New Galapagos Blog contest!


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We invite all our readers to take part in our great Galapagos blog contest. Simply write a 300 to 500-word essay about “Why I want to travel to the Galapagos Islands” and you can win a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, courtesy of Metropolitan Touring.

For more information, visit www.galapagoscontest.com

Nueva Revista Compromiso de Metropolitan Touring


El Mundo en el que vivimos y el que queremos heredar a futuras generaciones está en nuestras manos, un hecho que se ve reflejado en cada uno de nuestras actividades que tiene impacto en los recursos naturales. Es un hecho que lo que tomamos de la naturaleza, no lo podemos devolver, por mejores que sean nuestras intenciones. Sin embargo, hay muchas cosas que podemos hacer para aminorar el impacto que causamos.

Metropolitan Touring trabaja constantemente en la búsqueda de nuevos métodos para cumplir con este objetivo, ya que está consciente de que los ecosistemas saludables proporcionan, a largo plazo, bienes y servicios a los seres humanos, que nos ayudan a vivir en un mundo más saludable. Con esto en mente, hemos diseñado una Política Ambiental que busca proveer un mapa a nuestra compañía, que nos ayudará a navegar sobre las aguas de la mejorar manera para implementar prácticas que impacten lo menos posible en la ambiente.

Nuestra Política Ambiental apunta justamente a nuestro giro de negocio y va directo a nuestro trabajo en Galápagos. Es parte de la manera como pensamos, parte de como creamos nuevos productos o nos relacionamos con nuevos asociados, parte del momento en que paramos antes de imprimir cualquier documento.  Todos nosotros hemos presenciado el éxito  de como las ideas simples pueden tener un impacto masivo. Reemplazar las botellas de agua por las botellas rellenables, que se encuentran en todos nuestros barcos: estimamos que en el primer año de esta práctica se ha reducido en un 77% de botellas (con todos los recursos que se usan, asociados a su fabricación y transporte) que mandamos a rellenar en Galápagos. Simple, pero efectivo.

Este año, hemos visto el trabajo de la Fundación Galápagos Ecuador expandirse a nuevos proyectos en las Islas. Trabajando en conjunto con organizaciones gubernamentales locales y otras agencias, en la actualidad contribuimos a proyectos en las 4 islas habitadas. En el área continental de Ecuador, el nuevo hotel de nuestro holding y el nuevo lodge en el bosque montañoso lluvioso de los Andes, han adoptado un diseño inteligente y alojamiento responsable en el país. Y en los 6 países donde operamos, tenemos un impacto positivo y estamos dando grandes pasos para ser más responsables cuando se trata del uso de un recurso natural.

El camino es largo y todavía tenemos un extenso tramo por recorrer. Pero tenemos la esperanza que usted se unirá a esta causa, que nos dirá qué más podemos hacer o nos deje saber que estamos haciendo bien. Esperamos escuchar pronto de usted.

Cada año, producimos la revista Compromiso, un pequeño folleto que testifica nuestros esfuerzos. Vemos  a este documento más que nada, como una herramienta de motivación para nuestro equipo y también para usted, mientras se embarca en un viaje de descubrimiento con Metropolitan Touring.

Para ver nuestra revista Compromiso, por favor haga click aquí.

Metropolitan Touring’s new Commitment magazine


The world in which we live and the one we want to pass on to future generations is in our hands, a truism that is reflected in each and every one of our activities that have an impact on natural resources. To a great extent, we cannot return what we take from Nature, despite our best intentions. However, there are many things we can do to lessen the impact we cause.

Metropolitan Touring is constantly working to find new ways to accomplish this goal, since we are fully aware that healthy ecosystems provide goods and services to humans over the long-term, which in turn help us to live in a healthier world. With this in mind, we designed an Environmental Policy that seeks to provide a road map for our company, to help us navigate the waters of how best to implement practices that impact as little as possible on the environment.

