Category Archives: Green Tips

Frequently Asked Questions: Ecuador

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These are a few questions we get most frequently from travelers interested in Ecuador. We wanted to allow our team of Ecuador experts to provide some answers.

For a preview of our sample Ecuador itineraries, please visit our website.

Q: What do you love most about Ecuador?

Amazon EcuadorA: The thing we love most about Ecuador is the element of surprise. Despite its small size, Ecuador is considered one of the most diverse countries on the planet, and it’s amazing that not many people know this. It is a country with something for everyone, including beaches, rural highlands, jungle escapes, and colonial cities.

Ecuador can satisfy every whim and desire, arguably all in one day, and recent improvements to infrastructure allow for easy access to navigate the country and explore the majority of attractions offered.

With the Pacific coast on the western side of the country, the Andes Mountains as the backbone of the country, and rivers flowing down to the Amazon, which is considered a part of Ecuador’s territory, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

Q: What special experiences can people expect when they visit Ecuador with GreenSpot?

A: Numerous special experiences await GreenSpot travelers. The obvious being of course, Galapagos Islands, where one can have close encounters with some of the most diverse and unique animals and flora on the planet.Amazon, Ecuador

But our trips go far beyond the Galapagos. The capital city of Quito is considered one of the most active cities and the home of the most picturesque and breathtaking churches. Otavalo is home to one of the largest indigenous groups in Ecuador and the location of the Otavalo Market, a must-see destination for tourists from around the globe.

As usual, our itineraries include a number of special interactions with the local people, and greater immersion in the culture. We aim to provide a deeper and more complete experience by including options such as a visit to a local school, cooking and ceramic classes, or dinner with a local fisherman, all excellent ways to connect with the community and acquire a deeper sense of Ecuador’s people.

Q: How will Ecuador surprise people?

A: Ecuador’s contemporary nature and cultural diversity will be the most surprising things to a visitor. The country is surprisingly developed, with a huge and ever-growing expat community. Additionally, the high percentage of ethnic groups further reflects the diversity of the country, which is common to see as you traveart, Ecuadorl the country.

Q: If a traveler wants to see the true Ecuador, how would they go about it?

A: They’ll come without expectations and be open and ready to soak in the local culture. Our connections with local suppliers and communities make it much easier to experience the true Ecuador.

GreenSpot clients will have an opportunity to participate in activities where they can socialize with locals. For example, our school visit includes discussions about Ecuador’s educational system and perhaps a friendly soccer competition with the children and teachers. We are also planning to add cooking classes with ingredients purchased in a local market, and dinners with local fishermen and their families, during which guests can learn more about life in Ecuador.waterfall, Ecuador

Q: Why should fans of iconic destinations like Costa Rica consider Ecuador?

A: Each country has special and unique traits. Costa Rica is an amazing country with its own culture and unbelievable tourist attractions, and it’s also a great place to live as evidenced by its huge international population. In Ecuador, visitors can experience the Andes Mountains, Spanish-influenced Colonial architecture, stunning glaciers, easily accessible ethnic groups, amazing jungle life, great density of volcanoes and prominent mountains, incredible lakes, vast wildlife, and delicious cuisine. Many visitors remark that they have experienced something a bit different in each town, and this is what Ecuador offers — diversity at its very best.

Ecuador: Why 2016 is the Year to Go

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Why 2016 is the year to go

Have you been postponing those New Year’s resolutions? What about the one where you finally book that trip of a lifetime? Procrastination is not usually your friend, but if you’ve been putting off a dream trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, waiting until now might have been a blessing in disguise.

Ecuador has always had a lot going for it, but the destination has stepped up its game in recent years, and last October it was named South America’s leading tourist destination at the World Travel Awards!

Here are a few reason why we think Ecuador is a 2016 hotspot:

Better Accessibility with New Flights

Starting in February, discount airline Jet Blue will fly nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to Quito. Also, Ecuador’s premier airline, TAME, recently introduced nonstop flights from New York to Guayaquil. Flying to Ecuador only takes a few hours from the southern USA. You can get there easily from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Atlanta and New York. And if you’re headed to the Olympics in Brazil this year, you could seamlessly make Ecuador a stopover!

Quito’s Renovations

Ecuador’s capital city is complimenting its UNESCO heritage charm with some 21st century renovations. A handy new metro system* is opening this year, conveniently carrying people from the bus station to all of the important and historic districts across town. Coupled with a new, conveniently located airport and revamped train station, there is a fresh glow to Quito’s old-world appeal. Many colonial treasures remain in the heart of this city, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and volcanoes that call out to adventure enthusiasts.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Increase in Galapagos Penguins

Unlike their cold-water-relatives, Galapagos penguins are special because they have adapted to the warmer climate of the islands. Expert conservationists created shady nesting sites for this extremely rare and most endangered penguin species, and this has resulted in a doubling of their population. If you’ve ever wanted to see them, or perhaps even swim with them, you now have twice the opportunity!

Galapagos Islands cruise

Galapagos Islands Family Cruise

The Cultural Experience you Crave

There is a growing desire for more authentic and meaningful holiday experiences like the ones we offer at GreenSpot. This means travelers are seeking out destinations with significant cultural draw. Ancient traditions are alive and well across Ecuador. Stumbling upon authentic cultural encounters is as easy as strolling through a bustling market. Strike up a conversation with weavers who are making Panama hats – which are not only a hot fashion trend, but are in fact Ecuadorian.

authentic Ecuador town

Colorful Ecuador

Go Green in 2016!

