Category Archives: Travel Tips

Tips and Info

Dear EcoAmerica Traveler:

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience while traveling with us. You can be certain that we have put a lot of effort and hard work into the planning of your travel arrangements and so will be with your travel execution. It is our goal to have you enjoy a trouble-free adventure.

Since we know firsthand every one of the destinations and attractions included in your…Learn More

 

Since we know firsthand every one of the destinations and attractions included in your travel program, we invite you to select the pertinent country on the menu to your left, where you will find what we think is the general information and some useful recommendations that would make your trip even more secure, enjoyable, and unforgettable!

To start, we want to share with you what we all at EcoAmerica Tours consider the Art of Traveling:

Travel Lightly – You are not traveling for people to see you.

Travel Expectantly – Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened. Untie the strings with an expectation of high adventure.

Travel Hopefully – “To travel hopefully”, wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, “is better than to arrive.”

Travel Humbly – Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and way of life.

Travel Courteously – Consideration for your fellow travelers and your hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days.

Travel Gratefully – Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.

Travel with an Open Mind – Leave your prejudices at home.

Travel with Curiosity – It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience. Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.

Travel with Imagination – As the old Spanish proverb puts it, “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

Travel Fearlessly – Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

Travel Relaxed – Make up your mind to have a good time. Let go and let God.

Travel Patiently – It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.

Travel with the Spirit of a World Citizen – You’ll discover that people are basically much the same the world over. Be an ambassador of good will to all people.

Thank you for choosing us for your travel arrangements and have a wonderful vacation!

The EcoAmerica Tours Team

Tambopata

What to Bring

  • Good binoculars
  • Camera gear
  • Tight-weave, light colored, long cotton pants
  • Long sleeved, tight-weave, light colored cotton shirts
  • Ankle-high hiking boots and sneakers
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • Broad-brimmed hat
  • Rain suit or poncho
  • Insect repellent
  • Small denomination bills
  • Small daypack

Luggage is hand-carried at various stages in the trip for long distance. We strongly recommend you limit your weight to 15 kilos (32 pounds a piece).
If you are visiting other destinations in Peru that require different kinds of clothing, you can always pack separate bags and safely leave them at our offices in Puerto Maldonado on the first day so we won’t be carrying them around uselessly. Your bag will be waiting for you at the airport the day you leave.


Electricity

None of the lodges in the area (Posada Amazonas, Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata Research Center) have electricity. Light is provided by numerous kerosene lamps and candles. A generator is turned on once a day to recharge batteries for tourists or lodge facilities. At night it is very dark, so we recommend good flashlights.


WEATHER

The lowland rain forests of Tambopata lie far enough south of the Equator to provide a cooler, drier winter season between May and October. The general weather conditions, are warm and humid. In Tambopata the average daytime high temperature is between 78° and 93° F (24° and 31°C) and the average nighttime low is between 66° and 78° F (20° and 24°C). Nevertheless between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina can sweep into southwestern Amazonia and push daytime highs down to 50° F (9° C) and the nighttime lows to 43° F (5° C). Thus, during that season always be potentially prepared for cold and drizzle.
During the rainy months of November through April, always be prepared for heavy rain that can continue for hours or days. Around 80% of the annual average 3000 mm rainfall occurs during this season.


GRATUITIES

You will find tip boxes at each of the lodges. These are for staff tips. We suggest 3$ per person per day. To tip your guide, wait until the end of the trip, and do so personally. We suggest 10$ per person per day.


MEDICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND EMERGENCIES

Yellow Fever Inoculations

Yellow fever inoculation is highly recommended for travel to Tambopata.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is present throughout the rain forests of southeastern Peru. It is a skin lesion caused by a protozoan transmitted by a certain kind of small biting fly. There is no vaccination against it; however, it is curable in every case and is also very easy to prevent by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and repellent on exposed skin at all times, and sleeping under mosquito nets.

Malaria

Malaria is present but extremely rare. If you wish to take medical precautions against malaria consult your physician or a specialist in tropical medicine.

Emergencies

In case of emergencies we have a first aid kit that is equipped to deal with most cases that may reasonably arise in the area. Our guides are all certified by the Red Cross, which means they are prepared to deal with foreseeable emergencies (broken bones or snake bites, for example) but not complex emegerencies (such as an appendicitis). For snake bites, an unheard of at Tambopata so far, we have  extractors and an anti-venom at the lodges. In case of evacuation, we need to travel by boat by to Puerto Maldonado. During the day, evacuations take about 20% less time than our regular boats. During the night, evacuations take about 30% more. In Puerto Maldonado there is access to a state clinic.


Guests Code of Conduct and Security Recommendations

  • No smoking in the forest, nor in the boats (which carry gasoline).
  • No littering.
  • Do not harrass wildlife when sighting wildlife follow your guides instructions.
  • No wildlife collection or manipulation, unless specifically authorized by Inrena. If you should come across hurt wildlife, leave it be. It is part of the natural processes of the wilderness.
  • Please separate your trash in the proper trash bins. All non-biodegradable trash is taken to Puerto Maldonado. Please take depleted batteries back with you.
  • Please keep it quite. Our rooms are not sound proof and guests come to listen to the sounds of nature. Should you want to listen music outside the bar area, please use headphones.
  • The lodges are highly flammable. Do not leave candles unattended and locate the nearest extinguisher.
  • Never go swimming on the Tambopata without a guide.
  • Stay on the trails and take to the trails only with a guide. If for some reason you are separated from your guide, you can return to the lodge using your map and the trail markers.
  • Always use life jackets on the boat, and wear light shoes that are easy to take off. Never have rubber boots on when in the boats.
  • Use rubber boots when heading to the forest or gardens at night. They reduce the risk of snake bites.
  • When taking people photos, ask first!

Conduct Specific to the Tambopata National Reserve (Tambopata Research Center)

  • No fishing.
  • Tambopata Research Center has the presence of Leishmaniasis. To prevent it you should use long pants and long sleeved shirts from dusk until dawn, at the very least.

Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Posada Amazonas

Posada Amazonas is a 30 bedroom lodge owned by the Community of Infierno and managed with Rainforest Expeditions. Thanks to its accessibility, excellent wildlife observation opportunities, cultural context and comfortable accommodations, Posada Amazonas is ideal for a two night introduction to Amazonia’s richest rain forests.

Posada Amazonas is located within the territory of the Infierno Community. It is built within the 2,000 hectare, private, communal reserve, which in turn is directly adjacent to the Tambopata National Reserve.

To get there you must fly to Puerto Maldonado from Lima or Cusco on daily commercial flights lasting 45 or 90 minutes respectively. From the airport you are transported by truck to the Infierno River Port where you board our boats for a forty five minute trip to Posada Amazonas. Posada Amazonas is located ten minutes walking from the river.


Posada Amazonas – Who is it for?

Posada Amazonas is ideal for those looking for an introductory experience lasting two-three nights because:

  • The travel time required to get to Posada Amazonas from Puerto Maldonado is less than two hours, therefore you have time to explore the forest from the very same afternoon you arrive.
  • It offers enough quality natural and cultural resources to keep your agenda full for your two night stay: giant river otters at an oxbow lake, parrots at a clay lick, a canopy tower and an ethnobotanical trail.

Infrastructure and Services

Posada Amazonas is built using a combination of traditional native materials (wood, palm fronds, wild cane and clay) and architecture and modern day eco-lodge technology. The lodge itself consists of a complex of four sections: rooms, dining area and kitchen, relaxation area and internal support facilities. The entire roof of the lodge is constructed using high quality crisneja palm fronds, whereas the floors are of tropical mahogany. The rooms complex is built of five 9 X 24 meter structures with six rooms per facility, for a total of 30 double bedrooms.

The rooms are 7 x 4 meters so they can comfortably hold three beds, although most are set up for two. The walls dividing each room are built using cane, and extend from the floor to about 2.5 meters height making each room private. The side that looks out to the forest does not have a wall or screening of any kind, acting as a large window facing the forest. The reason we have been able to incorporate this “luxurious” design into our lodge is because mosquitoes are not really a problem around the lodge clearing and the open section allows for an intimate contact with the rain forest. A second small window on the opposite side, set up very high, keeps the rooms well ventilated. Doors are replaced with drapes. Rooms are not soundproof.

Each room has a private bathroom with cold water only. Rooms and bathrooms are separated by drapes. Each room has beds, mosquito nets, bedside tables and hammocks or lounge chairs. Rooms are decorated with bas- relief wood-carvings representing stories and characters from Ese-eja traditions.

Common areas are open and spacey and offer ample area for resting and socializing. They include a dining room and bar, a reception lounge with souvenir shop, and an interpretation center.


Meals

We provide self-serve three course meals at Posada Amazonas. Meals consist of soup or appetizers, salad, main course, and desserts combining Peruvian and international cuisine. All fresh fruits and salads are thoroughly disinfected before serving. We also provide at all times unlimited amounts of boiled, filtered, cooled drinking water, coffee or tea and we provide fruit juices during the meals. If any visitor has special dietary requirements, we are happy to make individual arrangements, but please notify us.


Communications

Posada Amazonas is in daily HF radio contact with our offices in Puerto Maldonado and Lima from where we are able to communicate by email, fax or phone with the rest of the world.


Lighting and Electricity

Posada Amazonas has no electricity. Light is provided by numerous kerosene lamps and candles. A generator is turned on once a day to recharge batteries for guests or lodge facilities. At night it is very dark, so we recommend good flashlights.


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Peru & Machu Picchu Tips

 

Dear Peru visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience while traveling with us. You can be certain that we have put a lot of effort and hard work into the planning of your travel arrangements and so will be with your travel execution. It is our goal to have you enjoy a trouble-free adventure.


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy. In addition to your Valid Passport, your will also need our Master Voucher, which will contain your local contact’s information and a chronological list of each one of the services included in your reservation.

Please keep in mind that our Master Voucher might be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our local office.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. Our local office and all the operators involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.

Below, please find a few tips which will come in handy before packing, and through the length of your trip.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion); the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!

Flying within Peru has specific luggage restrictions, depending on the airline. You may want to check with your airline what their policy is.

As for the train to Machu Picchu, please be aware that Peru Rail and Inca Rail have a very strict Baggage Policy on Board (routes to Machu Picchu, either from Cusco or from the Sacred Valley), allowing only one carry-on per passenger as blocking exits is prohibited by law. Your carry-on should weigh up to 8 kilos (11 pounds) and measure up to 45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in).

If necessary, your hotel in Cusco or in the Sacred Valley (depending on your vacations program) will provide safe storage for the rest of your luggage.

Your trip by train to Machu Picchu: Please be aware that Peru Rail has a very strict Baggage Policy on Board (routes to Machu Picchu, either from Cusco or from the Sacred Valley), as follows:

On the routes to Machu Picchu, the train ticket allows ONLY the transportation of the passengers and their hand luggage according to the following measures and specifications.

Baggage exceeding the measures will not be allowed on board. Blocking exits is prohibited by law.

If necessary, your hotel in Cusco will provide safe storage for your luggage.

1 Bag or Backpack

Maximum Weight: 5 Kg / 11 Lb
Maximum Dimensions: 62 Inches / 157 Cm
(Length + Height + Width)


Are you doing the Inca Trail? If that is the case, you will need to review specific details about your expedition.

Are you climbing Huayna Picchu? Then, you may want to read additional information about your adventure.


Clothing

It is important to keep in mind that temperatures and clothing needs vary depending on elevation. Packing soft sided luggage with wheels will make traveling around the country much easier. The selected hotels in your program have laundry service available for guests. We have found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable adventure and in addition to that, international flights may be restrictive!

Even though Lima is an informal and casual city, we recommend men to wear pants (jeans are OK), and ladies should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks, shirt and sweater (sport jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in a nicer casual evening attire, and a shawl. Formal attire is only used when conducting business.

The highland areas can be cold, and a sweater is recommended. For the jungle and archeological areas light, loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential. If you plan to hike in the jungle make sure you bring raingear, and two pair of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day use. Sunglasses, and a hat or cap are essential.


Safety

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world) with the handling of large amounts of cash or showing off expensive jewelry. It is a good idea to leave your jewelry at home. Be cautious for pick pockets, especially when visiting the markets. Always make photocopies of your passport, and place the passport in the hotel safe while carrying the photocopy with you all times.
Scan your passport and air tickets (if not the e type). Store this (in an email sent to yourself) in your web based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access to your all important information.


Water

We recommend drinking bottled water.


Passport and Visa

Traveling to a foreign country requires a valid passport, regardless the nationality of the traveler. A valid passport means that it should be valid upon entry to a country and for at least 6 months after date of entry. This is very important for you to keep in mind because without a valid passport, any traveler is allowed to leave his country of origin. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

Citizens from the US and Canada do not require a visa to enter to Peru. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure.


Currency

The local currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol. You can exchange US Dollars at your hotel and in every bank in the city and larger towns. Having with you some small denomination US Dollars bills might be helpful for small shopping and tipping.

NOTE: No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in anyway damaged or torn.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.


Credit Cards

Major Credit Cards (American Express, Master Card, and Visa) are accepted in the city and larger towns. Pack your credit and debit cards and keep them in a safe but easily accessible place. Write down their numbers, along with the international toll-free number to call in the event of loss. Do this for every card.

Before you leave, call every card company and advise that you are traveling to Peru and how long you intend to stay there. This is an extremely important precaution. If your card-issuing company does not know you are overseas, it might view any activity on your card as fraud and prohibit you from using it.


Voltage

The whole electric system of Peru is of 220 volts and 60 cycles. Some 4 and 5 star hotels have additional 110 volts electric systems. Please verify if your electric devices, hair dryer, razor, sound system, battery chargers, etcetera, are auto-voltage; if not, the use of an adapter is highly recommended. For your convenience, most of the hotels have adapters available; please ask at the front desk.


Tipping

Tipping in the tourist industry in Peru is customary and strongly encouraged among travelers. In general, you may want to know that tipping is expected at sit-down restaurants and bars, porters in hotels and airports, tour guide staff and drivers, trekking guides, cooks, and porters.

In hotels & larger towns, you can tip in either Peruvian Soles or US Dollars, but if it is the latter, please ensure that the bills are not crumpled. When tipping in rural locations, or on treks, Soles might be more appropriate.

Suggested tipping:

  • Porters and Bellboys at the Airport and Hotels: $1.00 per bag.
  • Restaurants: Gratuity is usually not included in your bill; if it is, it will likely be at an upscale establishment, and it will be listed at the bottom of the ticket as a 10% service charge. If this is the case you may want to tip an extra 10% if the service was to your liking. Generally speaking, it is customary to tip about 10-15% of the total in sit-down restaurants.
  • Guides: Tips for tour or nature guides do depend on the level of service you have received. $10 per person would be the amount you would tip for excellent service.
  • Drivers: $3.00 to $5.00 per person per day.
  • Housekeeping at the cities and urban areas: $1.00 per night.
  • Lodges at the Peruvian Amazon: Tipping boxes are provided and a rate of $3.00 per person per day is suggested; this will be shared out between all the staff at the lodge.
  • Trekking guides, porters, and cooks: Depending on the number of staff accompanying your group, we recommend that each hiker tip between $10.00 and $40.00.The guide will distribute the tips evenly among the staff members at the end of the hike.

