3 Ecuadorian travel journeys for the senses

Amazon
by admin
November, 30, 2016
Read time
5 minutes
If you’re a traveler looking for more than landmarks or monuments, keep in mind that each destination offers alternatives. There are journeys that provide surprising experiences, challenge the senses and invite you to understand a place more deeply. These are travels that bring you closer to the lives of their people, closer to their traditions, landscapes, cuisine, colors, and flavors…those details that make a visit unique.

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Ecuador’s Coffee, Chocolate and Flower “Routes”

The suggestion of Ecuador travel planners at Surtrek is to consider theme-based tours in which you will follow the most exquisite aromas and flavors of the different regions of Ecuador. These tours — called coffee, chocolate and flower “routes” — are journeys on which you will enjoy dazzling scenery while sipping a tall cup of rich South American coffee or a hot cup of chocolate with its fine cocoa aroma. You can visit the best rose plantations in the world and marvel at colorful orchids growing in the fields of this wonderful little South American country – recognized as one of the most diverse in the world.

ECUADOR’S COFFEE ROUTE

Ecuador is one of the countries that produce and export excellent quality coffee, though in small amounts for exclusive niche markets, particularly those in Europe. The different ecosystems of the country allow this fruit to be grown in several regions of Ecuador, even in the Galapagos Islands. Growers in this country specialize in varieties such as “Arabica Lavado,” Natural Arabica, Caturra and Robusta coffees, which are highly valued for their quality, aroma and of course their taste.

Given all this, what better is there than to follow the aroma of one of the finest coffees in the world to understand the land where it’s grown? Various “Coffee Routes” run through the different regions of the country, each designed to inform travelers about the process of planting, growing, producing and marketing this product.

These Ecuador travel tours are designed so that they can be enjoyed in every sense. In most places these include visits to farms, ranches and coffee communities, allowing the traveler lose themself in the greenery of fields, involve themselves in the process and, of course, taste the different varieties of coffee. Promoted by local governments, these tours also allow you to experience the dining culture and cuisine generated around this product, in addition to permitting you to discover the human side of an activity that employs more than 100,000 families in Ecuador.

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Some of the Ecuador travel destinations where coffee tours are organized include the following:

  • Jipijapa: Situated in the coastal province of Manabi, this area is known as the “coffee capital of Ecuador.” In this region, visitors can learn about the history of coffee production in Ecuador as well as the current process of producing Arabica coffee. Visitors here receive demonstrations of the roasting process and they can visit an export company that uses timeworn machines worthy of a museum.
  • The Chical Region: In the north of the country, tourists taking this Coffee Route will discover hundreds of hectares of coffee plants. In this province, tourist can also visit locally run archaeological and ethnographic museum, such as the Manaquer Museum in the community of Esperanza. In addition, you can also visit the Chiles Volcano, a beautiful snowcapped mountain on the border of Ecuador and Colombia.
  • Around Quito: Another special stop on the Ecuadorian Coffee Route is to the northwest of the capital city itself. In this area, more than 200 families are involved in coffee growing. In addition, tourists can tour the nearby cloud forest, which is biodiverse and filled with unique species of birds (up to 35 species of hummingbirds and 380 other bird species), as well as many butterflies and insect species. This area is also home to an endangered mammal: the famous Spectacled bear.

THE CHOCOLATE ROUTE

Cacao seeds are also known in Ecuador as “gold nuggets,” both for their color and for the value these have had for the development of this product in this country. Ecuadorian cocoa – the source of mouthwatering chocolate – is recognized today as one of the best in the world. Similarly, its main derivative (Ecuadorian chocolate) has received international awards as the best in the world. Currently, Ecuador is the largest producer of “fine” or “flavor cocoa,” with more than 70% of the world’s production concentrated here.

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But in our Ecuador travels, we at Surtrek go beyond these success stories. We journey through the geography where these plantations are located, with their microclimates and of course the people who have devoted the best years of their lives to deliver the raw material. Learn up close about the universe of cacao and, of course, taste it as many time as you please - the best chocolate in the world is our suggestion in the “Ruta del Cacao.”

In “choco-lodges” located near the cocoa plantations, Ecuador travelers can listen to stories and legends about cocoa production. These visitors can also go on guided tours that demonstrate harvesting techniques, participate in the process of making chocolate, and taste delicious cocoa syrup and other delicacies made from this fruit.