Our Environmental Policy goes right to the heart of our business, and goes far beyond our work in the Galápagos. It’s part of the way we think, part of how we develop new travel products or approach a new partner, part of the moment we pause before clicking on ‘print’ at our desks. All of us have witnessed the success of how what are seemingly simple ideas can have massive impacts. Take replacing disposable water bottles with sturdier, refillable ones on board all our vessels: simple, yet we estimate that, in the first year of the practice alone, 77% less bottles (with all the resource-use associated with their manufacture and transportation to the islands) were sent to the land refill in Galápagos. Simple, yet effective.

Over the last year, we’ve seen the Fundación Galápagos-Ecuador’s work expand to new shores in the islands. Working hand-in-hand with local governments and other agencies, we are today contributing to projects on all four inhabited islands. On mainland Ecuador, our holding group’s new hotel and new Andean rainforest lodge have both raised the bar in intelligent, responsible lodging design in the country. And across the six countries in which we operate, we are having a positive impact and taking steps to be ever-more responsible when it comes to natural resource use.

The road is long and we’ve still a long way to go. But we hope you’re willing to join us on it, to tell us what more we can do or let us know what we’re doing right. We look forward to hearing from you!

Every year, we produce the Commitment, a small booklet, which testifies to our efforts. We look upon this document more than anything as a motivational tool for our team and also for you as you embark on a journey of discovery with Metropolitan Touring.

To see our Commitment magazine please click here.

The Hamadryade Lodge


Text and photos by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Show me the way to the lushness with real plants and trees, good roads, great weather, great drives, delicious food, friendly people and a congregation of  a “few”  that come, all over the world…. just to relax…You know that old story that Ecuador is also famous for its short distances between regions that allows you to move around easily, the story that you can be in one day in the Galapagos Islands or in the high Andes the next day, or just the next hours you could jump into the deep jungles, it is quite true!!.

Imagining taking a 35 minute flight  from Quito and you will be already in the jungle, not mentioning the same amount of time for being in the warm, quite, and sunny Pacific shores…doing some whale watching.

It takes me about 30 minutes to get from my home in the valleys to my office in a regular day basis when traffic flows like the Amazon river. If you think about that, I can be in the jungle already for that amount of time! But when you tried to get further south or north  during the rush hours in our beloved city, it can take serious hours.

One day, I was trying to get somewhere in those days that you wished you stayed home,  I got caught up in a heavy traffic jam…, not much to do but being patient and wait.. wait..and wait.., while waiting I kind of felt sleep, and my mind took me back to a luxurious and modestly priced, 5-bungalow haven, planted in exuberant rainforest along the Napo River, one of the finest eco lodges to have nestled now days in this particular region. 

I began to dream of traveling from Quito towards east, wondering always what is behind those mountains…in front of me?, well not much!!, but an endless vast, rich and mega diverse jungle that seems to be at your hands, that you can almost embrace as you overlook down at this immense area, literally from a natural balcony at the skirts of the Eastern Andes range, when reaching the rim of these great mountains.

Making your way and pass through these Sierras is an incredible experience, not only because of the views, that are dramatic in a word,  but climbing up to near 4000 meters above sea level and then start descending through, narrow valleys, along white water rivers, patches of primary forest, volcanos, passing by two national parks! and other reserves, plenty waterfall on both sides of the road, you get to witness the transition of various ecosystem  that finally lead you to the serenity and calm of the low lands of the jungle… it will definitely make you feel like those romantic explorers of the early centuries in the quest for fortune and adventure.

The road to this region used to be famous for its bad condition,  a paradox since it was the only main road that link the Amazon region and its multibillionaire industry of oil and related products, this reality make you wonder why rebuilding this road took so long (over 35 years) if they already had the means to do so ?

Things are changing for good these days, and what before took you 6 hours to cover a distance less than 200 km between the Capital Quito and city of Tena,  now days is a marvelous ride of 3/30 min, that will make you want more….and hit the road Jack.

I heard a horn… so I kind of woke up again, just to see over my shoulder an angry guy yelling trying to push what is impossible, to move this long tale of stocked cars!!