Time Zone

Peru is in the Central Standard Time Zone and daylight savings time is not observed.


Taxis

The program we designed for you includes all the transportation you need; however, in case of an emergency, your hotel will be able to call a cab for you.


Postal Service

Post offices around the country are open from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00 (schedule varies from region to region).


Holidays

The national holidays in Peru are: January 1, Holy Week, May 1, June 29, July 28 and 29, August 30, October 8, November 1, December 8 and 25. On these days offices and shops are closed.

In addition to the national holidays, some of the provinces and municipalities celebrate their own Saint Patron Day and there are other celebrations dating from pre-Hispanic times. Some of the most important are:

  • January 20 – Marinera Dance Festival – Trujillo
  • February 1-14 – Virgen de la Candelaria – Puno
  • March (second week) – Wine Festival – Ica
  • April 15-20 – Peruvian Paso Horse Festival – Pachacamac (Lima)
  • May 01 – Virgen de Chapi – Arequipa
  • May (first week) – Qoyllur Rit’i – Cusco
  • June 24 – Inti Raymi – Cusco
  • Movable (May/Jun) – Corpus Christi – Cusco
  • September (last week) – International Spring Festival – Trujillo
  • October 18 & 28 – The Lord of the Miracles Lima

Please keep in mind that during these festivities people celebrate, normal activities are put on hold, the main square fills with revelers, and the richest expressions of traditional culture are proudly displayed.


Local Offices Hours / Social (meal) Times

Private offices generally open at 09:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 PM. Shops, depending on their location are open from 09:00 AM and closed between7:00 and 8:00 PM.

Meal times: breakfast from 06:00 to 09:00; lunch from 12:30 PM to 3; 30 PM, and dinner from 7:30 to 10:00 PM.


Communications

Direct dial service to the U.S. is available. Fax, cable, radio and television are easily accessible.


Medical Treatment

Without being too negative, we would like to point out that accidents or sickness can occur while on vacation. Carry with you all the times your basic medical information: blood type, allergies, and medications. Bring with you a full supply of the medications you will need. Most medications are available in Peru, although the particular brand or type may not be available. You will often have to pay for any medical treatment; however, check with your health insurance provider prior to departure to see if they will cover you while on your vacation, and to the extent of the coverage.


Immunizations

When you are traveling to Peru directly from the US or Canada, there are no special immunization requirements. Yellow Fever inoculation is recommended only for some remote areas of the Amazon basin and if your itinerary includes the Peruvian Amazon, we will provide you with specific information and recommendations. If you have specific health concerns, you should speak to your personal physician before traveling.

In case your itinerary includes visiting countries such as Brazil and/or Costa Rica after visiting Peru, you need to know that Yellow Fever inoculation is mandatory. The immigration authorities in these two countries might be very strict and deny your entry if you fail to present the vaccination proof.

Check with your local doctor. For more information, please visit: Tambopata and or Posada Amazonas.


Legal Services

Legal Services are available. It is better to contact your embassy or consulate for any assistance. Leave a copy of your passport at the hotel’s safe.


Language

The official language is Spanish, but various indigenous communities speak Quechua which is also considered an official language. English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.


Weather Patterns

Because Peru has such a diverse geography, weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. If it’s warm on the coast it can be very cold in the mountains and you can find completely different weather in the jungle. On the coast winter lasts from June to September. During this period, the mountainous areas are often sunny and warm during the day but cold at night. This is tourist season and the best time to visit most regions. Heavy rains in the mountains and jungle last from December to April. It hardly ever rains in Lima and most of the coast. However there are some places, like Tumbes and Piura, which have tropical climates.


Jungle Bugs

Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. Many areas of the US have more bothersome insects than Peru. This is not to say they aren’t there, but you can have an enjoyable vacation and not have a bug ruin your adventure. The right type of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free.

When entering the forest, wear light weight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make your trip enjoyable. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rain forest). Don’t let them ruin your adventure!


Exit Requirements, Airport Taxes, and Tax-Free Shopping

To exit Peru you will need to show your valid passport with an entering stamp and return the Andean Immigration Card that was handed to you when entering the country


Customs Alert

During your permanency in Peru is absolutely forbidden to acquire and to try to take out of the country archaeological or valuable historical artistic objects. The non-fulfillment of this norm is reason of penal sanctions. Peru has international agreements with most of the countries for the confiscation of these objects when they are taken out of Peru. Avoid taking risks.


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.


Clothing

  • Bandana
  • Casual resort wear including men’s long pants for dinner time in the city. Some 4 and 5 star hotels require this attire at their A La Carte or Specialty Restaurants
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (i.e. Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Insect repellent
  • Moist wipes
  • Prescription medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eyewear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm or lip protectant ((waterproof)
  • Resalable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sun block (waterproof)
  • Swiss army knife
  • Toiletries
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Dress in Peru, for the most part, is very casual. Temperatures and clothing needs vary depending on elevation. Packing soft sided luggage with wheels will make traveling around the country much easier. Most hotels have laundry service available for guests. We have found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable adventure.

When packing remember that on almost all domestic flights and the train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu there is a weight and volume restriction, and these days, international flights may be restrictive too!


Last but Certainly not Least: To Enjoy the Most While Vacationing

An open mind and tolerant spirit will be your best allies for a successful trip wherever you go. Your attitude towards new, unfamiliar experiences plays a key role in how much you will enjoy when visiting a foreign country.

Try to speak at least the basic words in the language of the country you are visiting: the local people will appreciate your efforts and shows your interest for the country.

To have a closer approach to the country you are visiting, establish contact if possible with the communities near the hotels you are staying at.

Even if you do not understand certain situations or people’s behaviors, do not judge them based on a first impression.

Be spontaneous and friendly: people notice it.

Be positive and especially patient with the unexpected: remember that language and cultural barriers do exist.

Do not expect things or people to be like they are at home: the magic of traveling relies on discovering the world’s differences.


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Panama Tips

 

Dear Panama visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting tropical destination. In Panama the visitor can enjoy lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, scintillating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. That is why thousands of tourists have made Panama their top travel choice and while traveling with us, it is our goal to have you enjoy a trouble-free adventure.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Currency

The local currency is the Panamanian Balboa; however, the “official” currency is the U.S. Dollar. Be aware that you might get some local coins mixed with US coins; within Panama, both currencies have the same value. All prices are posted in U.S. dollars. Major Credit Cards are accepted almost everywhere, specially in the city and larger towns. Bring cash for small towns and villages. Many people will not accept torn paper currency, so make sure that all your US currency is in good shape and tear free.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.


Clothing

  • Aqua socks or river sandals
  • Bandana
  • Casual resort wear for the beach resorts, including men’s long pants for dinner time.
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Insect repellent
  • Moist wipes
  • Presciption medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eyewear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide, such as birds of Costa Rica
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm (waterproof)
  • Resealable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sunblock (waterproof)
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Important Notice:

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Life Aboard the Vessels

Visits to the Islands

There are two visits per day to the islands, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Our naturalist guides will take you directly to the most fantastic and emblematic locations on each island and introduce you o the mysterious and wonderful secrets of its flora, fauna and geology, either walking, hiking or snorkeling.

Depending on the itinerary, you will also alternate these activities with swimming on colorful sand beaches, watching sea lions on a rocky shore, taking a tour of the Darwin Research Station, and souvenir shopping.


To get to the various sites, there are two types of landing:

Dry Landings: Passengers step directly from a dinghy onto rocks or a dock. We recommend walking shoes, sunblock, hat, drinking water, insect repellent, and a light jacket. Special care is highly recommended when walkin on wet rock.

Wet Landings: The dinghy edges toward the beach, where you step into kee-deep water assisted by crew members and guides. We recommend swimming suit or shorts, walking shoes or strap sandals, towel, sunblock, hat, insect, repellent, plastic bag, well-insulated cameras and a windbreaker for windy or rainy days.


General Activities

Unlike the usual cruise, your visit to the Galapagos Islands offers a variety of activities, so you must come prepared. The main leisure interest is admiring the wildlife and the amazing topographic features. Various hikes along well-marked paths have been chosen to offer you the best views and sites. Hiking may involve various degrees of difficulty (easy, moderate or hard).

While hiking, you will be able to bird-watch, take pictures, stroll on the beach, take walks, visit museums and naturalist parks, as well as trek up mountainsides. Other activities include snorkeling and swimming, so for each activity you wish to participate in, you must take appropriate clothing and gear with you.


 Level of Difficulty in Hiking

The degree of difficulty gives a general idea about what to expect. Most hikes are all right for the majority of people and the degree of difficulty should not be a deterrent to take part in them. Only if you have some major handicap should you consider staying aboard for the hardest hikes. Sometimes, even going ashore without taking part in the hike can be an interesting experience. You can always ask your guide if you have any questions. The levels of difficulty are divided in three categories:

Easy: Flat terrain without any climbing. The surface can be rocky, though usually it means sand or dirt. The hike doesn’t last more than one hour.

Moderate: Flat terrain or with some slope. The surface is mostly rocky and/or slippery. The hike lasts about one and a half hours.

Hard: A hike on steep surfaces, mostly comprised of rocks and broken up lava flows. The hike lasts between two and three hours.


 Conservancy

Water: On-board desalination plants enable our vessels to produce water directly from the ocean. Ultraviolet purification systems, strategically located allow us to provide you with clean drinking water. Producing fresh water in this way reduces the enviromental impact of our journey and allows us to tap into the vast natural resource surrounding us. You will find bottled water in your cabin (1 bottle per person). Please reuse your bottles by refilling them. Please take the bottles with you back to the mainland. This will help reduce waste and preserves the ecological treasure that is The Galapagos Archipelago. We recommend you drink water at regular intervals even while on board your vessel.


Tipping & Gratuities

This is a very sensitive matter. Over the years, we often have been asked what amount of gratuity is appropriate for the crew and guides. The quality of service should determine the amount of any tip.

Based on common practice, our suggestion is: $

Inca Trail

 

It’s easy to get confused when talking about the Inca Trail. The Incas built a highly advanced network of nearly 40,000 thousand kilometers of trails to connect the distant corners of their vast empire that stretched from Quito in Ecuador down to Santiago in Chile and east to Mendoza in Argentina. Cusco was at the heart of this great empire. Almost all of the principal trails in the mountains surrounding Cusco were built or improved upon by the Incas. However, a particularly beautiful 43km section of mountain trail connecting the important Inca archaeological sites of Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu has become popular with hikers in the last 30 years and has become known as the “Inca Trail to Machu Picchu”. Access to this section of Inca Trail is strictly controlled and only authorized trekking companies are allowed to sell this trek. All guides on the Inca Trail must be licensed and only a limited number of trekking permits are issued and must be purchased several months in advance.


Important Notice 

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Huayna Picchu

 

Huayna Picchu is the towering mountain behind the actual site of Machu Picchu. From a distance the mountain looks impossible to climb without the necessary tools but even though a strenuous climb with some parts where you will actually will need both hands and feet, the climb is quite possible for all averagely fit visitors. For many people climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu.

The climb itself is interesting as you will see how the Inca did cut out some steps out of the rocks and as you wind around the side of a mountain will see Machu Picchu from different angles. Before you reach the top you will also have to go through a tunnel carved in the rocks and the higher you get the more structures you will recognize on the top of the mountain. Some structures and terraces are built on impossible places that really speak to your imagination.

Some structures are almost glued to the mountain side with a sheer drop of a couple of hundred meters on the other side. On a clear day (on cloudy days sometimes you cannot even see the site from here) the views of Machu Picchu seen from Huayna Picchu are breathtaking and do really give you an impression of the magnitude of the site. You will also be able to appreciate the different sectors of the site as the surrounding landscapes with some snowcapped mountains.

The climb to the peak takes about an hour on a steep rock staircase from where you will enjoy breath-taking views. There are cables attached to the rock in many places to help the climber and there are places to step aside to catch your breath and enjoy the view. To reach the summit you must climb through a very narrow tunnel through the rock on your hands and knees.

Coming down from the top, take the time to follow the hair-raising trail to the Temple of the Moon, located on the far side of Huayna Picchu. Here, a ceremonial shrine of sorts has been built into a cave lined with exquisite stonework and niches that were once probably used to hold mummies. Doing both the Moon Temple and the peak will take about 3-4 hours in total and it seems that very few people do both.

The descent down to the great cave has a few ladders involved including one at the bottom of a very narrow cliff-side staircase that may be overly frightening for some people. The great cave is quite a bit lower in altitude than the entrance to the Huayna Picchu path so after reaching the great cave, there is another long, tiring ascent.

Make sure you have your passport with you and get it stamped with a Huayna Picchu stamp at the sign in/out gate.

Climbing Huayna Picchu certainly is challenging, yet one of the most rewarding experiences one can have in a lifetime!


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

 

Guatemala Tips

 

Dear Guatemala Visitor:

On behalf of all us at EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience in Guatemala. Our goal is to have you enjoy a trouble-free journey in this exciting tropical destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


What to do after Deplaning

Upon arrival at the International Airport, you will need to clear immigration. Please make sure you have filled in your immigration entry form and customs declarations form (available at check-in at the airport, OR on board the plane) and have your passport on hand and ready for inspection. Then, proceed to the luggage claim area, retrieve your bags, and follow the customs officers instructions. Upon clearing customs you will exit the restricted area (our greeters and transportation personnel are not allowed here), and be faced with a great number of local families greeting arriving friends and relatives. Please lookout for your official greeter who will have a sign with your name on it.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Clothing & Packing

Even though Guatemala City is an informal and casual city, we recommend men to wear pants (jeans are OK), and ladies should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks, shirt and sweater (sport jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in nicer casual evening attire and a shawl. Formal attire is only used when conducting business.

The highland areas can be cold, and a sweater or light jacket is recommended.

For the jungle and archeological areas light, loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential. If you plan to hike in the national parks make sure you bring two pair of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day use.

Sunglasses, and a hat or cap are essential.

DO NOT forget to bring plenty of film or memory. Flying within Guatemala may have luggage restrictions, just as the same as those for international flights.

If you are taking medication always carry it with you rather than putting it in your suitcase.


Water Quality

We recommend drinking bottled water.


Currency/Banking Info/Credit Cards / Money Exchange

The local currency is the Quetzal. Coins are in denominations of one, five, ten, twenty-five, fifty cents and one Quetzal. The bills in denominations of one, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred Quetzals. One quetzal is 100 centavos. You can change US Dollars at your hotel and in every bank in the city and larger towns. You will get a better exchange rate at the banks. There is a bank right at the airport. Credit Cards (American Express, Master Card, Visa and Dinners Club) are accepted in the city and larger towns. Bring cash for small towns and villages.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Electricity

The electricity is 100 volts AC and 60 Hz. The most used power outlets are the two rectangular prong type. If your equipment has three or round prongs, an adapter must be used.


Tipping

Generally a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Some establishments add the tip to the bill. If your restaurant server has provided excellent service, an additional tip of 5-10% is recommended.

