and since then has alternated periods of great activity with spaces of relative calm.

Pallo Wilson, resident of Chacuaco, belonging to the canton Pelileo, Bellows said the volcano began at 22:00 on Monday and after a loud explosion, there was like glowing stones descended the flanks of the colossus.

Pallo Wilson a resident of Chacuaco said the volcano began erupting at 22:00 on Monday and after a loud explosion, there were glowing stones descending the flanks of the closossus.  He said he was accustomed to such natural events, beacause for more than 11 years he has lived with the eruptions of “Mama Tungurahua”, also the local people know what to do in case of an eruption.

Tugurahua erupted in June this year causing the airports in Cuenca and Guayaquil to be closed for the day.

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