Archive for the ‘ecuador’ Tag

Ecuador Travel News: Air Cuenca operations temporarily suspended   4 comments

The Ecuadorian National Aviation Authorities (DAC – Dirección General de Aviación Civil) temporarily suspends Air Cuenca operations due to technical problems that do not guarantee the safety and security of the passengers (according to an article published in El Comercio on June 21st, 2010.

According to this news source, Air Cuenca can only start operating again once the aircraft is checked.

In the Quito airport of Mariscal Sucre, the personal at the airline counter of Air Cuenca commented that they are not selling airline tickets and that the aircraft will go to Miami to be checked.

Ecuador Tungurahua volcano re-erupts   2 comments

REUTERS/Carlos Campana

UPDATES 2011 NOW FOUND HERE

LATEST UPDATE (Dec.2/2010)

Volcanic activity has been reported in the Tungurahua (Throat of Fire) volcano in Ecuador, the second case sighted in the past few weeks.  The volcano spewed molten rocks and large clouds of gas and ash near Banos, south of Quito, Reuters reported on Tuesday.  The Tungurahua’s volcanic activity follows last month’s eruption, when a column of gas shot up seven kilometers into the sky.  No casualties have been recorded so far, but flight re-direction is being considered.

Tungurahua is located approximately 150 kilometers southeast of Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

RECENT CHRONOLOGY ….

After almost 6 months of relevate calm, Mount Tungurahua seems to be reawaking in the first days of 2010.

DEC.30 2009 – long-period earthquake followed by fumarolic activity with a steam plume reaching 300 metres above the crater.

JAN.01 2010 – beginning of emissions with low ash content, accompanied by rumbles that have gradually increased their intensity.

JAN.03 2010 – crater glow visible, lava fountaining begins, with the projection of incandescent material onto the upper slopes and intense rumbling sounds

JAN.04 2010 – increased ash emissions with eruption columns reaching as high as 2 km above the crater, ash fall reported to the west.

MAY.31 2010 – explosion (see photo series below)

Tungurahua volcano eruption process last night (May 31). Photo credits: Armando Prado/El Comercio

NOV.22 2010 – 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.

APR.27 2011 – A significant explosive eruption occurred, prompting evacuations of schools and villages near the volcano. Tungurahua produced a 7 km / ~23,000 foot ash plume, which is a bit surprising considering that last report from Instituto Geofisico in Ecuador from January 2011 reported “activity at Tungurahua continued to decrease and ash was absent from plumes.”  Hugo Yepes, a geologist from the IG, was quoted as saying (Spanish) this eruption was one of the largest at the volcano in the past 11 years and that the IG expects that this eruption might gone on for “several days”.  The Ecuadoran government placed the volcano on Orange Alert status, meaning mandatory evacuations for a number of villages near Tungurahua. Some air traffic in and out of Quito has also been effected by the eruption.

(Photo by Cecilia Puebla/AFP/Getty Images)

COTALO, ECUADOR – The Tungurahua volcano spews ashes and lava on January 11, 2010, in Cotalo, Ecuador, 135km south of Quito.

Posted April 27, 2011 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR, PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGES

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Air Cuenca starts operating flights today   11 comments

NEWS UPDATE (JUNE 21, 2010): AIRLINE OPERATIONS SUSPENDED (see news article)

Air Cuenca, with a Boeing 737-500, started operating flights between Cuenca and Quito – as well as Cuenca and Guayaquil – today.

Information on flight schedules, rates etc will be forthcoming upon confirmation of details.

Cuenca festejará las fiestas de fundación con la inauguración de una nueva aerolínea. Se trata de Air Cuenca, compañía creada con recursos de personas de esta ciudad, que prestará servicios aéreos a escala nacional, desde abril próximo.

Marcos Cisneros, gerente comercial de la compañía, dice que fue hace dos años que 10 cuencanos, entre empresarios y profesionales con una amplia experiencia en el mundo de los negocios y de la industria de la aviación comercial, decidieron emprender acciones para dotar al sur del país de una aerolínea. Entre los empresarios que iniciaron el proyecto constan Édgar Serrano, actual presidente de la compañía, y José Alvarado, gerente.

El 9 de julio de 2009, el Consejo Nacional de Aviación Civil otorgó a la compañía una concesión de operación para que preste los servicios de transporte aéreo, público, doméstico, regular, de pasajeros, carga y correo, en forma combinada, para operar en Cuenca, Quito, Guayaquil, Macas y Santa Rosa (El Oro).

La inauguración oficial de la compañía está prevista para el 12 de abril. A decir de Álex Cordero, director de Mercadeo, esto como una manera de celebrar los 453 años de fundación de Cuenca. Sin embargo, dependerá de factores externos que no son controlables por la empresa.

