The Amazon Experience-Travelling like a Rolling Stone!


Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica

Traveler: Cristina Bustamante

Marketing manager at Metropolitan Touring Peru

The Amazon Rainforest is for me one of the most amazing and magic places I have visited in Peru; since once you visit it, the warmth of its people, the exotic flavors of its food and the brightly colors of its landscapes catches you, making you want to go there over and over again.

On this opportunity I decided to travel to Puerto Maldonado, home to one of the most important natural areas in the whole world because of its huge bio diversity, the Tambopata Reserve, where Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica is located. This ecolodge has recently hosted the famous musician Mick Jagger! So now I might say that visiting the Peruvian Rainforest is travelling like a Rolling Stone!

Day 1

We departed from Lima at 5.30 in the morning on a 2.45 min flight towards Puerto Maldonado, with a stop in Cusco. Upon arrival, staff from Inkaterra was waiting to transfer us to the Butterfly’s House, just a few minutes away from the airport, where we received a fresh passion fruit juice before we checked in.

Then, we had some time to visit the butterfly’s house and see all types of butterflies spinning around us.

After a 10 minutes-drive we got to Jetty’s Port to start our journey going dip into the rainforest. We went on a 45 min. boat trip towards the lodge, where once again we were received with a fresh made drink, and directed to our room.

The room was certainly beautiful; it was comfortable and has first class amenities without losing the local touch, and always caring about the ecological standards.

After we freshened up, rested a little, and enjoyed a delicious lunch, we began with the activities.

Since this was our first day here, we decided to make a recognition walk around the lodge, where we got to know lots of plants and trees from the region, while our guide told us about how the local communities use this plants.  After the short walk, we decided to enjoy of the impressive view from the hammocks area, facing the Madre de Dios River.

At night, we embarked on a more exciting activity, an excursion along the river by night. Prepared with our flashlights and the cameras ready to take pictures, we went through the river searching for owls, capybaras and alligators. We didn’t have much luck this time, we only got to see a few small alligators. What we got to see clearly was the sky fully illuminated with twinkling stars from the southern hemisphere.

At the end of the day we had dinner and went to rest and enjoy the peace and tranquility of our room.

Day 2

We woke up very early to enjoy a delicious and energetic breakfast beforegoing back to the boat that will transfer us to the Tambopata National Reserve. Once in the reserve, we had to make an hour and a half walk through the forest where we spotted some parrots, macaws, and butterflies amongst others, until we got to Sandoval Lake.

From here we go into a canoe and surround the beautiful lake, watching birds like the “shanshos” and herons; howling monkeys, and even a big caiman in the middle of the lake. This excursion lasts about 1 and half hours under the hot sun; so it is very important to bring lots of drinking water and sunscreen.

In the afternoon we did the Canopy Walk, a hanging bridges system of more than 28 meters high! We walked over the tops of the trees, enjoying the fresh air and the amazing views. This is not recommendable if you are afraid to heights, since the bridges swings  a lot while you walk. From here we saw a tucanet and some monkeys jumping shyly from tree to tree upon our presence. After taking some good pictures, we went back to the lodge.

On our last night at the lodge we decided to just enjoy an exquisite dinner, followed by some drinks served at the bar; where we got to talk to a family also staying at the lodge. The kids were thrilled with all the insects and animals they saw on their excursions. 

Day 3 

The last day on Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica has come. Before saying good bye to the jungle, we went on our last excursion to the Gamitana creek.

This time a friendly group of people from Spain joined us, with whom we share jokes and trip experiences. After walking about one hour through a model farm, where we saw monkeys, fruits, plants, etc, we got to a point where we had to decide between going all in one canoe driven by our guide, or to go on a separate canoe, paddling by ourselves. Of course, we decided to go for some adventure and go alone on one separate canoe. Even though the water level was not so high, keeping the canoe straight was more difficult than what we thought, leaving us stranded on more than one occasion. However, it was totally worth it, it was a unique experience.

