I’ve traveled and sought out new places my entire adult life and like to think I’ve got the trip prep process down pretty good. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of a good guide book (just counted and we have 19 of them for places on four continents) to get the process started.
To help you plan your Ecuadorian adventure, we’ll be posting my reviews of the major Ecuador guidebooks found in our excellent local library system over the next few months.
Something a little different
We’ll start with Moon’s 2019 travel guide, “Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands” by Bethany Pitts. The author has a little different focus than most, concentrating on ethical and sustainable travel.
For those of you who have not read one of my reviews, I use a little acronym to keep track of common things I like to see in a travel book. That acronym is DICES:
So let’s see how “Moon Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands” dices up!
The book is filled with very detailed information on Ecuadorian locations, culture, and customs. The author includes a number of half page (or more) break out sections to call attention to specific areas of special interest. I especially like the ones about Ecuador’s different indigenous cultures, micro-tourism opportunities, and the unique paintings of Tigua.
The author also shares safety information and recommendations based on her own experiences as a solo female traveler. This was an excellent addition to what is typically found in guide books.
One surprising omission was any information about available phone apps such as Waze (maps), WhatsApp (messaging), or EasyTaxi (transportation). I certainly found each one to be very useful in many areas of Ecuador. This is especially true of WhatsApp, which, at times, seems like the only way to communicate with local Ecuadorian guides or businesses.
I really enjoyed Ms. Pitts’ concentration on community tourism opportunities in all regions of Ecuador. These businesses are an important (and sustainable) livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians and deserve the attention given here. This book is a major resource for those looking to use their tourism dollars to support local economies.
Most of our travel in Ecuador has been via car, either our personal one, a taxi, or a rented one, so we don’t have extensive experience with the local public transportation and regional bus systems. The author’s tips and perspective on both were great.
This edition was published in November 2019. While three years may not make a huge difference in the landscape of a nation, it can be a huge difference in the tour operator and hotel business. This has been especially true post-COVID, which had a massive negative impact in Ecuador.
I would recommend any traveler take full advantage of the excellent website and contact information provided by Ms. Pitt to confirm hours and prices. There are few things more disappointing in travel than arriving somewhere and finding a location out of business.
The book is written in a very easy to read style that draws the reader in and facilitates sharing Ms. Pitt’s experiences. Her interests and passions, especially in the areas of the environment, community tourism, and on being a solo female traveler, come thru loud and clear.
The variety of shamans that Ms. Pitts found in Ecuador was very interesting. I’ve always thought that this was primarily a tradition in the Ecuadorian Amazon, but it turns out many regions have unique healing traditions. I was especially intrigued by the story of how the Tsachilas of Santo Domingo came to use plant based dyes in their body art.
The inclusion of tourism information for the towns of Lago Agrio and Coca in the Oriente and Amazon basin section was unusual. I have always thought of both as daytime only transit locations best left to the security services and oil companies. While nothing she wrote changed my mind about that, kudos to the author for traveling to both to confirm they are both not the best place in Ecuador to spend a weekend.
So, what’s the result?
“Moon Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands” dices up like the vegetables for a ratatouille, big chunks of stuff that you may or may not find to your taste.
This guidebook will be useful to those wanting to research community tourism opportunities, travel by bus and learn about the environmental impact of tourism.