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Dia del Padre in the Ecuadorian Highlands
I spent Father's Day 2012 hiking, mountain biking and exploring life in the Andes of southern Ecuador where we encountered numerous festivals, visited native markets, and happened upon a local "Festival de Maiz" where 20 native villages proudly set up tents to display their corn harvests, shamans conducted healings, and local dancers performed their regional music and dance.
It's amazing the ground you can cover in just a few days traveling through Ecuador, one of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse countries from the Galapagos Islands, to the Pacific coastal lowlands, Andean highlands, and the Amazon rainforest.
As President of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association I came here to chair a board meeting of our professional organization dedicated to conervation and better tourism management in the archaepeligo. We heard from representatives of the World Wildlife Fund working in the islands for better nature-based tourism, the Director of the Galapagos Conservancy/Charles Darwin Station, and the local field Director of Wild Aid dedicated to enhanced quarantine methods to slow introduciton of invasive species being exacerbated by growing tourism and immigration of local Ecuadorians from the mainland..
There are many changes happening in Galapagos with so much land-based tourism; I'm convinced more than ever that yacht-based voyages are unquestionably the best way to experience the wildlife and this showcase of evolution that is Galapagos! Last year there were 170,000 visitors to Galapagos (more than twice the amount 10 years ago) and next year the new airport in Baltra will have a capacity of up to 300,000 visitors!
Another big change is the new airport in Quito scheduled to open October 2012. Located much further from downtown Quito, it is going to make it much more difficult and tiring to get into the city—a transfer of up to an hour or more after that long flight. That's one reason why I here exploring Cuenca as we are preparing to offer trips from the mainland out to Galapagos and back through the port city of Guayaquil instead of stopping in Quito. (All flights to Galapagos currently go through Guayaquil anyway.)
I have just spent several days exploring the beautiful colonial town of Cuenca and the highlands of this area of sounther Ecuador. It's only a 30 minute, $80 flight from Guayaquil to Cuenca and the area is so much less developed, more traditional, and more peaceful than Quito and the Otavalo region to the north.
Keeping it wild,
Learn more about trips to Ecuador