At the end, we returned by boat to the lodge to get our bags and get back to the civilization.

Very sad for leaving, but with  great happiness of having visited one of the most precious natural areas in the world, we went back to the concrete jungle, the city of Lima, but with many good memories and wonderful pictures of this magical journey!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu


Inka Trail by Faride Altamirano

The Incas made trails that made up their empire far and wide.

The most important was the Capac Ñam or royal trail, with a length of 5.200 kilometers. Starting in Quito (Ecuador), it passed through Cusco, and ended in what is now Tucumán, Argentina, crossing mountains and hills, with altitudes over 5,000 meters.

The famous Inca Trail that links the Sacred Valley of Cusco to Machu Picchu is only a fraction (42kms) from the vast network of Inca roads.

Throughout the year (except in February when it is closed for maintenance), thousands of travelers from all over the world undertake the journey along the Inca Trail from Cusco to access the green mountains of Peru, as well as the ancient mysteries that the stones of Machu Picchu still contain. Along the road, the remains of several forts in relatively good condition visually dominate the whole picture.

The tour begins in the town of Ccorihuayrachina at the 82nd kilometer of the Cusco-Machu Picchu railroad. The Inca trail passes through an impressive range of altitudes, climates and ecosystems as diverse as high Andean highlands and cloud forests. Two passes must be crossed at high altitude (the largest, Warmihuañusca approximately at 4,200 meters of altitude, also known as the “Dead Woman’s Pass”), finally the trail takes you to the entrance of Machu Picchu through the Inti Punku or “Sun Gate”.

During the walk, the weather tends to be dry during the first two days and humid on the third and fourth. The nights on the other hand are different; the first two camps are usually cold, while the third has a milder climate.

There are millions of Inca Trail descriptions; I’d like to share the “experience.”

Day 01

We left very early in a private transfer across the Sacred Valley down to Ollantaytambo. The commercial activity there at that time of the day is tremendous; trucks full of products coming from Quillabamba make it difficult to access the town.

We stopped here to get the last supplies for the trip.

If you forgot to bring walking poles here you can find them at 35 soles each one, if you lost the rubber protective tips for your walking poles, you can purchase them here at 16 soles per pair.

Bear in mind that it is forbidden to enter the Inca Trail without these protectors because without them the stones covering the trail get damaged. It should be noted that it is totally forbidden to enter Machu Picchu with walking poles (even with the rubber tips on).

If you think that the walking poles will be a hindrance rather than help, you are mistaken, you save about 30% of energy using them and they give you a lot of security, especially on steep slopes.

We continue our way walking through farmlands along a road next to the railroad. We arrive in Piscacucho at kilometer 82. Here we find a checkpoint for passengers and another one for the porters. They are very careful checking the accuracy of the information contained in their list, and if it differs from the one in your documents, you will not enter.

Just a hanging bridge separates the real world from the wonderful and surreal territory that we are about to explore, and so we begin the difficult ascent through this bumpy road…

The first hours pass by slowly, we look like a line of ants walking towards the same point. People of all nationalities carrying sophisticated equipment quickly make their way as if they were trying to get somewhere before the rest.

Although there are only small houses along the way, they all have something to offer, candy, water, snacks or even bathrooms for rent.

The hours pass by, the sunshine gets stronger and groups have already left, walking becomes more peaceful.

The first day of walking hasn’t been so hard, it takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on where you’re going to camp or how fast you walk. During this first day, the first archeological remains you will see are the ones in Llactapata or Patallacta. The path by which we are going goes along a small stream, not very steep and the walk is pleasant.
We continue the journey. When we get to Huallabamba , we get ready to spend our first night camping.

Day 02

We wake up surrounded by fog, with fresh but not frozen air, very pure.

It was already 7:00 am. when we were ready to start the day. Today, we would have to cross three “Abras” (passes), the highest of 4200 m.a.s.l. We were ready for the challenge!