Bellboys, porters, guides, and tour bus drivers generally receive a tip for their services. Suggested tipping: $1 to $2 for bell boys; $0.50 per bag for airport porters; $3 to $5 per person per day for guides, and $1.50 to $2 per person per day for tour van / bus drivers.


Time Zone

Guatemala is in the Central Standard Time zone and does not observe daylight-savings time.


Postal Service

Post offices around the country are open from 08:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


National Holidays & Festivals

The holidays in Guatemala are:

  • January 1st – New Year’s Day.
  • March or April – Holy-week.
  • May 1st – Labor Day.
  • June 30 – Army Day.
  • August 15 – The Feast of the Assumption (only in the capital city).
  • September 15 – Independence Day.
  • October 20 – Day of the Revolution.
  • November 1 – All Saint’s Day.
  • December 25 – Christmas Day.

On these days offices and shops are closed.

In addition to the national holidays, each one of the country’s 330 municipalities celebrates its Patron Saint’s Day and there are other celebrations dating from pre-Hispanic times. The people celebrate, normal activities are put on hold, the main square fills with revelers, and the richest expressions of traditional culture are proudly displayed.


Medical Services & Treatment

Modern, clean, sanitary and first-rate conditions and facilities can be found in Guatemala City. Some rural parts of the country have medical services available in small hospitals and clinics.


Legal Services

Legal Services are available. It is better to contact your embassy or consulate for any assistance.


Language

The official language is Spanish, but various indigenous communities speak more than 21 dialects. English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.


Weather Patterns

Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. The dry season is from October to early May and the wet season from late May to September. Temperatures are usually very mild and vary little during the year. The average high temperature is 77º F and the low 55º F. In the jungles of the Peten, and the Caribbean coast, temperatures are around 80º F to 90º F with cool breezy nights.


Insects and Insect Repellent

Vaccinations are not generally required for visiting Guatemala, as sanitary conditions in tourist areas are acceptable. Nevertheless, a malaria vaccination is recommended for trips into the deep jungles of the Peten. Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. The right kind of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free. When entering the jungle or forests wear lightweight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make you rainforest experience great. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rainforest). Don’t let a bug ruin your trip.


Exit Requirements, Airport Tax And Tax Free Shopping

Valid passports with an entering stamp. The airport departure tax is US$30 for international flights and US$1 for local flights. Land and sea departures vary according to the area. The Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City features duty free stores.


Safety Tips

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world) . Do not bring large amounts of cash (the city and the larger towns have ATMs) or expensive jewelry. The Guatemala Tourist Commission recommends:

  • Use only the authorized taxis from the hotel taxi stand, and those that are clearly identified.
  • Never leave your personal belongings unattended.
  • Always carry a photocopy of your passport, showing your photograph and the date you entered the country. Leave the original in the safety deposit box of the hotel.
  • Keep your airline ticket, important documents, cash and travelers checks in the hotel safety box.
  • Always change money at a bank or hotel. Never on the street.
  • Don’t wear valuable jewelry and carry only the amount of money you’ll need for each day.
  • Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras and video cameras. Put your wallet in your front pocket and carry your purse crosswise, specially when visiting the markets.

Local Offices Hours/Social (Meal) Times

Government and private offices generally open at 08:00 a.m. The municipality opens at 09:00 a.m. Shops generally open between 09:30 and 10:00 a.m. Government offices close at 4:00 PM, the municipality at 5:00 PM and the private offices between 5:00 and 6:00 PM. Shops, depending on their location between 7:00 and 8:00 PM.
Meal times: breakfast from 06:00 to 08:00; lunch from Noon to 2:00 PM; dinner from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.


Communications

Direct dial service to the U.S. is available. Fax, cable, radio and television are easily accessible.


Important Notice:

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Galapagos National Park

Rules and Regulastions

According to the Galapagos National Park rules and regulations, a naturalist guide must always accompany visitors during excursions on the islands. You will be informed of everything that visitors are allowed to do. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to observe all the rules in order to preserve this natural paradise for you and future generations.

  • Do not touch or disturb any plant, rock or animal on the islands.
  • Be careful not to carry any living material to the islands or from island to island. Check your clothing for seeds and insects before disembarking.
  • Do not feed the animals.
  • Always remain on the path.
  • Always remain with your guide.
  • Do not startle or chase any animal from its nest or resting place. Be extremely careful in and around breeding grounds.
  • Do not force your way through dense bushes or thickets. This will destroy the plant life and seeds may become lodged on your clothing.
  • Do not litter on land or from the vessel while at sea.
  • Do not buy souvenirs made from any native animal part, coral or plant.
  • Do not write graffiti or deface rocks and plants on the islands.
  • Do not hesitate to show your conservationist attitude and explain the rules to others.
  • Notify the National Park Service if you see any damage being done.

If your plans include snorkeling, you will need to review these additional rules and recommendations: 

  • Never go on your own.
  • Obey the instructions of the guide(s).
  • If you do not feel comfortable in the water, always wear a life jacket.
  • Always stay with the group of people who will be snorkeling with you.
  • Do not make any brusque or fast movements while you are in the water.
  • The dinghy will be following you or helping someone else.
  • If you feel tired or cold, raise your hand and a dinghy will come to take you on board.
  • When getting off the dinghy, always keep away from the motor.
  • Never approach the dinghy from the back, where the outboard engine is located. Be cautious!
  • Put all your gear on before getting off the dinghy.
  • Do not take your gear off, except the fins, before you board the dinghy.
  • Always approach the dinghy on either side.
  • Every few minutes look up and make sure that the rest of snorkelers are near. If you are interested in looking at something in particular, be aware that you may be separated from the group by currents of by your normal movement.
  • If you like skin diving and decide to go down while snorkeling, be sure to look up when surfacing to avoid hitting the dinghy above you.
  • Remember at all the times that all water sports involve certain risk. Passengers participate in these activities at their own risk.

Galapagos Islands

 

Also known as the “Enchanted Islands”, the Galapagos Islands is a paradise where animals have no fear of man; it is a magical realm where creatures seem to be enchanted. They have fantastic, unique and fascinating forms with behaviors impossible to find anywhere else in the world.

Due to the uniqueness of the archipelago UNESCO declared the Galapagos Islands a World Natural Heritage.

Biodiversity thrived in a territory of volcanic material that emerged from the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean millions of years ago. Cormorants forgot to fly, iguanas learned to swim, turtles became gigantic, and sharks mild. This is a place where sea lions show off their swimming skills and blue-footed boobies perform their elegant two-step mating dance right in front of you. The archipelago is located in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles, or 965 km, off the Ecuadorian mainland. Its wonders include impressive geological formations, old and new outcrops, various types of cones and tunnels formed by underground streams and currents.

White, red and black sand beaches with extraordinary landscapes highlight the diversity of life itself. This is where Charles Darwin was inspired to draw up his theory on evolution and the origin of species and here is what visitors can expect throughout the year:

January

  • Espanola’s marine iguanas get a bright coloring to attract mates
  • Marine and land iguanas courtship period
  • Green sea turtles start laying eggs
  • Hatching of giant tortoises eggs
  • Weather: wet and humid

February

  • Greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana Island
  • Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island
  • Penguins migrate away from Bartolome Island to cooler waters of Isabela and Fernandina Islands
  • Weather: rainy season

March

  • Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina and North Seymour Islands
  • Frigate birds mating season starts on San Cristobal and Genovesa Islands
  • Weather: wet and humid; perfect time for snorkeling

April

  • Rainy season comes to an end
  • Water temperature is the highest
  • Sea turtles, marine iguanas, and land iguanas nesting
  • Waved albatross come back to Espanola Island and begin nesting
  • Due to the lack of rain during April and May, the arid zone changes from green to brown; only on the highlands remain green

May

  • Waved albatross lay eggs on Espanola Island
  • Blue-footed boobies begin their world-known courtship
  • Weather: fine and clear

June

  • Whale sharks could be seen in the northwestern islands toward the end of the month
  • Santa Cruz giant tortoises migrate to lowlands searching for good nesting places
  • Humpback whales can be seen around the islands
  • Weather: misty and dry, known for its clear skies and mid-day showers

July

  • Nesting season for blue-footed boobies, American oystercatchers, waved albatross, and flightless cormorants
  • Start of sea lion breeding season
  • Lava lizards mating season
  • Weather: July and August are the months with strongest winds

August

  • Frigatebird chicks are hatching
  • Sea lions give birth during this time
  • Giant tortoises go back to the highlands after laying their eggs
  • Weather: still in rainy season

September

  • You can spot Galapagos penguins during their courtship on Bartolome Island
  • Sea birds at nesting sites can be seen
  • A good month to observe baby sea lions
  • Weather: peak of “garua” (mist-like rain) season

October

  • Blue-footed booby chicks can be seen on Espanola and Isabela Islands
  • Lava herons start nesting
  • Galapagos fur sea lions mating season
  • Weather: average temperature is 71ºF (22ºC)[/list]

November

  • Chance of seeing whale sharks in the far northwest of the islands
  • Green sea turtle mating season starts
  • Great for swimming and snorkeling with baby sea lions
  • Weather: clear and warmer; average temperature is 73ºF (23ºC)

December

  • It marks the start of the warm season in the islands
  • Baby giant tortoises start hatching
  • Waved albatross nesting season is ending
  • Marine and land iguanas begin mating
  • Sea lions and fur sea lions breeding
  • Weather: sunshine!

Ecuador Tips

Dear Ecuador visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience in Ecuador. Our goal is to have you enjoy a trouble-free journey in this exciting destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure. Please take a few moments and become familiar with this information.

If you are going on a cruise-exploration through the Galapagos Islands, we want to invite you to check more especific and very useful information:


Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy. We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. If you are renting a car, a representative from the car rental agency will meet you at the exit point of the Immigration/Customs area and they too will be holding a sign with your name on it. If you do not have a transfer or car rental, the individual voucher packet will be waiting for you at your first contracted service, i.e. hotel or lodge. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.

Below, please find a few tips which will come in handy before packing, and through the length of your trip.


Clothing & Packing

City Attire: Even though Quito is an informal and casual city, we recommend men to wear pants (jeans are OK), and ladies should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks, shirt and sweater (sport jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in a nicer casual evening attire, and a shawl. Formal attire is only used when conducting business.

The highland areas can be cold, and it is best to dress in layers, wear a sweater over a shirt and T-shirt since the day begins and ends quite cool but at midday it becomes warm. For the jungle and the islands loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential. If you plan to hike in the jungle make sure you bring rain gear, and two pair of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day use. Since Ecuador lies on the Equatorial Line, the sun is direct and strong.

It is highly recommended that you bring a high SPF sun block, sunglasses, and a hat or cap. Do not forget to bring plenty of film or a large capacity memory stick. Flying within Ecuador has a luggage weight limit of 55 lbs. per person. If you are taking medication always carry it with you rather than putting it in your suitcase.


Safety

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world). Do not bring large amounts of cash (the city and the larger towns have ATMs) or expensive jewelry. The Ecuadorian Chamber of Tourism recommends:
1. Use only the authorized taxis from the hotel taxi stand, and those that are clearly identified.
2. Never leave your personal belongings unattended.
3. Always carry a photocopy of your passport, showing your photograph and the date you entered the country. Leave the original in the safety deposit box of the hotel.
4. Keep your airline ticket, important documents, and cash and travelers checks in the hotel safety box.
5. Don’t wear valuable jewelry and carry only the amount of money you’ll need for each day.
6. Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras and video cameras. Put your wallet in your front pocket and carry your purse crosswise, especially when visiting the markets.


Water

We recommend drinking bottled water.


Documentation

US Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.


Currency

The local currency is the U.S. Dollar. All prices are posted in U.S. dollars. Credit Cards (Master Card and Visa are accepted most everywhere; American Express is not as widely accepted) are accepted in the city and larger towns. Travelers Checks are difficult to exchange. Although some establishments have signs indicating acceptance of credit cards, this is often not the case. Always check first. Some establishments assess a 10% surcharge when paying with credit cards. Always check first. Bring cash for small towns and villages. Note: No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in anyway damaged or torn.


Voltage

The electrical current for Ecuador is the same as in the US (110 volts AC, 60 Cycles). An adapter is recommended to accommodate some outdated plugs.


Tipping

Generally a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Some establishments add the tip to the bill. Bellboys, porters, guides, and tour bus drivers generally receive a tip for their services. Suggested tipping: bellboys – $1 per person for parties of two or more, single travelers – $1 per bag; airport porters – $0.50 per bag; tour guides – $3 to $5 per person per day; river rafting guides – $5 to $8 per person per day; tour bus drivers – $1.50 to $2 per person per day.


Taxis

There are taxis available at the airport and each hotel. Running taxis are also available.


Postal Service

Post offices around the country are open from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00 (schedule varies from region to region).


Holidays and Office Hours

The holidays in Ecuador are: January 1, Mardi Grass (variable in February), Holy Week (variable in March or April), May 24, June 24, June 29, July 24, July 25, August 10, October 9, October 12, November 2, November 3, December 6, and December 25.

In addition to the national holidays, some of the provinces and municipalities celebrates their own Patron Saint’s day and there are other celebrations dating from pre-Hispanic times.

Please keep in mind that during these festivities people celebrate, normal activities are put on hold, the main square fills with revelers, and the richest expressions of traditional culture are proudly displayed.


Office Hours

Private offices generally open at 09:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 PM. Shops, depending on their location are open from 09:00 AM and closed between7:00 and 8:00 PM.

Meal times: breakfast from 06:00 to 09:00; lunch from 12:30 PM to 3; 30 PM, and dinner from 7:30 to 10:00 PM.


Medical Treatment

Modern, clean, sanitary and first-rate conditions and facilities can be found in Quito and Guayaquil. Some rural parts of the country have medical services available in small hospitals and clinics. Yellow Fever inoculation is required for some remote areas of the Amazon basin. Check with your local doctor.


Legal Services

Legal Services are available. It is better to contact your embassy or consulate for any assistance. Leave your passport at the hotel’s safe, and carry a photocopy with the immigration visa posted.


Language

The official language is Spanish, but various indigenous communities also speak Quechua. English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.


Weather

Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. For the Galapagos and on the coast the dry season falls between May and December. In the Highlands, the dry season is from July to October. The highlands can be very cold at night time. In the jungles, the dry season is from October to March, during the wet season, April to September, it only rains for a few hours at a time, which is not enough to spoil your Amazon Adventure.


Immunizations, Insects, and Insect Repellent

Vaccinations are not generally required for visiting Ecuador, as sanitary conditions in tourist areas are acceptable. Nevertheless, a malaria vaccination is recommended for trips into the deep jungles of the Amazon. Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. The right kind of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free. When entering the jungle or forests wear lightweight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make you rainforest experience great. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rainforest). Don’t let a bug ruin your trip.


Exit Requirements

Valid passports with an entering stamp. The airport departure tax is US$25 for international flights and US$2 for local flights. Land and sea departures vary according to the area.


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.