El equipo. El avión que servirá para cubrir las frecuencias es un Boeing 737-500, número de serie 26287. La capacidad será para 126 pasajeros, la matrícula nacional es HC-CJB, motores: 2 General Electric (GE), modelos CMF56-3-B1 de última generación, lo que permite un menor consumo de combustible y emisión de gases. La nave es fabricada en los Estados Unidos.

Para la próxima semana, terminará el proceso de pintado del avión, en Francia, donde se encuentra actualmente.

Inicialmente Air Cuenca operará con tres frecuencias diarias: dos serán Cuenca-Quito-Cuenca, y una Cuenca-Guayaquil-Cuenca; mientras que semanalmente habrá tres vuelos Cuenca-Quito-Santa Rosa-Quito-Cuenca. A esta última frecuencia se la pretende ampliar a vuelos diarios, lo que se hará en una segunda etapa a partir de agosto, mes en el que está proyectado la adquisición de otra aeronave de similares características.

La ruta hasta Santa Rosa es en la que mayor empeño se pondrá; los directivos dijeron que pretenden que -a través del servicio aéreo- se incrementen las relaciones comerciales en el sur del país.

Según los directivos de la compañía, aún no se han establecido tarifas para los viajes que realizará la aerolínea en el país. (XPA)

Posted June 4, 2010 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

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Hosteria Alandaluz – a relaxing stay on the Pacific coast.   Leave a comment

Located right across the sea, this magnificent and innovative “Hosteria” is built mainly of bamboo; it has a private and large beach and it is surrounded by magnificent flower and organic vegetable gardens as well as small bamboo forests.

Exploration tours to the “Machallilla” National Park, where abundant fauna similar to that of Galapagos can be found, as well as marine reserve and archeological and cultural areas, can be organized at “Hostería Alándaluz” .

Excursions to: ”La Plata”Island”, whales watching, unpopulated shores (“Los Frailes”, “La Playita”, “Salaite”, etc.), the “Agua Blanca” pre-historic city, the “Salango” Archeological Museum, the trail to “Los Pajaros” by the “Ayampe” River, the “Cantalapiedra” Wild Life Sanctuary, etc. can also be arranged at “Alandaluz”.

It is important to highlight that “Alandaluz” has become an alternative development center through the implementation of agro-ecologic systems, bio-architecture techniques, the development of gardening and landscaping, recycling systems, the use of appropriate technologies, the management of natural areas, the recovery of craftsmanship, etc. All of these processes have generated dozens of jobs and permanent training processes.

Likewise, it constantly motivates the local development, encourages self-esteem, the reinvestment in the area by promoting the human capital and strengthening of rural communities.

During its long lasting and prolific trajectory, “Alandaluz” has demonstrated that the touristic activity combined with an ecologic, social, cultural and integral vision is both productive and sustainable.

Main Facilities:

  • Beautiful beach
  • Splendid gardens
  • Sport areas in the beach
  • Vegetable organic gardens
  • Auto guided trail
  • Conference Room
  • Camping area
  • 25 weathered cabins
  • “Bamboo” Bar-Restaurant
  • Horse and bicycle rides
  • Snorkeling, diving, sports fishing, trekking, etc
  • Participation in community projects
  • Tutorships and volunteer programs
  • Transfers services

Tours:

  • “La Plata” Island
  • Whales watching
  • Un-populated shores (“Los Frailes”, “La Playita”, “Salaite”)
  • “Agua Blanca” Pre-historic City
  • “Salango” Archaeological Museum
  • “Los Pájaros” trail through the “Ayampe” River
  • “Cantalapiedra” Wildlife Sanctuary

“Alándaluz” has created an space where beauty, harmony, the respect to the laws of nature, the community feeling, the responsibility for the present and the future of the life on earth and the future of the new generations have encompassed.

The strongest desire of “Alándaluz” is to build a world where human beings, animals, plants, the sky, the ocean, the earth and the horizon join in a “Passionate Embrace for Life”.

Location map:

Posted April 28, 2010 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

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Cuenca airport in project to convert to International airport   1 comment

Source: Cuenca High Life (http://www.cuencahighlife.com)

CIVIL AVIATION BOARD APPROVES CUENCA’S AIRPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL SERVICE

Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Board has okayed the city’s request to establish immigration services at Mariscal La Mar airport, allowing it to process international air passengers. The plan means that international flights on a single air carrier can originate and end in Cuenca, with connections in Quito and Guayaquil.

The approval is contingent on the installation of a new aviation radar system that the airport says will be operational by December.

The 2008 airport renovation project included additional space to process international passengers.

Posted December 8, 2009 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

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Sangay   Leave a comment

Sangay (phoenetic: sang [ai] or sang-eye) is the most continuously active volcano in the world and the most hardcore mountain in Ecuador to climb because of the demanding nature of the approach and the prevailing appalling weather.

Different interpretations for the name of the mountain exist. Some say it is from the Quichua word samkay, meaning “to frighten, scare, or terrorize”; others, primarily people living in the east, say it is from the word shanga, meaning ‘good-natured.” The reason for this wide disparity is that despite Sangay’s high level of activity, it has not damaged any of the surrounding areas.