The first part of the road crosses a small forest of queñuales (native bushes) and passes through a trail in very good condition. We passed the Llulluchapampa camp, as we move forward we can see in the distance the Wuarmiwañusca (dead woman´s) “abra” at 4200 meters, the highest point of the tour. Getting to it took four grueling hours, not because of it being a long way, but because most of it goes uphill.

Reaching the top was quite a party! Receiving words of encouragement in all languages ​​to keep you going on… A small run of 5 minutes crowned me as the winner! I finally arrived! (Out of breath for running at 4,200 meters of elevation, but very happy to feel that I was touching the sky). The rest of the day from here was long, the scenery was wonderful, we began the descent into the valley of Pacaymayo. The road is narrow in some parts and with steps of irregular size, so you have to be careful. Your knees are the first to suffer but having our super “walking poles” to cushion every step is of great help. We arrived in Pacaymayo, the camp was already set-up and hot food was waiting for us. We were ready to spend a starry night.

Day 03

With a lot of energy, we started what´s for me the most beautiful day of the Inca Trail. The cloudy forest, the weather, the humidity and the smell of  wet soil makes every step unforgettable.

From Pacaymayo, following a zigzag ascent we arrive to the circular ruins of Runkurakay, an strategic place where the Inca messengers (chaskis) stopped for food, to rest and get more water to continue their trip.

The road continues up until the second pass also called Runkurakay.

Here’s the kicker, a pretty steep drop by a well-preserved Inca Trail, a cool minty weather, and a kind of gloomy fog will not let you see what´s coming up. The vegetation from this point is much more varied.

I was obsessed with finding some Wakanki (a type of orchid whose name translated into English means “you will cry”). The Wakanki is the emblematic flower of Machu Picchu.

Gradually we got to the ruins of Sayacmarca (3.620 m), from where everything changes, we enter the forest and continue on a very easy path to Phuyupatamarca (translated into English, “high village surrounded by clouds”) …. The road, with a few drops of rain became nice, fresh and mystical. We went through “The Tunnel” a natural cavity produced by the erosion of the wind and rain and used by the Incas as part of their trail.

We passed through narrow roads up to Phuyupatamarca, a ceremonial center (3650m); here we had lunch surrounded by clouds.

In this place there is mobile phone signal, so we took out all necessary equipment to return to the real world for 3 minutes. Down the road we could see the valley and the Urubamba River, which at this point is renamed Vilcanota.

We descended quickly down a road full of all types of orchids, up to Winay Wayna, the last campsite.

Here there is a hostel, very basic but it is the first contact with civilization. Here you can rent hot showers, at the reasonable price of 5 soles for 5 minutes.

This night is very long as everyone is celebrating at the hostel, music, beer and a sense of self-accomplishment surrounds us.

Day 04

There is no rush this day, we stayed longer than usual enjoying the  ruins in Winay Wayna under a shy drizzle. After all groups have left the camp site, we are ready to start again. Today, we will only walk for just one hour.

By a narrow road full of orchids we arrive to a very steep stone stairway that leads us to the Intipunku or Sun gate.

We arrive to Machu Picchu!

I’ve never seen Machupicchu from this angle; it is awesome, great and rewarding!

Rapa Nui – Outdoor Museum


Te Pito o te Henua….. MAGICAL! There is no other word for such a special Island, full of mysteries and unknown history. It is so tiny that everything turns so cozy and chill, people go-by saying “iorana” as if they`ve known you your whole life.

 Rapa Nui my friends… where giant statues of rock (moais) lie as silent judges in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Where the ocean is a paradise for divers: 70 meters of visibility; where unsolved mysteries are still being solved and where only 5% of the islands treasures have been discovered!

 

The trip to Easter Islands starts in Santiago with a long flight (5 hours aprox.) of just ocean! Thankfully the plane has entertainment on board and lots of movies to choose from; the one that caught my attention was “Què Tan Lejos” an Ecuadorian movie absolutely recommended.