Clothing

  • Bandana
  • Casual resort wear including men’s long pants for dinner time on board Galapagos ships. Some 4 and 5 star city hotels require this attire at their A La Carte or Specialty Restaurants
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Moist wipes
  • Prescription medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eye wear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide.
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm or lip protectant ((waterproof)
  • Resalable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or head lamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sun block (waterproof)
  • Swiss army knife
  • Toiletries
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Dress in Ecuador, for the most part, is very casual. Temperatures and clothing needs vary depending on elevation. Packing soft sided luggage with wheels will make traveling around the country much easier. Most hotels have laundry service available for guests. We have found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable adventure.

And last but not least, when packing remember that on almost all domestic flights there is a weight restriction of 55 lbs, and these days, international flights may be restrictive too!


Important Notice
Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Costa Rica Tips

Dear Costa Rica visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting tropical destination. In Costa Rica the visitor can enjoy lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, scintillating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. That is why thousands of tourists have made Costa Rica their top travel choice and while traveling with us, it is our goal to have you enjoy a trouble-free adventure.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Clothing

City Attire For daytime attire it is suggested that men wear pants (jeans are OK), and women should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. During the evening hours, men should wear nice slacks and shirt (sports jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in nicer casual evening attire. A light jacket or sweater may be necessary from November to April when winds make it cool at night.

Beach, Jungle, and Mountain Resort wear for the beaches is best; casual is the rule. When hiking through the jungle it is recommended that long pants and long sleeve shirt be worn for protection. Cotton clothing is best suited for the tropics. Avoid blue jeans or denim apparel as much as possible since it can be quite warm in the tropics, and if denim gets wet, it takes a long time to dry. A jacket, sweater or sweatshirt is suggested for visits to the cloud forest or the higher altitude volcano parks. Be prepared with two pair of boots or shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous days use.

Sports Activities For all activities, a hat, sun visor, or cap is strongly recommended. Good walking shoes or hiking boots are best when exploring.


Safety

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world) with the handling of large amounts of cash or showing off expensive jewelry. It is a good idea to leave your jewelry at home. Violent crime is minimal in Costa Rica; however, be cautious for pick pockets. Always make photocopies of your passport, and place the passport in the hotel safe while carrying the photocopy with you all times. Exercise the same degree of caution in Costa Rica that you would at home.

Scan your passport and air tickets (if not the e type). Store this (in an email sent to yourself) in your web based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information.


Water

Costa Rica’s tap water is fine for drinking; however, bottled water is recommended and it is available throughout the country.


Currency

The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon (co-loan). It is best to exchange money at your hotel or at any bank. We strongly recommend against exchanging your money with a street vendor. Most major credit cards are widely accepted. It is not necessary to exchange money in the US, and dollars are accepted in quite a few places; however, the change coming back will be in local currency. Many people will not accept torn paper currency, so make sure that all your US currency is in good shape and tear free.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Voltage

The electrical current for Costa Rica is the same as in the US (110 volts). No adapter needed.


Tipping

In Costa Rica, restaurants are required by law to add a 10% service charge, in addition to the sales tax, to all bills. If your restaurant server has provided excellent service, an additional tip of 5-10% is recommended. Bellboys, porters, guides, and tour bus drivers generally receive a tip for their services. Suggested tipping: bellboys – $1 per person for parties of two or more, single travelers – $1 per bag; airport porters – $0.50 per bag; tour guides – $3 to $5 per person per day; tour bus drivers – $1.50 to $2 per person per day.


Time Zone

Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time Zone and daylight savings time is not observed.


Taxis

The program you selected includes all the transportation you need; however, in case of an emergency, your hotel will be able to call a cab for you. Taxis are usually red (except for the orange “Taxis Unidos” cabs, which specialize in carrying people to and from the international airport, and have a distinctive license plate. There are quite a few illegal “pirate” taxis, which for common sense reasons you should try to avoid.


Postal Service

The mail service in Costa Rica is as secure and efficient as it is in most other countries; however, it is a bit slower. Only Costa Rican stamps may be used, and most hotels and gift shops will sell stamps. You will be able to send mail from your hotel or from the many mail boxes found in the country (look for dark blue boxes marked “correo”).


Holidays and Office Hours

The national holidays are: Jan 1, Mar 19 (Saint Joseph day), Good Thursday and Friday, April 11 (Juan Santa Maria National Hero day), May 1 (labor day), July 25 (Guanacaste Annexation day), Aug 2 (Virgin of the Angels Costa Rica’s Saint Patron- day), Aug 15 (mother’s day), Dec 8 (Immaculate Conception day), and Dec 25.

Office hours are usually within the range from 8:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. For commercial places (i.e. shopping centers), the range is from 9:00 a.m. to 09:00 p.m., depending on the season.


Medical Treatment

Without being too negative, we would like to point out that accidents or sickness can occur while on vacation. Costa Rica does offer up-to-date medical facilities. Carry with you all the times your basic medical information: blood type, allergies, and medications. Bring with you a full supply of the medications you will need. Most medications are available in Costa Rica, although the particular brand or type may not be available. You will often have to pay for any medical treatment; however, check with your health insurance provider prior to departure to see if they will cover you while on your vacation, and to the extent of the coverage.


Immunizations

There are no special immunization requirements necessary for travel to Costa Rica. If you have specific health concerns, you should speak to your personal physician before traveling. Your doctor will have the most up to date immunization recommendations.


Language

Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica; however, you do not need to know Spanish to comfortably travel in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are required to take a second language in school, and many take English. Although knowing Spanish is always an advantage when traveling within Costa Rica, it will not be a hindrance if you do not. Most members of the tourism industry in Costa Rica speak English, and quite a few of the local people also speak English.


Weather

Costa Rica is a tropical country, and it lies just ten degrees north of the equator. At this latitude, the sun can be very powerful and precautions should be taken. Because of the high altitude of many areas of Costa Rica, temperatures throughout the country vary. The capital city of San Jose, lies at 3,000 feet, as well as most of the central valley. This area enjoys a mild spring-like climate, with temperatures during the day average 78º, and in the evening can get as low as 62º.
The second type of climate zone is slightly warmer and includes areas like the San Carlos valley, the Arenal area, the Turrialba valley, and the Cartago to Cerro de la Muerte area.

On the coastal plains of both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts the temperature and humidity are tropical. Temperatures range in the mid-eighties and can get a bit higher from December to April. During this time of year a warm dry wind called “el papagayo” can be found in the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The areas found in this climate zone include the Tortuguero park, the Caribbean coastal area, the Osa peninsula, home to the Corcovado park, the Mid-Pacific areas of Manuel Antonio / Quepos, Jaco beach, and Puntarenas, and in the entire Guanacaste region.

Temperature is only half of the equation; the second half, is precipitation. Costa Rica is lush and green because it enjoys a mild rainy season from mid-April to November. A typical day will be clear and bright in the morning and early afternoon, with thunder heads forming as the day progresses. The rains will start in the afternoon, or may not start at all, and continue on and off until sunset. There is a very high chance that the evening will be a clear and starry tropical night; if it isn’t, prepare yourself for a lightning show that is unmatched. Don’t let the rains ruin your vacation plans. Many feel that the Green Season (rainy season) is the best time to travel to Costa Rica, as the rivers are flowing, the country is lush and verdant, the amount of other travelers is decreased, and it is a less expensive time to travel.


Jungle Bugs

Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. Many areas of the US have more bothersome insects than Costa Rica. This is not to say they aren’t there, but you can have an enjoyable vacation and not have a bug ruin your adventure. The right type of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free. When entering the forest, wear light weight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make your trip enjoyable. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rain forest). Don’t let it ruin your adventure.


Exit from Costa Rica

As of today, the Costa Rica international departure tax is not included in your airfare. You will have to pay $26 (or the equivalent in Colones) in the special departure tax (Impuesto de Salida) window inside the terminal; be prepared to show your passport.


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.

Clothing

  • Aqua socks or river sandals
  • Bandana
  • Casual resort wear for the beach resorts, including men’s long pants for dinner time.
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Insect repellent
  • Moist wipes
  • Presciption medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eyewear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide, such as birds of Costa Rica
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm (waterproof)
  • Resealable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sunblock (waterproof)
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Dress in Costa Rica, for the most part, is very casual. Temperatures and clothing needs vary depending on elevation. Packing soft sided luggage with wheels will make traveling around the country much easier. The selected hotels in your program have laundry service available for guests. We have found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable adventure and in addition to that, international flights may be restrictive!


Important Notice:

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Colombia Tips

 

Dear Colombia visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting destination. Its ever-changing geography, a history loaded with mystery and adventure, its people and cultures, have fascinated the world for centuries.

Although its excellent coffee and the purity of its emeralds have made the country famous, Colombia is also the homeland of the El Dorado legend and the magical universe of Garcia Marquez’s Macondo. Coming to Colombia is discovering a completely new world.

In Colombia the visitor can enjoy lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, scintillating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. Tourists who travel to Colombia should not face too many inconveniences when staying in the country. However, there is some important information to keep in mind:


Visas and permits

Citizens from the US and Canada visiting Colombia as tourists, don’t need a visa to enter the country. Passengers from countries that have a restriction need to apply for a tourist visa in the Colombian consulate of their country of origin to be able to travel to Colombia.

Visitors from countries that have no restriction when they travel to Colombia, if they travel only for tourism, may stay in the country for up to 90 days from the date of entry, which is indicated on the immigration seal and will be stamped on the passport by the official at the port of entry.


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet (if necessary). The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


Geographical location

Colombia lies between latitudes 4º south and 12º north, and between 67º and 79º longitude west. It is an equatorial country whose climatic variations are determined by trade winds, humidity and especially by altitude: the higher up you go, the colder it is. Please consider this information when you travel to Colombia.

There are only two seasons and virtually throughout the country there are two rainy periods from April to June and from August to November and two dry periods. However, the country enjoys constant luminosity throughout the year, with an equal number of daylight and nighttime hours.


 Local time

Time in Colombia is based on Greenwich Mean Time with a difference of five or six hours, depending on the season. When it is 12 noon in Colombia, in London it is 5pm, in Madrid 6pm, in New York 12 noon and in Los Angeles 9AM. In summer the difference increases one hour.


Currency

The official currency of Colombia is the peso ($). Entering or taking out money, in this denomination or in any other, is restricted and should be declared on entering or leaving the country.


Currency exchange

The exchange of foreign currency should be made exclusively in hotels, banks and bureau de change, never on the street. The exchange rate fluctuates from day to day and has the U.S. dollar as the official reference rate, which is also the currency most used in the market. Payment is made on the basis of the official daily rate, after discounting commissions and services, which vary between 2 and 3%.
For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Cash points

The capital cities of the country have an extensive network of cash points. The majority is in service 24 hours and they have the option of the English language. The transactions generally permitted are: credit/debit balance, withdrawals, transfers and cash advances. Avoid giving the card to strangers or revealing your personal PIN code. Cash points are strategically located, particularly on thoroughfares and in shopping malls. Some, such as Cirrus, Visa and Master Card, permit international debit and credit transactions.


Debit cards

The larger stores and shops, supermarkets, and higher-class hotels and restaurants accept such cards.


Credit cards

The majority of hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments accept international credit cards. The most frequent are Visa and Master Card. Only some places accept American Express and Diners Club.


Traveler’s checks

Before acquiring them in the country of origin, it is advisable to check on the existence of representations or branches in Colombia. The traveler’s checks most used are those of American Express and Citicorp. In the more exclusive hotels you can make payments with them but they are not commonly used in commercial establishments.


Public phone services

There are widespread public phone services for making both local and countrywide calls. Public call boxes are available throughout the country and operate with coins and pre-paid cards.


Internet

The majority of the hotels in capital cities provide Internet service. In the large and intermediate cities, there are cyber cafes where you can rent a PC with an Internet connection for an hour or fraction of an hour at a reasonable price.


Health tips

Most frequent illnesses are mountain sickness, stomach problems, malaria and yellow fever in some forest areas. Before travelling to jungle regions, you must have the yellow fever and tetanus vaccines at least 15 days in advance.


Drinking water

Although major cities have excellent running water services, we recommend you to avoid taps, and rather drink bottled water.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Clothing

The dry season between December and March is the best time to visit the country. Not only is there less rain, but most festivals and celebrations take place during these months. The dress code is consistent across the country, with only slight variations because of the changes in climate and elevation.
Items you will need:

  • Loose cotton and linen clothing
  • Cocktail dress
  • Jeans
  • Business suit
  • Guayabera
  • Money belt

Dress for the weather: Changes in elevation create widely varying temperatures and rainfall amounts. Regions under 3,000 feet in elevation are hot, while those over 6,000 feet are considered cold. Most of the country is in the hot zone, so unless you’re traveling to the mountains, wear loose cotton or linen clothing in informal situations. It rains almost daily in the hot zones along the Pacific Coast, less so on the Atlantic Coast. Rain gear of some sort is a necessity.

Pack a cocktail dress for social occasions and loose-fitting blouses and skirts for day-to-day wear. Women dress up for parties and lunch dates. Have your hair done and get a manicure and a pedicure if you’re wearing open-toe shoes. Wear hosiery with skirts or dresses.

Avoid sloppy shorts and flip-flops; they will make you stand out as a tourist.

Dress up for business meetings, particularly in Medellin, Bogota and Cali. A suit, preferably dark blue or dark gray, conservative tie and polished shoes are appropriate for men. Women should wear a dress with a jacket or a suit with a knee-length skirt, makeup and stylish heels. A guayabera, or traditional embroidered shirt, and pressed slacks for men and a less-formal dress for women are appropriate in rural areas.

Wear a money belt or a purse with a secure strap in urban areas to avoid street criminals, such as purse-snatchers or pickpockets. Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home.


Safety

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world) with the handling of large amounts of cash or showing off expensive jewelry. It is a good idea to leave your jewelry at home. Always make photocopies of your passport, and place the passport in the hotel safe while carrying the photocopy with you all times. Exercise the same degree of caution in Colombia that you would at home.

Scan your passport and air tickets (if not the e type). Store this (in an email sent to you) in your web based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access to your all important information.


Voltage

The electrical current for Colombia is the same as in the US (110 volts). No adapter needed.


Tipping

At Restaurants: Check the bill to see if the tip is included. If it is, it’s usually 10 percent, and it’s still common to tip more, up to 15 to 18 percent total.

At Hotels: If you’re staying in a small rural hacienda, a family staff usually cooks, cleans, and tends the gardens, so leave a pooled tip of $5 to $10 per person per night at the end of your stay. In standard hotels, the usual tipping rules apply: about $1 to doormen and cleaning staff per bag or daily cleanup.

Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for guides and $5 per person per day for drivers. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers unless they really go out of their way to help you.

Are Dollars Accepted? Yes, but they’re harder for locals to use because governmental restriction, so whenever possible, try to tip in Colombian pesos.

Important Note: When you put your dinner on a credit or debit card, you’ll be asked, “Cuantas cuotas?” meaning over how many months you do want your bill payment broken up; just reply “una” (one).


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.


Clothing

  • Aqua socks or river sandals
  • Bandana
  • Casual resort-wear for the beach resorts, including men’s long pants for dinner time.
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Insect repellent
  • Moist wipes
  • Presciption medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eyewear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide, such as birds of Costa Rica
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm (waterproof)
  • Resealable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sunblock (waterproof)
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? Here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Important Notice:
Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Chile Tips

 

Dear Chile visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this unique country, the longest and narrowest in the Americas. Chile’s main territory consists of a strip of land 4,200 km (2,609 mi) long and 90 (55 mi) to 440 km (273 mi) wide. In the far south, the land is transected by hundreds of islands and fiords.