The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador’s volcanoes, and its most active. The dominantly andesitic volcano has been in frequent eruption for the past several centuries. The steep-sided, 5230-m-high glacier-covered volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. Sangay towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash from the volcano have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The more or less constant eruptive activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Photo by Minard Hall, 1976 (Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito).

Country: Ecuador
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano
Volcano Status: Historical
Last Known Eruption: 2009 (continuing)
Summit Elevation: 5230 m 17,159 feet
Latitude: 2.002°S 2°0’9″S
Longitude: 78.341°W 78°20’27″W

Posted September 14, 2009 by sangay in MAINLAND ECUADOR

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Ecuadorian cuisine   2 comments

The food in Ecuador is as diverse as the country is, varying with altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountain regions and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn or potatoes). A popular street food in mountain regions is hornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig. Fanesca, a fish soup including several types of bean, is often eaten during Lent
and Easter.

During the week before the commemoration of the deceased or “día de los muertos”, the fruit beverage “Colada Morada” is typical, accompanied by “Guaguas de Pan”, which is stuffed bread shaped like children.

The food is somewhat different in the southern mountain area, featuring typical Loja food such as “repe“, a soup prepared with green bananas; “cecina“, roasted pork; and “miel con quesillo” or “cuajada” as dessert.

A wide variety of fresh fruit is available, particularly at lower altitudes, including granadilla, passionfruit, naranjilla, several types of bananas, uvilla, taxo, and tree tomato.

Seafood is very popular at the coast, where prawns, shrimp and lobster are key parts of the diet. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals, which are usually served in two courses. The first course is caldo soup, which may be aguado (a thin soup, usually with meat) or caldo de leche, a cream vegetable soup. The second course might include rice, a little meat or fish with a menestra (lentil stew), and salad or vegetables. Patacones (fried green plantains with cheese) are popular side dishes with coastal meals.

Ecuadorian seafood

Some of the typical dishes in the coastal region are: ceviche, pan de almidón, corviche, guatita, encebollado and empanadas; in the mountain region: hornado, fritada, humitas, tamales, llapingachos, lomo saltado, and churrasco.

In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. The starchy root is peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms. It’s also used as a bread and has spread throughout the nation, most notably, to Quito where a company sells the native pan de yuca in a new sense; different types sold with frozen youghurt.

Aguardiente, a sugar cane-based spirit, is probably the most popular national alcohol. Drinkable yogurt, available in many fruit flavors, is popular and is often consumed with pan de yuca, a light bread filled with cheese and eaten warm.

Even today, the geographical regions of this small country are isolated from one another, as the towering Andes and expansive Pacific Ocean make it difficult to communicate. This has led to a great variety in local cuisines.

Coastal Region

This region runs along the western edge of the country, bordering the Pacific Ocean. Due to colder currents, a variety of fish and shellfish can be found in this part of the Pacific, and therefore this region’s cuisine tends to be dominated by seafood, (although other non-seafood dishes, such as guatita and seco de chivo, are also popular at a national level).

Ceviche: One of the most popular and well known South American seafood dishes worldwide is ceviche. Ecuadorian ceviche is different from the more widely recognized Peruvian ceviche, and the recipe varies throughout the country. Served cold, it is made from cooked fish, conch, or shrimp (or any combination), with lots of onions, tomatoes, ketchup and lemon. It is generally served with fried plantain chips (chifles) and popcorn.

Cazuela: a plantain-based casserole dish with fish or shrimp, and sometimes peanut sauce.

Guatita: cow stomach cooked in a hard-boiled egg and peanut sauce and served with boiled potatoes.

Aguado de gallina (chicken rice soup): The flavors in this thick soup are very concentrated. It is cooked (and served) with chicken pieces on the bone. Sometimes vegetables are added, but traditionally the soup only has chicken and rice.

Seco de chivo (goat stew): stewed goat (or lamb) meat served with rice and plantains.

Andean Region

Dividing the country in two is the Andean region. Typical ingredients in this region are corn, potatoes, fava beans and pork. As with the Coastal Region, each city or town has its own variations for each dish, but some of the more popular are listed below:

Llapingachos: fried potato cakes filled with cheese and topped with a fried egg and a side of chorizo sausage, atop a salad of lettuce, tomato, and cooked carrots and beets.

Helado de paila: fresh fruit sorbet.

Mote con chicharron: hominy served with fried pig fat.

Hornado: tender roasted pork served with agrio (a vinegary parsley and lemon sauce) and llapingachos and/or mote (hominy).

Fritada: fried pork meat.

Locro de papa: thick potato and cheese (or egg) soup.

Cuy: roasted or fried guinea pig served with potatoes topped with a peanut sauce.