I went  back to dream and I heard that in the region of Tena, just a few minutes out side Puerto Misahualli, there was a nice place to stay and get lost, someone told me its name was Hamadryade, curious name that called my attention right way.  I find out that this name means “Fairy or nymph ” the fairies that live in the forest and take care of the trees. This meaning will all make sense here.  

Arriving at the lodge is already an experience, you follow a small path full of plants and vegetation that welcome you. Once in the lodge you are greeted by Sebastian and Melaine the owners, a french couple settled here not a while ago and seemed to have found their little paradise. They are very happy, nice, simple people that are the X factor for your experience to be unforgettable.  They have created a spectacular contemporary ambiance reflecting Amazonian culture, colors and icons, they also coordinate along with the community their endeavors and help native guides ensure visitors are in harmony with the ecosystem,  so the environmental foot print is no less than positive.  This structure seems to be the only way to succeed in this business, that with the time becomes more of what we care for the place we live in, and live for and the people that we shared our vision.

Everything at the Hamadryade Lodge is just good: environment, nature, smell, sounds, cleanliness, design, local, pool, food, service, people, relaxation and adventure.

Your stay at Hamadryade included all activities, as well as excellent meals made out fresh organic local production served in the top of a panoramic deck overlooking endless vegetation. Sebastian actually cook most of the meals. The Lodge also has outdoor eating area with french-ecuadorian cuisine prepared in a gourmet way. Fantastic food that incorporated some of the local production that includes all kinds of exotic fruits and fresh fruit juices at breakfast with the french touch…

Many activities can be set up for your from Whitewater rafting to rituals and dancing with Chiripuno natives,  as well as a 6-hour trek discovery jungle mysteries are just some of the options in the menu of activities. If you do not feel like walking 6 hours under the shadows of the forest, a tranquil visit to the amazing butterfly garden on the Hamadryade property can be your choice. You are able to relax in a serene and lovely setting when not exploring. Massage sessions are available on demand along the day also.

The hotel was perfectly designed by Sebastian with the help and keen eye of his lovely wife Melanie, very laid back people for whom anything is possible in the mighty jungle. They blended architecture and surrounding,  altogether got to the level of comfort you wish sometimes to have in the middle of lush of the jungle. The sensations go through total quiet to total sounds of the canopy. It is nice to relax anywhere here, take the sun by the pool even if it rains, not mentioning taking the most placid naps you can ever dream of.  

The lodge is well appointed on vaulted stilts overlooking the river, the views were fantastic, ceilings painted with mosaics and spacious bathrooms, this lodge optimizes the use and saving water. Great beds and bedding, amazing hot showers,  all the amenities you would expect in “civilization” are found in your bungalow. The products in the rooms are all eco-friendly as the focus of Hamadryade Lodge is on being respectful of the environment while living in great comfort. It is very clean, and well maintained.

Sebastian and Melaine, the former owners are available any time to help you. They are the best on what they do, to host  people and help them arranged any kind of local activity, but above all, to make your stay unforgettable… time to wake up!! the line of noisy cars beeping each other, just made me release that I have no time for another dream, move along mate!!

ECUADOR: Proudly Ecuadorian


By Paulina Garcés, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

My birthplace is Ecuador, so I am Ecuadorian, but now I am Ecuadorian by conviction.

Now I can tell that I am wearing my “team shirt” with the heart. Why? Because I know more of my country the glam and beauty we are surrounded by and because I am convinced that we have a priceless treasure that anyone else has. During some years I´ve worked in an international Airline Company and selling the rest of the world, I travelled and I enjoyed a lot, knowing new places that also gave me a lot of knowledge and culture, but now at Metropolitan Touring I have the opportunity to really appreciate and love my country and I am sure that I won´t find it in another country because where are unique, everything on the same place: My Ecuador!!!