Our goal is to have you enjoy a trouble-free journey in this exciting destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure. Please take a few moments and become familiar with this information.


Entry / Exit Requirements

It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Argentine authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Argentina or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.

A valid and in good conditions passport is required to enter Chile.

Even though U.S. and Canada citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days, there is a reciprocity fee that has to be paid when entering the country; visitors from other countries please check with your nearest consulate. For additional information and recommendations, you may want to visit the Chilean Tourism Board Website.

More information for US Citizens is available through Travel.State.Gov, a service from the US Department of State.

More information for Canadian Citizens is available through Travel.gc.CA, a service from the Government of Canada.

Visitors who arrive in Chile with expired or damaged passports may be refused entry and returned to their country of origin at their own expense.


Safety and Security

As in all parts of the world, the primary safety precautions apply to big cities. Avoid going out with visible jewelry, cameras or electronic devices, as you could be the victim of a robbery (especially at night and in remote neighborhoods and streets).

The same goes for carrying backpacks: do not carry cameras (video or otherwise) in the outer pockets, especially in crowded areas or when using public transportation. Do not exchange dollars or any other currency on the street. Always use authorized exchange houses.

In the event of an earthquake or strong tremor, remain calm. If you’re inside a building, remain inside. If you’re outside, remain outside. Entering or leaving building can only lead to accidents.

If you are inside of a building, seek out strong structures under a table or bed, underneath a doorway, next to a pillar, master wall, or in a corner and protect your head. Never flee hurriedly towards an exit or use an elevator.

If you find yourself on the street, watch out for electrical wires, cornices, glass and falling tiles.


Stay healthy

Currently, no vaccines or medical examinations are required for entering Chile.

The water is generally safe for consumption. However, if you feel more comfortable drinking bottled water, you will find it available everywhere.

If you are not used to it, avoid eating uncooked vegetables, especially those that grow near the soil (e.g. lettuce, carrots) unless you buy them from an established supermarket, which must comply with sanitary norms in order to sell this kind of produce. It’s also preferable to eat cooked meats, fish and seafood.

If necessary, public hospitals and emergency services are required to attend to any person in need of emergency assistance. The country features high-quality medical centers, clinics and hospitals.


Medical Insurance

You cannot assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It is very important to find out before you leave your country whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas.

Travel insurance is a great way to protect your travel investment. By choosing to offer travel insurance, your travel agent is providing you a financial safety net for most unforeseen travel inconveniences. Allianz Travel Insurance plans have been created to suit most any traveler’s coverage needs. For your peace of mind, we strongly suggest you to purchase travel insurance. For more information, please visit: Allianz Global Assistance or contact us for a personalized quote.


Weather

Due to its extensive length, Chile features a variety of climates. This is explained by Chile’s geographic position with respect to high-pressure zones, the presence of the polar front and the influence of the sea. In other words, Chile’s climate is shaped by factors of latitude, altitude and relief.

In the country’s central region, the peaks of the Cordillera de la Costa impede the flow of the marine climate, and the wall formed by the Andes seals off continental influences. The presence of the sea gives the country a predominantly Mediterranean-style climate, with moderate temperatures and a wide range between the highs of the day and the lows of the night, creating fog and cool winds, the latter even more a product of the cool Humboldt Current.

The southern region has more humidity and precipitation and lower temperatures than the central region, while northern Chile features a dry desert climate, hot during the day and very cold at night.

The climatic diversity can be observed through the frequency of rainfall, which becomes considerably more pronounced as you head south. The rainy season also varies by region. On the altiplano, it comes during summer and from the central region to the Patagonia, in the winter.

The situation is the same when it comes to the highs and lows in temperature. It is warmer in the north and central regions, and gets colder as you head south. Chile has four well-defined seasons. All of Chile’s cities experience their warmest weather between October and April and the coldest from May to September.


Currency

The currency in Chile is the Chilean Peso. It is best to exchange money at your hotel or at any bank. We strongly recommend against exchanging your money with a street vendor. It is a good idea to have with you some small denomination bills (for tips and small shopping along the roads). US-Dollars are welcome almost everywhere; however, should you prefer to exchange your currency for local currency, we recommend you to avoid the kiosks and/or booths at the International Airport since they usually charge a lot for the service. Exchanging currency at the hotels or at any bank will be always safer and less expensive.

Keep in mind that most major credit cards are widely accepted.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Source: www.exchange-rates.org


Electricity

The electrical current in Chile is 220 Volts and 50 Hertz. Three-terminal electrical adapters are not common, but two-terminal converters can be found at stores that sell electrical equipment.


Food

Chileans typically eat simple breakfasts, larger lunches and an “once” (tea service) that is served between 5:00 and 6:00 pm and often takes the place of dinner. Bread is a fundamental part of the Chilean diet. The most popular varieties are hallullas, dobladitas and marraquetas (also referred to as “French bread”).

The most famous local dishes include cazuela (a hearty soup made with beef or chicken, which includes squash, a potato, an ear of corn, green beans and rice), porotos con riendas (beans with noodles), humitas (mashed, steamed corn seasoned with onion and wrapped in the corn stalk), pastel del choclo (similar but baked in clay dishes, a traditional artisanal product of Chile’s central and southern regions), pino empanadas (savory pies filled with meat, onion, egg, raisins and olives) and seafood empanadas. There is also a large number of dishes featuring fresh fish and seafood such as the Chilo© curanto. This unique dish is made with beef, pork, chicken and seafood which are arranged in layers and cooked over hot rocks in a hole in the ground covered with the leaves of a local plant called nalca, which trap the steam.


Crafts

The most popular crafts among tourists are those made with lapis lazuli, a blue, semi-precious stone mined in the foothills of the Coquimbo region. Although it is quite industrialized, the work done with these stones shines in jewelry and ornaments, with animal figures, vases and mosaics among the varieties. Lapis lazuli only exists in Chile and Afghanistan.


Language

The official language of Chile is Spanish. However, there is an idiomatic tendency to “Chileanize” the language, creating new words and usages. Other languages spoken in Chile include Mapudungºn (the language of the Mapuches), Aymara (in the northern Andean region of the country) and Rapa Nui (on the Polynesian locale of Easter Island).


Celebrations

Chile is known for its celebrations, which primarily consist of religious festivities and the anniversaries of cities and towns (mainly held during the summer). There’s a wide variety to be found throughout the country, though many include rodeos, where a pair of “huasos” on horseback chase and rope a young bull.

Special days include September 18th and 19th, national holidays commemorating the First Assembly of Government in 1810, the genesis of national independence, and the Glorias del Ejercito (“Military Glories”). These dates are marked by a series of popular celebrations in parks or places with traditional fare and dances.

Colorful religious festivities with Aymara, Incan and Catholic roots abound in the country’s northern regions, the most famous of which is the Fiesta de la Tirana. There are also celebrations to be found in Chilo© (the “tiraduras de casas” which involve physically transporting homes from one site to another), small fishing coves (the celebration of San Pedro), cities like Valdivia (Valdivian Week) and Valparaiso (a celebration featuring fireworks displays and illuminated ships on December 31), rural parts of central Chile (the celebration of the threshing season), and the country’s wine-producing valleys (wine harvest celebrations).


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Brazil Tips

 

Dear Brazil visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting and diverse destination. Brazil’s cultural and culinary traditions, natural beauty and diversity, modern architecture and old world flavor, as well as its business opportunities attract a considerable amount of visitors each year. Brazil is such a vast country that we can say that there are different Brazils within Brazil. Even the most basic understanding of the country’s history, culture and people can go far in enriching your entire travel experience.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Entry / Exit Requirements

It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Brazil authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Argentina or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.

A valid and in good conditions passport is required to enter Brazil.

Citizens from the U.S. and Canada need a visa to enter Brazil.

More information for US Citizens is available through Travel.State.Gov, a service from the US Department of State.

More information for Canadian Citizens is available through Travel.gc.CA, a service from the Government of Canada.

Visitors who arrive in Brazil with expired or damaged passports may be refused entry and returned to their country of origin at their own expense.


Safety and Security

We asked a experienced Brazilian traveler if he thought traveling in Brazil was dangerous. He responded without hesitation, “only if you do something stupid!” Just as it’s not a good idea to walk around a poor neighborhood in any large North American or European city at night, alone, with your pockets stuffed with cash, wearing a Rolex and an expensive camera slung around your neck, it’s not a good idea to do it in any large Brazilian city either.

The vast majority of all Brazilians are honest, forthright, hard working people and, in the smaller cities of Brazil, life is less hectic, dangerous and, quite frankly, safer. But there are also poor people in Brazil. Like any society, especially in the larger urban areas, there are also muggers, pickpockets and other criminals who make their living preying on easy targets. For them, there’s no better or easier target than a foreign tourist.

There are, however, a few simple things you can do to avoid being an easy target:

  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you on the street. Pulling out a wad of cash may be impressive in some places in the world but in most large Brazilian cities you might as well paint a target on yourself. Carry only the amount of cash you think you will need for the activities you plan for the day or the individual side trip you are making.
  • Don’t carry what you’re not going to need and use during any excursion. If you don’t need your credit cards, don’t carry them. If you won’t use your camera, don’t bring it.
  • Make copies of your passport picture/information page(s) and Brazilian visa page and carry only these with you for identification. Replacing a lost or stolen passport can be a huge hassle and only accomplished at the corresponding country Embassy in Brasília or Consulates in main cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Recife. If you don’t happen to be in one of these cities when your passport turns up lost or stolen, then that’s where you’ll have to go.
  • Carry your wallet with minimal contents in a front pocket. This makes it more difficult for pickpockets to grab and run. Some experienced travelers use a small, business card wallet to carry their credit card(s) and ID.
  • Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches or even cheap things that “look” expensive. This is a situation where less is best. Leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home and buy a cheap (and cheap looking) $20 watch before you leave home. You won’t cry too much if it’s ever lost or stolen.
  • Avoid highly congested areas as they are often a haven for pickpockets.
  • Don’t walk on empty streets at night alone because you become a muggers dream. Stay in well-lit areas where there are other people around.
  • Especially in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, make sure you always use a legitimate (real) taxi.
  • No matter what personal allure they may hold for you and no matter that some may offer tours and even overnight accommodations in a favela, it’s probably not a good idea to go into any favela ever. While the residents of many favelas are honest but poor people, favelas are also havens for traficantes (drug traffickers) and other criminals who make their living preying on others. Some favelas can often be extremely violent places where human life has little value. They’re certainly no place for a foreign tourist.

Stay healthy

  • Almost all Brazilian cities have treated water supplies, but if the taste of chlorine is not your favorite, it is probably best to drink only bottled water which is readily available almost everywhere.
  • Being Brazil a tropical country, it’s very easy to quickly become dehydrated. Drink at least two liters of water per day. Coconut water is a great option and you will find it fresh almost everywhere; keep in mind that coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage with the same electrolytic level as human blood. It contains no cholesterol, is naturally sterile and is full of natural sugars, salts and vitamins to ward off fatigue.
  • If your travel plans include time at the beach, limit your exposure to the sun to recommended time limits and use a sun block with a SPF of 30 or more.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and it is recommended to get vaccinated against it at least 10 days before traveling to certain places.

If you are visiting Brazil from the following countries: Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Liberia, Nigeria, Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Venezuela and Zaire, you will be required to present an international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever.

It is important to remember that almost the entire Brazilian coast is considered disease-free. This area goes from Rio Grande do Sul to Piaui, with the exception of northern Espirito Santo and southern Bahia.

For more information, please check with the nearest Brazil Consulate and also with your physician.


Medical Insurance

Travel insurance is a great way to protect your travel investment. By choosing to offer travel insurance, your travel agent is providing you a financial safety net for most unforeseen travel inconveniences. Allianz Travel Insurance plans have been created to suit most any traveler’s coverage needs. For your peace of mind, we strongly suggest you to purchase travel insurance. For more information, please visit: Allianz Global Assistance or contact us for a personalized quote.


Clothing and Wheather

Brazil has climates for all tastes, thanks to its large territory combined with factors such as altitude, pressure and proximity to the ocean. The average annual temperature is 28 C (82 F) in the North and 20 C (68 F) in the South. Brazilian winter is from May to September, and in some cities in the South and Southeast temperatures fall below 0 C (32 F), with frost and snow.

In the summer, in turn, you can enjoy a hot 40 C (104 F) in Rio de Janeiro, for example. Summer in Brazil is the best time to go to the beach, drink coconut water, plunge into the sea and get a tan. However, regardless of the season it’s always advisable to pack a coat and trousers, because the weather can change suddenly in some localities, especially in mountain and coastal regions.


Currency

The currency of Brazil is the Real (R$). Dollars and travelers checks can be exchanged at banks, travel agencies and authorized hotels. The exchange rate is published daily in newspapers and on specialized websites. We strongly recommend against exchanging your money with a street vendor. It is a good idea to have with you some small denomination bills (for tips and small shopping along the roads). US-Dollars are welcome almost everywhere; however, should you prefer to exchange your currency for Brazilean Reales, we recommend you to avoid the kiosks and/or booths at the International Airport since they usually charge a lot for the service. Exchanging currency at the hotels or at any bank will be always safer and less expensive.

Keep in mind that most major credit cards are widely accepted.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Voltage and Electrical Outlets

Voltage in Brazil varies between 110V and 220V 60Hz, depending on the region. Check out the voltage distribution list in Brazil:

110V: Bahia, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo

220V: Acre, Alagoas, Amapa, Amazonas, Ceara, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Para, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Roraima, Santa Catarina, Sergipe, Tocantins.

Also be aware that many electrical outlets in Brazil that will only accept a standard Brazilian two round prong plug. You may need a plug adapter; however, keep in mind that many plug adapters do not change the voltage but merely enable connecting the device.


Food

For over 500 years, Brazilian gastronomy has been a large mixture of traditions and ingredients that was introduced not only by the indigenous native population, but also by the immigrants. Each region in the country has its own specialties and adaptation to its climate and geography. The discovery of Brazil itself has a connection with gastronomy, considering the Portuguese caravels accidentally landed here in 1500, on their way to India and its spices. Due to the differences in climate, landform, types of soil and vegetation, and various people inhabiting the same region, it is very difficult to establish a typical Brazilian dish. Rice and beans, which preparation varies according to the region, can be considered a national unanimity. However, although the mixture of both is so characteristic and common in Brazil, it is not enough to summarize the whole complexity and richness of Brazilian cuisine.

Most Brazilians eat a “continental” breakfast consisting of fresh fruit and/or juice, bread, butter, requeijao (a spreadable cheese) or cheese and coffee with milk. The biggest meal of the day for most Brazilians is almo§o (lunch), usually between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. Dinner or supper in Brazil is usually (but not always) lighter and can start anywhere from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at night.


Language

Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, and is the only language used in schools, newspapers, radio and TV. It is used for all business and administrative purposes. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, giving it a national culture sharply distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbours and also being a major factor contributing to the differentiation between Brazilians and people from the rest of South America. Brazilian Portuguese has had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages.

