Manta, with a population of approximately 140,000, is Ecuador’s major port along the central coast. Colorful fishing villages, unspoiled beaches and unusual tropical dry forest make Manta an attractive tourist destination and the starting point for exciting day trips. Nearby, Montecristi was founded in the early 1600s with its colonial architecture. This small town is best known for its woven wickerwork, and as the birth place of the “Panama hat” which although historically produced in Ecuador, were first widely distributed from Panama.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Enjoy a relaxing yoga session on a resort’s private beach and then prepare several Ecuadorian dishes with fresh local ingredients in a hands-on cooking class.
After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a delightful drive, much of it along the beautiful coast until reaching Las Tanusas. This eco-friendly resort on a private, secluded beach provides a wonderful setting for your relaxing yoga class. The sounds of the gently lapping waves and tropical birds will enhance the experience, as you follow the instructor.
The resort promotes healthy, stress-free living through its natural setting, which is intended to elicit a sense of well-being and connection with the inner self. Inspired by ancestral cultures, the cuisine is also in harmony with the environment. Seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs are organically grown, and the seafood is harvested using ancient fishing techniques.
You will gather many of the ingredients for your upcoming cooking class in the resort’s vegetable garden. Then in the BocaValdivia restaurant, you will learn hands-on how to prepare several Ecuadorian dishes, whose roots go back more than 10,000 years.
The preparation will heighten your senses, as the ingredients will be aromatic, wonderfully textured and extraordinarily fresh and colorful. The resort is designed to become increasingly self-sufficient, which you will discover as the culinary team explains how the ingredients are grown and harvested.
Once the dishes are complete, you will then savor your concoctions in the dining room. Afterwards, you will return to the pier.
Relax on magnificent San Clemente Beach, a pristine stretch of sand where you are free to do whatever you please, from beach combing to simply lying in the sun.
Although San Clemente Beach is close to the equator, the temperatures here usually remain in the 70's and 80's because of the cooling Humboldt Current, which runs up the west coast of South America from Antarctica. During your time at this pristine beach, you might sunbathe, read, swim or do nothing more energetic than sip a cool drink.
While there isn't much natural shade on the beach itself, you will have access to the Palmazul Hotel, whose property is dotted with palm trees. On the beach, shaded lounge chairs are provided by the hotel, or if you prefer you may relax on the sand or next to the pool. Three complimentary soft-drinks will also be provided. After your time at San Clemente Beach, you'll transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes limited walking, mainly at the guests' discretion. There will be natural, sandy surfaces to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. A long-sleeved light cotton shirt and pants worn over swimwear; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; a towel from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Those who participate in any water activities do so at their own risk and responsibility.
This optional tour has to be pre-purchased and is not included in the regular tour program. If you have not already pre-booked this optional shore excursion you may contact Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Reservations at 1 (800) 285-1835 to verify the current status of this program. Limited space may be available and should be booked via reservations. You may also check with the Destination Services Desk upon embarkation to verify if this tour is still available. RSSC reserves the right to withdraw this program if minimum participation requirements are not met.
A 100% cancellation penalty applies to overland programs cancelled within 60 days of departure.
Quito in the language of the ancients means 'Where the sun shines straight down,' and in this city is found a surprisingly rich cultural legacy. The ornate facades and dazzling gilt altars of its churches, have earned it its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled between the two ranges of the Andes, with the snow capped peak of Cotopaxi to the south and Cayambe to the north, Quito has a geographic setting few cities can match. This, the capital of Ecuador, is just 16 miles south of the equator and at an altitude of 9,200 feet, basks in a spring-like climate all year, with warm days and cool nights.
Your tour starts with a transfer from the port to the airport to take a charter flight to Quito. On arrival you will drive to the older part of the city, stroll by the Independence Palace, flanked by the cathedral, the Presidential Palace and the Archbishop's Palace. Next, visit the monastery and church of San Francisco, one of the first great religious buildings of the new world. The church overlooks the grand cobbled main square of the city, from which run a myriad of narrow streets lined with grand colonial buildings, many with ornate balconies and wonderful carved wooden shutters. The tour in the old city will be on foot, walking for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Typical snacks will be offered at the art and craft shop located at San Francisco Plaza.
