Category Archives: South America

Ten Incredible Things to do in Ecuador

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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.

Arrival in Bogotá: a multilingual experience

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I made it. A nice, non-stop flight from Toronto in 6 hours and I am in South America. Not bad. Non-stop flights are always good just because it saves you from the changing planes and waiting around ordeal. But they’re also good because the total of carbon emissions released for your trip is less. We haven’t solved the problem completely, I’m looking forward to the biodiesel fueled flights of the future (lots of airlines currently testing fuel made from agriculture waste, algae, and other non-food sources of bio energy!), but this is one thing that helps.

So I had been practicing Spanish before I left, as usual I called my friends in Costa Rica and talked to them for about an hour on Wednesday. On Thursday I went with Irene,’s co-founder, to a Spanish “MeetUp” group in the city to practice and meet some other Spanish-speakers.  Then I chatted with the Ecuadoran lady beside me on the flight so I felt pretty ready.  Then I watched 2 and a half movies in English (Air Canada finally has those personal TV screens on the back of the seat. I say finally because Singapore Airlines had them years ago. Anyway I had to watch the Secret Life of Bees – a great book! – I cried throughout it, such a great story).

On arrival, I was happy to be greeted by a cheerful Colombian girl holding the “ProExport Colombia” sign which indicated she was those of us participating in the Destino Colombia 2009 event. We chatted easily and I remembered that the telenovelas that are popular in Costa Rica are often Colombian and the accent is easy to understand, nice and clear.

What I hadn’t thought about all this time was that the other people on the trip wouldn’t necessarily speak English OR Spanish!  Two French people arrived from France and our Colombian host, Yvonne, immediately switched to French to talk to them. I was dumbfounded when I realized I could understand! You mean 18 years of French classes weren’t in vain?  Unfortunately I cannot understand French Canadians, so I just thought I couldn’t understand the language at all, but although I couldn’t really speak back, at least I could get what was going on. I said a couple of phrases but they also speak English so I could respond that way.

So I was asking questions to Yvonne in Spanish, and she was relaying info in French, to which I was responding in English, to the French people – and Yvonne because of course she speaks English too! It doesn’t stop there.

We get to the hotel and meet the rest of our group members. A Chilean, a Brazilian and a German. The Chilean, Brazilian and I went for dinner together. I can speak English or Spanish with the Chilean but the Brazilian doesn’t speak either language. He speaks to us in Portuguese and we get the gist, the Chilean more than I because he has spent time in Brazil and has learned to understand it. I surprisingly could understand for the most part, and would respond in Spanish, which he can understand for the most part. You see how it’s working.

Then the Frenchman joined us and there was for the first time in my life, no common language among the group. So we spoke sometimes in English, but then I had to relay in Spanish what we were saying to the Brazilian and he would respond in Portuguese to the Chilean and me and we would relay in either English or French (the Chilean speaks French) to the Frenchman.  Now that’s a multilingual experience. I’ve spoken bits of four languages in the past 12 hours! Wait till we add the three others tomorrow from other countries plus our guides!

We are all heading to San Andrés today, a Caribbean island off the coast, to start our scuba diving adventure. To add another culture to the mix, I’m told the island has a heavy Jamaican influence, much like the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Panama!  What an incredible world we live in, I am a culture junkie!

See you in the Caribbean…

Colombia Adventures Here I come!

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By Kelly Galaski 

I wanted to look up some of the places I’ll be traveling to in Colombia, to give you an idea of what part of the country I’ll be visiting. As you can imagine, it is a country of great diversity with remote dense rainforests, mountains, big city centres with bustling culture, and indigenous heritage. Also, the world’s third largest barrier reef lies just off the Atlantic coast among Caribbean islands. Since the focus of my particular trip is scuba diving, that’s where I’ll be headed. How I love the Carribean.  I decided to do a little research on about some of the specific stops which include:

– Tayrona National Park near Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast
– The Island of San Bernardo, near Cartagena, Colombia’s best preserved architectural  jewel
РThe islands of San Andr̩s and Providencia on the Caribbean Coast, which lay next to the most extensive coral reef system in the world.

