Ecuador is one the most diverse countries in the world, with snow-capped volcanoes, tropical beaches, and lush jungles. The diverse topography allows travelers to easily venture to different climates within a matter of days. The largest ethnic group in Ecuador is the Andean Quechua, consisting of around 2 million people. The Quechua have preserved their culture, traditions, and language quite well. Distinguished by the Andean flute music, foods such as quinoa and cuy (guinea pig), beautiful wool ponchos, and colorful embroidered blouses, learning about the Quechua culture will no doubt be a highlight of your Ecuador tour.
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish, but Quechua is spoken by the indigenous population. In addition to Spanish, there are about 10 native languages spoken in Ecuador. Roman Catholic influences some social behavior in Ecuador; many holiday and festivals are at least partially based on Christian beliefs.
Meeting and Greeting
People will greet with a handshake and a smile. Try using the appropriate greeting for the time of day:
Meet the Goodwins: Aamion, Daize, and their two children, Given and True. With the philosophy that travel is the best teacher, they have set off an incredible journey around the world. Intent on showing their children the natural beauty of life, this young family left their home on Kauai to travel the world for 11 months, exploring 18 countries. Follow their story and encounters as they circumnavigate the planet, surfing along the way in places like Japan, Israel, and Fiji.
Danielle is an international peace advocate and Co-founder of the nonprofit Kids for Peace who recently graduated from Harvard with degrees in Religion and Sociology. From summer 2011-2012, Danielle will spend nearly a year traveling in Asia and Africa. Her blog documents her experiences as she seeks out new adventures, learns about other ways of life, and studies issues related to vulnerable children and conflict resolution. Read her last guest blog here.
On one of the last days of my Southeast Asia tour, I picked up a copy of Eat, Pray, Love from a used bookstore and realized that Elizabeth and I were on the same trip. Sure there are some notable differences: the autobiography’s author had suffered a horrible divorce prompting her to visit three I’s—Italy, India, and Indonesia—with the goals of pursuing pleasure, devotion and balance. I had no such explicit goal at the outset of my trip, but here I was, lying on a sun-kissed beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, reading my book, sipping a Mai Tai, and…pursuing pleasure.
Basecamp Masai Mara consists of permanent luxury tents situated on the border of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Each tent has a private deck overlooking the Talek River with an incredible view of the vast savannah. Comfort is not forgone at this eco lodge, as the spacious tents each have an ensuite bathroom with a solar heated shower that opens to the sky. Meals are eaten in the wood and thatch dining room hall, which is open so guests can enjoy the breeze coming from across the savannah. This exclusive safari camp in Kenya was named the world’s best ecotourism hotel by Skål International, the world’s largest association for professionals within the tourism industry.
Being in such close proximity to the Masai Mara Nation Reserve gate, Masai Mara Basecamp provides exceptional wildlife viewing. Most of the tents are located water side and have incredible views of the plains, as well as of the Talek River, home to crocodiles and hippos. The Basecamp is ideal for adventure travelers looking for an eco friendly accommodation option. All the materials used to construct the tent were sourced locally. Guests can enjoy being close to the sights and sounds of Africa, while still being comfortable and able to enjoy a hot shower, delicious meals, and a comfortable bed.
Danielle is an international peace advocate and Co-founder of the nonprofit Kids for Peace who recently graduated from Harvard with degrees in Religion and Sociology. From summer 2011-2012, Danielle will spend nearly a year traveling in Asia and Africa. Her blog documents her experiences as she seeks out new adventures, learns about other ways of life, and studies issues related to vulnerable children and conflict resolution.
After four years of hard work completing my undergraduate degrees, I decided to treat myself to a trip I had dreamed about since my youth. Southeast Asia beckoned me with images of orange clad monks, golden Buddha statues, and seemingly endless rice paddies. With the highest proportion of practicing Buddhists on the planet, I went to experience peace: to meditate in temples, contemplate beauty from the peaks of Laotian mountains, learn and connect.
One month of travel took me to the magnificent temples of Siem Reap, Cambodia, rural villages of Northern Laos, and tranquil beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand. As part of my personal mandate to experience the fullness of life, I sought not only experiences that foster peace and joy, but those that could teach me about human suffering—the key component of the Four Nobel Truths that form the basis of religious practice and culture for much of the region. I designed a trip that would go beyond touring the temples and art I admired and delve into the depths of the human experience, embracing too the suffering true of our existence.