Trekking for Chocolate in Ecuador


Nine Day Cacao and Culture Tour of Ecuador Follows Path of Gourmet Channel Documentary ‘El Cacao’ Released in May 2011

Gourmet adventure along the ‘cacao route’ is reason enough for anyone with a sweet tooth and penchant for offbeat travel to book a trip by this name through Equatortrekking to explore chocolate production in Ecuador.

by JackJelly for iStockPhoto.com“This is a must for foodies who can sample chocolate, learn how it‚s used in indigenous dishes, scrutinize its harvest and the supply chain,” says Mateo Ponce, founder of Equatortrekking. “Our travelers are always pleasantly surprised by the quality of Ecuadorian chocolate. This response inspired us to combine Ecuador’s rich chocolate history with the country’s people, landscape and culture to create this distinctively flavored tour.”

 

The per person rate for Gourmet Adventure in the Cacao Route is $2,430 (exclusive of air into Ecuador) for the nearly all inclusive, nine day-eight night tour. 2011 departures are June 20, July 15 and 30, Aug. 15 and 30, and Sept. 15.

 

The program includes Guayaquil and a chocolate factory and ‘Little Paris’ or Vinces, Ecuador, the capital of the cacao world. This is where the history begins that made Ecuador the main exporter of cacao in the world in the beginning of the last century.

 

At Hacienda Cañas comes an introduction to the country‚s two most important crops, bananas and cocoa on 800, scientifically managed acres. The production of organic chocolate is showcased at Rio Muchacho Organic Farm near Bahia de Caráquez Ecocity in the province of Manabi. In this chemical free (since 1989) setting, guests learn how generations of grandmothers make chocolate by roasting, grinding and adding some spices in order to perfectly combine flavors and textures while cooking on a wood stove.

 

In 16th century Quito, the chocolate story spreads through the cultural fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous Incan arts. At Baños de Agua Santa in the heart of Ecuador, close to the rainforest and surrounded by mountains, is La Casa del Abuelo Art Hotel where Chef Rodrigo prepares a culinary workshop on Ecuadorian fusion cuisine and using cacao ingredients.

 

An inspiration for this itinerary was the Latin America release in May 2011 on the Gourmet Channel of the documentary, ‘El Cacao.’  After travelling around Mexico touring the Aztec cacao, chocolatier Jose Ramón Castillo and the Gourmet Channel went to Ecuador to document the finest cacao in the world, the cacao fino de aroma. Equatortrekking and The Gourmet Channel produced the documentary that stirs up culture with cacao.

 

As seen in the documentary, this tour showcases cacao from its origin on cacao plantations, the culture, labor, exportation and preparations of different brands of chocolates. Most of the gourmet chocolate produced in Ecuador is exported to Europe. Every brand of chocolate has its own character: fair trades, contributions to sustainable living, development of organic chocolate projects and more.

 

As a good chef and chocolatier, Jose Ramón visited some of his Ecuadorian colleagues to cook with them and check the latest Ecuadorian fusions using cacao and its derivates leading to exuberant dishes. The tour includes several restaurants in different regions of Ecuador tasting all the flavors that are enhanced through the use of cacao with typical dishes.

 

About Equatortrekking

Equatortrekking is a first-class adventure travel company based in Cumbaya, Ecuador. Each member of the team has traveled extensively throughout their native country. From the Galapagos Islands, to the towering Andes Mountains and through the Amazon Jungle they have intimately experienced it all, anxious to share their love and passion of Ecuador with their guests.  Under the guidance of highly experienced and respectful adventure leaders, tour participants will gain a unique insight into the native culture and history of Ecuador only truly known by those who live there.

 

 

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".