For Ecuador, ‘going green in 2016’ is not just a catchy rhyme. Their Ministry of Tourism has recently adopted sustainability standards for the country’s tourism sector. This means that the country recognizes the importance of working toward sound tourism policies and will actively protect Ecuador’s heritage so that future generations can benefit from it. Also, responsible-minded travelers have plenty of award-winning, green hotels to choose from in Ecuador.

Ecuadorian hacienda

Ecuadorian hacienda

Contact us to discuss your 2016 dream trip to Ecuador.

*Updated January 25, 2016: Sadly, like many transportation and construction projects, we have received news that the completion of Quito’s new metro has been delayed.  However, it is coming and we will keep you updated!

Tips from a Ziplining Newbie

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I’ve experienced my share of adventure – white water rafting, paragliding, canyoning, high-peak trekking, a bit of rock climbing. I had a feeling that ziplining through a rainforest canopy was in my future. It was certainly on my bucket list. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go ziplining in Costa Rica.

One of my travel companions had some ziplining experience. As we ate lunch together she said, “Oh, I don’t want to eat a big lunch before going ziplining.” “Why?” I asked. “It’s a bit scary and might make me queasy.” I sized her up as a person with a bit of a weak stomach and probably scared of heights. I’m not scared of heights.

ziplining Costa Rica

Into a void of green – Costa Rica

We set off and our guide went over all the safety precautions and did a little demonstration. The first zip-line stretched high above a beautiful canyon of treetops and disappeared into a dense void of green. I watched the person before whizz along and when it was my turn, I was ready and couldn’t wait to soar over the trees. I’m sure I had a huge smile on my face.

However, something funny happened as the subsequent platforms became higher and higher. For me, flying high in the air was a piece of cake, but each time I was standing on a platform (albeit hooked onto a safety wire) I felt vulnerable and a little shaky. I hadn’t expected that platform-standing would provide an adrenaline rush.

 

Zipline costa rica ziplining costa Rica

This particular course also comprised of rappelling down the side of a rock cliff and climbing up the other side, which was a fun challenge. We also experienced a “Tarzan rope” that is used to swing from one high platform to another (additionally secured to a safety line, of course). I was first on the Tarzan rope. When I reached the other side, one of the guides thought it would be funny to throw me back over to the other side again. Turns out, it was quite funny, because everyone laughed at my stunned expression.

tarzan rope zip line costa rica IMG_7474 (2)

Here a few tips for the Ziplining Newbie:

  • Keep an open mind. If you think you might be scared, consider a tandem zipline with a professional guide, like in the above photo. On the other hand, if you are a thrill-seeker and don’t think it will be thrilling enough…you might be surprised!
  • It is fun for the whole family, although children should be over 5-years old. Many outfitters will accommodate disabled and elderly people as well.
  • Wear well-fitted clothing and shoes (no flip-flops!)
  • Book with an operator who has researched outfitters with the highest safety standards. (Like us!)
  • Pay close attention to your guides while on the course.
  • Have fun!

An Earth Day Gift for You – 5 Tips for Responsible Travel

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Earthday

It’s been many years since the terms ecotourism and sustainable travel first developed. Since then, the complex relationship between travel and responsibility to our planet, has grown in importance. Some even declare it an oxymoron to put the two together – opposites, like oil and water. Well, pardon us if we disagree.

Not only are there ways that tourism can benefit everyone, but the concept of  responsible travel is becoming more mainstream.

waterfallThe economic and social benefits of tourism are more obvious, particularly in developing countries, because (if done correctly) tourism can create jobs and increase the country’s revenue. It can also improve infrastructure and cultural understanding between guest and host. The environmental benefits are sometimes less obvious. However, tourism has helped promote awareness and conservation of natural resources and wildlife.

We thought that Earth Day would be a good opportunity to provide you with a list of a few things that you can do on your next trip, to be a more responsible traveler. This is not a comprehensive list. Travelers can do various little things to tread lightly and create a positive impact on the destinations they visit.

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  • Support local economies by buying local handicrafts and food that has not been imported.
  • Travel by public transportation within the destination, or better yet, walk or bike.
  • Respect the culture and engage with the local people.
  • Use natural resources sparingly.
  • Don’t buy bottled water – bring your own canteen instead.

*Bonus tip! Contact us to help you select sustainable hotels and local guides for a memorable (and responsible) holiday!

We would love to hear what responsible efforts (big or small) have you made while traveling.

Travel Tips to make the Most out of Your Trip

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You are perhaps thinking about visiting Costa Rica. Or maybe you’re headed to the country with the happiest people on earth soon! Your smile will fit right in.

While on your trip, your focus is on relaxing, having fun and soaking in your surroundings – a vacation. But we’ve found out that using some of our most important green travel practices below sets the stage for the kind of experience that changes you a little bit – the kind you remember and talk about for a long time afterward:

Children boating Costa Rica

  • Converse with the locals! Use  HOLA, POR FAVOR and GRACIAS with at least one non English speaking Tico (Costa Rican). 
  • Capture the moment! Take a picture of your most adventurous moment in CR and consider sharing it with us (por favor??), so you can inspire other travelers!
  • Sample the exotic! Try a cajeta, pejivaye, or – one of Irene’s favorite tropical fruits – mamones, especially if you have never had one before. 
  • Think green! Be ready to spread the word with family and friends about the “greenest” experience of your trip, and help to make the world a better place.
  • Fill up! Don’t forget to take your GreenSpot water bottles with you so you can refill instead of landfill.
  • Perhaps most important of all – Respect traditional culture. Everybody is working very hard to make your trip an unforgettable experience. You are in a different country with different priorities and ideas about values, time, and even daily life. So patience, an open mind and flexibility all let you learn something new about yourself and others.

Dart Frog costa ricaButterfly Costa Rica

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