Good restaurant & site for Ecuadorian cuisine: LA CHOZA

Historic Quito   2 comments


Historic (Colonial) Quito is starting to be recognized for its architecture, culture and stunning scenery.

USEFUL LINKS:

[MAP] Useful interactive Historic Quito map (in Spanish)
http://www.getquitoecuador.com/quito-map-center/quito-historic-downtown-map.html

[MAP] Useful map in English
http://www.quito.com.ec/index.php?option=com_mapas&Itemid=381&lang=en

[TEXT & IMAGES] Overview of Quito & interesting points
http://wikitravel.org/en/Quito

[MAP] English map (interactive) of historic Quito
http://www.quito.com.ec/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6&Itemid=113

[TEXT & IMAGES] Overview of Quito & attractions
http://www.professionaltravelguide.com/Destinations/Quito-Ecuador

[MAP] Interactive map of historic Quito
http://www.codeso.com/TurismoEcuador/MapaQuitoHistorico.html

[TROLE BUS INFO] Trole bus details & information
http://www.trolebus.gov.ec/

TIPS & SUGGESTIONS …

Explore the Old Town With its gorgeous colonial architecture, relaxing plazas and a stunning number of churches. If you happen to be there during Christmas or Easter, you’ll be amazed at the number of events, masses, and processions that bring out the crowds. You’ll find craft shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels across its grid of streets.

A recommended walking tour that could enhance your vision of the Historic Center is as follows. Take the trolley (watch your belongings) south until “Cumanda” stop. Get down, you are on Maldonado street. There you will have an impressive view of what once was the “Jerusalem” ravine, which stands between Panecillo and the core. Walk north past the trolley stop and go down a narrow stairway that brings you to La Ronda street, of Pre-columbian origins. Walk up picturesque La Ronda until you reach Av. 24 de Mayo. This boulevard was built on top of this section of Jerusalem ravine to connect the two sides of town. On Garcia Moreno Street turn north and you will arrive to the Museo de la Ciudad, which provides an easy and interactive history of Quito. Then walk on Garcia Moreno street until Sucre, which is a pedestrian street. La Compania is at the corner and if you go up Sucre street you will reach San Francisco. If you continue on Garcia Moreno you will reach the Main (independence) Square. If you go to San Francisco, then walk to La Merced and down to the Main Square. This itinerary follows a chronological and logical sequence of sites. Most people do it backwards, turning La Ronda and Museo de la Ciudad as distant points where you’re usually worn out by the time you get there. In any event, the Historic Center is so vast that you need more than one visit to see it all. The recommended walk provides you with a good overview if you’re short of time or want to see as much as possible on a first day.

Watch The old men play Ecuador’s version of bocce at Parque El Ejido. You can also see some serious games of Ecua-volley, the local version of volleyball, on a Saturday or Sunday.

The Middle of the World 45 mins from the capital Quito, you can go to see the Monument to the middle of the World. It’s a big monument with many events and things to do. For example, national indigineous music groups play different songs of their culture. There are museums with the history of the 0 latitud and history of Quito as well. There are many unique artworks and once you are there you can even weight your self and you will find out how you weigh less on the equator.

Bicycle Ride the Ciclopaseo takes place every Sunday. 30 kilometres (20 miles) of roads running north-south through the city are completely closed to traffic. People cycle, run and blade the route. Up to 30,000 people take part. Several bike shops rent bikes for visitors to be able to take part.

Cable Car There is a cable car ride up the side of Ruco Pichina. It’s called “Teleferico” in spanish. Ask your hotel about the special buses that run through the city taking people towards this destination. You can also find your own way there through taxi or bus.

HIGHLIGHTS IN OLD QUITO

San Francisco Church. The church dates back from the 1570s and was devoted to San Francis, since the Franciscan order was the first to settle in the area. Hence the city’s official name: San Francisco de Quito. The church contains masterpieces of syncretic art, including the famous “Virgin of Quito” by Legarda. The sculpture represents a winged virgin stepping on the devil’s head (in the form of a serpent) and is displayed in the main altar. The virgin would later be inaccurately replicated on top of Panecillo hill. The museum next door to the church is arranged through the monastic compound and includes access to the choir.

Museo del Banco Central. Located across from the Casa de la Cultura and adjacent to the Parque El Ejido, you’ll find perhaps Ecuador’s most renowned museum with different Salas, or rooms, devoted to pre-Colombian, Colonial and gold works of art, among other topics. Some of the famous pieces include whistle bottles shaped like animals, elaborate gold headdresses and re-created miniature scenes of life along the Amazon. The museum is well-organized, and it takes about 3-4 hours to see everything. Guides who speak several different languages including English, French and Spanish are available for a small fee.

Museo de la Ciudad. The Museo de la Ciudad is in the Old Town, on Garcia Moreno street, directly opposite the Carmen Alto monastery. A lovely museum with two floors encircling two quiet courtyards, the “Museo de la Ciudad” provides more of a social history of Ecuador than other museums in Quito. Re-enacted scenes from daily life of Ecuador’s citizens through the years include a hearth scene from a 16th-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and illustrations of the building of Iglesia de San Francisco church.

