Notes from the Field: Ecuador

Notes from the Field: Ecuador
January 2020

Originally from the UK and a committed traveller since his first visit to America at the age of two, A&K’s International Sales Manager Jeff King counts Ecuador amongst the most captivating destinations he’s been fortunate enough to visit. Particularly inspired by its connection to nature, his love of poetry even moved him to pen a few verses on the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit the Galapagos. Here is a snapshot of Jeff’s favourite moments.  

Wild About Wildlife

From sloths in the canopy of the cloud forest, to the playful sea lions of the Galapagos, it is the extraordinary wildlife of Ecuador that I was most amazed by. One moment in particular stands out. Whilst snorkelling off the coast of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos, I looked down to see a tiger shark attempting to corner a sea lion against a cliff. As the sea lion outmanoeuvred the shark and sped off into the spray, I was struck by the delicate balance of nature here. These sharks pose humans no danger in this ecosystem, there are more than enough sea turtles and sea lions to go around. With no large, land-based mammals to worry about, we are simply ignored. Never has the circle of life been more evident to me than in my time on the islands and the feeling of being ignored so welcome.  

Casual Contemplation

Balanced on the edge of an extinct volcano on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos, Pikaia Lodge is a breathtaking place to be based for a discovery of the archipelago. And the bar is one of the most memorable I’ve experienced. Perched with a colada morada in hand, it was easy to get lost in the landscape, gazing over the Pacific and contemplating the day’s adventures. Cheers to that!

Cocooned in the Clouds

Four hours from the capital, Quito, I discovered one of the most unique and enchanting wilderness hideaways I have ever experienced - Mashpi Lodge. Situated in the heart of biodiverse Ecuadorean cloud forest, naturalist guides are on hand for a variety of outstanding treks and experiences. I spent a day equipped with a walking stick and a sense of adventure hiking through dense vegetation and rough terrain on the rainforest floor to a pristine waterfall. My effort was rewarded with an invigorating dip in the crisp cool waters.

Living Traditions

In downtown Quito, I checked into the Illa Experience, one of the city’s newer and most impressive establishments. Spanning four floors, the converted colonial residence in the artistic neighbourhood of San Marco is a plush oasis of just 10 rooms in the heart of the city. More than just a hotel, the Illa offers wonderful insight into the local culture with regular dance performances, coffee tastings and cooking presentations held throughout the day keeping Ecuador’s long-held traditions alive.