Baleen Whales on Argentina and Uruguay Tours


Southern right whales start arriving at the Valdes Peninsula in July and stay until mid-December. Between 450 and 600 pairs arrive here in the in the coastal Chubut Province at the northern edge of Southern Patagonia to mate and give birth. The peak calving month is August. These whales are most likely to be found in the Nuevo and San Jose gulfs that bracket the peninsula where the shallow waters provide some protection from the orcas that prey on them in the region. Most of the whale watching here occurs on Doradillo Beach and the village of Puerto Piramides in the Nuevo Gulf.

The Panama, a Hat of Many Styles


Visitors who plan to purchase a Panama hat during their travel to Ecuador may wish to study the subject before their Ecuador tours begin. Hats vary by color, weave and craftsmanship as well as coming in a myriad of styles. Take the crown for instance which may be shallow or deep. It may dimple and narrow at the top as in the Stetson or be dissected back to front by a ridge in the colonial style. Starting in the 19th century, some of the most popular styles over generations, have been variations of the fedora.

Toothed Whales on Pacific Tours


Sperm whales follow the coastal currents, spending time in northern Chile around the port city of Arica where they are most apt to be seen between December and February. They also travel further south to the Norte Chico region in the wildlife-rich areas of the Islas Choros, Damas and Chanaral. Marine tours in northern Chile focus on dolphins rather than whales.

The World’s Most Fashionable Hat


People call it the world’s most perfectly crafted hat, one long appreciated by aristocrats, world leaders, stars of stage and screen, and performers of every ilk, from pop music stars to sumo wrestlers. The Ecuador Panama hat became the rage in Europe after visitors saw it at the 1855 Paris World’s Fair. In 1906, a photo of Teddy Roosevelt, appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world, as he inspected his country’s progress on the Panama Canal’s construction. Like everyone else, he was wearing a Panama hat.

Panama Hats on Ecuador Tours


If your Ecuador tours take you to the Pacific coast, around such villages as Valdivia, Cadaete, Manglar Alto, and Olon in Guayas Province, toquilla plantations are abundant. Inland from the provincial city of Manta is where the most famous of Ecuador’s panama hats are made. In Montecristi, the birthplace of the Panama hat, and many other towns, one may visit workshops to watch the hats being made. To the south, the town of Jipijapa is also well known for its longstanding Panama hat traditions, many originating in nearby villages, such as La Pila and Las Pampas.

Panama Hats: The Finale


Hunched over the straw that is laid out on a wooden stand, the craftsman starts at the crown. He or she weaves the fine strands, keeping the fibers moist, in an ever-widening circle to craft the body of the hat, leaving the remaining strands in a long fringe that resembles a hula skirt. The hat is now ready to move on. The hats are gathered up by collectors who take them to such towns and cities as Montecristi, Jipijapa and Santa Rosa in Manabi Province, to Guayaquil further south or into the Andes for the next stage of work that will prepare the hats for the finishers.

Returning the Vicunas to Ecuador


Ecuador’s vicuna protection program is a story of international cooperation among nations that signed the Convention for Vicuna Conservation. After the preservation efforts of Peru and Chile had succeeded in replenishing their countries’ vicuna populations, the two countries came to their neighbor’s aid, donating a starting stock of 1,600 vicunas to the government of Ecuador in 1988. With far fewer vicunas to spare, Bolivia donated animals to Ecuador in 1993, enabling the country to broaden its genetic stock.

The Alpaca


It is far more likely that visitors who travel to Peru in the Andean regions will see huacaya alpacas than suris. Of the two varieties of alpacas, the huacaya is far more common, comprising ninety to ninety-five percent of the world’s total alpaca population. The two breeds may be distinguished by their coats. Without crimp, the prized hair of the suri hangs straight down from its body and feels like mohair. The huacaya’s coat appears fluffy and fuller. Most suri alpacas are white and are sheared less often than huacayas.


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