Lunch will be served at the El Crater restaurant, located at Pululahua crater, with spectacular views of the now extinct volcano and surrounding mountains. After lunch you will continue to the Equatorial Monument, which marks the exact middle of the world, latitude 0. The monument made of stone is grand in scale, straddling the equator and approached by a grand avenue. Here you are able to stand astride the equator, with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, where well laid out displays depict the different Indian groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial style town, complete with main square, church, post-office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will be given a certificate for having crossed the Equator.
Your tour ends at the airport to take your flight back to Manta. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the port to embark the ship.
Please note: This tour is limited, and non-refundable once requested. Guests participating on this tour are advised to dress in layers. Remember to bring a sweater, even if the day is warm and sunny. Rain protection is advised in the afternoon. This tour includes walking at an altitude of 9,200 feet, and involves climbing stairs. Wear good walking shoes, and bring sun protection (SPF 40 or greater is recommended) from the ship. Shorts will not be permitted on this tour.
Enjoy a fun-filled bus ride during this transfer via Chivas Bus to the sites and shops of picturesque Montecristi.
The brightly-painted Chivas Bus is the most important means of transportation used by the local populace. They crisscross the country,
offering reasonably-priced transportation between the towns along the coast and interior sections of Ecuador. Most will know a Chivas
because of the small ceramic models sold in craft stores that are typically depicted overflowing with produce, suitcases and the odd basket
of chickens tied to the top.
Today, a local band will ride atop one of the buses as you set off in a convoy for the short, 30-minute ride to fascinating Montecristi, home of the famous Panama hat. This beautiful little town is indeed the highlight of the tour, and still retains the atmosphere and faded elegance of its Spanish heritage. At Montecristo's central square, you will find many artisan stalls selling straw baskets, jewelry, colorful handicrafts and Panama hats.
Please note: The Chivas is a local form of transportation, and though great fun, has a high step to enter, wooden seats, no public address system, and is not air-conditioned. This tour is basically a transfer to Montecristi. Once in town, you will have time to venture about and explore on your own.
Immerse yourself in the Ecuadorian culture at an afternoon tea and traditional dance performance at the lovely Montecristi Golf Club.
Depart from the pier for a brief drive through downtown Manta to the Montecristi Golf Club.
While the canapés and sweets will vary depending on which ingredients are freshest, you might expect smoked salmon finger sandwiches, mango-filled pastries and banana tartlets. Take your time savoring the flavors, which are representative of Ecuadorian cuisine, and enjoying the luxurious surroundings in the Golf Club.
Following the tea, an Ecuadorian dance troupe will perform a variety of modern and traditional dances that reflect the multicultural character of the country. You'll notice the influence of African rhythms and Andean beats as the performers gracefully dance across the stage in brightly colored costumes.
It's a captivating experience, so much so that you may be encouraged to try these ethnic Ecuadorian dances yourself. Feel free to step out on the stage after the show, as the dancers will be happy to teach you some of the steps. Afterwards, you'll drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes limited walking. Casual dress is recommened. This tour is available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns. Wheelchair access is only available at the hotel. Light cotton clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Coastal Ecuador is largely covered in dry forest, which makes the lush green Pacoche Forest all the more unique and ecologically complex. Forests such as Pacoche once covered vast areas of the coastal region and were home to an enormous wealth and diversity of species. Now they have been reduced to a dispersed chain of forest remnants under constant threat and facing an uncertain future.
We depart the quayside and travel via the coastal route to the Pacoche trailhead. Along the way, we take note of the predominant dry forest and the stark contrast between the dry and wet forest areas delineated by what looks like an invisible boundary, the change is so radical.
The Pacoche Lodge, located next to the Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, offers a private glimpse into this fascinating ecosystem. During our guided hike through the forest around the lodge, we’ll keep our eyes out for howler monkeys and dozens of bird species.
We will also see a “trapiche”, the machine used to extract juice from sugar cane, enjoy a quick demonstration of Panama Hat weaving techniques and see how the Ivory nut is used to produce a number of different eco-friendly end products – from traditional handcrafts, jewelery to shirt buttons.
After this visit we return to the ship
Please note: As this excursion involves walking on trails with steep terrain and a significant number of stairs, it is recommended only for guests who are physically fit and without heart, hip, back or knee problems. Trails within Pacoche can be quite steep, and during the rainy season they can become muddy and slippery. Appropriate footwear is required. It is recommended that guests wear lightweight clothes, including a long-sleeved shirt, along.
