Ecuador travel – Four worlds – One country
By Mayra Clavijo M.
Ecuador is the most beautiful tourist destination in the world due to the warmth of its people, culture, climate, and nature. This is how the Finnish Lassi Pensikkala, a travel expert and creator of AmerExperience.com/Travel, conceives it. He has lived in the South American country for 12 years, and like him, several foreigners who visit Ecuador fall in love, return or decide to make it their home.
Brazilian Delfim Pinheiro, Accor Group’s operations manager for Colombia and Ecuador, who visited several cities to make a significant hotel investment, corroborates Pensikkala’s appreciation by stating that “Ecuador has raw materials” to develop ecotourism.
Mexican Eduardo Cruz del Río, Vice President of Operations for Latin America and the Caribbean at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, also agrees that Ecuador’s comparative advantages are its natural attractions, its heritage, and its added value: personalized attention.
The Ecuadorian businesswoman, manager of Le Parc Hotel, and vice president of the Quito Chamber of Commerce, Gabriela Sommerfeld, assures that “Ecuador has everything to offer to tourists.”
The government of Guillermo Lasso, who took office on May 24, 2021, undertook an effective vaccination plan and opened the doors to visitors. The enchanting Galapagos Islands were the first to receive national and international tourists, as a safe destination.
The Minister of Tourism, Niels Olsen, an entrepreneur dedicated to the reactivation and prosperity of the tourism sector, aims to turn the sector into an engine of development through sustainable management. Ecuador, touristic power! is his great challenge.
In the midst of the pandemic, “Ecuador has been a light for the reactivation of travel, since it was one of the countries that established fewer restrictions on their entry, unlike their neighbors, says Emilia Rivadeneira, Deputy Manager of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Peru – Ecuador of LATAM Airlines. LATAM connects passengers to different national and international destinations.
The airport in Quito, the capital, is the best in South America, according to Skytrax, the main organization that evaluates the service provided by airports and airlines around the world.
Upon the arrival of passengers, important accommodation chains are located in the vicinity and in the rest of the country. The hotel sector focuses on generating greater hospitality. This is highlighted by travelers who come to Ecuador and “they get a great surprise from the people, how hospitable we are, the service we always give with a smile …” says Javier Gómez, general manager of the Holiday Inn, the first hotel that was opened in the middle of a pandemic.
The Country in the Middle of the World
Ecuador offers the most pleasant experience of your life as you travel its four worlds and enjoy a wide variety of surprising options in the Ecuadorian Andes, the Pacific Coast, the Amazon, and the Galapagos Islands.
Being a small country, it is manageable because the distances are not very large. “You can see snow, and after few hours drive goes swimming in the Pacific Sea or dive into the jungle. These are the biggest advantages for international tourists, ”says Lassi Pensikkala.
Ecuador is located on the equator, in South America, and its territory is in both hemispheres. To the north, it borders Colombia, to the west with the Pacific Ocean, to the south, and east with Peru. It is an ideal destination for being the country with the greatest natural and cultural diversity in relation to its territorial extension.
The name Ecuador has its origin in various events. One of them occurred in 1736 when the Paris Academy of Sciences sent the famous Geodesic Commission of France to Quito, made up of the sages La Condamine, Bouguer, Godín, and Seniergues, with the purpose of measuring an arc of the Earth’s meridian.
The Republic of Ecuador emerged on May 13, 1830, with the signing of the act that became the birth certificate of the Ecuadorian State.
Ecuador is a multi-ethnic and multicultural country that makes it a gem for visitors, who rejoice in the diversity and friendliness of its people. The heritage of the people is in their culture, art, habits, and traditions that are reflected in the theater, music, dance, ancestral heritages, or colonial and modern architectural expressions.
In all regions, colorful indigenous markets and popular festivals such as: the Mama Negra, the Paseo del Chagra, the Jumbadas, the Diablada de Píllaro, among others, attract national and foreign visitors.
The famous indigenous markets are a perfect combination of ancient culture, traditions, exotic sounds, and Andean flavors. In Otavalo, Imbabura province is one of the most emblematic markets.