Teleferico. This is the world’s second-highest cable car. It’s located on the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano which overlooks the whole city. It hoists visitors up to an amazing 4,000 meters (12,000 feet). On clear days, one can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and spy the entire city below. You can also hike up from here to the Guagua Pichincha Volcano, which is active. See Teleferiqo website for details. It is $4 for locals, but $8 for foreigners. There is also an express lane option for more money.

Botanical Gardens. The Jardin Botanico is located on the southwest side of Parque La Carolina. It’s a wonderful escape from the city, with all of Ecuador’s ecosystems represented with a wide variety of flora. You can take a guided tour or just wander. The highlight for many people are the two glassed-in orchidariums.

Museo Mindalae. An extremely original project in the north part of the Mariscal District, this museum provides an ‘ethno-historical’ view of Ecuador’s amazingly rich cultural diversity. You can find out about the country’s different peoples, from the coast to the Andes to the Amazon, and their crafts in a specially-built and designed structure. The museum has a restaurant for lunch, a cafe and a fair-trade shop.

Itchimbia cultural complex and park. This hill lies to the east of the Old Town. It provides stunning views of central and northern Quito, as well as the distant peak of Cayambe to the northeast. The hillside was was made into a park and an impressive cultural centre established here in 2005. The centre holds temporary exhibitions. At the weekends, there are workshops and fun for children. A restaurant, Pim’s, opened at the complex in June 2007. The complex closes at 6 pm. Once it closes, you can head to the nearby Cafe Mosaico to watch the sunset until about 7 pm. It’s a great spot to watch the fading of the light on the mountainside with the floodlights of the Old Town’s churches.

Museo Guayasamin. This musueum houses the collection of Ecuador’s most renowned contemporary artists, Oswaldo Guayasamin. It has a fine collection of pre-Colombian, colonial and independence art, as well as housing many of the artist’s works. You can also visit the nearby Chapel of Man (Capilla del Hombre) which was built posthumously to house some of Guayasamin’s vast canvasses on the condition of Latin American Man.

Calle de la Ronda. This street in the Old Town was restored by Municipality and FONSAL in 2007. It was transformed with the help and cooperation of the local residents. It’s a romantic cobbled street just off the Plaza Santo Domingo (or it can be reached via Garcia Moreno by the City Museum). There are shops, patios, art galleries and modest cafe restaurants now, all run by residents. Cultural events are common at the weekends.

La Vírgen del Panecillo. Adjacent to the Old City, El Panecillo is a large hill on top of which is La Virgin del Panecillo, a large statue of the ‘winged’ Virgin Mary. She can be seen from most points in the city. Local legend has it that she is the only virgin in Quito. Never walk up the hill, always take a taxi or a bus as the walk up can be dangerous.

Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus. In the Old City, this church is regarded by many as the most beautiful in the Americas. Partially destroyed by fire, it was restored with assistance from the Getty Foundation and other benefactors. Stunning.

From La Compania, turn down Calle Garcia Moreno and you’ll pass El Sagrario (dating from the mid-1600s) and, next door, the Cathedral Metropolitana (where independence hero Antonio Jose de Sucre is buried).

OTHER ATTRACTIONS nearby

Mitad del Mundo. Just outside of Quito is where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Commemorating this is a large monument that straddles the equator called Mitad del Mundo or middle of the world. Note, however, that the true equator is not at the Mitad del Mundo monument. Through the magic of GPS technology, we now know that it is only a few hundred feet away — right where the Indians said it was before the French came along and built the monument in the wrong place. The entrance for the park is $1.50 and for most of the attractions you have to pay extra. The Intiñan Solar Museum is right next to the Mitad del Mundo monument on the other side of the North fence. For two dollars you can have a tour of this little museum. They demonstrate the Coriolis effect and several other interesting things. The place looks like a total dump and is at the end of a dirt road, but is much more interesting and informative than the Mitad del Mundo. When you go to the middle of the world, it is best to go with a tour, or hire a taxi driver by the hour. The hourly rate should be in the $12 or less range. Buses leave from the Occidental or Av. America for $0.40.

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Humpback Whales in Ecuador   1 comment

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UPDATED ARTICLE FOUND HERE (click)

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PUERTO LOPEZ / MONTANITA

This region is famous for the Humpback whales that are present in the waters (especially in the Machalilla National Park) between June and September. The Humpback whales (megaptera novaeangliae) migrate from the Antarctic South Pole to tropical waters to mate and give birth to their calves.

Salango Bay

The humpback whales are easy to recognize because of their extremely long pectoral fins. These whales can measure up to 16 m of length and weigh up to 40 tons. Humpback whales are the most acrobatic of the bigger whales. They like to breach out the water or hit the surface repetitively with their flippers or flukes.