 Finally, a piece of land at sight, it was b e a u t i f u l l, coned volcanoes, white sandy beaches and the whole island in the palm of your hands. It’s difficult to express the feeling; kind of when you are arriving to Machu Pichu after walking 4 days, where you just want to sit there and think of nothing, you know… Have your moment!

 Everything here is so artisanal; the airport has one waiting room with some shops, the Lan Airlines counter, some police infrastructure and a small bag belt. Houses are full of flowers and typical Polynesian music sound on the background.

 I stayed at explora Rapa Nui which is called Posada de Mike Rapu after the owner, mike (meeke) who is a local descendant of the Rapa Nui’s. My time there was dedicated to test land services, inspect hotels and evaluate restaurants. I have to say there are two ways to enjoy Easter Island: one is with explora and the other is with the rest. Definitively a once in a lifetime experience with team explora that deserves a brand new entry.

 

This tiny triangle (180 km2) has a wide variety of activities to choose from, below my top ten.

  1. Rano Raraku: It is actually a volcano, but in one of the sides an impressive quarry is left behind. This is the birthplace of the Moai, where moais of 15-20 meters where carved right from the solid volcanic rock. You can actually walk trough almost 300 moias in different stages of elaboration.
  1. Anakena Beach: It is actually an Ahu (ceremonial place), one of the most amazing because of the settings. The surroundings are home to the last palm trees of the island and of course to the picturesque beach of Anakena. Nothing better that swim in turquoise water with palm trees and moais as lifeguards.
  1. Ahu Tongariki. This Ahu has 15 standing moais looking to the Rano Raraku volcano. The idea here is to visit this ahu at sun-rise with a magnificent colorful natural background.
  1. Diving in los 3 Motus: Start this amazing journey with a boat ride through the coasts of Hanga Roa until you reach the three Mouts area. Once there just dive into this underwater paradise and be prepared to discover the hidden treasures of Easter Island.
  1. Rano Kau: This volcano is home to a unique ceremonial site: Orongo. Here you can actually see how Rapa Nui`s lived and also understand the “Tangata Manu” or Bird Man challenge.
  1. Akivi: This ahu is inserted inside the island, in contrast to other ceremonial sites that are nearby the ocean. Another curious difference is that this ahu has the only seven moais looking to the sea. I’ll let you figure out the mystery.
  1. Hanga Roa: This friendly town is home to an only one of its kind culture; the Rapa Nui. Here you can interact with them, taste their exquisite gastronomy and enjoy a dinner show where folkloric groups take you through a journey into their culture. Don’t miss the handicrafts market and definitively try a cold “Mahindra” a local beer.
  1. Tahai Complex: The Tahai complex is the perfect trip after a good lunch at Hanga Roa. This complex is unique; it has different size moais, representations of the “casa bote” or the boat house where Rapa Nuis used to live. BE sure to enjoy the sunset. Just Amazing.
  1. Maunga Terevaka: This inactive volcano holds the highest point in Easter Island: 511 masl. From there you have a complete view of the whole island. In the surroundings you can enjoy the volcanic caves Ana Te Pahu. 
  1. Car Rental: There is so much more to see in the island that the best way is to rent your own car. Or maybe a motorbike or just a bicycle. Either way you will definitively enjoy, the best things in the island have not been discovered yet.

 The island is magical, be sure to enjoy it; you will definitively fall in love with this tiny triangle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

For our online gallery please visit: http://bit.ly/RapaNuipics

For programs to Easter Island visit: http://bit.ly/gphFkb

Or contact us at: chile@metropolitan-touring.com

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!!

El sabor original de Colombia


By Verónica Poveda, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Nunca imaginé cómo cambiaría mi vida después de conocer la cultura culinaria de Colombia, ni cuánto llegaría a disfrutarla estando allí… e incluso en mi propio país, Ecuador!!

