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Latest News from Akorn Ecuador
Festival of San Juan - 24th to 29th June
Every June people from all over Ecuador come to the Festival of San Juan (Saint John), or Inti Raymi in Quichua (the native language). It´s the time of the year when the community is alive with dance, music and colours! People go from house to house singing and playing instruments and celebrating the service of Saint John.
For generations Hacienda Zulueta has been the stage for the festival, receiving the whole community for the all-night party in the main plaza of the Hacienda. If you want to enjoy the party this year, there´s still some space for these dates.
New luxury lodge in Galapagos
We’ve seen the level of hotels and cruises slowly increase during the last few years. Galapagos used to be an expedition destination but the demand for better services has inspired new options, such as Pikaia Lodge. The lodge is set to open later in 2013, bringing along a different way to explore the Enchanted Islands. While previously vistors had to choose between land based and cruise options, Pikaia seeks to offer the best of both options. Built on the hills overlooking the island, the ample and elegant rooms offer great views of the islands. The hotel will also boast a promising high-end restaurant, bar, wellness centre and infinity pool, which is a fantastic way to end a day of adventure among the wildlife. But what about the touring? Their vessel, Pikaia I, will offer the most comfortable day touring option in Galapagos. The 100 foot vessel assures a steady ride from island to island while discovering the wildlife that made Galapagos famous.
Photography expedition on the Eclipse
Galapagos offers photographic opportunities unlike anything else. Few, if any, places in the world allow such interaction with wildlife. Forget about using a huge telephoto for those great shots, you can get up-close and personal for great portraits of the wildlife. Add beautiful light and a fresh sea-breeze to keep everyone relaxed, and you have an unbeatable photo destination. After terrific success with their 2012 Photo Expedition, the Eclipse will bring on Jonathan Green, Galapagos naturalist and photographer extraordinaire, to teach the tricks that got him published in Time Magazine and BBC Wildlife. There will be two departure dates for the Photography Expedition: May 25th to June 1st and again from August 17th to 24th.
Quito among the 20 must-see places in 2013! What to do in Quito?
Walking around Quito, it’s hard not to appreciate the wonderful historic district (one of UNESCOs first World Heritage cities) and the recent renovations that have embellished the façade of so many classic buildings. What doors can A&K open in Quito? How about a candle lit dinner at the home of Oswaldo Viteri, one of Ecuador’s most outstanding contemporary artists and owner of one of Ecuador’s largest private collections of colonial religious art? Or learning how wooden tops are hand made by locals in their workshop. For those who want to get hands on, cooking classes are available at Casa San Marcos where you’ll learn to make dinner like any Ecuatorian, or for those with an interest in food but not cooking, a tasting dinner with seemingly endless dishes of Ecuador’s finest cuisine. Quito offers enough for several days of discovery.
Flights from Ecuador around South America
Tame Airlines recently announced new flights from Quito to Lima as part of a growth of connectivity from Ecuador to across the region. The Tame flight operates every day and links the two capitals in a little over two hours. It’s also possible to link Guayaquil to Buenos Aires thanks to Lan Airlines. The 5hr 45min long flight opens the door for new combinations in terms of experience. Nothing says diversity like walking among tortoises in the morning and dancing the tango in the evening.
The beach is now open!
What can be better than adding a relaxing couple of days to an already beautiful itinerary in Ecuador? Ecuador has long been known among backpackers for its white sand beaches and laidback tropical villages where there are fresh fruit and shrimp aplenty. Now there’s an option for those looking for a more sophisticated experience without losing the charm and laidback vibe. Las Tanusas is a new property found on the delicious sounding Manabí coast. A 3 hour drive from Guayaquil, the property combines perfectly as a post-Galapagos extension for families looking to unwind or a romantic honeymoon option. A successful young chef, Rodrigo Pacheco, is in charge of the restaurant, Whaoo, which has been a revelation of its own. The 16-rooms at Las Tanusas mark a new way to experience Ecuador and we’re glad to see the diversity of the country finally appreciated.
Casona de la Ronda
As one of the newest additions to Quito's boutique hotel scene, La Casona de la Ronda features 22 rooms arranged around a beautiful central patio, mixing cultural, traditional and contemporary elements. Enjoy all the modern conveniences built into the original structure, where the colours and stone walls tell a story of history. The rooms have been designed to provide an authentic experience that reflects the true atmosphere of the unique colonial centre of Quito, Ecuador.
The Plaza View Suites in Quito's new Casa Gangotena take their name seriously – the vistas from here are stunning. One glance out of your soundproofed window reveals Plaza San Francisco, Quito's oldest, with dozens of spires and steeples rising into the background.