Many Brazilians in the larger cities, especially those you encounter working at airports, hotels, better restaurants, tour companies, travel agencies, etc., speak at least some English. Both English and Spanish are taught in many Brazilian schools; however, the farther away you get from the larger cities, the less likely it is that you encounter people who speak English.


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Belize Tips

 

Dear Belize visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting tropical destination. In Belize the visitor can enjoy lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, scintillating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. That is why thousands of tourists have made Belize their top travel choice and while traveling with us, it is our goal to have you enjoy a trouble-free adventure.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!

Belize is a rewarding, authentic destination for travelers in search of unique, intimate experiences in a Caribbean/Central American getaway. A Belize vacation will stir your soul, expand your mind and change your life.

Serenely situated in one of the last unspoiled places on earth, you can easily tour Belize’s rain forests, dive the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef or explore mystical Maya temples all during the same adventure.

The multitude of experiences offered by this compact paradise refreshes travelers of all kinds. A single day can take you cross-country through temple tours to marina-side martinis overlooking turquoise water.

Belize is renowned for both its preserved ancient treasures as well as its welcoming residents – often referred to as the country’s greatest natural resource. An enduring commitment to preservation of Belizean lands and waters inspires a genuine and intimate connection with Belize.

Wherever you come from, you are welcome to take part in extraordinary escapades without ever feeling like a stranger. Every journey promises opportunities to capture every moment and let the senses come alive.

For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s one-of-a-kind charms. Through a convergence of natural wonder, delightful people, savory food and rare adventures, you can truly be one with Belize.


People and Culture

From the moment you arrive in Belize whether you are an adventure traveler, part of a family trip or in the country for a relaxing beach vacation Belize people and culture make you feel as welcome and comfortable as you do in your own hometown.

In Belize, the people have a myriad of traditions and customs that represent more than eight diverse cultures. For generations, the people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s unique charms. This enduring promise to the land, the waters and you, our visitor, inspires all to achieve a genuine and intimate connection to a variety of extraordinary experiences.

Belize is truly a melting pot of colorful personalities, making our 321,115 residents the country’s greatest resource for tourism. The Belizean people are composed of a harmonious combination of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.

There also are a number of expatriates in Belize from Canada, Europe and the United States and many of them retire here. A blending of cultures has resulted in one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the region and a widespread reputation as one of the world’s friendliest tourist destination.

In Belize (formerly British Honduras), English remains the official language, but the most diverse language in Belize is Kriol (Belizean Creole). Other languages spoken include Garifuna, Mandarin, Spanish and Maya.

It’s easy to fit in and become one with the people of Belize.


Gastronomy

Belize is an international treasure trove of tastes, specialties, styles and traditions from cultures across the world. Belize offers Caribbean food as a gateway to Central America with flavors composed of diverse and delicious blended influences. Kitchens yield uniquely delectable dishes to reward your palate. Explore our flavors and plan your flavor excursions as you Savor Belize.

After a relaxing day on the beach or an adventure amidst mystical Maya temples, the must-try for you, whether you have previously visited Belize or are a newcomer: the traditional food staple of “rice and beans” served with stewed or fried chicken, beef or fish. Accompanied by potato salad and fresh fried ripe plantains, this dish is served at most restaurants throughout Belize.

While local cultures tout their favorite traditional dishes, there is no denying the country’s love for seafood. While fish like grouper, red snapper, conch and shrimp are plentiful and common, lobster is surely the most celebrated. With lobster festivals on several islands at the beginning of lobster season, traveling at the right time can yield fresh lobster from the sea in every dish imaginable.

Many hotels and restaurants have successfully turned traditional Belizean staples into gourmet masterpieces. The annual Taste of Belize competition is growing in popularity with award-winning Belizean chefs eager to take you on a culinary adventure.


Music and Folklore

Reflecting the rich mix of people who make up the country, Belize music features a cultural blend of Kriol, Mestizo, Garifuna and Maya influences. Each culture brings unique instruments indicative of the musical origin. The authentic sounds of Belize music heard in intimate locations will evoke passion and relax you, whether you are an adventure traveler or on a beach vacation. Experiencing music is one of the best things to do while visiting Belize.

Mestizo, predominantly heard in Northern and Western Belize, made its way from Mexico and Guatemala, incorporating the melodies of marimba, tap drums and double bass.

Kriol, by contrast, can be found in more rural settings and makes use of drums, banjo, and even a donkey’s jawbone. Sounding similar to traditional calypso music, Kriol music has developed into a form called brokdong (named for broken-down calypso).

Unique to its own culture is Garifuna. Traditionally a folk style combining music and dance, Garifuna is now widely recognized for Punta and Punta rock, its popular dance forms.

Belize music an easy way to experience culture during a family trip has expanded to include styles popular in the Caribbean and Americas, so expect to hear local reggae, hip-hop and jazz around the country. It’s a reward for your soul as well as your ears.


San Pedro | Ambergris Caye

Of all the habitats in Belize, the littoral forest on the cayes is the most endangered due to coastal development. Caye littoral forests benefit the Black Catbird and White-crowned Pigeon; both are listed as Near-Threatened species. Mangrove habitats attract birds such as the Rufous-necked Wood-rail. During migration the cayes are an excellent place to see migrants such as warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and orioles.

After indulging in the multitude of mainland adventures, you can wander to postcard-perfect beaches and indulge in warm waters and a laidback Caribbean-style. You find this unspoiled paradise among the cayes and atolls of Belize. When you think of things to do in Belize or dream of a beach vacation, these exquisite and picturesque islands surpass any relaxing, romantic vision. Prepare for a soul-stirring experience.

More than 200 islands dot the turquoise Caribbean waters off Belize. Spelled “caye” (pronounced “key,” and meaning “island”), the cayes range in size from mangrove-covered masses to small outcroppings of sand and coral.

Most of the Belize islands lie within the shelter of the hemisphere’s largest barrier reef. Stretching from the most northern caye to Belize’s most southern point, the barrier reef protects the cayes and the mainland from the rolling breakers of the Caribbean Sea. You will become one with amazing scenery and calm coastal waters. That means you will experience the calm intimacy you want on a well-earned beach vacation.

Belizean waters host eight protected marine areas and showcase the region’s remarkably beautiful biodiversity as well as the country’s commitment to the protection and conservation of its unique marine ecosystems.

Of all the habitats in Belize, the littoral forest on the cayes is the most endangered due to coastal development. Caye littoral forests benefit the Black Catbird and White-crowned Pigeon; both are listed as Near-Threatened species. Mangrove habitats attract birds such as the Rufous-necked Wood-rail. During migration, the cayes are an excellent place to see migrants such as warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and orioles.

Indulge in white sand beaches, be one with turquoise water and the barrier reef teeming with exotic marine life. For the adventurer, the coast of Belize offers a chance to bask in the island life. You can dive the amazing Blue Hole, and enjoy the established vibrant island community in Ambergris Caye excite your senses and inspire your passions.


Snorkeling

Snorkeling in Belize is a real treat and something not to be missed. Hol Chan and Shark Ray alley is the favorite among guests to the island and gives you the opportunity to take in the wondrous marine life and also swim the gentle nurse sharks and sting rays. It sounds scary, but safe and exciting. Another popular site for snorkeling is Mexico Rocks.

Floating atop the warm, clear turquoise waters with a mask and snorkel provides an exciting glimpse into Belize’s underwater glories and is a “must see” even for the first-time snorkeler. Knowledgeable local guides will help you explore the kaleidoscope of color found in hard and soft corals, vibrant sponges and over 500 species of fish.

There are thousands of snorkeling sites of varying depths along the Belize Barrier Reef. Every snorkel spot is a little different from the other and if you go back to the same spot, each time you will see something different.

At night, many marine species come out to feed, and the underwater world comes awake.

If you’ve never snorkeled before it is a good idea to try your equipment in water you can stand in first. If you’re uncomfortable, try using a life jacket for added assurance. Just remember to breathe steadily through your mouth once you get a glimpse of what lies beneath the waves it will come naturally.

Waterproof identification cards are helpful to use in the water or to share your experience when back on shore.


San Ignacio | Cayo District

While new experiences abound, the people of the Cayo District make you feel right at home. As host to the capital city of Belmopan, you’ll find an astonishing variety of the ecotourism adventures at every turn. With a majestic 880,000 acres of protected land in the form of nature reserves and national parks, this district is truly a nature-lovers dream. The lively towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and the quiet border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen provide a glimpse into the lives of the friendly residents. They also serve as a base from which to explore pine forests, clear rivers, rocky plateaus, ceremonial caves, towering mountains, ancient Maya Temples and Cascading waterfalls, including spectacular Thousands Foot Falls.

Cayo is full of winding rivers, majestic waterfalls, mysterious caves and breath-taking mountains that engulf a tiny national capital and grand Maya cities. With surroundings so intimate, you can be one with all these genuine experiences.

Explore the largest district in Belize (home of the capital city of Belmopan), and you are rewarded with a treasure of eco-tourism adventures. With an astonishing 880,000 acres of protected land in the form of nature reserves and national parks, this district is truly a dream for an adventure traveler or couple looking for a unique, memorable excursion to add to a honeymoon package. On a trip to Cayo, you can explore temples by day and journey to nearby beaches of adjoining districts in time for sunset.

The lively twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and the quiet border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen provide glimpses into the lives of the friendly residents. They also serve as an excellent base from which to explore pine forests, clear rivers, rocky plateaus, ceremonial caves, towering mountains, cascading waterfalls and ancient Maya temples. Once you are in Cayo, open your soul to amazing experiences.


Archaeology

Archaeologists working in Belize joke that just about anywhere you scoop up a trowel of dirt you are likely to discover evidence of ancient civilization! Wherever your vacation plans take you within Belize you are sure to encounter archaeology sites of significance as well as the remains of smaller, lesser known fishing, pottery, and salt production centers of Maya origin.

The ancient Maya network in Belize is an exciting adventure whether for a day or for a week-long tour. Near to most major towns you will find towering Maya temples with vacant ball courts still whispering excitedly of century-old competitions. Managed by the Institute of Archaeology settlements and ceremonial sites have been reclaimed from the forest, unique architecture and stelae exposed and restored and, interpretive centers with trained guides installed.

The Maya settled in Belize as early as 1500 BC with the estimated population exceeding one million during the Classic Period (250 AD to 900 AD). Although the civilization went into a political decline around 900 AD and many large Maya centers abandoned, several cultural centers, such as Lamanai on the New River, were still thriving at the time of contact with the Spanish in the late 1500’s. Located in the northern district of Orange Walk, Lamanai is an impressive site to visit. Not only is the ruin and history exciting, but the journey to the site is also memorable. Speed several miles through narrow rivers while stopping only to be shown crocodiles, howler monkeys and iguanas is an exhilarating experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Xunantunich was a major ceremonial site built on a natural limestone ridge during the Classic Period. The site is composed of six major plazas with more than 25 Maya temples and palaces. On a clear day, visitors can also see across into nearby Guatemala and near Caracol in the Pine Ridge Mountain Reserve.

In Guatemala, you will visit the Tikal National Park. Tikal is nowadays, the largest Mayan City known and studied. The park has an extension of 576kms squared. It was declared Human Heritage patrimony, by UNESCO in 1979.


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


What to Pack General Recommendations

Belize is a very informal country, with a very casual lifestyle. Unless you are invited to a Government function, please leave your “after five” attire at home.

Leave your jewelry and expensive watches at home because you will not need them. If you must have a watch, bring an inexpensive watch that is suitable for diving and hiking.

If you are visiting the Cayes and/or the Barrier Reef, bring your shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits, as well as some comfortable tennis shoes or deck shoes. Sandals or watershoes may be appropriate for some situations. As the sun is probably more intense than what you are used to at home, bring a cap to protect your head from the tropical sun when you are boating and/or fishing. In addition to protecting your eyes from both the sun and the reflective glare off of the water, a pair of polarized sun glasses will enhance the variable colors of the coastal waters of Belize.

Loose fitting, light colored cotton pants and camping shirts, along with a comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots are appropriate for exploring the Mainland or trekking through the rain forest. When visiting the Maya Ruins or traipsing through the jungle, a hat with a wide brim will provide shade from the tropical sun, as well as provide protection from a tropical shower.

Be aware that water, beverages, and snacks are not always readily available while sightseeing; so a day pack, to carry a water bottle, energy bars, camera, film, binoculars, poncho, hand towel, etc. is a welcomed accessory. Although you do not wear it, a hiking staff can prove to be a valuable aid to climbing ruins, crossing streams, or walking up or down steep trails.

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Currency

The currency in Belize is the Belizean Dollar. It is best to exchange money at your hotel or at any bank. We strongly recommend against exchanging your money with a street vendor. Most major credit cards are widely accepted. It is not necessary to exchange money in the US, and dollars are accepted in quite a few places; however, the change coming back will be in local currency. Many people will not accept torn paper currency, so make sure that all your US currency is in good shape and tear free.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.


What to Bring Recommendations – Summary

The following is a general list of those items that we, at EcoAmerica Tours, have found to come in handy while traveling.


Clothing

  • Aqua socks or river sandals
  • Bandana
  • Casual resort wear for the beach resorts, including men’s long pants for dinner time.
  • Cotton or synthetic blend socks
  • Cotton shirts, some long and some short sleeved
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Lightweight water resistant hiking boots
  • Lightweight water resistant jacket or poncho
  • Long pants (cotton or synthetic blend; avoid jeans since they do not dry fast)
  • Shorts (cotton or synthetic blend)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Swimsuit
  • Tennis or walking shoes
  • Warm jacket (for higher elevations only)
  • Windbreaker

Health Kit

  • Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin)
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream
  • Imodium A.D.
  • Insect repellent
  • Moist wipes
  • Presciption medication
  • Solarcaine lotion or gel

Gear

  • Backup prescription eyewear and medication (if needed)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with fresh batteries and large capacity memory card (or lots of film)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for nature walks and a plastic water bottle
  • For natural history enthusiasts, we suggest you bring a field guide, such as birds of Costa Rica
  • Insect repellent (waterproof)
  • Lip balm (waterproof)
  • Resealable plastic bags in assorted sizes to keep your cosmetics and/or toiletries from spilling
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen or sunblock (waterproof)
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Valid Passport (original and photocopy) of everyone in your party
  • Waterproof disposable camera

Traveling with small children? here are some additional recommendations

  • An interesting book or a coloring book with crayons and color pencils
  • Some table or electronic games to play
  • Rubber boots and a lightweight poncho

Important Notice:

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.


Attractions Island by Island

Declared a national park by the Ecuadorian Government, the Galapagos Islands is a World Heritage Sanctuary. An archipelago of 19 islands and smaller islets, the Galapagos makes for a fascinating place to explore. The dream destination for nature lovers, wildlife watchers and eco adventure tourists, these tiny islands are an incredible and unique place to catch nature as it’s most pristine.