La historia de cómo me enamoré de ella empieza justamente al inicio de mi viaje: combinaciones dramáticas y presentaciones de platos, de los que todos nos dimos cuenta. Y debo decir que el atractivo culinario de Colombia no termina con su comida. La amabilidad y cortesía de su gente en todo momento demuestra la calidez y el amor que acompañan cada plato.

Entonces se preguntarán: ¿Qué platos me cautivaron?

 Ajiaco

El ajiaco es el plato de las tierras altas de Cundinamarca y Boyacá en Colombia. Es una sopa a base de patatas, cultivadas en su propia tierra. El ajiaco que probamos en Bogotá se prepara de diferentes maneras, por lo general con los mismos ingredientes, en distintas proporciones, aunque se puede cambiar el pollo por carne. Contiene pollo, papas, cebollas y mazorcas. Realmente nos entusiasmamos cuando nos sirvieron la sopa con sus acompañantes: pollo deshuesado y deshilachado, mezclado con crema, y aguacate. ¡Sin olvidar la muy importante arepa! Hablaré de ella más adelante.

 Bandeja Paisa

Bueno ¡Llamarla deliciosa es nada comparado a probarla personalmente! Este plato se puede encontrar en todo el país. Por lo general, consiste en una porción de frijoles (con una cuchara de hogao encima), arroz blanco seco, carne molida de res, cerdo, chorizo, morcilla, fritas de plátano verde, tajadas de plátano, un huevo frito, rodajas de aguacate y tortillas de maíz, que se sirve todo junto en una bandeja. Por desgracia, no alcancé a comerla toda, pero lo habría hecho “con mucho gusto”.

 Lechona

He oído hablar de la preparación del cerdo para este plato, pero he decidido no explicarla. El deseo de comer algo tan delicioso, podría afectarse. De todos modos, la preparación es también muy diferente en cada zona del país, pero la que nos sirvieron en la Hacienda San José en Pereira, incluye aderezos especiales, que nos demostraron por qué es un plato que no puede dejar de degustarse en Colombia.

 Patacón

Los patacones o tostones se hacen con plátanos verdes pelados y cortados en cruz. Se los fríe dos veces y se sirven en restaurantes de toda Colombia como guarnición para platos de pescado o como aperitivo con guacamole, hogao (salsa de tomate y cebolla) o ají. Probé este patacón gigante después de plantar una palma de cera en el Valle del Cocora !Una experiencia única, seguida de un sabor único! ¡Después de plantar un árbol, todavía tengo que escribir un libro y tener un hijo!

Podría mencionar muchos más platos y bebidas deliciosas que se pueden encontrar allí …

Pero aquí está mi reflexión: ¡No has estado en Colombia, si no has comido arepas!

 La arepa es un icono reconocido de la cocina colombiana. De acuerdo con investigaciones recientes, la arepa es parte del patrimonio cultural colombiano y puede ser considerado como un símbolo culinario nacional.

En la región paisa, la arepa acompaña todas las comidas del día e incluso se condecora a personas famosas con un collar de arepas ¡Cómo quisiera ser uno de ellos!

 En Colombia, las arepas se pueden encontrar en cualquier lugar! Tiendas de barrio, supermercados y plazas de mercado, listas para cocinar o freír. También hay restaurantes especializados. Las arepas son cada vez más populares como parte del menú en muchos restaurantes.

También es muy difícil decidir cuál es la mejor de todas. Hay diferentes tipos, como el de la “arepa de maíz calentao”, “arepa de huevo” y la mejor: “arepa paisa” ¡No he encontrado algo más delicioso que las arepas! ¡Podría comerlas todos los días para el resto de mi vida! De hecho, lo haré.

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.

“Bogoting” around


By Juan Sebastián Donoso, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Founded in 1538, Santa Fé de Bogota, the Capital city of Colombia,  located 2640 mts. above the sea level (a little over 8600 feet), right in the majestic Cundinamarca plateau, in the eastern Andean range of Colombia, can be reached by plane, arriving to El Dorado International Airport (which has connections with several important International airports around the globe).

