Category Archives: cooking lessons

Ten Incredible Things to do in Ecuador

Share Button

10 incredible things to do in Ecuador

Ecuador lies in a privileged location, right in the middle of the world. This allows for mega-biodiversity to exist within a relatively small country. Not only can you travel from the mountains to the jungle in the same day, but you also have the opportunity to be exposed to thousands of species of plants, birds, insects, mammals and other creatures. In fact, the country is often described as a collection of four worlds in one, made up of the coast, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle and Galapagos Islands.

hummingbird Ecuador

Compiled of numerous protected areas, visitors can experience this rich flora and fauna first-hand while enjoying a wide range of activities, from wild adventures like river rafting and mountain biking to peaceful bird watching, horseback riding and cooking classes. For those who delight in wildlife and cultural tradition, a Galapagos cruise combined with a trip to Otovalo Market (South America’s largest!) while staying in a beautiful hacienda in the highlands, might be the perfect combination.

Ecuador travel

Here is a list of 10 incredible moments you can enjoy on a GreenSpot trip to Ecuador:

Galapagos Islands Cruise

The Galapagos Islands receive an abundance of well-deserved hype, so they pretty much speak for themselves. Even a wildlife novice can’t help but enjoy the close encounters with dancing and whistling Blue Footed Boobies or the opportunity to swim and frolic with penguins and sea lions, all  while cruising from island to enchanted island in the comfort of a luxurious vessel.

Galapagos travel

Horseback Riding in the Andean Highlands

Donning chaps and a poncho, take a ride like a true Ecuadorian chagra through pristine valleys of the Andean Highlands. As Cotopaxi Volcano looms in the distance, you have the chance to walk, trot, or gallop your way across the open terrain, on the outskirts of Cotopaxi National Park.

horseback riding Ecuador Andean Highlands

Downhill Mountain Biking in Cotopaxi National Park

If horseback riding is a bit tame for your wild spirit, you are sure to enjoy a thrilling bike ride through the extraordinary beauty of Cotopaxi National Park. Wild horses and wild flowers surround the rugged trails as you bump your way down the mountain, returning to a cozy hacienda at the end of the ride.



There are countless opportunities for hiking on mainland Ecuador and even short hikes throughout the Galapagos Islands. Whether it’s along the craggy foothills of the Andes, through the verdant rainforest, or over volcanic lava rock, we highly recommend packing those hiking boots and meandering along Ecuadorian trails.

hiking Ecuador

Shop at Otavalo Market

Woven textiles, panama hats, jewelry, and ponchos are just a few of the items that might tempt you at this marvelous bazaar of artisan goods. However, it’s the vibrant colors and display of cultural pageantry that you’ll take home and cherish for a lifetime.


Kayak Through the Amazon Jungle

Imagine the jungle sounds that will surround you as your kayak glides through the twisting tributaries of the Amazon. Binoculars around your neck, there is no better way to observe the abundance of wildlife that inundates the rainforest.

Kayak Amazon Ecuador

Explore Quito’s Historic Plazas

Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitting at a little over 9,000 feet, the air is crisp and skies are blue as can be. Quaint alleyways, pigeon-filled plazas, and ancient architecture are found around every bend, and there is enough to see to fill a few days of wandering.

Quito Ecuador

Visit the Middle of the World

Don’t pass up the opportunity to straddle the equator. It isn’t every day that you have the chance to stand with each foot in a different hemisphere. This is possible at the Middle of the World Monument, not too far from Quito.


Stay in a Beautiful Hacienda

Ecuadorian haciendas frequently date back to the 16th century and have generations of stories to tell. Many are still working farms, and you can soak up the atmosphere and chagras (cowboys) way of life, as you learn about their history and enjoy the surrounding gardens and fertile land.

Hacienda Cusin Ecuador

Get to Know the Locals

As a tour operator with a mission to create meaningful connections with people and communities, we consider this to be a vital part of any travel experience. The hospitality of the Ecuadorian people makes it easy and enjoyable to discover the soul of this country through personal encounters with the local people.

kids Ecuador travel

All of this and more can be found in our sample Ecuador itineraries. As always, we can customize your trip to suit your desires. We’d love to talk to you about your Ecuador travel dreams. Contact us to find out how we can help you get there.

Top Ten Enviromental Travel Blogs

Share Button’s blog is where you have the opportunity to share your travel endeavors in your voice, where we talk about your local experiences in the places we travel, like being part of a local soccer match, or learning how to make authentic tortillas at a local’s home. All of the fun conversations we have were just recognized with an award for one of the best environmental travel blogs out there.

Highlights of our Family Adventure in Costa Rica

Share Button

I’ll begin with our first night at the Finca Rosa Blanca, near San Jose. We loved it and were sorry that we
could only spend the night. It’s a real gem, and got our trip off to a good start.

Another marvelous memory was our stay at the Bosque de Paz, in the cloud forest. It is a special
place, close to nature, secluded and peaceful. The owners were there, and treated us like family.
We never would have known about it on our own. I’m so glad we got to stay there. There was
a young man, native to the place, who is a naturalist and gave us a wonderful nature hike, and let
us see a microscopic orchid he collected that is extremely rare.

