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Atacames: The ‘whitest’ beach in Ecuador

Atacames Ecuador

Atacames is rumored to have the ‘whitest’ sand in all of Ecuador, but I’d say it also has one of the widest, biggest beaches in Ecuador as well.

A party town with an Afro-caribbean flavor in Ecuador, this is where the folks from Quito come to party from June through September.

Things to do?

– Party along the boardwalk with the rowdy young locals.
– Work on your tan in the daytime.

Where to stay?

My value pick is the Le Castel right on the beach with a swimming pool on site. You’ll think you need to pay more for the room you’re put in with rates starting around $20 pr person varying on season.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Where to stay in Porto Viejo?

porto viejo

Not much to see or do in PortoViejo but it is a main connection hub between the north and south coast so chances are you may find yourself stuck there sooner or later.

My value pick is the Hotel New York on the cnr of Olmedo y Francisco de Moreira with simple, clean rooms and most importantly in this town, AC, rooms start at $20 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Gualaquiza, a neat, hidden outpost no one knows about

gualaquilza ecuador

Gualaquiza is a small town of around 15,000 people in the Southern Amazon region of Ecuador. The people are friendly and the backdrop is beautiful as the area is surrounded by lush rainforest.

What to do?

Visit the bike shop Ciclos on Orellana 4-35 and rent a bike and enjoy the excellent 3 hour bike ride to La FLorida.

Bath in one of the numerous rivers at one of the several sandy beaches.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel Internacional on Cuenca Ave. with simple, clean rooms starting around $10 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Pedernales: Ecuador’s version of Florianapolis, Brazil

pedernales-ecuador

Every time I come to this city I’m awed by the character and bravado of this small coastal city. The hilly streets leading down to the ocean are always full of something interesting to see, the locals are friendly, and the foreigners are scarce. The beach isn’t so nice but the food along the boardwalk is to die for. I’m sorry but this place reminds me of Florianapolis, Brazil.

Where to stay?

My value pick is Hotel Arenas, a few blocks from the beach with cable TV and well kept rooms starting around $10 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Ecuador government refunds foreigners the VAT tax

ecuador vat refund

It’s nice to be treated special just for being a foreigner in Ecuador.

In fact, for those that know about the program, foreigners don’t even have to pay the sales tax on items made in Ecuador.

It’s true, the Ecuador government is now refunding foreign “tourists” the sales tax they paid on items made-in-Ecuador and on hotel stays when the invoice amounts over $50.

The sales or VAT tax in Ecuador is 12% and that is the amount that is refunded.

All you have to do to receive your refund is save your receipts (facturas) and fill out the brief form you can pick up on a little stand just outside of the check in lines for international flights in Guayaquil and Quito.

Also, you’ll want to bring an envelope and a copy of your passport.

Then present your goods at the SRI-CAE counter in the check in luggage lounge in Quito or Guayaquil or if no one is attending deposit the envelope with your invoices, copy of passport and form in the mailbox located in the pre-boarding (departure) lounges in the international airports in Quito and Guayaquil.

The refund accreditation is carried out only through a credit card that must be under the name of the applicant.

There are no limits to the refunded amount, so if you’re not sure if an item you bought qualifies for the refund, just deposit the invoice anyway and see what happens.

Afterward, you can check the status of your refund using your passport number through the official Ecuador SRI website sri.gob.ec.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Macas, worth a visit?

Macas Ecuador

Macas is an interesting mix of old and new with new buildings jutting up from crumbling streets. Most choose to go to northern jungle towns like Tena, but for those who like off the beaten track destinations Macas wont disappoint.

-Kayak the Upano River with class III rapids through one of the local outfitters.

– Take a waterfall tour with Planeta Tours on Comin at Soasti.

– Visit a nearby Shuar community thourgh a guided tour only.

Where to stay?

My value pick is Hotel Level 5 on the corner of Sucre y Soasti, a big glass hotel thats clean and cheap with rooms starting at $10 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Esmeraldas, is it worth its bad rep?

When you say “Esmeraldas” most people think “dangerous”, maybe due to the proximity of Colombia, maybe some other racially-charged reason. But in my opinion, Esmeraldas doesn’t deserve the bad hype and is an excellent place to visit. The locals are VERY friendly to the few foreign outsiders that visit and the food is to die for. Unlike the rest of Ecuador, the beaches to the north and south are also of a Caribbean-type white sand quality.

