Known for their dramatic sheer and double masts, phinisi sailing ships are the indigenous sailing craft of the Indonesian archipelago.
A brand new phinisi being built by one of Indonesia’s top hoteliers, AYANA Hotels, will set sail in July 2018. The 18-passenger luxury vessel is called AYANA Lako di’a, meaning “Safe Journey” in Balinese. Amenities include multi-course meals, professional spa treatments and activities from snorkeling to stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga and dolphin spotting.
The launching of the phinisi coincides with the September 2018 opening of the new 192-room AYANA Komodo Resort at Waecicu Beach on the island of Flores, a one-hour flight from Bali.
Said to be the world’s largest specially-built phinisi, AYANA Lako di’a will offer 2-, 3- and 5-night cruises round-trip from the AYANA Komodo Resort and sail among the scenic Komodo Islands. Highlights include diving opportunities and a visit to Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the famous Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards.
Phinisi ship-building is an ancient tradition originating in Sulawesi, Indonesia, by the Konjo people.
The Galapagos Islands – 965 kilometers (600 miles) from the coast of Ecuador – are best known for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection but now, they are embroiled in a plastic crisis. Tons of plastic are washing up on the archipelago’s shores and threatening the thousands of species that live there, many of which can be found nowhere else on the planet.
Sea lions have been spotted using plastic bottles as playthings. Hermit crabs are moving into bottle caps – not shells. Galapagos finches have been observed lining their nests with plastic fibers and Galapagos green turtles are gorging on plastic bags, mistaking their translucent sheen for jellyfish.
These depressing symbols of our throwaway culture were broadcast in an exclusive report by British television channel ITV. Journalists interviewed local experts and specialists studying marine plastics at the University of Exeter who aim to determine the total impact of plastic in the Galapagos – as well as a way to bring an end to this never-ending tide of plastic debris.
Before you plan your visit to Cuenca, Ecuador, a UNESCO World Heritage site, be warned that quite a few people who set out to “visit” Cuenca end up moving there.
According to US News and World Report, by 2015, 12,000 expats made Cuenca their home, the majority from the United States. They are drawn by the discovery that the people, the climate, cost of living, and decent health care make it an attractive place to live on a first world retirement income.
During our visit to Cuenca, we met one couple from Seattle who could no longer afford their retirement there, but were happily renting a 3 bedroom condo in a Cuenca high rise with all mod cons for $450.00 per month.
GETTING TO CUENCA
With an urban population of approximately 400,000 (2015), Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city. It is approximately 300 miles (473 kms) south of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city.
From the capital of Ecuador, Quito, it is an 8 to 10 hour bus ride through the Andes to Cuenca or an easy 40 minute plane ride.
Buying a home overseas is not only for the wealthy. In some cases, living abroad is cheaper than living in the United States.
The U.S. government doesn’t compile official data on how many Americans reside overseas but the State Department estimates 9 million live abroad (a number that does not include military personnel serving in the armed forces). It’s a good bet not all of them have seven-figure bank accounts.
If you are considering a move abroad, cost can be a key factor when it comes to where you reside. With the help of International Living, we’ve put together a list of 10 places around the globe where many Americans can afford to live comfortably. These are not the cheapest places to live but they are locations that offer good value.
International Living, which annually publishes a Global Retirement Index, doesn’t consider the average cost of housing across a nation when putting together its index. It would not accurately represent the cost of housing that Americans want.
Quito has attracted drama, excitement, extraordinary beauty and a tantalising touch of danger since the dawn of human history. The little city, high up on a plateau that stretches along the eastern flanks of the Pichincha volcano, in the valley of Ecuador’s Guayllabamba River, does not lend itself to rushing. The air is thin (it is the world’s highest constitutional capital) and even the Spanish is spoken slowly… and yet, many travelers hurry through Quito, in search of another prize.
When the UNESCO World Heritage Program declared its first two official sites in 1978 the honors went to the Galapagos Islands, and Quito. Most people could tell you why the Galapagos is designated UNESCO 1bis, but do you know why Quito is UNESCO 2?