Heritage, symbol of identity
Ecuador concentrates on cities, parishes, and other places as well as tangible and intangible elements of great heritage value.
The Historic Center of Quito was the first urban site inscribed on the world heritage list, in 1978.
Alfredo Conti, Director of Tourism Research at the University of La Plata, Argentina, highlights that “Quito has, in addition to all the very important, exceptional values, the plus of having been the first to be registered by UNESCO. Quito is a site of the exceptional value of importance to humanity, values that are undeniable such as architecture, the impressive Quito School, and the urban fabric that preserves great homogeneity. That attracts the visitor to which is added the intangible heritage, the gastronomy, the people.
The famous Galapagos Islands have been listed since 1978 as an exceptional “living museum and showcase of evolution.” According to Conti, Galapagos, the natural heritage of humanity, is in the imagination of the people for its biodiversity, particular fauna, the link with Darwin’s Theory, and what it meant for the advancement of science.
The Sangay National Park, the Historical Center of Cuenca, Qhapaq Ñan (Inca Trail, in Quichua) along with other attractions, marimba music, the traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian hat made of toquilla straw, the oral heritage and cultural manifestations of the Zapara people they are also on the World Heritage List.
The Esmeralda’s marimba is one of the manifestations of the Afro-Ecuadorian people, who are admired on the beaches of Esmeraldas and revitalized in the voice of singer-songwriter Karina Clavijo. Other rhythms such as the pasillo, the pasacalle, the albazo, the sanjuanito, and popular bands delight locals and strangers.
José Francisco Ramón, director of the Regional Institute of World Heritage in Zacatecas, considers that today’s tourism seeks culture and a whole range of expressions that are in the daily life of our peoples. Ecuador has heritage sites and a variety of intangible heritages of enormous importance to reactivate tourism.
Can I ask you a favor for Ecuadorian incoming tourism?
Help the travel industry regenerate, protect workplaces and create new ones! Tourism has generated 20% of world employment since 2013. According to the latest data published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism sector, with a representation of 10.4%, is one of the sectors with the greatest contribution to world GDP (Source: Economipedia)
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Museums, memory and identity
Ecuador has a variety of museums, as an expression of memory and cultural diversity, to preserve the archaeological, ethnographic, and artistic heritage. The Ministry of Culture and Heritage has a network of 16 museums with free access in 11 cities of the country.
The museums guard the heritage collection with around 700,000 cultural assets that highlight the history, ways of life, worldview, religiosity, relationship with nature, art, colors, shapes, textures and ancestral legacy.
Nature, the magic of Ecuador
One of the main riches of Ecuador is its biodiversity. In all regions, there are natural paradises where their fauna, flora, and scenic beauty stand out.
The Amazon is the largest region in the country inhabited by peoples and nationalities such as the Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Shuar, Zaparo, Huaorani, and Quichua, true ancestral guardians of its biodiversity.
In this mega-diverse territory, Raúl García, “El Capi”, an Ecuadorian businessman, founder of Anakonda Amazon Cruises, leads on an exceptional adventure through the waters of the Napo River, aboard leading South American cruises.
Tourists live memorable experiences and contribute to the sustainability of the region, considered a natural lung of humanity. There it is possible to enjoy the natural exuberance, with luxury and high-quality services on your journeys.
Pavel Pino, a tourist promoter, and Yelsin Alvarado, native guide and community tourism operator in the Amazon, also take tourists to fantastic places in the Yasuní and Cuyabeno National Park. The caves, like the mythical Caverns of Jumandi, invite you to a journey through the bowels of the earth.
The routes are diverse throughout the country to visit national parks, reserves, and recreation areas.
The Cotopaxi National Park stands out because the imposing Cotopaxi volcano rises there at 5,897 meters above sea level. The area is home to exuberant fauna and flora. Nature and clean air are the best company. The visitor has access to walks, excursions, mountaineering, and sport fishing.