What to do?

-GO drinking with the locals on the MALECON or boardwalk of the city, just don’t go alone.

– Be sure to try the local delicacy of ENCOCADO seafood dishes, seafood cooked with a spicy coconut sauce, good!

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel El Trebol on Canizares 1-18 a modern hotel with spacious rooms starting around $13 per person.

Esmeraldas Ecuador

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Puyo: What to do?

Puyo Ecuador

Puyo is one of those towns people go to to get a taste of the Amazon without really going neck deep in it. The backdrop is interesting with the Napo River on one side and towering volcanos in the distance while the Amazon flattens out on the other side.

What to do?

-Bike the 65 km downhill from Banos and descend from the Andes down to the Amazon. (Trip takes 6 hours)

– Visit the ethnobotanical park PARQUE OMAERE and get an up close look at a wide array of rainforest plants and animals.

– See dozens of unique Orchid species in the Jardin Botanico las Orquideas located 15 minutes south of Puyo.

– Bath like the locals do in one of the clear waters of the tributary streams feeding into the main Napo River.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel Las Palmas on the corner of 20 de julio y 4 de enero, a big yellow colonial house converted hotel complete with Parrots walking on the floor with rooms starting aroud $12 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Cojimies: Coconut Palm Forests Await You

cojimies

In Cojimies, you may feel like you are the only foreigner around, in fact, you probably will be. But The beach is pearly white and one of Ecuador’s widest, tours to the nearby Island of Love (Isla del Amor) can also be arranged and this is the only place in Ecuador I’ve seen forests of coconut palms swaying in the breeze.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Sueno de Teo, a collection of bamboo beach huts in the typical Ecuadorian style… fun, and the mosquito nets will pretect your skin. Prices start at around $9 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Galapagos Flight Special RT $176, the best I’ve ever seen

galapagos flight special

Until December 23 there is a flight special on Tame to the Galapagos roundtrip from Guayaquil for a total of $176 for anyone with an Ecuadorian Cedula… you can be a foreigner, you just need to be a legal resident of Ecuador with a cedula to qualify.

You must travel before the end of March 2013.

I’ve never seen a special this cheap to go to Galapagos!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Expat Lifestyle

Mompiche: A deserted surf paradise turned resort

mompiche

Few people outside surfers knew about Mompiche, a little, lush green cove with great waves (lefts) until Ecuador’s first all-inclusive luxury resort went in, De Cameron.

Its retained its low-key vibe but prices have risen since the resort finished in 2009.

Where to stay on a budget?

Id stay at my budget pick, the DMCA Surf Hostel with basic rooms with cold showers starting around $8 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Tena, an Explorers Paradise

tena ecuador

Tena reminds me of my time traveling Laos. An ideal tropical, jungle area full of fun, interesting travelers chatting it up over a cold beer after a days worth of heavy duty adventuring.

Many come to Tena to try the world-class white water rafting and kayaking. Class III and IV rapids abound, guides can be hired throughout the city.

Also try a hike through Parque Amazonico, a 27 hectare island with nice signs along a walking trail marking unique wildlife.

As well, in one of the many local outfitters you can arrange jungle and indigenous tours for as little as $25.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hotel Brisa del Rio on Orellana. Nice atmosphere with big rooms and on top of that you are right on the riverfront with rooms starting from $8 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Ayangue: The top place to scuba in Ecuador

hotel-ayangue-ecuador

Ayangue reminds me of the Galapagos, both above the water and below it. It’s a tiny cove with a small, sleepy town and a handful of dive operators. That’s it, but its nice.

What to do?

– Try the seafood at one of the many huts along the beach.

– Swim and snorkel in the table-top flat ocean in the cove.

– Hike the nearby oceanfront cliffs.

– Para-glide in nearby San Pedro.

– Visit the nearby Playa Rosada beach.

– Scuba dive! Its cheap and its good!

Where to stay?

My top pick for a Hotel in Ayangue is the Oasis Ayangue. Can’t beat it, Wifi, hot water and good thin crust pizza one block off the beach.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Coca, should you go?

