Ecuador, a relatively small nation (about the size of Nevada), packs a wallop for its size — offering a remarkably diverse set of natural and cultural attractions.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to all four of its main regions: The Andes (including the colonial-era city of Quito); the Amazon basin; the Pacific coast, anchored by the city of Guayaquil; and the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles out in the ocean. All are memorable.
In this informative and engaging piece, contributing writer Robert Waite continues his recent journey through Ecuador by taking us to Yasuni National Park and the Napo Wildlife Center deep in the Amazon rainforest. Here’s his report:
By Robert Waite
Yasuni Park, Ecuador – There are two indigenous tribes located in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane, who have had virtually no contact with the outside world.
I say “virtually” because there have been… Continue reading
I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.
The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders. I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.
But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.
I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.
I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.
I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.
“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading
In this guest post about unforgettable encounters with endangered mountain gorillas in the tiny African nation of Rwanda, contributing writer Robert Waite also provides an update on the status of the gorillas in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — and sees hope for optimism.
In his next post, Bob will detail the rest of his trip to Rwanda, a nation that endured a devastating genocide in the 1990’s and has now become one of Africa’s success stories.
By Robert Waite
Ruhengeri, Rwanda – As devastating as COVID-19 is to human populations, the consequences could be equally adverse for rhinos, elephants, gorillas and other sub-Saharan wildlife.
With flights suspended, borders closed and organized tours cancelled or indefinitely postponed, the region’s national parks and game reserves are struggling to protect animals that, at the… Continue reading
In Part II of Robert Waite’s chronicle of his trip to remote Haida Gwaii — an archipelago off the west coast of Canada, in British Columbia — he takes us aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition vessel that holds a maximum of 24 passengers.
Along with comfortable accommodations and amenities, the Cascadia provided plenty of opportunities for visiting the islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes, where the biological diversity is the richest on earth and Haida tribal culture is making a comeback.
If you haven’t read Part I of this two-part series, I suggest you go there now and you’ll have the full context for reading about this extraordinary journey.
By Robert Waite
Once aboard the Cascadia, much of our seven-day voyage was determined by weather and tides.
Tides on the east… Continue reading
In this post, Part I of a two-part series, guest contributor and baby boomer Robert Waite chronicles his journey to little-visited Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte islands, off the coast of British Columbia.
Part I offers an introduction to the tumultuous history and compelling culture of the islands, while part II will detail his voyage through them aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition ship that allows for shallow landings and coastal kayaking trips while balancing comfortable accommodations with environmental protection.
Getting to explore Haida Gwaii personally is a far cry from the distant views afforded from Alaska-bound cruise ships as they pass Haida Gwaii sailing along the Inside Passage, often in the dead of night. Like me, if you’ve made that trip, you may have wondered what you were missing on those islands. Now we… Continue reading
When my daughter, Lia, and her partner, Mike, traipsed into the wilds of North Carolina last August for an unobstructed view of the total eclipse of the sun, they also ventured into the rising realm of Astro Tourism — along with thousands of other Americans who journeyed near and far to find the ideal locales to witness that extraordinary celestial event.
Having just had cataract surgery, I wasn’t among them, alas, and here in Tucson the sky barely darkened during our partial eclipse, which was hundreds of miles south of the band of totality that swept across the U.S.
I was able to view the “super blue blood moon” eclipse on January 31, a lunar event that had not occurred in the United States since 1866. But that was visible right here in my front yard, and all it required was walking a few… Continue reading
Every once in a while some travel information crosses my desk (well, appears in my email) that I feel an immediate need to pass along. Such is the case with the floating Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa, which is due to open in the fall of 2018.
The six-room hotel and spa is said to sit in the ice during winter and float on the river during summer.
The location is in far northern Sweden in the area that’s renowned for having the best Northern Lights viewing in the world. The river is the Lule, which freezes in winter and thaws in summer, allowing for the above-mentioned sitting and floating.
I’m not very good at remembering all the special commemorative days and sometimes obscure holidays that I should.
For example, I forgot National Grandparents Day this year, even though I had written about it last year — and, even worse, it was my first Grandparents Day as an actual grandparent. It was only when a relative wished me a Happy Grandparents Day that the light went on in my head.
The United Nations first declared World Tourism Day in 1980 to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political benefits of tourism, which now accounts for about 10 percent of the global economy — the largest single industry in the world.
Airlines, cruise lines, rail lines, bus lines, rental car agencies…hotels, motels, B&Bs, resorts, inns…restaurants, cafes, street vendors…tour companies, guides, travel agents, guidebook… Continue reading
When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.
While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.
Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.
Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.
Red Rock Country
Mitch has… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading