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Moon Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands (Moon Handbooks) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. Januar 2012

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Ben Westwood started dreaming of being a writer and musician at an early age. Growing up in England, he pursued both of his passions by studying music at Westminster University and doing a journalism work placement at national newspaper The Independent. He wrote his first travel journal during a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia.

After graduating from college, Ben decided to follow his passion for travel; with an English-language teaching qualification under his belt, he set off for Ecuador in 1998. In the year he spent there, he fell in love with the country—and one of its citizens. He returned to the UK newly married to study a postgraduate diploma at the country’s top journalism school, City University.

Ben worked for five years for The Daily Telegraph and as a travel journalist and online travel editor, writing articles on everything from encounters with Maoist guerrillas in Nepal to encounters with drunken Brits in Greece. After a brief stint working in adventure tourism, Ben moved to Ecuador with his wife and children in 2007 to combine his passions for teaching and travel writing. Since then, he has contributed to the The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget and continues to contribute to The Daily Telegraph.

Ben currently teaches journalism, travel writing, English language, and the history of popular music at the Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo, one of Ecuador’s best universities. He still finds time to sing and play the guitar, and has released one self-funded album, Keep Dreaming.

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Explore Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands with Ben Westwood

1. What is transportation like to the Galápagos and what’s the best way to explore the islands?

There are daily flights to the Galapagos from the Ecuadorian cities of Quito and Guayaquil. Exploring the islands can be done in three ways: on a cruise, on a land-based tour, or independently using daily ferries that shuttle between the three populated islands. You will definitely see more on a cruise because boats travel at night to maximize use of time. There are also many islands that are accessible to cruises, and this is the most environmentally friendly way to see the archipelago. However, for those prone to seasickness, you can see plenty on a land-based tour. While traveling independently requires flexibility, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself.

2. When is the best time to visit?

Ecuador is a year-round destination, but of course the best times to visit Ecuador are during the many boisterous celebrations on national holidays. The locals know how to party and need little excuse to let their hair down. New Year is famous for the effigies of the Año Viejo (Old Year) that are burnt to culminate festivities, and Carnival is famous for parades and water balloons (expect to get wet!). In the mountains, there are many unique indigenous celebrations include Inty Raymi to mark summer solstice and the raucous Mama Negra (Black Mother) festival in Latacunga. It is a sign of how proud Ecuadorians are of their country that there are no less than four separate days set aside to celebrate various aspects of the country’s independence – The Battle of Pichincha, Simon Bolivar’s birthday, the Independence of Ecuador and independence of Guayaquil, all celebrated with gusto.

3. What are the climates like for the four different geographical regions?

On the coast, the hottest season is between December and May. This also coincides with the rainy season when torrential downpours are quickly followed by strong sunshine. Between June and November it is cloudier, cooler and windier, which suits some people.

On the Galapagos, these seasons are broadly similar but rainfall is lower and tends to be on the higher ground of the larger islands. The sea is far warmer in the hot season, but can get very cold between July and October.

In the mountains, the climate is very different, varying between a comfortable spring-like climate and bone-chillingly wintry. It warms up towards the middle of the year with July and August the warmest, driest months. The wettest period is February to April but light rain falls year-round, usually in the afternoons and evening.

The jungle’s climate varies between wet and wetter: it’s not called the rainforest for nothing! The driest period is around December and the wettest June-July. There are no marked high and low seasons in the mountains and jungle.

4. What do you consider the best place to stay on a budget?

Ecuador is a cheap destination and budget travelers can get by on as little as $20 per day by staying in basic lodging, eating set meals and taking local buses. Prices tend to be higher in the cities of Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil and on the coast in high season. So the smaller Andean towns and the beach resorts out of season are the best bets for budget travelers.

5. What should travelers never forget to pack?

Pack for all climates: Ecuador is only about the size of Colorado but the variation in terrain is huge. If you want to make the most of it, you need good walking boots and winter clothes for the mountains, binoculars for fabulous bird-watching; for the jungle you need insect repellant and for the coast you need sunglasses and a hat. Wherever you are in Ecuador, the sun is very strong so bring plenty of high-factor sunscreen!