Coca is one of those small towns that don’t really leave an impression on you, one way or the other. It has a nice river boardwalk and the locals are friendly to visitors, but most still pass right on by. It is the main jumping off point to the Yasuni National Park and other river excursions through the jungle.

Babaco

Babaco, a typical fruit of the Coca region.

Where to stay?

My pick is Hotel Oasis on Camilo de Torrano with basic, worn-out fan rooms starting around $10 per person. Be sure to check out the nice views of the river.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Muisne: An Authentic Ecuadorian tropical island

muisne ecuador

Muisne has a unique ‘backwater’ feel, a run-down town, a tropical island, an enormously wide beach, at times completely deserted. Muisne has a feeling all its own and is best for explorers wanting to get far off the beaten track. Take a Mangrove tour with Fundecol.org.

Where to stay?

My value pick whenever I’m in the area is Hostal Las Olas with a restaurant and rooms starting around $10 per person.

Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

What to do in Lago Agrio?

lago agrio

Lago Agrio is a sketchy border town most tourists dont venture. It is however the main jumping off point to the Cuyabeno Jungle Wildlife reserve, a unique flooded rainforest. Also, a visit to nearby Dureno can give you a taste of what primary rainforest is like.

Where to stay?

My pick is Hotel Selva Real on the corner of AV QUITO Y COLOMBIA with basic, clean rooms relatively mosquito free starting at $15 per person.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Papallacta – Pamper yourself in this Andean Spa Town

papallacta ecuador

A few hours from Quito on the road to the Amazon lies a steamy spa town famous with local vacationers, Papallacta.

What to do?

Bath in the Thermal Hot Springs in the Termas de Papallacta about 1.5 km before you reach town.

Where to stay?

My pick is the Hosteria La Pamapa de Papallacta. Basic, clean rooms with on-site hot springs to enjoy, Prices start from $20. 2320624.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Travel Guides

Furniture shopping like a local in Ecuador, what I paid?

It’s true.

One guy once asked me if he needed to bring towels to Ecuador.

Child please, could you be more ignorant?

Anyways I still think people are crazy whenever I hear of people paying ‘an arm and a leg’ to ship their furniture to Ecuador.

As one of my American friends here in Ecuador recently proclaimed he’s never seen anything like some of the beautiful furniture pieces that are coming out of Cuenca these days.

It’s true.

They’re nice.

Especially the woodwork here is amazing.

And if you don’t see something you like you can often find a local artist to make the piece you wish, often by just giving them a hand-written drawing on a napkin.

This week I furnished 3 of my new Tiki huts with ocean views near Montanita on the southern coast of Ecuador.

And here’s what I spent so you can learn how much furniture and other home appliances cost in Ecuador before you come.

Maybe there’s some things you can get much cheaper in your home country.

My first recommendation is if you live in a small town on the coast of Ecuador, buy everything you can in the nearest big city, Guayaquil, and have everything trucked in, prices are often much more favorable that way.

One good big box store found only in the biggest Ecuadorian cities with about any home appliance you’ll need, and where I did MOST of my shopping, is in MI COMISARIATO.

For wooden furniture on the coast try the markets in La Libertad or Atahaulpa.

In Quito, go to the budget furniture market called San Roque.

In Cuenca, ask around cause you have a lot of options.

Here goes… all prices are in USD and be sure to add to prices the standard 12% sales tax in Ecuador.

Glass juice jar = 3.20
Patio table and 4 chair set = 115.18
Toilet bowl cleaner brush = 4.26
Welcome floor mat = 7.12
Plastic juicer = 1.12
Plastic salad bowl = 2.26
Frying pan or skillet = 4.45
Dishwashing soap = .65
Pack of 10 garbage bags = .51
Wood cutting board = 4.98
Can opener = 3.56
Full utensil set for 4 ppl = 8.92
Steak knife = 2.40
Sponge for washing plates = .78
Bed sheet set for queen bed = 20.70
Bed spread = 43.04
Pillow = 4.87
Kitchen pot set with 4 pieces = 16.96
Mini refrigerator = 151.70
Pack of 4 toilet paper = .85
Broom = 2.19
Sink nossle = 19.54
Kitchen shelf = 116.00
Table Fan = 17.85
Mirror for bathroom = 16.06
Coffee maker and pot = 26.78
Electric stove cooker = 16.06
Blender = 16.06
Glasses for drinking = .44
Mosquito netting for bed = 15.45
Sliding door lock = 1.60
Shower curtain = 10.68
Sink = 8.03
Sink under tubes = 4.43
Bathroom mobil carpets = 7.13
Small towel = 6.07
hand towel = 1.43
bed lamp = 11.60
Wooden bed base = 50.00
Brand name ‘Chaide y Chaide’ queen size bed cushion = 120.00
Wooden chairs for kitchen counter = 20.00
Wooden handycrafted night stand table = 25.00
Wooden handycrafted kitchen cabinet = 135.00
Gas stove = 28.00
Gas tank for cooking = 50.00
Window curtains = 6.00

