[Ecuador] On my way from Amazon to the Pacific coast, I spent a week at 3200m of altitude in the Ecuadorian Andes mountain range. Hiking, cheese tasting and an ecolodge with exemplary ecoliving practices (for more than 20 years), I’m like a fish in water. It’s nice to be back to a cooler and drier climate. Six months ago, Andres, Black Sheep Inn Founder, discovered my blog on LinkedIn, and invited me to remain in touch in order to visit him when I’ll arrived in Ecuador. An invitation can not be refused, and this is the perfect opportunity to discover a great new responsible tourism project (which is now managed 100% by people of the village). I now invite you to meet Black Sheep Inn through a few videos!
[Ecuador] I met Bastienne during the eco-tourism conference ESTC15 in Quito. With her husband, Pablo, they developped a great responsible tourism project near Tena at the entrance of the Amazon. Huasquila Lodge was the first hotel to open in Cotundo village and take up a sweet challenge, which was to develop the destination tourism attraction and offer together with the community: exploration of caves, waterfalls, kichwa culture, rafting, chocolate… And also, Huasquila succesfully led a reforestation project of about 50 hectares of pature lands and built a lodge which counts 7 cabans accessible to disable guests (which is quite a rare feature in the Amazon).
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[Ecuador] Before to become a lodge, Yachana (which means in kichwa language « a place where to learn ») was above all a solid educational project (high school) developed for the youth of this isolated community in the Ecuadorian amazon. In 1995, Douglas was looking for a more sustainable model, and started the tourism project with the goal to help supporting the foundation. For a year and a half now, Yachana initiated a new project. They left the previous structure on the river bank, to build a new (and even more confortable) lodge and training center (for the most motivated students of all the region with a special “distance studying” program) at the top of a neighbor hill (with an incredible view over the Napo river!). Discover, in the videos below, the exceptional work and commitment of Yachana for a better world through education and responsible tourism (called “geotourism” by Douglas).
[Ecuador] After Shayari and Limoncocha, I’m welcomed in a 3rd kichwa community of the ecuadorian amazon, this time on the Napo river and at the nord-west entrance of the famous and vast Yasuni National Park. It’s a very improvised last-minute visit. I met, during a Rainforest Alliance meeting and training at Limoncocha, Otorino who offered me to come and stay at his house in order to get to know its village tourism-based project. I should have visited the Sani Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center, but these two visits were finally canceled. I accepted then with great pleasure the invitation!
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[Ecuador] After my visit at the Shayari community, I continued with a second community-based tourism center, the one of Limoncocha. This small village is located within an amazonian bioreserve and right next to the famous Napo River. Its lagoon is the ideal spot to observe caimans, frogs, birds… and some people say that there would be some anacondas living nearby. But, don’t worry, they are very shy and would be hidden very deep in the wildest area of the rainforest!
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[Ecuador] I started my tour of ecuadorian Amazonia with a beautiful experience within the kichwa community of Shayari (14 families, 97 people). I was welcomed during 3 days in the family of Fauster and Guillermo. They prepared me such a program of activities, very complete, delicious mix of tropical nature, kichwa culture and local gastronomy. I was re-baptised “Sissa” (flower in kichwa) and swapped my usual “buenos dias” for “Allypuncha”!
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[Ecuador] I ended my long stay in the capital with a short excursion of two days in the cloudforest of Mindo, the famous birdwatching spot of Ecuador. I made there a few videos, of which one to explain how to make your own mosquitoes repellent! Molly is from the USA, and Efrain, native of the region, all together they build a very pretty small lodge, at the same time very chic and natural. Welcome to Casa Divina Lodge!
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The keyword to qualify my arrival in Quito is “synchronization”! The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) takes place each year in a different country, and this was by chance this year in Ecuador, and exactly at the dates to which I was entering the country. It’s, then, the opportunity to come together again with my canadian ex-professor from La Rochelle Business School of Tourism D’Arcy Dornan who is part of the organization and thanks to whom I join the team for a few days as a volunteer. I came together as well with my ecuadorian friend Sabina who used to be my colleague at Sofitel Hotel in Lyon, France, a few years ago. I’m warmly welcomed at her dad house in Quito during three studious weeks!
Hacienda Venecia… haaaa… Hacienda Venecia… The coffee plantation where time stopped: For travelers passing through but also for me, literally. I have been there three times in one month, and eventually left with a twinge of regret: Such a lovely staff, a magical place, I was almost feeling at home…
After Utria, last stop of these past ten days on the Choco Pacific Coast: at the Playa de Oro Lodge, on the “Huina” Beach, 20 minutes by boat from Bahia Solano. The beach is wonderful and there is also a small village, a nice compromise so between beach, rainforest and meetings with Afro-Colombian culture.
After Nuqui, Guachalito and Jurubida, I finally come to Utria to know “Mano Cambiada”, Josefina’s sustainable tourism project who I quickly met in Bogota during the ANATA tourism show. I reach ma new destination once again aboard a small craft thirty-minute from Jurubida where I say goodbye to Carmen and Nohelia.
It was aboard a local fisherman’s small boat that I reached the village of Jurubidá, located thirty minutes north of Nuquí, an “Afrochocoano” village because Jurubidá is primarily a “palenque” (a community founded by African slaves who managed to escape and take refuge in the dense rainforests of the Chocó Region). I am greeted at Carmen’s, then at Nohelia’s, for a short stop before moving on to Utría National Park.
Travelers rarely stay in Nuquí Village itself; most prefer to go some 30 minutes south of there where there are heavenly beaches and rows of coconut trees. Monday morning, I bade goodbye to the team at the Nuquí Mar Hotel, and later found myself on the pier where Elisabeth and Benjamin of La Joviseña came to meet me. Off we went to Guachalito Beach.
If I say idyllic and wild Colombian beaches, what will you answer? Caribbean and Tayrona National Park?! ahah.. Yes but not only that! Colombia offers also a wonderful Pacific Coast. The area between Nuqui and Bahia Solano is now very quiet, where travelers are very welcomed. Here I am on the road of five small hotels; well I mean guestrooms and shacks, very local. After having had my fill of Manizales and Armenia coffee, I go back to my favorite drink, coconut water (“l’agua de pipa”) which I missed so much since my last stay on the Pacific Coast for one month and a half on a Panama beach.