Ecuador coast map

To reach Puerto Lopez, in the coastal province of Manabi, there are 5 bus companies that make this journey (aprox. 5 to 6 hours) and cost between USD $6 to $9 one way. Breakfast & lunches in Puerto Lopez run from USD $1.50 up to USD $15. Whale watching tours run from USD $20 to $50, as do trips to Isla de la Plata. Accommodation runs from USD $10 to $100. Recommended good alternatives near Puerto Lopez are: Mantaraya & Hosteria Alandaluz (http://www.alandaluzhosteria.com/index.html). Contact info@sangay.com for more information.

Puerto Lopez

This is not to mention the pristine white-sand beaches … many of which are ideal for surfing and para sailing. Another attraction in this region is Los Frailles National Park, with its peaceful and soft sand beach cove.

Ecuador's Pacific coast

Quito main bus station (Cumanda) closed   1 comment

The Cumanda Bus Station [Terminal Terrestre de Cumandá] in Quito, which operated all inter-provincial buses throughout the country in now closed, after 23 years in operation. Apparently this area will be converting into a park & parking facilities.

Operations for route to the south are now operated from QUITUMBE, while bus routes to the north are operated from CARCELEN.

Quito bus stations

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Quito – most attractive historic centre in Latin America.   Leave a comment

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m (9350 feet). The second highest capital city in South America, after La Paz in Bolivia, it quite literally takes your breath away.

Quito is located on a horizontal strip of land running north to south between beautiful mountains. The splendor of the city’s natural setting, combined with its attractive squares, parks and monuments as well as the warmth of its people, makes it a unique and unforgettable place.

Location : Andes mountain range 2.800 meters
Population : 1.4 million
Altitude : 2,850 m/9,350 ft
Temperature : 50 to 78 ºF (7 to 26 ºC)
Province : Pichincha
Currency : United States Dollar (USD)
Time zone : GMT -5
Language : Spanish
Foundation : December 6th, 1534
Airport: Mariscal Sucre International (UIO)

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is considered one of the most beautiful regions in Latin America. Located in the Andean mountains at the foot of Mount Pichincha 9200 feet above sea level. Quito has a spring-like climate all year. Beautifully preserved colonial churches, convents, palaces, and other buildings of note contrast with the contemporary architecture of modern Quito, a cosmopolitan city of great cultural diversity. Quito has been designated the “Heritage of Mankind” by the United Nations. Stationed at nearly 10,000 feet, Quito is almost twice as high as Denver, Colorado. Though because it sits only 25 kilometres from the Equator, Quito does not suffer through long winters like the Mile High City . On the contrary, Ecuador’s capital enjoys mild days and cool nights almost year-round. The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude and the time of the year.

In Quito the temperature ranges from 7 ºC (50 ºF) at night to 26 ºC (78 ºF) at noon, and averages 15 ºC (64 ºF). There are two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season is called winter and the dry is considered summer. Quito’s summer lasts about 4 months, from the end of June to September.

Quito sees its fair share of rain from October through May, though even during this period the climate supports a multitude of diversions. There are enough sunny days during the rainy season to accommodate all but the most insatiable sun worshipers, and when the sun hides, Quito has plenty to offer indoors.

Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.

Accommodation options are basically divided into two sectors: (1) Historic Centre; and (2) Modern north (Mariscal). For more details on recommended option SEE HERE

The climate is spring-like and relatively comfortable, with warm days (sometime hot) and cool nights.

The main attraction of Quito, providing it with its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the ‘Old City’ or Colonial Quito. From the heart of the old Spanish colonial center, Plaza de la Independencia, it is easy to wander through the many cobblestone streets and explore the rest of the old city on foot. The photo pictured above shows Plaza de San Francisco, and the famous church and monastery of the patron saint of Quito – San Francisco – constructed by the Spanish in 1553.

The city expansion towards the north and the south started during the 1980’s, when the main tourist area in the north-central area of modern Quito started growing. The modern portion of the city, especially La Mariscal district is where the majority of hotels, hostels, bed & breakfasts, internet cafes, bars, and souvenir shops are located.

old quito
The History of Quito

The history of this beautiful colonial city, full of legends woven over more than 400 years, is still alive in the memory of its inhabitants. To find its origin it is necessary to go back in time to the 6th of December in 1534, when the Spanish conquistadors founded the city with 204 settlers.

Before then, the present-day site of Quito was inhabited by the Quitus, a tribe from the Quechua civilization in a strip of land that stretched from what is now Cerro del Panecillo in the south to Plaza de San Blas in the center. Called the Kingdom of Quito in the Pre-Hispanic period, buildings in this ancient city were made of carved stone and sun-dried brick. Later, Spanish architects incorporated the same materials into their grandiose constructions.