Its accelerated urban transformation and growth, the innovative public transportation system (known as Transmilenio), its growth as investment and business centre, the diverse cultural agenda, the markets, its multiple events options, the natural and religious highlights, the great variety of gastronomic offer, its nightlife, amongst many others, make of Bogota one of the most cosmopolitan and interesting capitals in South America, and definitely a city worth to visit.

In terms of accommodation, you can either choose the quiet and peaceful nights that a colonial hotel at “La Candelaria” (the old town) can offer; to stay at a residential neighbourhood, close to the financial sector, or to be close to the action at “Zona T”, one of the most happening areas of the city.

When walking around “La Candelaria”, along the narrow streets, the informal vendors selling their typical sweets, the well-preserved constructions, are elements that make you breathe a completely different air; be ready to feel yourself magically transported to the past.  A visit to Museo Botero is a must. A display of more than two hundred pieces, personally donated and distributed around the building by Fernando Botero, a 79 years old internationally recognized plastic artist and painter, who without any doubt can be tagged as one of the most important art personalities in Latin America. 

The Gold Museum is another place in town that has to be visited. With an impressive collection of 34000 pieces made of gold and 25000 of metal, ceramic, textiles, stone, sea shell and bones, it is considered the most important of its type in the world.

A great view of the city can be got from the Monserrate Hill, which can be reached either by a funicular, by car or, if you are ready for some exercise, climbing lots of stairs….

At night, if it does not happen that you are in town on a weekend, when the famous bar-restaurant, mentioned in the “1000 places to see before you die” book, Andrés Carne de Res, located about half an hour north from Bogotá, opens, there is the chance to go to Andrés DC at Zona T, where you will be able to taste what the original one in Chia has to offer.

If during your trip to Colombia, Bogotá is your start point in the country, why not to take a couple of days to discover this amazing city.  At the end, “the only risk is wanting to stay”.

 f you want to know more about Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, please visit de Metropolitan Touring’s web page.

Un nuevo recorrido por Los Andes


Por Verónica Rosero, Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Una vez más recorriendo los Andes ecuatorianos, aunque se podría decir que he pasado varias veces por esta zona, cada experiencia ha sido diferente y especial. Esta vez empezamos nuestro recorrido por un mercado en la pequeña población de Sangolquí, llegamos al mercado de frutas y verduras donde descubrimos la variedad de colores que ofrece esta tierra ecuatoriana, haciendo que tengamos frente a nuestros ojos un pequeño arco iris en manos de nuestra gente que amable nos sonríe y nos ofrece sus productos.

Siguiendo nuestro camino, llegamos a la Hacienda Santa Rita, donde viviríamos una experiencia de aventura. Nos preparamos con los equipos necesarios y estábamos listos para volar sobre las copas de los arboles, pero no teníamos alas… aunque uno puede sentirse como si las tuviera haciendo canopy.  En siete líneas, al principio con temor, pudimos ver la vegetación de Los Andes por la que surcaban pequeños riachuelos por la altura, pero luego simplemente con la confianza de sentirnos seguros disfrutamos esta inolvidable experiencia .

Siguiendo nuestro camino hacia el sur, pasando por largas alfombras de toda gama de verdes en nuestras montañas y sembríos, llegamos a la ciudad  de Baños, población turística por excelencia, la que ofrece varias actividades de aventura, además de relajación y salud en sus aguas termales, llegamos a descansar ya que al siguiente día disfrutaríamos de uno de mis lugares favoritos en este diverso país, la cascada del Pailón del Diablo. Tomando la vía hacia la Amazonia podemos observar el cambio de vegetación que pasa de arbustos a orquídeas, siguiendo la carretera junto al rio Pastaza, pasando por pequeñas cascadas  y  la puerta del cielo por la que pasamos debajo y dio un pequeño baño a nuestro transporte.  No podíamos dejar de hacer el cruce en tarabita, de un lado al otro del rio, sintiéndonos nuevamente como aves mirando desde las alturas otra de las cascadas de la zona, el Manto de la Novia y las curvas que dibuja el rio Pastaza.