Here are a few pics of how the finished tiki huts near Montanita look furnished from the inside, if you’d like to rent one email me at dombuon AT gmail.com to let me know, $20 a night for one or two people, discounts available for longer stays.

montanita house for rent

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Ecuador Dual Citizenship: How to Apply?

get ecuador second passport

Some get one for the “show”.

Some get one to feel like Bond when the cute airport clerk asks for their passport…

…so their reply can be “which one?”

Some get a second passport and dual nationality for tax, business or other personal reasons.

At least if you are an American who likes to travel you should seriously consider it.

Fact is, a quickly growing amount of countries these days charge Americans a stiff fee for entry visas when other nationalities walk in free or for pennies on the dollar.

China, India, Brazil and Bolivia all fall under this category.

As I discovered last year traveling through the middle east, other surprisingly nice countries are sadly off limits to Americans.

Many in fact.

Thankfully, Ecuador still warmly receives Americans as they do Europeans or Canadians.

And it’s relatively EASY to get dual citizenship and thus a second passport from Ecuador.

After sitting down with an immigration official this week, in December of 2012, here’s what I learned about how you can apply for Ecuadorian dual citizenship…

The main requirement is you need to be a resident of Ecuador for a minimum of 3 years from the date in which you get your first “cedula (Ecuador ID card)” or 2 years if you have an Ecuadorian kid.

You then need to gather the following documents:

1. Birth certificate apostilled (if from a country from within the apostille treaty like the US) or legalized by an Ecuadorian consulate abroad and then translated.
2. Copy of passport notarized and the original with the current resident visa.
3. Copy of cedula notarized and original.
4. Certificate from both the SRI (the Ecuadorian IRS) and the BIESS (Social Security) stating you have no outstanding debts to either. (Certificacion de no ser deudor.)
5. Your Ecuador police record and immigration movement documents. (Movimiento migratorio y record policial)
6. 4 passport photos.

The cost is $700, $200 paid up front, then $500 after being approved.

And there are no language tests, dorky Ecuadorian history tests nor required military service or further obligations upon attaining Ecuadorian citizenship.

Ecuador income is taxed by the Ecuador government, foreign income is not, regardless of if you are a citizen or not.

Currently, unless Peruvian or Colombian all foreigners need to apply for citizenship out of the Quito immigration office on Av. Carrion and 10 de Agosto.

That’s it.

Now you’ve got your Ecuadorian passport and can waltz freely through South America, the Galapagos, the Middle East and Cuba without paying a cent of visa fees or hassles.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Investor News/Analysis

Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

Map of South Ecuador Coast: Montanita, Olon, Salinas

salinas montanita ecuador map

salinas to montanita ecuador map


HOUSE FOR RENT 5 MINUTES FROM MONTANITA

One price for WHOLE HOUSE… fit as many people as you like!

$30 per day, $180 per week, $380 per month.

Quaint house with beautiful 180 degree ocean view for rent 3 minute walk from beach and 25 minute walk to the center of Montanita.

FREE WIFI!

3 Bedroom (with 1 queen bed each), 2 bath, furnished kitchen, stove, mini-refrigerator, patio with hammocks overlooking the ocean, yard, garden.

Free WIFI INTERNET
3 Bed
2 Bath
Terraza with porch with ocean view
Garden
Furnished
Parking area
Kitchen
Pets OK
Guests allowed no extra fees, parties OK
$100 security deposit, can rent for days, weeks or months.
In secured, gated complex with 24 hr guard.

Call Dom at 0969251257, dombuon AT gmail.com to reserve now or write him below to reserve:

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Arrival Date, Length of stay and questions:

 

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

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