While only five of the islands inhabited by humans, the rest of the Galapagos Islands play host to a fantastic array of rare and endemic wildlife such as the Galapagos tortoise, Darwin’s finches, the waved albatross, the flightless cormorant, the Galapagos penguin, the Galapagos hawk, the marine iguana and the brown pelican.


This small island is also known as South Seymour. During the World War II, Baltra was a U.S. Air Force Base built to patrol the eastern Pacific for enemy submarines and protect the Panama Canal.

The island is very arid and vegetation consists of saltbushes, prickly-pear cactus and holy stick trees.

Baltra is also one of the gateways to the Galapagos Islands. On arriving at Baltra, all visitors are immediately greeted by their hosts and guided to their destination. There are no visitor sites on the island, nor are there any accommodations. Public and private transportation on the island is strictly for carrying tourists to Puerto Ayora.


Located at the center of the archipelago, Bartolome is one of the most frequently visited sites of all the islands. The highest point is only 114 meters (374 ft) above sea level and it is separated from the island of Santiago by the Bay of Sullivan. The island has a surface area of 1.2 kilometers (0.74 mile). It is an excellent site for snorkeling and it is full of beautiful landscapes, unique to the islands.

There are two sites for landing: one is for a walk up to the highest part of the island and other is the coral sand beach next to the Pinnacle Rock.

The walk up to the top of Bartolome will take the visitors along a beautiful path built of wood to avoid erosion and a staircase consisting of 365 steps to reach the summit, where there is the most popular view of the Galapagos.

Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticed. Pioneer plants are observed, so called because they are the first to establish roots on new ground. They include Tiquilia nesiotica (which is endemic to the island) and Chamaesyce (known as sandmat or spurge), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes; behind the beach, we have the dunes covered by mangroves.

The second site for landing, will take us down to the northern beach of Bartolome where we will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel. On the beach, there are small colonies of sea lions, which usually rest on the lava of the intertidal zone. There is also a small population of penguins. When we arrive at the beach, we may see some of them on the rocks or in the water.

For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of snorkeling experiences because the water here is generally quiet without too much surf and is full of marine life.

Highlights: We will travel back in time to the formation of lava tubes, spatter cones and the remains of two types of hardened lava: aa and pahoehoe. You will experience beautiful and breathtaking scenery as you climb up the Summit Trail. During the ascent, visitors will often see Tiquilla and various cacti, which add to this unique experience. The tall, leaning spike known as Pinnacle Rock, can be seen from above.

Type of terrain: Sandy volcanic ash trail with wooden stairways.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 1.5 hours hike plus 40 minutes beach time.


Located on Espanola Island, Gardner Bay consists of an extensive beach of whitish coralline sand, where there is a large colony of Galapagos sea lions.

Here we can also observe the mockinbird of Espanola, usually in small groups in search of water.

Snorkeling is highly recommended, especially around the rock that is in front of the beach where we can see white-tipped sharks, rays, sea lions, and a variety of reef fish.

This visit will be basically to enjoy the sun and the beach, with snorkeling activities.

At certain rocky points of the soreline, we can also see marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies plunging in the water, Sally light-foot crabs, and small coastal birds and wandering tattlers (vagabundos) and turnstones (vuelvepiedras).

Highlights: Excellent for swimming and snorkeling along a wonderful and relaxing white sandy beach with colonies of sea lions, endemic mockingbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, and sea turtles. In front of the beach, there is a small islet, which is good place for snorkeling among sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, and colored fish. Visitors will also spot lava lizards and the colorful Sally light-foot crabs. Snorkelers often see many of the Galapagos marine species such as king angelfish, creole fish, damsel fish, parrot fish, white-tipped reef sharks, and many more!

Type of terrain: A wonderful and relaxing white sandy beach.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Duration of the visit: 1 to 1.5 hours approximately.


At the southern eastern tip of Galapagos lies Espanola, the archipelago’s oldest island, which is without a doubt a prime sanctuary of birds and where you can observe blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropic brids, swallow-tailed gulls, the Espanola mockingbird, and from April to December more than 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses coming to nest.

Visitors will observe sea lion colonies, colored marine iguanas, lava lizards, the beautiful scenery of the blowhole, where water shoots 23 meters (75 ft) up into the air. Visitors will go to Gardner Bay, a white coral beach with a large colony of sea lions. It’s great for swimming and snorkeling and you can spot many Galapagos marine species.

The dramatic setting among the back cliffs, the never-ending rolling and crashing of the waves below, and the elaborate courtship rituals of the albatross (birds that mate for life) make Espanola a highlight of your trip.

The hike is also very interesting for its geographical features, consisting of a completely arid to transitional zone of vegetation with predominantly thorny plants.

Hightlights: Waved-albatross, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, doves, herons, gulls, hawks, sea lions, the endemic Hood (Espanola) mockingbird with a very odd but bold behavior, several types of reptiles, including the brightly colored marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard (unique to this island).

Type of terrain: Rocky.

Lefel of difficulty: Hard

Duration: 2 to 3 hours approximately.


Fernandina Island is the youngest and considered the only pristine and best preserved island in the world. Espinosa Point, which is located in the northwestern part of Fernandina Island, may turn out to be the greatest spot for visitors of the islands because it shelters a wide variety of endemic fauna on a piece of ground that is really not very large.

Espinosa Point is the only spot that we will be visiting on Fernandina, and from it we can see right in front of us the island of Isabela, separated by the Bolivar Channel, which is one of the areas with the highest number of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos.

This is an area rich in marine upwelling, which directly or indirectly affects the entire food chain, bringing a wealth of life to the west of the archipelago. These upwellings occur when the rich cold waters of the underwater Cromwell currest, laden with nutrients, encounter the islands, bringing all of this plankton to the surface, where many species of animals take advantage of the wealth of food.

Highlights: This is one of the most pristine areas of the islands, with none of man’s introduced species to date. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa gives a feel for this stark and barren landscape. Flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, and sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools. It is also home to the largest colony of the endemic marine iguanas. Other features: lava cacti, black, white and red mangroves, Sally light-foot crabs, Galapagos hawks, flightless cormorants.

Type of terrain: Semi flat pahoehoe lava field, at times slippery; also, a sandy trail.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration of the hike: 1.5 to 2 hours approximately.


Located on Floreana Island, to the south of the archipelago, it is a beach of golden-greenish sand, very rich in olivine (volcanic crystals), which is a composition of aluminium, silica, magnesium and iron coming from the earth’s mantle, as well as eroded volcanic tuff remains, which lend their colors to the sand.

Behind the beach there is a brackish pond that is home to a variety of migratory birds, especially one of the largest populations of flamingos, where about 40 to 80 individuals can be observed, which is quite a large number in one single pond since the entire Galapagos population of flamingos amounts to only 1,200 to 1,500 individuals, scattered over the archipelago.

The flamingos tend to migrate within the entire archipelago searching for food but never attempts to fly toward mainland Ecuador. Their ancestors are the Caribbean flamingos.

The trail ends when we reach the white-sand beach of Floreana, which is one of the most important nesting sites of the green Pacific sea turtles. On this white beach, it is important to avoid walking in the water because there may be small sting rays lying under the sand, and they can be very dangerous if feeling threatened.

From the beach we can see sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging in the water, and small reef sharks swimming along the shoreline searching for food. There is a small colony of penguins and sometimes they can be observed on the beach of Cormorant Point.

Don’t miss the opportunity to swim or practice some snorkeling to watch sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions, and even the white-tipped reef shark.

Highlights: Flamingos, Darwin finches, shorebirds, sea turtles, olivine sand beach, coralline sand beach.

Type of terrain: Flat, easy walk.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1.5 hours hike plus 1 hour snorkeling


Located on the island of Floreana, Post Office Bay is home to a very important fragment of the archipelago’s human history, because it is here that pirates, whalers, famous ship captains, among other sea people, left a written memento of their lives when they sailed by the Galapagos.

It was a strategic place for many people of the sea, who temporarily had some ties with the islands, which were at that time the focus of large-scale hunting of whales and Galapagos fur seals.

The “post office” was nothing but a barrel that served as drop-off and pick-up point since the early days of the whale hunters. The mail service consisted on a wooden barrel, where letters were left, bearing their respective addresses, in the hope that another seaman returning home would take some of them if the address was not far from his home and would either deliver them personally or otherwise drop them at the normal post office after he had left the islands.

That was one of the strategies used by Captain David Potter in 1913 to destroy the whale fleet of the Galapagos. He would read the letters left in the barrel and would find out what island the whalers were heading toward and when they would return and that’s how he was able to ambush them.

Since then, the barrel has been replaced many time. The first one was installed by the English captain James Colnett in 1793. Now, it is used by tourists traveling through the islands who leave their letters, in the hope that some other visitor will take them and deliver them personally upon their return.

Highlights: The island is best known for its endemic plant life, such as the Scalecia Villosa, Lecocarpus Pinatifidus, and Galapagos milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions.

Type of terrain: Flat and easy.

Level of difficulty: Easy, short hike

Duration: 20 minutes for the visit and 1 hour snorkeling.


It is located on the northwestern part of the island of Isabela. This is a historical site also visited by Charles Darwin and where various graffiti are carved onto the wall by many visitors over past centuries until just before the Galapagos National Park was established in 1959-1960.

This cove was a hideout for whalers and pirates, as it is protected by the surf and is a perfect place to anchor.

The name of the site dates back to 1814 when it was visited by a British ship that went by the name Tagus, which had anchored there to look for giant tortoises to be used as food supply on the boat.

The tour along the shoreline is full of marine life. We will find various species of seabirds such as blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, terns, flightless cormorants and depending on the season of the year, a large number of Galapagos penguins.

The Galapagos penguins are only 35 cm tall and it is the only penguin species in the world living in the northern hemisphere, that is, on the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, in the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the sea.

The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, with the largest number living on the western part of the archipelago and then others living in the middle and south of the island.

Along Tagus, we can observe sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions and, if we’re lucky, probably some dolphins swimming in the vicinity. Opportunity for snorkeling.

Highlights: We shall follow Charles Darwin’s steps when the Beagle anchored here in 1835. Darwin spent much time exploring the area. Like Darwin, we will see a spectacular young pyroclastic cone, partially breached, forming an excellent anchorage, which has been a favorite stopping place for centuries for pirates, whaling ships and buccaneers. The marked trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water pond, offering an excellent view of lava fields and scores of beautiful volcanic formations.

Type of terrain: At the beginning, a flat sandy area; later, a semi-rocky trail to a soft hill.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours hike plus 1 hour snorkeling.


To the west of Isabela Island, there is the Urbina Bay, a fascinating area, which is the result of a shallow sea bottom uplifted in 1954 showing a large coral reef which today sticks up above sea level. Urbina Bay has a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful color of the plants, an attraction for many different insects.

Among the bushes, we can see giant tortoises, as well as amazing land iguanas, which are noteworthy for the special texture and yellowish color of their skin. As we walk, birds like flycatchers, Darwing finches and mockingbirds will fly past us.

Highlights: We will explore an uplifted coral reef as a result of volcanic activity in 1954, with a spectacular view of Alcedo volcano. Along the trail, we will see land iguanas, mockingbirds, finches, Galapagos hawks, Galapagos martins, occasionally giant tortoises, and some of the introduced animals like feral goats, cats, etc. At the beach, we will be able to see the largest marine iguanas on the Galapagos. Those who wish, can swim near flightless cormorants, penguins, sea turtles, and assorted colored fish.

Type of terrain: Flat, uplifted, semi rocky areas.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours hike plus 40 minutes beach time.


This is perhaps one of the busiest touring islands on the archipelago. Right next to Baltra Island (where the airport is located), and not very far from Santa Crus Island, North Seymour is the most accessible island for day-trippers coming from Santa Cruz main port, Puerto Ayora. In spite of this, North Seymour is a definite site for admiring the numerous nesting places of blue-footed boobies and the archipelago’s largest nesting colony of Magnificent Frigate-birds and Great Frigate-birds. You also will find sea lions and swallow-tailed bulls. If you are fortunate, you might come across a Galapagos snake.

North Seymour is flat. Geologically, it was shaped by the forces of nature that lifted the rocky base of the earth’s crust from below sea level. In other words, it is an island with a potpourri of volcanic formations. Because of this, the edges of the island drop vertically into the ocean where the waves lick the rock and this is where there are many crustaceans, reptiles and plants, many of them inhabiting the intertidal zone (foreshore). The ground is flat and strewn with palo santo, or holy stick trees (a type of sandalwood noteworthy for its strong aroma) and gray saltbush, among white-splashed rocks. While walking, make sure you don’t step on any blue-footed boobies nests. They won’t move. Respect their space and always follow the trail.

Highlights: Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dancing in the more open areas; swallow-tailed gulls perch on cliff edges; great blue herons, lava herons, two species of frigate-birds. Endemic snakes can also be spotted. You will also find land iguanas, with a lenght of 1.20 meters (endemic to Baltra Island). Despite the tremendous surf pounding the outer shore, sea lions haul their slick bodies onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas. The vegetation is sparse and typical of arid zones.

Type of terrain: The island’s tour consists of two kilometers (1.24 miles) of a winding rocky and partially sandy footpath that stops halfway for those who are not up to walking all the way to the end to see the entire island.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration of the hike: 1.5 hours approximately.


Also known as Jervis Island in English, Rabida is one of the most diverse in terms of volcanic activity as it lies at the very heart of the archipelago’s volcanic origin.

It is an island comprised of lava that had poured out of scoria cones very rich in iron oxide and magnesium that is typical of the basaltic lava of the Galapagos, which when exposed and rusting, gives the island its reddish color.

Rabida in itself has an abundance of landscapes and marine life. The trail for visiting the site is somewhat short, requiring about 45 minutes of walking and we can also go around the soreline in a dinghy to spot fur seals, pelicans, blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies.

Highlights: In a reddish beach surrounded by cliffs and steep slopes of volcanic cinder cones, we will find a noisy colony of sea lions. Afterwards, from a short inland trail, we’ll find great places to observe land birds such as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds.

Type of terrain: Red sandy beach and semi-rocky trail.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1 hour hike plus 1 hour snorkeling.


Located on the high part of the island of San Cristobal, it is one of the centers for breeding giant Galapagos tortoises. In contrast to other centers, this one keeps a semi-natural environment where all the young tortoises hatch naturally. The project started in 2005 with the first hatchling called Genesis.

Just like other breeding centers, its purpose is to increase the percentage of survival of new hatchlings in the wild, keeping them in the center for the first years of their lives, when they are especially vulnerable to introduced predators. This is the only site where we can see giant tortoises of San Cristobal (Geochelone Chatmensis) in captivity.

The reserve is comprised of a 6-hectare area, surrounded by a wall of stone and cement, which ensures the captivity of the tortoises. The area chosen for the Galapagos center is the most suitable, because it is a zone of plant life and a microclimate that very much resembles their natural habitat located on another part of the same island.

Highlights: The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and La Galapaguera.

Type of terrain: Flat.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Duration of the hike: 1 hour approximately.


This is a place full of sun, beaches and water, where we can find the remains of barges that sank and had once been used by the United States when they had an airbase on the island of Baltra during World War II. That is why the beach is calles “Bachas” because the word “barges” in English was hard to pronounce for the local people, so in their attemp to use the same word used by the Americans, they came up with something similar but deformed, that is, “bachas”.