At the beginning of the 16th Century, the city adopted a monumental style with the construction, by the various Catholic missions, of the impressive temples of San Francisco, Santo Domingo, La Cathedral and San Agustín. The main events during this period took place in or around these temples, which helped promote religion among the people.

The truth is that Quito’s history starts long before 1534 when the Spanish founded it. Although pre-Hispanic traces disappeared with the conquistadors’ arrival, it has been said that before the Europeans arrived, Rumiñahuy, an indigenous warrior, set the city on fire and destroyed the temples of the Incas who lived there. Other legends tell of such characters as Atahualpa, last emperor of Tahuauntinsuyo, the Inca Kingdom, who was executed in 1533 by his Spanish captors, despite the fact that the Inca people paid a whole room full of gold and silver for his return. Figuring prominently in more recent tales is Xavier Chusig, a mestizo (someone of mixed Indian and Spanish parentage) who changed his name to Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo to avoid discrimination and went on the found the first newspaper in the city. There are still other stories of Manuela Sáenz, the first woman to join the Bolivarian army and who became the chief lieutenant of “the Liberator” Simón Bolívar. For them, as for many others, Quito was the setting of their resistance and struggle.

old quito

The conquest brought many Catholic missions, whose presence is apparent in the more than thirty convents, churches and chapels in the historic center. Their influence was not in vain, and religious devotion was sown in people’s souls. In 1649, more than two thousand people crossed the city from north to south various times during the day and night, praying for God to reveal to them the identity of the thieves who had stolen the sacred chalice from the convent of Santa Clara.

The 28th of January, 1912 was especially memorable in the annals of the city’s history. A large crowd of people dragged the dead body of President Eloy Alfaro through the streets. Alfaro had headed the Liberal Revolution but was assassinated in the city’s prison and later incinerated at Parque de El Ejido. Another important event was the coup d’état attempt on September 1, 1975, when the army attacked the Presidential residence during the government of General Guillermo Rodríguez Lara.

 

Quito is today an enterprising metropolis and political center of the country. It has made an enormous effort to offset the damage caused by the natural disasters that have affected it over the years. Quito offers many options for a pleasant visit amidst its history, tradition and legend.

Quito recommended hotel – CAFE CULTURA   3 comments

Café Cultura is a delightful mix of English tradition and contemporary trend. Consider it an inner city retreat, with an out-going personality and inspirational food. Some sixty years ago, the hotel was home to one of Quito’s oldest families, after which it became the French Cultural Centre. The building was carefully restored over a period of four years, with special detail given to maintaining the unique characteristics of the original interior. The house is hemmed by a beautiful garden, with secluded seating areas for relaxing — or watching our resident hummingbirds, doves and peacocks do their thing. So don’t be shy, ring the bell, come in, and discover for yourself why Condé Nast Traveler magazine recently listed Café Cultura as one of the three reasons to visit Ecuador!

CONTACT: info@sangay.com
Special incentive rates applicable on selected dates

SPECIAL SUMMER 2009 OFFERS …

FREE airport pick up
or
FREE three course dinner
or
50% OFF 3rd consecutive night’s stay

Conditions
1. One offer per reservation per room
2. This offer applies to clients who have made their reservation and will stay at Café Cultura between the months of June to December 2009.
3. The free airport pick up is from Quito airport to Hotel Café Cultura.
4. The free dinner consists of one starter, one main and one dessert course per person selected from the specials menu.
5. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

The hotel …

On the ground floor you will find the reception area and cafe – bistro, together with the wood-panelled library complete with guidebooks, papers and magazines for your use. Fires are lit in our three large stone fireplaces every night, along with an abundance of candles, creating a warm and cosy atmosphere, reminiscent of colonial life. Here you can relax in the comfortable leather armchairs, glass of wine in hand, basking in the warmth of a crackling wood fire.

From the reception area an open-gallery staircase leads to 15 of our 26 bedrooms. Each room has been individually designed in keeping with the style of the house and has its own en suite bathroom. Different artists have painted modern frescoes throughout the hotel, adding to its already unique style.

Once inside, you will immediately be seduced by the overall atmosphere of conviviality: the perfect mix of home comfort, the right level of discreet service, plus our own touch of eclectic culture. Indeed, while all of our rooms have individual features, some are more special than others with their own fireplaces, or perhaps a sunken bath. Our honeymoon suite boasts its own balcony – a conservatory converted into a dream-like bathroom with an antique tub.

Discovering New Species in Nangaritza Ecuador   8 comments

SOURCE: CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL
Conservation International
LINK: http://www.conservation.org
DATE: June 16, 2009
BY: Molly Bergen

A glass frog whose organs can be seen through its transparent skin. A smiling bat. A hideously ugly salamander. These are just a few of the discoveries unearthed on a recent CI RAP expedition in Ecuador.