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  • Guayas and Los Rios Provinces: These areas are and always have been the main producers of cocoa in Ecuador. They were the first areas where growing began and remain the major exporters of cocoa in Ecuador.
  • Vinces: Around this coastal town, dubbed the “Cradle of Fine Aroma Cocoa,” haciendas have opened their doors to Ecuador travelers to provide insight into the history and production process of handmade chocolate.
  • Chone: Another coastal town, this is where world-famous “High Flavor National Cacao” is produced. Haciendas in this area also welcome investors and tourists. Also, while cacao is not grown in nearby Salinas de Guaranda, this other small town was one of the first sites started processing cocoa and took their first derivatives for the local market!
  • Churute Ecological Reserve: In Yaguachi, besides visiting cocoa plantations, tourist can visit the Churute Ecological Reserve, which offers Ecuador travel activities such as birdwatching, camping, adventure, canoeing on existing streams and hiking.
  • Balao Chico: In the rural parish of is the Shuar downtown Hot Springs. There you can take healing baths, but also learn a variety of exotic wildlife, swim in waterfalls or in natural pools. Most importantly, you can lose yourself for a moment in the life of the Shuar indigenous culture, to know its wonderful worldview and everyday life. Another option is to tour the coastal stretch of Camino Real del Inca. Balao Canton beaches and the incredible scenery of the whole area will surprise travelers.
  • El Oro and Azuay and Canar provinces of, the tours include visits to cacao plantations, but are not limited only to this, but show tourists the main geographical attractions of each region.
  • The Ecuadorian Amazon: The towns of Archidona, Arosemena Tola and Tena, located in the Amazonian province of Napo, complete the Chocolate Route. Cocoa in these areas is still grown in the traditional manner, on “Kichwa farms.” There, locals – mainly women – grow this fruit using ancestral practices. The Ecuadorian Amazon: This area is currently another site where substantial amounts of fine cocoa aroma. I fact, these are where the best crops have been grown, as indicated by growers there having won major international awards for the quality of cocoa.

THE FLOWER ROUTE

The world’s most beautiful roses and orchids grow in Ecuador. Their size, color and fragrance make them so special that celebrities, kings and princes around the world request them for their special events. Through Ecuador travel, you can learn about the conditions in which they grow, and also visit the beautiful landscapes in which these precious flowers are grown and picked, is another way to tour this small South American country called Ecuador.

Ecuadorian Roses

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An Ecuador traveler can start from Quito, the capital, and continue along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes,” named for this stretch lined by 14 volcanoes, many of them active. A bright landscape, with the sun reflected on the snowy mountains and the colors of the crops in the fields of the Andean highlands, is the perfect setting for a journey to the land in the middle of the world.

Ecuador travel offers mountain lovers a unique panorama, with flower farms located in these highland valleys, themselves situated over a mile (between 2,000 and 2,800 meters) above sea level

These routes take visitors to rural areas of the Andes through guided tours to observe and learn about the process of planting and cultivating these beautiful flowers. But in addition to this, these trips offer the chance to tour the region, interact with people from local communities, tour the region by train, and visit farms, indigenous markets, volcanoes and hot springs. During your Ecuador travel, you can stay in the old colonial-era haciendas that have been transformed into comfortable B&B’s without losing their traditional charm. And, of course, you can taste the delicious cuisine of each locality.

A visit to a rose plantation lasts between one and three hours. These visits can be combined with adventure sports, a train ride, or a visit to an indigenous market, a national park and more.

In Cayambe you can visit flower grower and, on some tours, you can even sample from menus that use edible roses. These tours can be combined with visits to the beautiful lakes in the Imbabura Province, such as San Pablo, Mojanda and Cuicocha... bodies of water that have earned this area the name of “The Province of Lakes.”

Another interesting Ecuador travel stop is at the Otavalo market, a colorful square where beautiful handicrafts, garments and fabrics handcrafted by indigenous communities in the area are sold.

You can also find other attractions such as the Cochasqui Pyramids, one of the oldest archaeological sites in the country.

Ecuadorian Orchids

But not only are Ecuadorian roses famous. Increasingly, orchids grown in this country are being marketed around the world, as Ecuador is the home of four of the five major subfamilies of orchids on the planet.

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There are several Ecuador travel routes designed around the production of these wonderful flowers.

  • Quito Botanical Garden: one of the starting points to observe and study the orchids in their natural habitat.
  • Pahuma Cloud Forest Reserve: One of the most recommended points is the outside of Quito. Here, in addition to marvel at the wildlife in the cloud forest, you can see 260 species of orchids, 9 of which are endemic to the country. This is also an ideal place for sports such as zip-lining, mountain biking, climbing, river kayaking and even paragliding.
  • Bomboli Ecological Reserve: A few hours from the capital in the town of Santo Domingo is the, where travelers can see more than 600 species of naturally grown orchids.
  • Botanical Garden and Orchid Conservation Center Just outside the town of Puyo is the of the Amazon Flora, with endemic plants in the Amazon and over 350 species of Amazonian orchids. Zamora is the Orquideario Palphinia, a magical place to admire a variety of these plants.
  • Ecuagenera: In the south, 15 km from the city of Loja, is the Podocarpus National Park, one of the most biodiverse country’s reserves, with exceptional flora and fauna and a variety of orchids, of course. In Gualaceo, in Azuay province, is the “House of Orchids.” This is the company, an Ecuadorian company, which produces more than 8,000 species and hybrids of orchids of Ecuador and the world. Here you can see the most beautiful orchids and know their way of production.

 

Our final conclusion
To discover Ecuador travel experiences like these, we suggest that you select a knowledgeable tour operator such as Surtrek, whose travel experts can work with you to custom design such adventures. Our expert travel coordinators will help you to plan and seamlessly carry out a tour that introduces you to the real – authentic – Ecuador, in a sustainable manner that leaves the most minimal impact on this nature-rich land.”
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