6. Where do you find the best beaches?

Ecuador has beaches to cover all tastes: if you want to party with surfers, head to Montañita; to party with locals, visit Atacames further north. If you want to escape the party-goers, stay in quieter fishing villages such as Mompiche, which has great surfing, or Machalilla National Park on the central coast, which is one of the few protected coastal regions with tropical dry forest leading directly onto pristine beaches. For the best of both worlds, Canoa is developing resort that is quite busy in high season and refreshingly quiet out of season.

7. What’s your favorite Ecuadorian cuisine and where do you find it?

Seafood, seafood and more seafood! I never forget the day I had lobster ceviche, followed by fried sea bass with rice and salad on a beach in Ayangue on the southern coast. The entire meal set me back a grand total of $1.50. The food on Ecuador’s coast is mouthwatering: delicious soups, served cold with lemon and coriander as ceviche, and hot with peanut and plantains as biche. White fish, shrimps, lobster, clams—you name it—can all be served grilled, steamed, breaded or fried with garlic. In particular, don’t miss encocado, a delicious sweet coconut sauce—a specialty of the northern coast.

8. How has volcanic activity shaped Ecuador’s landscape?

Volcanoes dominate two of Ecuador’s regions: the mountains and the Galapagos. The country has no less than 10 peaks over 5,000 meters and a further 12 over 4,000 meters. Towering Chimborazo is actually farther from the center of the Earth than Mount Everest due to the Ecuatorial ridge. The country has 30 active or dormant volcanoes, 10 of which have erupted in the past decade. Most active at present is Tungurahua, which stands just eight kilometers south of the little town of Baños, arguably the region’s most idyllic resort. Luckily, the crater is on the opposite side to town so Baños has escaped unscathed so far.

The Galapagos are volcanic islands and the inhospitable landscapes are what make them so unique. Mammals cannot survive in such parched surroundings so the archipelago developed into an ecological Eden with few natural predators and fearless species. A highlight of a Galapagos visit is still the dramatic hike into the Sulfur mines of Sierra Negra, the second largest crater in the world.

The volcanoes have had such a dominant effect on Ecuador’s history that local folklore has even assigned them personalities. Cotopaxi apparently had an affair with the young passionate female peak Tungurahua, but it wasn’t long before she pursued the taller Chimborazo. Their love-child Guagua Pichincha (Guagua means baby in Kichwa) went north to love with his grandfather Rucu Pichincha. Some locals believe that the eruptions of Guagua and Tungurahua in the past decade were the mother and child calling to each other. Let’s hope the family affairs quieten down soon!

9. Where’s the best place to go for bird watchers?

Ecuador has more than 1,676 types of birds, one-fifth of the total species in the world, which is remarkable for such as small country. The Galapagos are best for close-ups of boobies, frigates, albatrosses, finches, penguins, flamingos and flightless cormorants. Mindo in the cloud forest is incomparable for quetzals and hummingbirds, and the Amazon rainforest is the pick of the regions for sheer numbers: Toucans, parrots, parakeets, vultures, and woodpeckers are just a few of the highlights.

10. What’s the best national park to visit in the Amazon region?

The Amazon region contains Ecuador’s largest mainland national park, Yasuni, which spreads over 9,620 square kilometers of upland tropical forest, seasonally flooded forest, marshes, swamps, lakes and rivers. Untouched by the last Ice Age, this park is one...


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 26 Rezensionen
32 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Best I've used! 18. Mai 2012
Von Mike M. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This book works for me! I have traveled to Ecuador many times in the past 12 years, as it is an enchanting place I just can't seem to avoid. There is an incredible variety of environments (beach, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle, Galapagos Islands) in such a small country. There are also more things to do with more bang for your buck than in most other countries in Latin America.

Previously, I had used Lonely Planet guidebooks exclusively. I decided to give Moon a try after getting tired of Lonely Planet. Ecuador is a fast-changing country and Lonely Planet seemed to rely too much on their previous editions with poor attention to updating info. It is obvious that the author of this book has personally gone to these places and describes them from a first-person point of view. I found this guidebook was spot-on with its descriptions of places I'm already familiar with and extremely helpful for the places I am not.

I am the type to arrive at the bus station, buy a ticket to my next destination and plan my lodging and siteseeing on the way. I never book ahead. On my most recent trip, I visited several locations I had never been to before (Loja, Riobamba, and Puerto Lopez). The descriptions of the places I stayed (restaurants, activities, hotels) were extremely accurate in regards to appearance, quality, amenities and pricing. In addition, the book is very well-written and the stories, descriptions and info boxes make for a very entertaining read on a long Ecuadorian bus ride or short plane hop (that is when you're not glued to the window!).