Finalmente, llegamos al Pailón del Diablo, luego de caminar alrededor de veinte minutos nos encontramos con la potente caída de agua de esta cascada la cual podemos observar desde cada uno de los balcones que se han construido para estar cada vez más cerca, sentir la fuerza del agua mojándonos el rostro y contagiarnos de su energía, sin dejar de extasiarnos con su belleza. Luego de esta experiencia con la naturaleza, estábamos listos para seguir a nuestro destino, la ciudad de Riobamba, localizada a los pies del imponente Chimborazo, el nevado más alto del Ecuador con 6800 metros de altura.

Al siguiente día, nos despertamos muy temprano preparados para conocer a unos personajes andinos que esperaban nuestra visita. Ante la mirada del Chimborazo, conoceríamos a nuestras amigas las llamas, quienes sin miedo nos daban la bienvenida y nos permitían acercarnos a conocer más de su modo de vida siempre bajo el cuidado de sus amos, gente humilde y hospitalaria que compartió unos minutos de su día con nosotros; pero debíamos continuar nuestra travesía por los caminos de los Andes y sus hermosos campos verdes, así llegamos a Ingapirca, una fortaleza cañarí-inca que nos deja ver el paso de estas culturas en nuestro país y su culto al dios sol.

Continuamos nuestro camino hacia una de las ciudades más bonitas del Ecuador, Cuenca,  rodeada de cuatro ríos con casas colgantes y uno de los más encantadores centros históricos de Latinoamérica. Esta ciudad, además de sus casas coloniales y balcones de hierro forjado, tiene una gran riqueza artesanal siendo uno de sus principales productos los muy famosos “panamá hats” o sombreros de paja toquilla, que tienen su verdadero origen en el Ecuador; observamos el proceso de su fabricación, que se ha mantenido durante muchos años y que nos da un producto de exportación elegante y reconocido a nivel mundial. Nuestro recorrido por la ciudad siguió por calles empedradas, plazas y la imponente catedral de Cuenca, una de las más bellas del mundo.

De esta manera terminó nuestro itinerario por los Andes ecuatorianos que en pocos días nos entregó las más diversas experiencias, imágenes y momentos inolvidables.

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

Museo del Oro


Por Gissela Ledesma, Metropolitan Touring

Este museo contiene la memoria prehispánica de Colombia, donde vivían 11 culturas, de las cuales 5 estaban presentes durante la conquista española, fortaleciendo así la identidad cultural del pueblo colombiano.

El oro tenía valor espiritual legitimando a sus gobernantes y recreando a sus dioses en estas sociedades de paz  que no opusieron resistencia a los españoles.  

Los objetos de cerámica, orfebrería, huesos, piedras en el Museo están ordenadas cronológicamente en cuatro salas de exposición, donde se aprecian el trabajo de los metales y sus diferentes técnicas, la gente y el oro como parte de su organización política y religiosa, la cosmología y simbolismo  relacionada a temas místicos, donde el chamán era líder espiritual de las culturas, el mundo de las ceremonias de ofrenda para promover o restaurar el equilibrio de su tierra.  Es aquí donde se desprende la leyenda del Dorado representada por la Balsa Muisca, realizada completamente en oro y donde se aprecia a un cacique muy poderoso con sus sacerdotes quienes entraban en balsa al medio de la laguna y arrojaban oro a sus aguas.  La mayoría de las piezas que se encuentran en el museo fueron encontradas muy cercas de estas lagunas.

Lo encantador de este museo no sólo se basa en las exquisitas piezas de oro, trabajadas finamente con muchos detalles que indicaban un alto conocimiento orfebre, sino por la concepción espiritual de nuestros pueblos nativos americanos y su respeto por la tierra que les acoge.

Si quieres conocer más del Museo del Oro en Colombia, por favor visita el sitio web de Metropolitan Touring.