From there, we headed toward Arenal, stopping on the way for what turned out to be an
absolutely delightful afternoon with Dona Mara and her family (daughters, grandchildren), with a
home-made delicious lunch in her covered, open-air patio (with kitchen!). Dona Mara is a
gracious and kind lady who made us feel like part of her family. She helped us make our own
tortillas (a first for me, I buy them in packages at home!) and gave us a bountiful lunch of local
cuisine. Then she gave my daughter and I earrings she had made in the colors of the Cost Rican
flag as souvenirs. This experience was certainly unique and not one we would have had on an
ordinary tour, or on one we had planned ourselves. It was unforgettable and it still makes me
smile to remember it.
A few words abut our guide, Julio Madriz. A more knowledgeable and congenial travel
companion cannot be found. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the flora and fauna,
geography and history of Costa Rica and shared it in a casual and interesting way, helping us
sample a forest-found fruit and see tiny creatures hidden to the untrained eye. He had boundless
energy and patience and made us feel like new-found friends. I hope you are lucky enough to
have Julio as your guide. He added so much to our trip.

The grand finale was a few nights at Punta Islita resort, where we had arranged to stay in an
individual villa, complete with a plunge pool with a gorgeous view of the forest and beach, and
hand-hewn beds of native woods, in air-conditioned comfort. It was low-key and charming, with
a resident troop of monkeys in a mango grove on the property.. The lovely beach ( very warm
and calm water) and amenities of the resort made it the perfect place to unwind and relax before
heading home.

All in all, it was perfect, just what we hoped for, and more. A wonderful time and now,
wonderful memories.

A Costa Rica Family Adventure To Remember

Share Button

During the Christmas holidays, our family of 4 took a trip to Costa Rica. We were 2
middle-aged (but in pretty good shape physically) and active adults, and a 19 and 17 year old. It
isn’t easy to plan a trip that will satisfy all of the wishes and wants of 2 adults and a college age
and a high school age teen. Usually, we plan our own trips, but this one called for some savvy
and well-informed assistance.
We had read in Conde Nast Traveler magazine about some travel agencies that specialized in
Costa Rica, so I took their recommendations and called 4 places. I gave each one a description of
our group, and our wish lists and priorities, as well as the time frame. We then carefully read and
evaluated the proposed tips itineraries and budgets.
Greenspot stood out from the beginning. We liked their suggestions, and felt that they “got”
what our family is like and what we were looking for. And they were so pleasant and easy to
deal with.
The trip turned out to be absolutely wonderful- we’d do it all over again in a minute! We were so
happy with all of the choices of accomodations and activities. What made the trip so enjoyable
and stress-free was that the logistics were flawless. Greenspot made sure that, at every transfer,
we were met by drivers who knew exactly what to do and where to go. They were always there,
waiting for us, pleasant and prepared to do their jobs. So we could relax and just enjoy

Read more about some of our highlights of the trip next.

Meeting Doña Mara

Share Button

Meeting Doña Mara, the famous lady in our Costa Rica trips, was really special.

I learned how to make tortillas, not only from scratch, but on a wood stove, outside in a “Rancho” which is basically like a gazebo; a covered kitchen with a rustic, old-fashioned oven.

First we walked along the dirt road over to her neigbor’s farm where they grown sugar cane, corn, and lots of other fruits and vegetables. Here they take the fresh corn and grind it, making it into the corn flour called “masa.”   They also have an old-fashioned “Trapiche” which is a manually-operated sugar cane grinder.

Corn grinding  Corn grinding machine

In case you are wondering, Doña (which is pronounced Don-ya and means Señora or Mrs.) is the way all married or older ladies are addressed in Costa Rica. Men are addressed as Don – Don Luis, or Don Jose, etc.  It’s a sign of respect, even used among friends. Part of the travel experience is learning the culture right? For me it’s the part I love the most!

Doña Mara and I watched and waited for the corn masa, paid for it as well as for some “Limones” basically a cross between a lime, lemon and orange, to make fresh juice to go along with our tortillas, and “Tamal”.  Tamal is like a coconut & corn bread… so yummy.

Making tortillas is actually fairly easy, it’s amazing that we most often buy them in packages. But nothing compares to a fresh one off the stove. A little crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.

Doña Mara getting coals ready  Doña Mara

Often families visit Doña Mara and her family for the afternoon, to get a slice of rural Costa Rican culture, fill their bellies on tasty fresh food, and of course try their hand at making authentic tortillas. While it’s just one afternoon, and a fun and memorable experience for the travelers, it really helps the people there. It’s a direct contribution to not only Doña Mara’s family, but the neighbors where she buys her corn, and lots of GreenSpot travelers also visit the local school, and make donations to our community development project.

Doña Mara's grandson Evans  Lunch table in Rancho

Another bonus is getting to meet her adorable grandkids!

It’s amazing to me how rising early (as is the norm in rural Costa Rica), spending the day in a breezy rancho, cooking (which I barely ever do at home), and just taking in the sights, sounds and views of the farm, can be the most relaxing, peaceful and heartwarming experience. There’s something to be said for taking pleasure in the simple things in life.

– Kelly Galaski

Have you met Doña Mara? Tell us about your experience!




Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: Error validating application. Application has been deleted.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 190
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.