Tayrona National Park

Lonely Planet Publications chose this lovely nature reserve as one of the ten destinations to visit in 2010. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and consists of 15,000 colorful hectares, 3,000 of which are marine. The park has over 108 species of mammals, among which howling monkeys, ocelots, corn monkeys, deer and over 70 species of bats stand out. Bird species, including the white and lone eagles, number over 300. Close to 110 coral, 471 crustacean and 700 mollusk species live in its oceans.

The Tayrona Indians were deeply aware of the environment. They channeled mountain water to their houses in an organized way and designed cities and cultivation terraces with the aim of protecting nature always in mind. Visitors to the park have access to the ruins and can attest to their creative abilities.

San Bernardo

The Corals of Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park is perfect for observing colorful coral reefs in shallow waters. Located at 45 kilometers from Cartagena, the park protects underwater ecosystems, mainly the coral reefs, which are fragile ecosystems, inhabited by a multitude of invertebrate species and a variety of fish whose movements and colors resemble ballet choreography.

San Andres and Providencia

The singular coloring of the coral reefs and the mangrove lagoons have conferred upon the sea of Providencia the name of “sea of seven colors”. Providencia is a beautiful Caribbean island located seven hundred kilometers from the city of Cartagena. In the underwater part of the park, the barrier reef that protects the coast of the island from the onslaughts of the sea may be admired in its entire splendor. In its land area, the park comprises a small hill by the name of Iron Wood and the McBean mangrove area. The prodigious coral reef and the McBean mangrove lagoon paint the sea with a spectacular gamut of colors, from deep blue to aquamarine to turquoise.

After that I’ll be whisked off to the city for an all day meeting where I will try to build relationships with Colombian operators that we can work with to design an itinerary and start sending people on trips!

Excerpts from

EcoCamp: Adventure in Patagonia

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Suite Domes

Have you ever dreamt of sleeping in an igloo or a traditional native hut?  Imagine a clear dome where you can see out to the stars, feel like you are sleeping in the wilderness but have the comfort and luxury of a hotel room.  This is EcoCamp. Probably the most intriguing feature is that the hotel is portable. Each winter the domes are removed. Now that is a small environmental footprint!

Daniel Sanhueza shares the vision of EcoCamp Patagonia and how it came to be the most ecologically sustainable and unique experience south of the Amazon:

“At the tip of the South American continent, in the heart of Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park (Chile), we created the EcoCamp, the 1st sustainable lodging south of the Amazon, and the only one of its kind in Patagonia.

The Ecocamp, founded in 1998 and completed by January 2000, was conceived and engineered as an example of sustainable practices in wilderness areas. It hopes to inspire and motivate not only travelers but also the tourism industry towards the possibilities of lodging in wilderness areas with minimal human impact. In 2005 the entire establishment was moved to a new location. By 2008 we had gained enough experience in dealing with comfort in a sustainable manner, that we were able to create new Suite Domes at the Ecocamp.

Our commitment to sustainability through technology arose as our response to the destruction of the amazing Bio Bio river valley and the displacement of its aboriginal community in the years 1993 to 1996. The EcoCamp is still a prototype, but it is a modest contribution to creating new ideas and values during a period obsessed with “progress” that often brings massive destruction to our natural realms.

EcoCamp is a tribute to Kaweskar dwellings and way of life.

The basic premise in designing the EcoCamp was to maintain the nomadic spirit of Patagonia’s ancient inhabitants. These early peoples lived in harmony with “Mother Nature” and built their geodesic shaped huts from wood, fur, skins, and other organic materials which they hunted and gathered from their surroundings.

The Kaweskar, together with many other nomadic cultures, developed an environmentally responsible shelter. They made no demand on natural resources, stayed only a few nights in each place and placed very little importance on keeping material goods. The semicircular huts they built were simple and easy to install and dismantle and the fires built inside where enough to heat all occupants.

Communities had no hierarchy whatsoever and were formed by self- sufficient and independent families. They married for love, practiced monogamy, and had a very well established moral and ethical code involving a deep spiritual world with one god.
Their happiness relied not on possessing goods, but rather in moving about with complete freedom, counting on the individual as a source of self esteem, and nature was the source of well being.

Sadly, in a story repeated across much of Latin America, by 1880 the European settlers that had arrived in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in search of gold, furs, and wool displaced, slaughtered, and brought diseases to these people and by the 1920’s they were almost completely extinct.”


EcoCamp Patagonia is truly an inspiration to sustainable lodging and green travel. is saying keep up the good work!




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