New small-yacht expedition company Kontiki Expeditions has announced its two launch itineraries aboard M/Y Kontiki Wayra. Experiences are scheduled in five provinces along Ecuador’s coast.
The nine-stateroom M/Y Kontiki Wayra (accommodating just 18 guests) will set sail this summer on two eight-day itineraries, “Toquilla” and “Spondylus.” Kontiki Expeditions will transport guests to untouristed areas in Ecuador to explore and celebrate the indigenous cultures within a context of wellness, while taking advantage of the country’s wealth of birds, animals, flora, fauna and indigenous foods and adhering to a “neo luxury philosophy” of sustainability and giving back to communities.
Kontiki’s 10 crew members and two local experts are committed to sustainability and conscious travel. These wellness professionals, naturalist guides and a local chef add to the Kontiki experience (think: gastronomic experiences featuring local chocolate, seafood and produce both onboard and on land).
Heritage Cocoa Trees (Toquilla itinerary only) – In Bahía de Caraquez, Kontiki visits the small community of San Miguel de Sarampión where some of the world’s finest chocolates are produced from heritage cocoa trees more than 120 years old. The native-born trees yield pure Arriba Nacional Fino de Aroma cacao, which is then aged in wood barrels in a process similar to wine, yielding some of the most expensive chocolate in the world. The visit here includes a tasting experience with cocoa and local organic products, prepared following countryside ancestral traditions and technique.
New Latitude Wines (Spondylus itinerary only) – Kontiki travelers will have an opportunity to try New Latitude wines, affording a comparison to Old World and New World wines. The result of experimentation with existing limestone soils and the distinct weather conditions in the Playas area, the wine is aged in French oak barrels and develops a unique flavor profile. The experience includes a wine pairing and tasting using local produce.
Meeting Local Communities of Artisans
Toquilla Straw Hats (Toquilla and Spondylus itineraries)
– Incorrectly known as Panama hats, Toquilla straw hats have been made in Pile for more than four centuries by artisan weavers using indigenous Toquilla straw. Kontiki visits the weavers responsible for making the finest and most expensive Toquilla straw hats in the world, the Montecristi SuperFinos. The Toquilla Straw Hat was designated in 2012 as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World.
Experiences Exploring Ecuador’s Nature and Biodiversity
Isla de la Plata (Toquilla and Spondylus itineraries) – Also known as “Small Galapagos,” Isla de la Plata is a hidden treasure 17 miles off the coast of Ecuador. On its almost seven square kilometers, the uninhabited island harbors blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, Galapagos frigates, sea turtles and other singular species. This stop features trails for exploring the island’s ecosystem above sea level, as well as snorkeling to view sea life below. Depending on the season, humpback whales frequent this area.
Buenaventura Reserve (Toquilla itinerary only)
– Located in the Southern region of the coast, The Buenaventura Reserve encompasses more than 1,500 hectares of cloud forest and four different microclimates. A guided trail walk in the protected subtropical reserve allows viewing of the habitat’s more than 320 species of birds, 255 species of butterflies and a diversity of marsupials, reptiles, amphibians and orchids.
Agua Blanca (Toquilla and Spondylus itineraries) – A stronghold against colonization, Agua Blanca is a small settlement that holds the remains of one of the most ancient civilizations in South America, the Manteño culture of the pre-Columbian period. Kontiki explores the traditions of the community and its preserved archeological artifacts, temples, cottages and plazas dating from 1500 BC. Activities include a swim in a natural sulfur lagoon, whose minerals and mud treatments are said to have medicinal and wellness attributes, plus a trail walk with local ceibo trees and possible viewing of howler monkeys, butterflies, hummingbirds and more flora and fauna.
Puyango Petrified Forest (Spondylus itinerary only) – Once covered by the ocean, Puyango Petrified Forest is home to an extensive collection of marine fossils and petrified wood tht provide a glimpse into the past ecology of the planet. A walk through the forest is a travel through time, exposing petrified Araucarios more than 100 million years old. Petrified fossils coexist with live vegetation and animals in a tropical forest with more than 130 species of birds along with deer, small leopards, squirrels, foxes, armadillos, amphibians and reptiles.