We shall walk for about 5 minutes toward the coastal ponds that can be found at both tips of the beach, because there is where we can usually find flamingos feeding.

Highlights: Behind the beach: two small flamingo ponds with iguanas, coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native and endemic vegetation, including red and black mangroves and saltbushes.

Type of terrain: Easy and relaxing coralline white sandy beaches.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Duration of the visit: 45 minutes approximately.


Located on the island of Santa Cruz, this site is home to a wide variety of endemic and native species. The place gives us the impression that we are on a river expedition, as there are very narrow and small channels of water between the mangrove trees, where we will enter to observe sea turtles feeding on the algae growing around the roots and on the leaves of the mangroves.

At the entry of the cove, we can see seabird species such as the blue-footed booby, the brown pelican, the white-headed tern, the oystercatcher and shorebirds such as the great blue heron and the whimbrel, which stands on rocks looking for fish or small crabs.

If we’re lucky at low tide we can see a wide variety of sea animals, such as white-tipped reef sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, Pacific green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, golden ray, eagle ray, manta ray, porgy fish and spiny loach. This place shelters many baby sea animals, as it is an ocean inlet that is surrounded by mangrove trees, which help to protect marine species.

Highlights: A dinghy ride exploring a complex system of small sea ponds, surrounded by black and red mangroves. In the peaceful shade of the mangroves you will discover how sea turtles break the surface of the still waters, while fish, rays, and small sharks cruise below. It is also a good way to enjoy views of blue-footed boobies, herons, and a colorful array of marine iguanas, sea lions and other wildlife.

Duration of the panga ride: 30 to 40 minutes.


There are about 200 people who work here, including scientists, educatros, research students, and volunteers. Almost 90% of the above-mentioned staff is Ecuadorian.

It works hand in hand with the Galapagos National Park, conducting studies, and on the basis of the results of these studies, the park can take the best decisions for the conservations of the islands.

Highlights: We will learn more about the Charles Darwin research Station and the gian tortoise breeding program and how to support conservation in the Galapagos. We shall also meet “Lonesome George“, the last survivor of the Pinta Island giant tortoise species, as well as other huge land tortoises, baby tortoises in their small pens, their incubators, and the land iguana breeding program, which is a new visitors’ site.

Type of terrain: Flat and easy.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration of the visit: 1.5 hours approximately.


To the northwest of Santa Cruz Island, there is Dragon Hill, where you will find various species of flora and fauna. Behind th beach, you shall enjoy the pond that is often home to flamingos. Along the trail, you can see a variety of reptiles, especially land iguanas, which look like dragons because of their claws and spiky crests. Young iguanas area easily preyed upon by predatory birds and snakes; otherwise they can live up to 60 years.

You will see extensive vegetation such as a forest of holy stick trees (burseras), whose appearance changes depending on the season. The forest is home to a variety of birds, such as mockingbirds, Darwin finches, yellow warblers and Galapagos doves.

Highlights: The trail that leads up to Dragon Hill offers a beautiful view of the bay. This area is a nesting site for a number of reintroduced land iguanas. There is also a beautiful view of the holy stick tree forest.

Type of terrain: The trail is comprised of rocky soil the first 300 meters of the walk and then it is made of eroded tuff, which makes it very easy to walk on at the end.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration of the hike: 1.5 to 2 hours approximately.


We will reach the Santa Cruz Highlands by bus. The area is located to the northwest of Port Ayora. Here we will find a natural reserve with the famous giant land tortoises.

We will observe these giant tortoises in their natural habitat. These enormous and slow reptiles are responsible for the island’s name. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years. They have few natural enemies; their principal threat has always been men.

We will enjoy the lava tubes or tunnels. These tunnels are the result of many eruptions in the islands, centuries ago.

Highlights: Opportunity to observe giant tortoises and a lava tunnel.

Type of terrain: Generally easy, though sometimes the trails can be muddy.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration of the hike: 2 hours approximately.


Egas Port was named in honor of George Egas, who explored the island in the 1930s and opened a salt mine at the foot hill of a sugarloaf volcano.

This place was actually visited in 1835 by the HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin, who describes a group of Spaniards salting tortoise meat with the salt extracted from the same site.

The first part of the trail is made of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half of the trail is partially uneven, comprised of volcanic basaltic rock along the shoreline of Port Egas.

Along the shoreline, you can also find various bird species such as pelicans, blue-footed boobies, lava herons, yellow-crowned night herons (also known as huaques), semipalmated plovers (chorlitejos), willets (playeros), yellow warblers (canarios Maria), finches, oystercatchers (ostreros), which usually live in pairs that can occupy large expanses of the shoreline as they are highly territorial in their customs. We can also see Sally light-foot crabs and large colonies of marine iguanas sunbathing on volcanic rock.

Highlights: Volcanic black beach and wonderful landscapes, fur seal grottos, sea lion colonies, herons, hawks, oystercatchers, finches, doves, hawks, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles. We will be able to see the vegetation from arid to humid climatic zones, but they have been seriously affected by intensive foraging by introduced goats, now eradicated. The surrounding area is a prime place for spotting and observing hunting herons, great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers, and the yellow-crowned night heron. Visitors will enjoy the sight of marine iguanas grazing upon algae beds at low tide, sharing space with red Sally light-foot crabs together with various wading birds. There is a colony of fur seals swimming in deep pools of cool water called “grottos”.

Type of terrain: Flat and easy.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours hike plus 45 minutes beach time.

Argentina Tips

 

Dear Argentina visitor,

On behalf of the staff of EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience exploring this exciting and diverse destination. Argentina’s cultural and culinary traditions, natural beauty and diversity, as well as its business opportunities attract a considerable amount of visitors each year. Buenos Aires, other large cities, as well as some rural destinations, have well-developed tourist facilities and services, including many four-and five-star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Entry / Exit Requirements

It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Argentine authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Argentina or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.

A valid and in good conditions passport is required to enter Argentina.

Even though U.S. and Canada citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days, there is a reciprocity fee that has to be paid on-line in advance through the Provincia Pagos Website; visitors from other countries please check with your nearest consulate.

More information for US Citizens is available through Travel.State.Gov, a service from the US Department of State.

More information for Canadian Citizens is available through Travel.gc.CA, a service from the Government of Canada.

Visitors who arrive in Argentina with expired or damaged passports may be refused entry and returned to their country of origin at their own expense.

Visitors from the U.S. and Canada wishing to enter Brazil or Paraguay from Argentina are required to obtain a visa in advance from the appropriate Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler’s place of residence. Visitors from other countries please check with your nearest consulate. Travelers transiting between Brazil or Paraguay and Argentina should always make sure to present their passports to Argentine immigration officials to have their entry and exit from Argentina recorded.


Safety and Security

Pedestrians and drivers should exercise caution, as drivers frequently ignore traffic laws and vehicles often travel at excessive speeds. The rate and toll of traffic accidents has been a topic of much local media attention.

Demonstrations are common in metropolitan Buenos Aires and occur in other major cities as well. Protesters on occasion block streets, highways, and major intersections, causing traffic jams and delaying travel. While demonstrations are usually nonviolent, some individuals break from larger groups and sometimes seek confrontation with the police and vandalize private property. Visitors should take common-sense precautions and avoid gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to protest. Information about the location of possible demonstrations is available from a variety of sources, including the local media.

Domestic flight schedules can be unreliable. Occasional work stoppages, over-scheduling of flights and other technical problems can result in flight delays, cancellations, or missed connections. Consult local media or the airline company for information about possible strikes or slow-downs before planning travel within Argentina.

Public transportation is generally reliable and safe. The preferred option for travel within Buenos Aires and other major cities is by radio taxi or “remise” (private car with driver). The best way to obtain safe taxis and remises is to call for one or go to an established stand, rather than hailing one on the street. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses can order remises or radio taxis, or provide phone numbers for such services, upon request. Passengers on buses, trains, and the subway should be alert for pickpockets and should be aware that these forms of transport are sometimes interrupted by strikes or work stoppages.

Argentina’s mountains, forests, deserts, and glaciers make it a popular destination for outdoor and adventure sports enthusiasts. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting visitors lost or injured in such remote areas can be difficult. Travelers visiting isolated and wilderness areas should learn about local hazards and weather conditions and always inform park or police authorities of their itineraries. Argentina boasts the highest peak outside of the Himalayas, Mount Aconcagua. Its guidebook billing as affordable and requiring no climbing skills attracts hundreds of visitors every year; however, inexperienced mountaineers should bear in mind that Aconcagua’s 22,840-foot altitude, bitter cold, and savage storms make it, in fact, one of the world’s most difficult climbs.


 Crime

In general, Argentina is a safe country. Nevertheless, street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires and Mendoza, is a problem for residents and visitors alike. As in any big city, visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, scam artists, and purse-snatchers on the street, in hotel lobbies, at bus and train stations, and in cruise ship ports. In certain areas, visitors should limit their visit to the designated tourist areas during daylight hours.

Your passport is a valuable document and should be guarded. Passports and other valuables should be locked in a hotel safe, and a photocopy of your passport should be carried for identification purposes.

The Argentine Federal Police have established a special Tourist Police Unit to receive complaints and investigate crimes against tourists. The unit, located at Corrientes 436 in Buenos Aires, responds to calls around the clock at 4346-5748 or toll-free 0800-999-5000 from anywhere in the country. In case of emergency, you also can dial 911 for police assistance.


Accessibility

While in Argentina, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States and Canada. It is important to note that a specific law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities; however, while the federal government has protective laws, many provinces have not adopted the laws and have no mechanisms to ensure enforcement.


Stay healthy

Visiting Argentina does not raise any major health worries. Certain vaccinations may be necessary for visitors, depending on where in Argentina you plan to visit. Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended for those visiting the Northern forests. Different climate conditions might take your body by surprise, so be aware of the weather before you arrive. A bout of travelers’ diarrhea is the most you are likely to have to worry about as your body adjusts to local microorganisms in the food. It is also best to ease yourself gently into the local diet: sudden quantities of red meat, red wine, strong coffee and sweet pastries can be very unsettling for a stomach used to gentler repasts. Although tap water in Argentina is safe to drink, if sometimes heavily chlorinated, you may prefer to err on the side of caution in rural areas in the north of the country.


Medical Insurance

Travel insurance is a great way to protect your travel investment. By choosing to offer travel insurance, your travel agent is providing you a financial safety net for most unforeseen travel inconveniences. Allianz Travel Insurance plans have been created to suit most any traveler’s coverage needs. For your peace of mind, we strongly suggest you to purchase travel insurance. For more information, please visit: Allianz Global Assistance or contact us for a personalized quote.


Clothing

Argentina possesses a varied climate, from the hot and humid northern part of the country to the much drier and colder southern end. Seasons are also opposite of what they are in the Northern Hemisphere. If you are visiting during the Argentine spring or fall, long sleeves and light jackets are a prudent choice. Consider bringing some cooler clothing as well. During the Argentine summer, most areas of the country are hot and humid, so cooler clothing is the norm. Anyone visiting the Andean region should bring along warm clothing and jackets for that leg of the trip, regardless of the time of year. Argentines tend to dress more formally than what you may be accustomed to; men tend to wear slacks or jeans rather than shorts, and women tend to wear skirts rather than pants or shorts. In general, the more rural or provincial the area is, the more conservative the dress will be.


Weather

Buenos Aires and the Pampas are temperate; cold in the winter, hot and humid in the summer.

The deserts of Cuyo, which can reach temperatures of 50°C, are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.

The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.

Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.

Do not forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.


Currency

The currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso. It is best to exchange money at your hotel or at any bank. We strongly recommend against exchanging your money with a street vendor. It is a good idea to have with you some small denomination bills (for tips and small shopping along the roads). US-Dollars are welcome almost everywhere; however, should you prefer to exchange your currency for Argentinean Pesos, we recommend you to avoid the kiosks and/or booths at the International Airport since they usually charge a lot for the service. Exchanging currency at the hotels or at any bank will be always safer and less expensive.

Keep in mind that most major credit cards are widely accepted.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Electricity

Argentine electricity is officially 220V, 50Hz. Adapters and transformers for North American equipment are readily available.


Food

Argentinean breakfast is somewhat light compared to what travelers from English-speaking countries are accustomed to. Typically, it consists of a hot drink (coffee, tea, milk) with some toasts, medialunas (croissants) or bread.

Lunch is a big meal in Argentina, typically taken in the early afternoon. Lunch is so big because dinner is not until late, between 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM or even later; dinner typically consists of appetizers, a main course, and desserts. Most restaurants do not serve food until then except for pastries or small ham-and-cheese toasted sandwiches (tostados), for afternoon tea between 6 and 8 PM. Tea is the one meal that is rarely skipped.

By the way, North Americans should beware that Argentineans use the term “entree” to refer to appetizers. This is common outside of North America but can surprise some Canadians and most Americans. Only in North America (outside of the province of Quebec) is the “entree” a “main dish”. In Argentina, the main dish is a “plato principal”.

Beef is a prominent component of the Argentine diet and Argentine beef is world-famous for good reason. Argentina and Uruguay are the top 2 countries in meat per capita consumption in the world. Definitely check out Argentine barbecue: asado, sometimes also called parrillada, because it is made on a parrilla, or grill. There is no way around it – food wise Argentina is virtually synonymous with beef.

Given that a large portion of Argentines are of Italian, Spanish and French descent, such fare is very widespread and of high quality; pizzerias and specialized restaurants are very common. Take note that a convention observed in Argentina is to treat the pasta and sauce as separate items; you will see the pastas for one price and then the sauces for an additional charge.


Smoking

Smoking is now prohibited in most Buenos Aires’ restaurants and all of Mendoza’s restaurants. In some cities, it is forbidden in all public buildings (cafes, shops, banks, bus stations, etc), so it is better to ask before smoking anywhere.


Greeting

Cheek kissing is very common in Argentina, especially in bigger cities, among and between women and men. People make contact with right cheeks, and make a light “kiss sound” but not touch the cheek with their lips (only once, two kisses -right and then left- is very rare). When two women, or opposite sexes first meet, it is not uncommon to kiss. Two men will first shake hands if they do not know each other, but will probably kiss when departing, especially if they have spoken for a while. Male friends cheek kiss every time when greeting, it is like a sign of trust. Trying to shake hands when offered a kiss will be considered odd, but never rude especially if you are an obvious foreigner. Remember when visiting another country its always interesting to try new customs.

All the aforementioned applies elsewhere in Latin America and in the Iberian Peninsula.


Conversation

Argentines are very engaging people who may ask very personal questions within minutes after first meeting someone. They will expect you to do the same. Failing to do so would signify lack of interest in the other person.


 Punctuality and Perception of Time

Argentineans generally take a relaxed attitude towards time. This can be unsettling to visitors from North America and non-Latin parts of Europe where punctuality is highly valued. You should expect that your Argentine contacts would be at least 10 to 15 minutes late for any appointment. This is considered normal in Argentina and does not signify any lack of respect for the relationship. Of course, this does not apply to business meetings.


Important Notice

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.