Believe it or not, I have not yet been to the Galapagos (a bit pricey), but eventually plan on doing so. This is not a place where you'd want to plan your lodgings on the plane ride over there. Booking ahead is almost a must. I will definitely use Moon to help me plan out that trip. After reading that chapter, it is obvious that the author is very knowledgeable of the islands and all they have to offer.

In the past 12 years, I have used Insight Guides, Lonely Planet, and now Moon. Out of all 3, I'd put Insight at the lowest, Lonely Planet second, and Moon on top. It is, without a doubt, my new go-to guide and the first thing I'll throw in my carry-on for next year's trip!
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great Guidebook for Ecuador and the Galapagos! 14. Dezember 2012
Von Nevada City CA - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
We took this book on our recent trip to Ecuador where we visited Quito, the Oriente (amazon rain forest) and the Galapagos. We found it to be a great guidebook. I particularly enjoyed the long background sections describing Ecuador's geography, history and people. I think it is so important to gain an understanding of the countries you visit, not just check off a list of tourist sites.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Well worth it. 2. August 2012
Von Christopher Pimental - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I'm familiar with Ecuador, and upon going through this book it became immediately clear that Mr. Westwood put considerable effort and travel into his research. He provides a legitimate "been there" perspective and a modern, up-to-date log of the country. Sharp writing, accurate details, and bite-sized nuggets of interest add insight to perfect settings and relevant information. This is a well organized and credible guide book, worth the few bucks you'll pay and most importantly, a smart travel companion.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great, except for the maps 31. März 2012
Von Emma L - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Before I purchased this book, I did some research online to plan the big parts of the trip- which cities to visit, how long to stay in each place, etc. I found that most travel books include their "recommended itineraries" in the free sample, so you can easily compare and find the popular destinations. Frommers even has a great map with their top destinations marked on the map.

I wanted a guidebook to figure out hotels, food, and travel logistics, and to suggest "filler activities" - once we're in Quito, what should we do that we wouldn't have otherwise thought of?

I'm still planning for my trip, so I can't speak to the accuracy of this book yet.

First impressions:

The sections on food and hotels look great- food divided into types of food (French, Italian, Mexican, etc.) and then cost (rather than just cost, like Lonely Planet does) and marking favorites with their moon so you can easily find/ go to their favorites. It has good sections on "getting there and getting away" that chart travel cost/time. It seems like it will be helpful in planning my budget and logistics. The sections on things to see in each city look helpful- and each "zone" includes a list of 5-6 things that are the recommended highlights for that zone, which is nice.

BUT- the maps are horrible. I have relied on Lonely Planet maps to get around a few different countries, and I've gotten used to the grid system, where they tell you "hotel A" or "restaurant B" is found in C4, so you can easily find it. The Moon maps have nothing like that. You have to search through the entire map to find the hotel you've picked out. I found this incredibly frustrating.

The worst, however, is trying to find important things like the bus station in Quito. The book says there are 3 bus stations, Quitumbe, Carcellen, and Ofelia, and gives some general information about which part of the city they are in. But for the life of me, I cannot find them on the Quito map. I'll have to google it instead.

This is a deal killer for me- it doesn't matter if Moon tells me about the greatest hotel, greatest site, or greatest restaurant- if I cannot find it, I can't visit it.

I'll be purchasing the PDF of the Lonely Planet book, which should be available in early July (a month before the physical book is available, according to a LP rep I emailed) and I will rely on it for the maps.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Very good guide. I used it for my first trip ... 6. September 2014
Von Walid Zairi - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Very good guide. I used it for my first trip to Ecuador this past August 2014. The guide is very accurate, there are very good ideas of things to do. Prices of hotels went up by about 5-10 dollars since the instauration of new taxes in Ecuador.

I wish this book had color photos/illustrations. I also think that Ecuador is so much more than just the Galapagos. Most Ecuadorians (99%) have never been there because it's so expensive to get there. Ecuador has so much to offer than just the Galapagos. It should not be on the cover and should not be on this guide in my opinion as it can be easily placed on a separate guidebook.
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