Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Anne-Sophie but everyone calls me Sophie. I arrived in Ecuador 2 and a half years ago. I was offered to come to Quito in Ecuador and I accepted. I studied tourism and languages for I started then a master in tourism. In general, I lived and worked a lot of time in Spain. I was in a cruise business, first in the offices and then on the boats as a member of the crew. Then I decided to take the big step. I wanted to come live in South America and I found a job in Ecuador.
So you went from boats to 4×4?
Exactly! It is a superb experience that I live in Ecuador. It was not easy at first to find me here but now I feel at ease. I have managed to adapt to the country, the culture and the people who live there. It’s not difficult to adapt to the country. Ecuador is a beautiful country and very small. The climate is great because we have sunshine all year round. They say it’s spring all year long. It is true. We never get cold, we never get too hot. We always have great temperatures, that’s a good thing. We have 12 hours of light a day all year round. It’s a great country to live.
What do you propose as circuits in Ecuador
The concept autotour, “fly and drive” as they say, it’s quite new in Ecuador. It is true that it is not a concept of travel that is generally proposed for the destination. It’s a shame because in fact people do not know that this is a country very easy to visit because it is not too big. In addition, over the past decade, the government has done something great, arranged and built roads. There are now 10,000 km of new roads throughout the country. It’s fantastic. We have roads that allow us to move very easily by car. Too few people know it. We do not know what to expect when we come to Ecuador, we can barely locate it on a map. The country is safe, it is one of the safest country in Latin America. We have all the conditions with all the advantages to develop this kind of trip to Ecuador. It’s true that it’s something that’s pretty new. People are not aware of it yet. We have developed an ultra personalized service, where there is 24-hour French insurance and assistance. We give them road maps, the whole route is prepared and we accompany them to the car rental company. Their 4×4 road trip in Ecuador can then begin.
Can you tell me about the culture of the country?
Ecuador is part of the Andes, we have this same Quechua culture that we can also find in Peru and Bolivia. Here in Ecuador, people are quite different. Although the country is very small, it is divided into 4 regions: the Amazon, the Andes with the Avenue of volcanoes, the Pacific coast and the Galapagos region. It’s absolutely exceptional because there are 4 worlds with totally different landscapes and ecosystems and a changing culture too. The Quechua culture in the Amazon is not the same as the Quechua culture in the Andes where it is colder, people live more indoors. The culture of the Pacific coast is still different, people are more extroverted and warmer. It is possible to travel the country in 2 weeks and discover 4 different worlds. This is the advantage we have compared to other countries in South America. Few kilometers to go are enough to change world. The culture is very anchored. When you arrive in Ecuador, you know that you are there, it shows and it feels.
How is the local population with tourists?
We always have very good returns. We work a lot with the Quechua communities. We propose to our travelers to share experiences with locals and especially with those in the North of the country where they can dine and do activities with them. It is a very strong human experience to live during your tour in Ecuador. The local people are very welcoming, charming and very proud to share their culture and traditions. What is also great is that there is no mass tourism in Ecuador, that’s why travelers are welcomed. You will never see whole buses of tourists coming for a trip to Ecuador. We have a controlled tourism and extremely preserved. We will find a respected nature and enhancement.
What are the essentials of Ecuador?
For me, everything is beautiful! After, I have my favorites. I am in love with the Amazon, especially the region of Yasuni in the South Amazon. This is where I feel most out of place in the country because there is all nature and all the forest. You feel surrounded and invaded by nature. There is no civilization, there is nothing except the forest. You feel, you can hear the animals, you can see them much more easily. This is my big favorite.
What are the culinary specialties of Ecuador?
Corn! Corn in all its forms. There are several types of corn, yellow, white, purple and black. With that, you do whatever you want, tortillas, you can eat it raw. We have a very simple gastronomy. We eat very good soups based on avocado, quinoa, corn. Quinoa is very widespread in Ecuador. The kitchen remains simple but a new gastronomic wave arrives by bringing up to date the old Ecuadorian dishes. You can find restaurants that offer very nice recipes.
Do you have anecdotes to tell us?
We had an 83 year old rider who left alone. We accompanied him all along his circuit in Eqauteur. The gentleman was delighted by his stay and was delighted to be able to be followed in case of problem. We are 100% with our travelers and we guarantee their safety. I have also experienced incredible things like the feast of the Inti Raymi. It is the feast of the sun which is celebrated in June. The Quechua culture works with the seasons and they will celebrate the summer and winter solstices. I participated in this very nice celebration with a Quechua community. We danced traditional ancestral dances that have existed for many years. I also made a sacred bath with a shaman who purified me according to their customs. It was an exceptional moment. It’s a holiday that can be enjoyed during a trip to Ecuador. Tourists can participate.
A tip for riders who want to go for a 4×4 road trip in Ecuador?
I would say do not know too much about the country before coming and let yourself be dragged. A road trip is adventure and it’s open-minded. You have to take things as they come.
A word for the future Planet Riders ?
Come to see us in Ecuador. We welcome you! It is a country that deserves all the attention.