 

Starting in Quito a city fulll of churches and histories in every corner.  The volcanoes and mountains you can be in the highlands and in a few hours enjoy valleys and waterfalls, this is for example The Spirit of the Andes one of the tours we have, then arrive to Cuenca a marvelous city. Get into the depths of the Cloud Forest and enjoy the purity of the water, the exciting view, Nature in the most pure state. The Amazon Basin what an spectacular place for the biodiversity, the rivers, the adventure.

 

Another chapter for me is Galapagos, this place transmitted to me it´s enchantment and veil of secrecy and what gives me more happiness is that my 9 years old daughter greatly enjoy this marvelous place more than her first visit to Disney World. Really I know they are completely two different things but in her own words she prefers a thousand times to get back to Galapagos. It was really an inspiration looking her face at the view of a new animal or the underwater world, she was bewitched and lived it intensively. Galapagos is a place you have to experience, you have to feel it, to really enjoy it.

I still have a lot to know of my country, there are more places to discover of this beautiful country it has a lot to show me it´s magic and secrets I am going to continue in my research to transmit it to the people who wants to know it, the people around me, the essence the power we have.

AN EXTRAORDINARY COUNTRY!!!

If you want to know more about Ecuador and Galápagos Islands, please visit Metropolitan Touring’s website.

Ecuador: orgullosamente mi país


Por Paulina Garcés, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Soy ecuatoriana de nacimiento, pero ahora soy más ecuatoriana por convencimiento. Ahora sí puedo decir que realmente me he puesto la camiseta de mi País. ¿Porqué? Por que ahora conozco más de mi Ecuador, de las bellezas cautivantes que nos rodean y porque cada vez estoy más convencida que tenemos un tesoro invaluable que nadie más tiene.

Durante muchos años, trabajé en  una aerolínea internacional y en el mundo del turismo emisivo, viajando y conociendo muchos lugares hermosos de los cuales también aprendí mucho, pero ahora que trabajo en Metropolitan Touring he llegado a conocer realmente la belleza extraordinaria que tiene Mi País y que no lograré encontrar en ningún otro país y todo en un mismo lugar: Mi Ecuador.

  Desde un Quito centenario lleno de iglesias e historias en cada uno de sus rincones; sus volcanes y montañas, pasar de las alturas a los valles, disfrutar de cascadas y paisajes, ese es el Espíritu de los Andes para llegar hasta Cuenca. Adentrarse a las profundidades del Bosque Húmedo y poder disfrutar de la pureza de sus aguas de su excitante paisaje y un viaje a lo profundo de la naturaleza y la Selva Amazónica ¡Qué lugar más espectacular! Su biodiversidad, sus ríos,  ¡la Selva Virgen! 

Un capítulo a parte merece para mi Galápagos, ese lugar me transmitió su encanto, su misterio y lo que más alegría me dio es ver a mi pequeña hija de 9 años disfrutar de esta maravilla más que su primera visita a un parque temático de Disney, yo sé que son dos cosas completamente diferentes pero es que ella gozó de su visita a Galápagos y prefiere mil veces volver allá. Fue realmente una inspiración ver como cada día, al descubrir una isla o un  nuevo animalito, ella se cautivaba y lo vivía intensamente. A Galápagos hay que vivirlo, hay que sentirlo, para realmente disfrutarlo.

Tengo mucho por conocer todavía, hay rincones de este hermoso País que guardan una magia y un secreto por descubrir; voy seguirlo haciendo, para de esta manera, poder transmitirlo a toda la gente que lo desea conocer y a los que viven a mi alrededor; esa verdadera esencia y el verdadero poder que tenemos

¡¡¡UN PAIS REALMENTE EXTRAORDINARIO!!!

Si quieres conocer más de Ecuador, por favor vista la página web de Metropolitan Touring.

Los sabores andinos del aire


Por Nicolas Benitez, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Un día que comienza despertando tarde puede ser un relajante Domingo con la lluvia golpeando mi ventana … un día completo de ocio, de descanso y lleno de horas que pasan rápido y utilizadas simplemente para disfrutar de la comodidad de mi cama y, probablemente, sólo para ver las peores películas en la televisión, sin duda, un día que no me disgusta, pero también … un día que olvidaré fácilmente.

