The guides in the Galapagos Islands are some of the luckiest in the world. There is nowhere else quite like it in the world, though if you are guiding here you really need to know your stuff! Today we focus on one of our guides in the Galapagos who has taken time out of her busy schedule to give you an insight into her world.
Name: Maria del Carmen Ramirez
Country you guide in: Ecuador
Area of the country you are a guide: The Galapagos Islands
- What inspired you to become a guide?
I started as a guide in the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador and then went to the Galapagos Islands. What inspired me was nature and people. I am a “people´s person”, like to show my country around and I am very proud of all the cultural and natural highlights that Ecuador offers.
- What do like most about being a guide?
What I like the most of being a guide is that I get to meet interesting people and travel around.
- When guiding, what is the one thing you always have with you and why?
When guiding, I always have binoculars, a field guide, map of Galapagos, a radio and first aid kit. Field guide and map of Galapagos are very important to show the people in the group where are they and what are they seeing. I think that every guide should carry binoculars for some birds are found far away and for safety is mandatory to have a radio and first aid kit.
- Which areas of your country really stand out as must-visit destinations?
All of it!! If we consider a must, all of Ecuador is worth it because is so different and unique. Galapagos is a real highlight and it is the most visited are in the country, but as well as beautiful and natural is the Amazonian rainforest. The national parks in the highlands have amazing wildlife and natural resources. The country´s history and traditions are shown in our architecture and culture which reveals an amazing diversity in local markets, handicraft and artisans.
- Are there any seasonal events that you would recommend being in your country for, maybe even something most tourists wouldn’t know about?
A very important one is the Inti Raimi Festival, or “festival of the Sun”. This festival has its roots in the ancient Inca culture that once ruled most of the Andes, including Ecuador. In the festival, native Ecuadorians dress up in traditional clothes and celebrate the sun and the fertility of the “Pachamama”, mother Earth. It takes place every year on the summer solstice, June 22. They celebrate it in different places around Ecuador, including in the “Mitad del Mundo” monument, a big tourist attraction.
Another important event is the “Semana Santa” or holy week festivities which are a group of celebrations taking place all over the country. Holy Week (happening the last week of March) is the one event that allows visitors to witness Quito’s significant expressions of faith, while admiring liturgical rituals and traditions, which shed light on the cultural complexities of a mixed heritage. During Holy Week, visitors can also taste the delectable blend of indigenous and Spanish cuisines in the popular “fanesca” dish, a unique soup that combines flavours from both the Andes and the coast, an elaborate and hearty treat that will make this week in Quito truly unforgettable.
You must go to the historical part of the city and join the celebrations. There will be music, costumes, parades, processions and sacred music concerts.
- What do you think is the most amazing animal in Latin America and why?
For me, it is the giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands. It represents longevity, serenity and adaptation. It has through a large process of survival from its very beginning in the old sailor’s time till now days had to cope with the threats of introduced species that harm their lives
- What tips do you have for families hoping to go to Latin America? – e.g. when to go, things to bring
My best advice is just to come! Come whenever you can and bring a good camera. In Ecuador, any time of year is great. With a privilege weather, outdoor activities can be practiced almost anytime. Some foreigners think Latin America is a dangerous place, and parts of some countries are, but most of Latin America is safe and fun and full of people who love tourists. From Mexico to Argentina, there are literally thousands of spectacular things to see and do. Don’t wait! There are family activities to be enjoyed such as: hiking, biking, canopy, tubbing, zip line, birdwatching, train trips, hot springs, national parks, just to name a few.