August 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
TAME Airlines from Ecuador and Copa Airlines of Panama announced
the signing of a code share agreement at the end of last week.
“Copa Airlines is pleased to initiate this relationship
codeshare TAME Ecuador” said President of Copa Airlines, Pedro Heilbron.
“TAME is an important partner and together we will increase flights and
travel options between Panama and Ecuador in the best interests of passengers
and strengthening the economies of both countries.”
TAME which has been directed as part of the military for years was
moved to the Ministry of Transportation. This move caused the company CEO to
walk out. TAME operates flights within Ecuador including the Galapagos
Islands. Many of the routes within Ecuador are not profitable and
are highly competitive with airlines LAN Ecuador (part of LAN Chile) and
Aerogal which was acquired by Central America Airline Company TACA in late
2009. Copa Airline currently flies to 57 destinations in 28 countries allowing
TAME to compete with the other carriers currently operating within Ecuador.
In its initial stage, will code-share cooperation on flights between Quito and Panama, and Guayaquil and Panama. Subsequently, the airline will expand the scope of their cooperation to include additional flights to Ecuador’s internal as well as throughout Latin America. “With this important agreement, and strengthening our partnership and cooperation
with Copa Airlines, TAME Ecuador strengthens and consolidates our flights to Panama while expanding our presence throughout the region,” said Gustavo Cuesta, General Manager, TAME Ecuador.
February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
This seven hour train ride pass through 220 km of pure nostalgia, a roadmap framed by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The Pantanal train departures from Campo Grande traveling to the town of Miranda. Passengers on board are delighted by the large glass windows where they can view the largest continuous wetland in the world and the spectacular wildlife and birds that live there including the hyacinth macaw. Along the way scenery including wetlands, hills, waterfalls, and the beautiful Aquidauana River.
The original train, the Estrada de Ferro Noroeste do Brasil began the route in 1914 connecting the Pantanal with other parts of Brazil. The 20th century also saw the Pantanal’s economy boomed, with the widespread establishment of cattle ranches across the region. By the 1950s, there were also rice, soybean, coffee and sugarcane plantations popping up around the Pantanal’s perimeter. In 1981, the huge Parque Nacional Pantanal Matogrossense was established, with the aim of preserving the vulnerable ecosystem. It was declared a Ramsar Site of International Importance in 1993 and in 2000 a UNESCO world conservation site.
The Pantanal train ran on Noroeste for 81 years, until the closing of RFFSA, Brazil’s federal railway company, limited Noroeste trips to cargo only. The Serra Verde Express stepped in and 2009 began offering the Pantanal Express. The train journey continues through tunnels, bridges, steep gorges and through the largest continuous wetland in the world, the Pantanal.
January 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
Railroads travel provides a fabulous way to see the countryside around the world. Trains enable travelers to see sights they would miss if traveling via road or by plane. In many cases train travel takes the traveler to a bygone era when travel powered by steam was the height of fashion.
In South America the best train trips travel along the coasts, gorges, over bridges, along canyons and over the Andes Mountains. Discover the top 10 train journeys in South America:
10. Wine Train Chile – Heritage Railway
The Tren del Vino or Wine Train in Chile combines the romance of train travel with exquisite wine tasting. The journey begins in San Fernando approximately 2 hours south of Santiago where passengers board a 1913 coal fired steam train for the journey south to the Colchaquac Valley. The trains cars meticulously restored polished wood and velvet interiors. Passengers are treated to samplings of Chilean red and white wines and cheeses while listening to local folk musicians and a bilingual narration of the trip. Arriving in the Cachapoal Valley the train stops so passengers can tour a vineyard and enjoy a typical Chilean Lunch passengers can decide to return to Santiago same day via bus or extend their stay in the wine region.
June 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Travel to the Galapagos Islands has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Looking back in the year 2000 there were 68,000 visitors to the Galapagos per year in 1998 that number rose to over 173,000. Back in 2000 the majority of Galapagos Cruises were for 12 passengers or less – now that number has moved to 16.
One of the other big changes is the advent of Island Based Travel. Back in 2000 there were a few hotels in the islands mainly catering to scientists, backpackers and people who wanted a couple extra days on the beach. The Finch Bay was called the Delphin they initiated island based travel had a boat which offered day tours to other islands – but without the visitors interested in packages they sold it to another agency to offer cruises. The other big hotel was the hotel Galapagos owned by the Nelson family who catered to passing boats and visiting scientists.
Things began to change in 2001 when a Sir John Madejski decided to make the dreams of a crazy Italian schoolmate into a real business. Madejski a businessman in the UK understood the importance of structure and development. Through the Millennium Hotels and Resorts a Swiss hotelier was hired to come and turn his project into a reality and to develop tourism in Galapagos.
Galapagos had a new mentor someone who had been all over the world and watched pristine out of the way destinations develop into mega resort destinations it happened in in Cabo San Lucas, Playa del Carmen Mexico, Pattaya Beach, Thailand.
From experience he knew the best way to preserve the Galapagos was to provide opportunities to the local people that invested them in the future of the islands. That it is only through the partnership of the local community that any place could be preserved.
Local leaders joined together and began islands a Galapagos wide project began to get the locals to understand just how remarkable of a place they lived. They worked to create local employment opportunities. They understood that the youth of the islands are the future and created training programs in service, hospitality and the tourism industry in order to build a sustainable business.
Today there are Island Based programs exist on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana. Over the next few blogs we’ll discuss and experience each one together.