Here are 6 of my favorite reasons:
It is a geographical bucket list
There are no less than four active stratovolcanoes within 50 km from the city. You can also visit the false equator (originally mapped by French cartographers) at Mitad del Mundo, 25 km north of Quito—or the real equator if you travel another 175 km.
This spring, Quito’s iconic mansion house hotel, Casa Gangotena, will launch a heritage and history package celebrating the 40th anniversary of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
This spring, Quito’s iconic mansion house hotel, Casa Gangotena, will launch a heritage and history package celebrating the 40th anniversary of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Granting guests special-access to some of the city’s most cherished monuments, the newly introduced day-long experience includes a heli-tour, an unrivalled walking tour of Quito Old Town and a taste of yesteryear through a newly introduced culinary experience at Casa Gangotena.
After a traditional Quiteño breakfast at Casa Gangotena, travellers will take to the skies for a 30-minute helicopter adventure. Soaring high above the Ecuadorian capital’s gothic churches and ornate squares, this special experience offers sightings of the Atacazo and Pichincha Volcanoes, the rural village of Lloa, and El Panecillo neighborhood from an entirely different perspective.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ve likely already gathered that I am head over heels in love with the Galápagos Islands.
These magical islands are unlike anywhere else on the planet, serving as a lovely reminder of how incredibly special and profoundly beautiful our planet really is.
A province of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are located about 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Created by a series of volcanic eruptions, this enchanting place is made up of 19 islands and countless islets.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to explore the mangroves of Black Turtle Cove, dive Tagus Cove, bird watch in Genovesa Island, and see other gorgeous sites of these Ecuadorian islands.
1. It’s The Most Biodiverse Place on Earth
A whopping 97% of the islands are considered a national park. The Galápagos National Park was established back in 1959 as Ecuador’s first national park.
Half of the land species (and 1/5 of the marine species) are endemic to the Galapagos.
For years my best friend and I would talk about taking a girls trip for our ten-year “friendiversary.” It would be an epic adventure, just the two of us exploring a new part of the world.
As the anniversary approached last June, we spent an obnoxious amount of time researching destinations, activities, and accommodations. We wanted somewhere different from our home – a place with unique landscapes and a different culture… a place that would challenge and excite us. After countless hours of investigation and discussion, we concluded that Ecuador was the place to fulfill our wanderlust, and here’s why:
1. It’s Relatively Close to the U.S. and Reasonably Priced
From the United States, you can get to Ecuador in just over 4 hours – not too bad for traveling to another continent! With its proximity to the US and being only one hour behind Eastern Standard Time, Ecuador is perfect for a quick getaway without the worry of layovers and jet lag.
Just under a year ago, I purchased my non-stop flight from Miami to Quito for $385.00 – cheaper than some national flights!
Mainland Ecuador is a place of mystery and wonder — whether you’re seeing it from the heart of Quito or the cloud forests of the Andes.
There was a moment, on my first day in Quito, when I lost the ability to breathe. At 9,350 feet above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital is the world’s highest — an improbable city where walking up a flight of stairs can put an ill-adapted pair of lungs in a vise grip. But I was higher even than that. After being driven through the blue-black of early morning to a grassy airfield on the outskirts of town, I was in the cockpit of a helicopter, rising to a hover just minutes after the sun had broken the horizon, so overwhelmed by my first glimpse of the landscape that I began involuntarily gasping as the pilot maneuvered into a 360-degree turn.
Expanding from the pastel sprawl of this city of 2.6 million was a primordial panorama that brought to mind computer simulations of the big bang.
California-based AdventureSmith Explorations is run by owner Todd Smith, who’s among the prestigious ranks of Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialists as a leading expert on small-ship expeditions. He also serves on the board of the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA).
Growing each year in popularity, the Galápagos Islands are a highly sought-after vacation destination. They’re also among the world’s most fragile ecosystems.
The appeal of this archipelago off Ecuador’s coast can be likened to the goose that laid the golden egg. Becoming too popular, Smith said, means risking uncontrolled growth for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“This could lead to eroding the very ecosystems that support the bird life, flora and fauna that people travel [there] to experience,” he warned.
Smith seeks to position his company and clients to be part of the solution, keeping the region’s best ecological interests in mind and not adding to the problem of overtourism.