The newest luxury vessel in the Galapagos There's certainly been a leap forward in the quality of vessels in the Galapagos during the last few years. The Ocean Spray promises to continue to push the boundaries with the first Mega-Catamaran of the Enchanted Isles. As we made our way to the dock to see the brand new Ocean Spray, one of the crew members corrected me - "Mega", he insisted, was necessary before "Catamaran". He wasn't joking. This beautiful new 16 passenger Galapagos vessel, set to begin operations in April, is indeed massive. With a width of 13 metres, the Ocean Spray boasts ample social areas and spacious bathrooms. Best of all, the private balconies attached to each cabin are some of the best I've seen in the Galapagos. Add in modern design and thoughtful amenities, and the Ocean Spray is sure to become one of our top choices for clients.
Ecuador named one of world's top horse-trekking destinations by CNN
Long overshadowed by the Galapagos, Ecuador's mainland attractions are beginning to summon well-merited attention. Most recently, CNN named horse trekking through the Ecuadorian Andes, nicknamed the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" as one of the top horseback riding destinations in the world. It's the perfect pre or post Galapagos extension for your adventurous clients!
How the rainy season will affect clients heading to the Ecuadorian coast
With 80 degree (F) / 27 degree (C) weather and plenty of sun, the period between December to May is most Ecuadorians' favourite time to visit the beach. Technically, though, this is the rainy season, and the occasional downpours can make our favourite coastal haciendas muddy and difficult to visit. As such, we recommend clients avoid all coastal haciendas and the ecological reserve of Cerro Blanco at least throughout the month of March.
Renovations on tap for Termas de Papallacta
The Termas de Papallacta, one of Ecuador's top spas, will be undergoing environmentally motivated renovations through March, 2012. The thatched roofs previously featured by the hotel and spa proved to be unsustainable, prompting a switch to longer-lasting wood tiles, which will be more dependable and have less environmental impact.
New wine cellar for the J.W. Marriott's La Hacienda Restaurant
With 879 bottles, the brand new wine cellar within La Hacienda promises to make a significant splash in Quito's wine scene. With the new addition, La Hacienda, an excellent Argentine restaurant, will offer diners an excellent and vast selection of top quality wines from around the continent.
Fare changes imminent for all internal flights
We have recently been informed of pending changes in fuel subsidies for internal airfare. The Ecuadorian government has announced that they will be rescinding the fuel subsidy for all internal flights as of January 1, 2012. This includes all flights to/from the Galapagos. Aerogal will be adding a $50 surcharge each way for Galapagos flights from Quito and Guayaquil, which TAME will add $60 each way from Guayaquil and $70 each way from Quito. This surcharge applies regardless of whether flight reservations have already been made or not. Please contact us for more details.
JW Marriott Quito Recognised by TripAdvisor and the Rainforest Alliance
The JW Marriott Hotel in Quito has become the first 5-star hotel in Ecuador to be verified by the Rainforest Alliance. The verification recognises organisations within the tourism industry which have achieved significant and measurable progress in sustainability. In addition, the hotel has received a 4.5 rating out of 5 and a Certificate of Excellence for 2011 from TripAdvisor. The score is derived from client reviews on TripAdvisor.com, giving an excellent firsthand insight into the quality of the hotel.
Cotopaxi Airport Opens to Air Traffic
The new Cotopaxi Airport has opened for business. Located in Latacunga, capital of Cotopaxi Province, the airport will handle both passenger and cargo traffic. Saereo will maintain daily flight (excepting Sundays) to and from Guayaquil, while TAME will be instituting similar service with three 50-passenger aircraft.
Astronomy Museum Opens in Quito's Historic Observatory
Ecuador's first museum of astronomy has opened in the 138 year-old Quito Observatory. The observatory, one of the finest in the world upon its opening, has been completely refurbished to offer space for the museum as well as continuing research. The museum features multiple salons focusing on different elements of astronomy and its history. Touch-screen displays offer both English and Spanish language descriptions.
New Folkloric Dance Show at Quito's La Choza Restaurant
La Choza, one of Quito's top destinations for authentic Ecuadorian food, is now offering a Dinner Show featuring the Jacchigua Folklore Ballet. Every Saturday evening, this incredible dance troupe will perform and demonstrate the traditions and culture of Ecuador. Dinner is served with your choice of delicious typical Ecuadorian dishes.
TAME Resumes Quito to Manta Service
After suspending air service to the coastal city of Manta in 2009, TAME has announced a resumption of flights. Since the end of June, TAME has been offering two daily flights to Manta Mondays through Fridays, with one outgoing flight to Manta on Saturdays and a return flight on Sundays.
ITINERARY IDEAS: Looking for a unique Dive destination – it doesn’t get much better than Galápagos!
Thankfully you don’t need to be an experienced diver to dive in the Galapagos and whilst there are advanced and specialist courses from PADI available in the islands; there is also room for the novice to spend time acquiring the basic PADI qualifications in some of the richest and most unusual waters on earth! Whilst there are a number of dedicated dive vessels available such as the Galapagos Sky, a programme based around day trips from lodges dotted throughout the islands offers the most flexibility for groups with divers and non-divers. If you have clients interested in seeing everything from Iguanas to Moray Ells and from Barracuda to Stingrays don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts to advise you on the best options.
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