Ernie Millard, Cuenca, Ecuador
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Tourism is changing rapidly – travelers now seek a connection and want to genuinely experience the lifestyles of local people, their food, customs, and heritage. We wish to inspire & promote international understanding through education and cultural exchange between South America – Ecuador and the rest of the world. To help people rediscover life with purpose, integrity and compassion, benefit from our experiences, and acquire knowledge for living in harmony in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.
Ecuador is a world leader in community-based tourism with over 100 indigenous communities offering a wide variety of experiences. Community tourism values people, collective wellbeing, and harmony with nature over profit, and helps sustain many communities. Gathering and sharing knowledge and experiences between rural and small communities, as well as learning about sustainable development around the world, can help communities adapt to a changing economic environment where sustainable tourism offers new opportunities.
In the middle of the world, Ecuador is one of the most ecologically diverse countries of the world. Its natural charm is amplified by its welcoming, charismatic, diligent people. Those whose hands have harvested your bananas, roses, cocoa, coffee, and quinoa. Where love and passion is not a sin, and people’s laughter is commonplace in the face of adversity.
This truly unique country has only recently started to become an important destination for tourists from all over the world. Its beautiful beaches, ancestral cities, snow-covered volcanoes, the intrigue of the Amazon rain forest, and the mystery of the Galapagos Islands -a true natural laboratory – are the attractions.
Ecuador has two cities that have been declared world cultural heritage: Quito and Cuenca. They are both architectural jewels that preserve archaeological and colonial treasures. Also, the Galapagos Islands, with its marine reserve and the National Park Sangay have been declared Natural Heritage of the World.
As a world leader in community-based tourism there are over 100 indigenous communities offering a wide variety of experiences. Rural tourism is the cornerstone for preserving traditions, artistic styles and various processes to be passed on to future generations. This sustainable form of tourism provides a unique and highly experiential aspect, providing the visitor with tangible involvement in life’s daily activities, and a rewarding learning experience within a new culture. Prepare to be amazed as you see, hear, touch, and taste things you have probably never experienced. Gain a deeper connection with people and nature, developing awareness, empathy, and a new perspective. For hundreds of years indigenous peoples, Afro-Ecuadorians, peasants and montunos (mestizos) have been the stewards of the environment and ecosystems in rural Ecuador. Sustainable land management strategies have been handed down from generation to generation through a rich culture and tradition that emphasizes a strong conservation ethic. The community assumes collective responsibility for all aspects of your experience, including accommodations, internal travel, meals drawn from local agriculture, and cultural activities. Its economic benefits improve the local communities’ quality of life, health, and education, minimizing the migration to cities and preserving cultural identity. It also enables sustainable resource management.