Your tour today begins with a drive along Manta’s “malecón” or promenade. Our guide enlightens us on the history of this area, which was home to pre-Columbian peoples such as the Valdivia culture, whose fragments of pottery are the oldest found anywhere in South America.
The archaeological site of Cerro Jaboncillo is unique because it allows observation of a distinct and complex society that was established in the area between 900 and 1500 AD. This developed society controlled large areas of Guayas and Manabi provinces in Ecuador. The Cancebí-Manteños acquired highly developed levels in their society practices and with their control of the sea extended their culture to the California Gulf, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
Visiting this place is an experience that mixes culture, tourism and nature. Located on the eastern slope of Cerro Jaboncillo, the area around the archaeological site features a variety of plants and animals that survive in a unique ecosystem that depends on water cycles, especially in the summer fog.
Please note: Physical activity (more than 70 steps). We recommend comfortable hiking shoes, light clothing, rain coat or umbrella in case of rain (the rainy season in Manta goes from December to May).Observation of fauna is not guaranteed. Insect repellent and sun screen strongly suggested. Please have a hearty breakfast, as this tour does not include lunch. Light snacks will be provided towards the end of the tour. There will be option of purchasing some local snacks.
We depart the pier and drive north to Bahía de Caráquez, where we board launches that will take us around Isla Corazón (Heart Island).
This heart-shaped island (hence its name – “corazón”, meaning heart in Spanish) is located a few kilometers upstream in the Río Chone estuary and is a must-see for birdwatchers. There is an estimated number of 60 bird species on the island including native, migratory and congregational species during different periods of the year. Isla Corazón is part of an eco-tourism project, in which local fishermen have nurtured the mangroves and expanded their habitat on the island. This has been done to prevent further eradication of the mangrove swamps by the industry of shrimp farming. This private initiative, which was started by the local fishermen, is now a protected area by the government. The Frigate bird colony has moved to a smallest islet called "Isla Fragatas" and it is only possible to be seen from the boat.
We return to the mainland to enjoy lunch at a local hotel.
With the pounding waves of the Pacific on one side, and the tranquil Río Chone River with its estuary on two other sides, Bahía has long lured visitors eager to be near the water. In 1998 this changed when the city was devastated by two natural disasters. Landslides caused by the intense El Niño storms of that year damaged -many homes. Shortly thereafter, a major earthquake struck, damaging more of the city's homes and businesses. More than simply rebuild, however, the community decided to reinvent itself, and in 1998 Bahía was proclaimed one of the world's first eco-cities. With a focus on sustainable development and tourism, recycling and reforestation, the city has won plaudits from around the world.
Please note: This tour is not recommended for guests who utilize a wheelchair. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of ability and stamina. It is recommended to wear comfortable hiking shoes, rain coat, light cotton clothing (long sleeves and long trousers preferably), insect repellant and sunscreen. No actual visit on the island will be done, but only a boat ride around Isla Corazon as the walk pathway inside the island has been destroyed by an earthquake. Isla Fragatas will be seen from the distance.
Explore the delightful sites, culture and people of Manta during this visit to picturesque Montecristi.
Depart the pier for an introductory tour of Manta. Begin with a 30-minute visit to the Archaeological Museum of Banco Central, which highlights the local culture and ethnic origins of the area. Next, you'll drive along the scenic seaside promenade and through the suburbs to Montecristi's central square where you will find many artisan stalls selling straw baskets, jewelry, colorful handicrafts and Panama hats.
We proceed to a Cabuya plant weaving factory. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience as this traditional art is, unfortunately, quickly dying out. In the past, a vibrant industry existed where approximately 4,000 Cabuya plant bags were produced per day in the Manta area. Today there remains only this last remaining factory, producing 200 bags per week.
After a short demonstration of the process, we are presented with our small natural bag – a unique reminder of beautiful Ecuador, and a perfect eco-friendly bag for carrying our items of our choice.
Before returning to the ship, you'll visit a Tagua factory. Tagua phytephas equatorialis is the nut of a 15-18 foot tall palm tree found in the tropical rain forests on the coast and Amazon lowlands of Ecuador. Tagua nuts were originally used as buttons because they have a color and consistency very similar to ivory, and could be dyed. Although button manufacturing is still the main source of income for the factory, this unusual natural material is now fashioned by skilled craftsmen into a variety of small, reasonably-priced sculptures that provide a distinctive and unusual souvenir of your day.