May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
Trying to save money on your airline tickets to South America can be a challenge. Their are a number of consolidators which offer discounted tickets for flights to Brazil, Chile or Argentina. Cheap Flights in Canada is a good place to call as is Fare Buzz in New York. Both offer discounted tickets all over the world.
Finding cheap airfares to the northern part of South America can be a little more difficult – Ecuador in particular there are very few consolidator offers and the best way to save money is to shop around and check different options. Copa Airlines frequently has good deals in both business class and economy.
If you are planning on visiting a couple of different countries in South America like combining a Galapagos Cruise with Machu Picchu or Traveling through Chile, Peru and Argentina your best option for big savings is to purchase a Visit South America Pass.
Visit South America passes are similar to the passes on other continents. They need to be purchased prior to your arrival. You need to arrive internationally on one of the alliance airlines and you need to fly a minimum number of segments.
For the One World Visit South America Pass you need to arrive in South America on one of the One World Airlines…British Air, Qantas, LAN, American Airlines or Iberia etc… After you have your international flights booked you call them to purchase your flights within South America. The key is you have to have at least 3 segments. The price of the tickets is based on miles you fly.
- Flights from 1 to 560 miles are $119 per segment
- Flights from 561 miles to 750 miles are $143 per segment
- Flights 751 miles to 1280 miles are $179 per segement
- Flights 1281 miles to 1810 miles are $203
- Flights 1811 to 2300 miles are $263
- Flights 2300 to 3500 miles are $359
For our example of combining Galapagos and Machu Picchu you would purchase a pass for your flight Lima to Cusco another for Cusco back to Lima and a third for Lima to Quito or Guayaquil. Normally these the internal South America flights would cost you around $1200 per person…however with the Visit South America Pass you can purchase all these flights for around $400 per person.
When you are making your travel plans, keep the money savings Visit South America Pass in mind it can save you a bundle.
May 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked from people wanting to go to the Galapagos is how do I get there?
You will begin your trip by flying to Ecuador – either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE). Quito is located in the Andes Mountains at 9,600 feet elevation. The capital of Ecuador, Quito is a beautiful city surrounded by high peaks and was named a UNESCO world heritage site due to the historic old city – the best-preserved Colonial City in all of Latin America. Guayaquil is located right about sea level, it is a busy coastal city located along the Guayas River.
If you are arriving from North America, most of the flights arrive at night. No matter where you are arriving from chances are you will need to spend at least one night in either city prior to boarding your cruise or flying to the islands to start your tour or hotel stay.
The first day of your cruise, you will fly out to the islands where you will board your boat. If you are starting a tour or a hotel stay you will also fly to the Galapagos to begin your trip.
There are two airports in Galapagos one in Baltra – which services cruises starting in Baltra or in Puerto Ayora as well as people staying in either Santa Cruz or Isabela. The other airport is on San Cristobal servicing cruises beginning in San Cristobal or people staying on San Cristobal. You will want to arrange your flights out to the islands either as part of your cruise or with someone who knows your itinerary to insure you are flying into the correct island. (If you wind up on the wrong island, there are speedboats once a day that can take you to the other island; the trip is about 2 hours each way.)
If you are boarding a cruise in Baltra, your guide will be waiting at the airport for you. You will board a bus to the main dock and a small boat will take you over to board your boat and begin your cruise.
If you are staying in Puerto Ayora, traveling to Isabela or boarding a boat in Isabela you will take a different bus to the Canal where you will board a boat that will take you across to Santa Cruz. Once on Santa Cruz you will board either another bus or take a taxi to your Puerto Ayora it’s approximately a 45-minute drive from one side of the island to the other.
If you are boarding a boat in San Cristobal, again your guide will be waiting for you at the airport. You’ll take a bus down to the main dock and a small boat will take you to your boat to begin your cruise. If you are staying on San Cristobal or taking a tour beginning in San Cristobal, you’ll either take a taxi to your hotel or you can walk to some hotels as the airport is just on the outskirts of town.
Returning from the Galapagos is somewhat the same thing – you’ll need to get back to the airport by the same means of transportation that people leave the airport and fly back to the mainland. The flights depart the islands in the late morning arriving on the continent mid to late afternoon meaning that most people will have an overnight on the way out just like they did on the way to the islands.
Our top 10 tips for Getting to the Galapagos Islands
1. You’ll need to fly to the Galapagos – Unless you are traveling on your own personal boat, the only way to get to the Galapagos is to fly. There are no boats offering service between the continent and the islands.
2. There are set airfares to the Galapagos – The government sets all the airfares, foreigners pay a specified rate and there are no advanced purchase discounts.
3. Make a reservation in advance – The flights are frequently full so you will need to make a reservation in advance.
4. Most people need to stay in either Quito or Guayaquil 1 night before and 1 night after their trip to the Galapagos
5. You need a Permit to enter Galapagos – you do need to get permits to enter the park, most cruises and tour operators will arrange these permits for you, but it is possible to do them at the airport.
6. Double check your itinerary – make sure your reservations are flying to the island where you need to go.
7. Pack Smart – there are 20km weight limits on the flight for check-in luggage. If you are over this weight the airline may allow you to take extra luggage the same day you fly or may make you ship it and it will arrive in the future either way you will have to pay the extra cost.
8. The airlines assign seats at the airport
9. All of the flights are coach – there is no first class
10. Make sure to arrive at the airport early – if you miss your flight you, you may not be able to get another flight until the next day or several days later.
Learn more about Flights to the Galapagos and getting to the Galapagos Islands