The Llanganates, Sangay, Machalilla, and Podocarpus national parks are sanctuaries that concentrate biodiversity as well as the Antisana, Cayambe – Coca, Cotacachi – Cayapas, Chimborazo ecological reserves where the snows of the Chimborazo volcano emerge at 6,268 meters, the highest mountain in Ecuador, the condor and the vicuñas as a great tourist attraction, the Cuyabeno, Limoncocha, the Cayapas – Mataje mangroves, the Yasuní, Sumaco – Napo – Galeras, natural laboratories for scientists and sites of a deep connection between man and nature.
Very popular is also the beautiful train tour to Devils’s nose Ecuador.
Live the adventure!
Ecuador is the ideal country for the practice of responsible and conscious tourism that allows visitors to enjoy, appreciate, investigate and raise awareness about its extraordinary natural and heritage riches.
Ecotourism invigorates adventure tourism, agrotourism, rural tourism, and scientific tourism.
In several regions, natural features facilitate activities such as sport fishing, or rafting, canyoning, tubing, boating, diving, trekking, mountaineering, mountain biking, motorcycle touring, bungee jumping, whale watching, or horseback riding.
Experiences in the country side
The coexistence, integration, and participation of the tourist with the families that live in the rural areas of the country is an unforgettable experience. The main objective is to conserve natural resources and revalue the culture of the communities.
In this type of tourism, families share their homes with tourists. This is how they experience how a community lives, its customs, and traditions.
In most of the communities, there are integral farms, which complement the agricultural activities, to take advantage of their products in family consumption and their surpluses in commerce.
The festivals are a fundamental characteristic of the communities and constitute the greatest feature of collective identity where religious aspects, indigenous traditions, dance, music, and gastronomy stand out.
To flower of skin…
The diversity of Ecuador involves in a more direct and entertaining way to deepen the knowledge of the natural world and technological development. Ecology is one of the sciences that are applied in Ecuador due to its biodiversity that covers the four regions of the country: Coast, Sierra, Amazon, and Insular.
The flora and fauna are an extraordinary natural wealth, even with endemic species, unique in the world, that inhabit natural heritages such as the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador opens the doors to scientists and amateurs to investigate in natural laboratories and promote activities derived from the observation of species, exploration of the environment, and environmental conservation. As a result of these activities, several discoveries have been made that have been recognized by important international journals.
The colors, shapes, and sounds of birds attract national and international tourists more frequently. The reason: Ecuador is home to around 1 640 species of birds, which is equivalent to 17 percent of all those in the world (9 702 species).
The largest number of birds, in relation to its territory, is in the country and it makes it a natural sanctuary for birdwatching.
Waterfalls, lakes, rivers, places, accommodation, various attractions, exquisite cuisine, in each region, are the perfect complement to enjoy the natural charms.
«In Cuenca, I ate the best shrimp of my life: The taste, even if it is from a farm, is impressive. I had something unforgettable and the shrimp is spectacular. You have a quality of seafood superior to most of the countries, including Brazil”, says businessman Delfim Pinheiro. Cuenca is also famous for trout farming on crystal clear mountain rivers in the Andes at almost 3,000 meters above sea level.
In Puerto Cayo, in the province of Manabí, the famous chef Rodrigo Pacheco seduces the world with his culinary art at the Boca Valdivia restaurant where his priorities are ancestral, original products and a fundamental ingredient: Love.
Cocoa Arriba is also the best in the world and Ecuadorian roses inspire weddings and romantic getaways.
The 21 Best Things To Do In Ecuador – Tours, Tickets and Activities
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Welcome to Ecuador! Four worlds, one country
Original Spanish text by Mayra Clavijo M., Executive President and founder of Radio Turismo Ecuador. A journalist with experience in the media, institutional communication, public relations, and multimedia
Translation from Spanish to English: Lassi Pensikkala
Proofreading: George Coles
*Radio Turismo Ecuador (RTE) is a digital medium that generates and disseminates specialized information on tourism. Ecuador En Clave is a stellar program of news, interviews, and tourism news.