Así que realmente prefiero un día de despertarme temprano! Un día lleno de expectativas que me hace saltar de la cama rápidamente y con la certeza de que estoy a punto de vivir y ver cosas que no voy a poder olvidar … un día fuera de la rutina, un día como el que tuve en Ecuador con volcanes siempre a mi alrededor y la sensación de degustar aire fresco de sabores diferentes en un mismo día.

Mi día comenzó con el sabor del aire fresco en la ciudad de Baños, que tiene un sabor de bosque, muy verde, un poco húmedo. Este aire fresco tiene un sabor a tierra mojada, a agua abundante en caída y con un pequeño toque de calidez volcánica dada por el Tungurahua. Un sabor que permanece en mi interior y me da el alma para sentir que soy parte de este aire, parte de la naturaleza, parte del planeta donde vivo.

Luego seguí cruzando El Arenal, un páramo marrón que rodea el Chimborazo, un lugar lleno de aire fresco con un poco de sabor a arena fría de los Andes, un aire con un sabor de nieve eterna, niebla blanca, viento soplando, mezclado con un par de rayos de sol y vida de la naturaleza en esta Reserva Faunística. Luego, llegando a Riombamba, puedo sentir el aire con sabor a historia, el sabor de gente amable, el sabor de la bondad … Y ahora tengo una mezcla completa de sabores en mis adentros. Todos estos sabores me han alegrado el día, todo este nuevo aire de sabores dentro de mi cuerpo me hace recordar que estoy vivo y me hace olvidar por completo a qué hora me desperté ese día!!. Puedo sentir mis pulmones llenos de riqueza, llenos de naturaleza, llenos de momentos, llenos del Espíritu de los Andes, llenos de Ecuador.

PD. Me quiero ir a Pinsaquí!!! I want to go to Pinsaquí!!! Ich will gehen Pinsaquí!! Je veux aller Pinsaquí !!! 我想去!!!

Si quieres conocer más de Los Andes en Ecuador, por favor visita el sitio web de Metropolitan Touring.

The Train to machachi


By Verónica Rosero, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Early in the morning bells ring in the station, the awakening of the train that for many years had been just a distant memory, now reborn for local and international tourists meet this Ecuador on rails.

Our journey begins in South of Quito, people look at the train still surprised and children said goodbye waiving their hands and smiling. We started this trip on the restored locomotive, on our way we saw the green carpet of the mountains and small houses around.

After about two hours, the “chagras” on their horses invited us to enjoy a great party. When we reached the train station of Machachi a “Banda de Pueblo” gave us the welcome with cheerful dancers, who showed us the folkloric dances, with the train in the background as perfect scenery.

A number of haciendas around were inviting us to enjoy their products and hospitality. Our first contact was with the animals: geese, ostriches, a variety of chickens and rabbits, goats, deer and a mule who was inviting us to take a little ride on his back. After a delicious typical lunch we had to start our return to Quito.

We left the Train Station of Machachi, we felt happy to have delighted our senses with sounds, aromas and flavors of the Ecuadorian highlands. As we were going back to Quito, we went back on the time, trying to have a similar experience of the people that many years ago used to have the train as transportation between the highlands and the coast during many days.

We came back to the train station of Chimbacalle after returning back in time and to the origins of the Ecuadorian Highlands aboard the new Ecuadorian’s train.

If you want to know more about train tours in Ecuador, please visit Metropolitan Touring’s website.

El Tren a Machachi


By Verónica Rosero, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

EL TREN A MACHACHITemprano en la mañana suenan las campanas en la estación, el despertar del tren que por muchos años había sido solo un recuerdo del pasado, hoy renace para que los turistas internacionales y locales conozcan este Ecuador sobre rieles.

Nuestro recorrido empieza en el Sur de Quito, la gente mira el tren  todavía con asombro y los niños nos despiden con sus manos y una sonrisa, así empezamos esta travesía sobre la restaurada locomotora, a nuestro paso vemos la alfombra verde de las montañas y las pequeñas casas alrededor.