Glass Frog

A Refuge for Species

Located in southeastern Ecuador, near the Peruvian border, the Nangaritza River valley is mountainous, heavily forested and relatively inaccessible to most people. The upper river valley is known for its Tepuyes, or tabletop mountains, which are home to many species that are found nowhere else on earth, as well as other species whose populations are threatened in other locations but remain plentiful here.

EXPEDITION NANGARITZA:

Nangaritza’s isolation has not only helped to protect the mountain ecosystem from destruction, it has also long posed a challenge to detailed scientific study. Part of the region is under the protection of the Nangaritza Protected Forest, but wildlife experts believe that more land must be protected for this unique environment to thrive.

The Shuar indigenous association and a local farming organization have been granted management over much of the protected forest, but these groups are proposing that the lands be upgraded to a higher protection status, where they will be more sustainably managed. Poison Arrow FrogBefore this step can be taken, however, more scientific data is needed.

Rapid Assessments, Exciting Discoveries

In-depth biodiversity surveys can often take years to complete – a frustrating reality when many of the world’s ecosystems are constantly under threat of destruction. CI’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) conducts quick biodiversity surveys all over the world to identify species and make recommendations for conservation action.

During April’s three week survey of the Nangaritza region, more than 16 researchers and support staff from CI and partner organizations from Ecuador and the U.S. hiked, measured and photographed their way through the steamy Tepuy forests in search of wildlife. Despite endless rain, flat tires and other inevitable obstacles of field work, they had great success.

Colorful lizard

Among the hundreds of species documented, the RAP team found four species of amphibians, one reptile, at least seven katydids, at least two plants, and possibly one rodent species thought to be unknown to science. In addition, several bird species were found outside of their known ranges, possibly indicating the existence of larger bird populations than previously thought.

Researchers also found a healthy population of Atelopus toads. The toads’ presence is very promising, as other Atelopus populations throughout Central and South America have faced massive declines due to the chytrid fungus.

Taking Conservation Action

How does finding a healthy toad affect human well-being? The absence of the chytrid fungus in the Nangaritza Atelopus population indicates a thriving ecosystem that must be preserved for the survival of future generations of people as well as animals. Further study of local amphibians, as well as other key species like birds, will be necessary in order to continue to monitor ecosystem health.

IN PHOTOS: Discovering Species in Nangaritza, Ecuador

In response to the RAP survey, CI-Ecuador and partners including Fundacion Arcoiris and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador plan to produce a booklet to educate locals about their region’s biodiversity and the value conservation will have for their own lives. CI also hopes to involve more communities in the Socio Bosque (Forest Partners) Program, developed by the Ecuadorian government with support from CI, which provides financial incentives to communities in return for forest stewardship. They also plan to survey other Tepuyes in the region to determine if they also have healthy ecosystems supporting Atelopus.

The survey’s findings provide strong support for local communities’ proposal to strengthen environmental protection and plan for the management of research, ecotourism (particularly bird watching) and other economic alternatives.

By presenting alternative livelihood choices that benefit communities while promoting conservation, we not only improve the lives of many people today, but also preserve our resources for tomorrow.000000

Baltra Island Becomes Part of Galapagos National Park   Leave a comment

SOURCE: GALAPAGOS CONSERVANCY (http://www.galapagos.org)
DATE: 19 June 2009

An Executive Decree Defines the Zoning of Baltra Island, which is now part of the Galapagos National Park.

Baltra Island, located at the center of the Galapagos Archipelago, officially became part of the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and thus part of the National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador, through Executive Decree 1784, dated June 15, 2009.

Baltra Island is now part of the Galapagos National Park.

BALTRA

This decree defines the zoning of Baltra and establishes areas for conservation and restoration of ecosystems, and areas for the reduction of environmental impacts, as laid out in the zoning system in the GNP Management Plan.

The area designated for conservation and restoration of ecosystems will be monitored by the GNP and occupies 73.9% (1,874.15 ha) of the island. A total of 28.94% (722.85 ha) of the island has been designated as an area for impact reduction. Within this area, three sub zones have been defined:

* Areas for special use, managed by the GNPS
* Areas for use by the Ecuadorian military, managed by the Ecuadorian armed forces
* Areas for airport infrastructure, managed by the Office of Civil Aviation

The decree also designated the roads connecting the Baltra docks with the airport as areas for “free circulation for terrestrial transit.”

The process of zoning Baltra was initiated more than two years ago, following a request by the Minister of the Environment and the Ministry of Defense to clarify institutional responsibility for the management and use of Baltra, where the Galapagos Air Base and the Puerto de Seymour Port Captaincy are located.

A committee created a zoning proposal which was approved by the Ingala Council. With this baseline document, the Minister of Environment began a process of dialogue with the Ministry of Defense.

The zoning proposal integrated the land use needs of the three institutions based on the island, and the guidelines contained in the GNPS Management Plan.

Proceso de Relaciones Públicas – Parque Nacional Galápagos – Ecuador
For more information, write to: comunicacion@spng.org.ec, or visit http://www.galapagospark.org