Luego de aproximadamente dos horas el paso de los chagras a caballo nos invitaba  a disfrutar de una gran fiesta, al llegar a la Estación de Machachi una banda de pueblo nos daba la bienvenida, mientras con alegría salían los danzantes que nos mostraban los bailes andinos con el tren al fondo formaban un escenario perfecto.

A los alrededores varias haciendas nos invitaban a disfrutar de los productos y hospitalidad de su gente. Nuestro primer contacto fue con los animalitos: gansos, avestruces, gran variedad de gallinas y conejos, cabras, venados y una mula que nos invitaba a dar un pequeño paseo sobre su lomo. Luego de degustar un delicioso almuerzo típico teníamos que emprender nuestro regreso a la ciudad.

Dejamos la Estación de Machachi felices de haber deleitado nuestros sentidos con los sonidos, aromas y sabores de la sierra ecuatoriana. Mientras retornábamos a la ciudad retrocedíamos en el tiempo tratando de experimentar como hace varios años la población usaba este medio de transporte para viajar de la sierra a la costa en viajes de varios días.

Llegábamos nuevamente a la Estación de Chimbacalle luego de haber regresado en el tiempo y a los orígenes de la serranía ecuatoriana a bordo del renovado tren ecuatoriano.

Si quieres conocer más sobre “El Espíritu de los Andes” en Ecuador, visita el sitio web de Metropolitan Touring.

Moths in Mashpi…


By Tamara Karolys 

Mashpi  Lodge, Metropolitan Touring´s upcoming top retreat in the rainforest, is starting to generate great interest amongst our commercial partners: they all want to come and see the region, how the project is developing, etc – and we are delighted about that!

It comes naturally then, that we from the Commercial team, join the visitors of the project on their field trips, meaning, we visit the Lodge with our clients and journalists, representatives and so on, during either a full day trip from Quito, or, as I did last weekend, sleeping over, using the staff house that offers all the comfort we could need.

We left Quito around midday, Daniela from Studiosus, her daughter Anica, Klaus (our personal interpreter in terms of nature, history, Biology, Geology…and well, many other things, he always has an answer to everything…) and myself – my first overnight in magic Mashpi area – I am a bit of City girl, so the idea of overnight is very exciting, yet I am not too pleased when thinking about all the insects…and I heard about the moths…

The drive takes 2:30 – 3:00hrs (unless you stop at ZAGAL – famous for good coffee, cheese & muffins, or a pp-stop)  and then a promising road sign makes you choose for the first time: would you like to “ La Delicia” ? O “Paraíso” ?…a tough choice…!

We follow “La Delicia” and soon enter the beautiful and lush, green rainforest. The Lodge´s construction is advancing fast. It is raining in the rainforest so we cannot enjoy our planned night walk.

However, the main highlight this evening are the moths anyway. Attracted by the light, they get together and perform a unique spectacle… I would not have thought that those creatures can be so fascinating and above all, so beautiful, stunningly beautiful!!!

We are blessed this night to observe literally thousands of moths, green, red, white, polka-dotted, fleecy bodies, lean and dry ones, sad to say that I step on many… They would not cease to come!!!

Every time I am surrounded by pure nature, I feel small, amazed, touched and surprised –  those small creatures usually provoke histerical shouts and aversion – yet in their proper environment, they are breathaking and fascinating; all fear is gone, I take several in my hand to be able to observe the dramatic design of their wings and I am proud of my brave approach towards the formerly unknown dimension of the moths, the feeling of Avatar is unavoidable!

Have a look at Ecuadorian artist Belen Mena´s Pachanga-book  with her designs extrapolated from moth’s wings and bodies. You will have a different view after that, that is for sure!

Mashpi Lodge online: www.mashpilodge.com

For more images of Mashpi, see   http://www.flickr.com/photos/mashpilodge/sets/72157626534276830/show/