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Archive for October 2015

Tips for Buying a Condo in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 29, 2015

Even if Ecuador’s real estate prices have slightly increased due to the country’s growing economy in recent years, buyers can still find a great selection of affordable condominiums in many of its cities.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a condo in Ecuador and don’t exactly know where to start, here are a few great tips:

Get to know the area first

Condo for sale in Palermo Building in Cuenca, Ecuador

Condo for sale in Palermo Building, in Cuenca, Ecuador

Before you even think about floor plans, features, or what sort of amenities you’d like to have, you need to find out what type of area you’d like to live in.

One of the best characteristics of Ecuador is its very diverse landscape. You need to do a bit of research about its many different areas. Do you prefer living in a big city like Cuenca, or somewhere located a short trip away from the beaches of the South Pacific Coast?

Hire a real estate professional

Once you’ve identified the perfect area, you need someone who can help you find and purchase the ideal condo. Hiring a reliable real estate professional lessens your chances of encountering potential pitfalls that usually come with purchasing overseas property.

We at LIVETHELIFE can assist you in your search for the perfect condo in Ecuador.

Know the difference

Your idea of a condo might turn out to be very different from what you actually find in Ecuador. For example, most Ecuadorian condos have drawers, shelves, and cabinets instead of closets – which is fine, but it could be a problem if you own a lot of dresses or coats.

Organize paying arrangements in advance

After finding a condo that meets all your requirements, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Get in touch with your bank in order to find out whether they can provide arrangements in advance for making international wire transfers from overseas.

Birdwatching in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 26, 2015

Cuenca Ecuador Real Estate, Ecuador Rentals, Vacation Homes, Beachfront Properties


Birdwatching in Yunguilla Valley

Yunguilla Reserve (some 2 hours from Cuenca), is home to the highly endangered pale-headed brush-finch. Almost extinct, it slowly but steadily pulled back from the brink thanks to more than 100 breeding pairs living under intensive management at the reserve.

Guarded proof of their recovery counts their increasing numbers and appearances among the reserve’s orchards. Other birds found in the reserve include the blackish tapaculo, rufous-crowned tody-tyrant, black-and-white tanager, slaty-backed nightingale-thrush, Ecuadorian thrush, and more.

Birdwatching in Isla del Amor

Isla del Amor is one of the best destinations for birdwatching in Ecuador. A dollar tour-boat ride from Cojimies, visitors can wade through the island’s mangrove swamps on a canoe and watch quietly as the Island of Love present its abundant collection of rare and beautiful birds for your viewing pleasure.

Birdwatching in Ecuador’s oldest forest

Puyango, some 70 miles south of Machala, is South America’s oldest forest and home to over 130 bird species and the famed Puyango Petrified Forest – huge tree trunks of the Araucarias family fossilized some 80 million years ago.

Birdwatching in high altitudes

Cuenca Ecuador Real Estate, Ecuador Rentals, Vacation Homes, Beachfront PropertiesThe Yanacocha Reserve is the place to head to if you’re up for high-altitude birdwatching. The reserve lies along Mt. Pichincha’s western slope, and composed mostly of elfin Polylepsis forest. Many birdwatchers love this reserve because of its mostly flat and open terrain that stretches to over 2 miles of sheer bird-watching pleasure. Some of the largest and most beautiful species of hummingbirds in Ecuador are found in Yanacocha Reserve, like the great sapphire-wing, the sword-billed hummingbird, and the endangered black-breasted puffleg.

Birdwatching along the coast

Seeking out fantastic birdwatching spots along Ecuador’s Pacific shores? Then, look no further than Tinalandia, the Chindul coastal range, the Tito Santos Dry Forest Biological Reserve, Cerro Blanco, Hacienda Don Juan, Machalilla, and Rio Ayampe. Indeed, a treasure trove of rare and beautiful bird species awaits you along Ecuador’s 2,237-kilometer coastline. To visit them all, choose the 7-day tour that takes you on a truly unforgettable birdwatching adventure this side of Darwin’s Galapagos.

Ecuador’s food biodiversity

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 21, 2015

Because of its tropical location, the soar and spread of the Andes, rich volcanic soil and proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Amazon basin, Ecuador boasts one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on earth.

Ecuador is home to over 25,000 species of plants, 1,600 of birds, 800 of fish, and over 300 species of mammals.


High biodiversity go hand-in-hand with high agricultural productivity.

Soil exhaustion and ecological collapse caused many a downfall in Ecuador’s history, even before the Iberian conquest. But the lessons of the past are not lost to present-day Ecuador, so it comes as no surprise that the country has a thriving agricultural sector avoiding the fate of empires past.

Volcanic eruptions post-Spanish colonization have restored Ecuador’s fertile, mineral-rich soil and farmlands are again ideal for growing a wide variety of cash crops, such as:

  • Banana
  • Plantain
  • Sugar cane
  • Maize
  • African palm
  • Soy bean
  • Maracuya
  • Mango

IMG_8919Bananas are Ecuador’s main export, produced in the central and coastal regions, while African palm is grown in the more humid areas.

Large farmers grow maize and soybean, small-scale ones cultivate coffee, cacao, sugar cane, plantain, rice, papaya, pineapple and more.

Andean highlands

The Andes is hospitable to a wide variety of cash crops, including:

  • Soft-type maize
  • Potato
  • Faba bean
  • Bush bean
  • Barley
  • Tuber
  • Pea
  • Quinoa
  • Tomato
  • Naranjilla
  • Chocho

In the Andes, subsistence farming of specialty or horticultural crops is practiced for family consumption only or for limited barter, while broccoli, avocado, and blackberry are produced for the local market.

The Amazon region

The Amazon region, like the Nile valley of Egypt, is prime area for export crops like:

  • Plantain
  • Coffee
  • Sugar cane
  • Rice
  • African palm
  • Cocoa
  • Maize

Around the Amazon basin, farmers grow niche crops such as tea, citrus, and cassava.

With such a huge swathe of fertile, arable land of such diverse climatic temperaments, it’s no wonder organic farming is very popular in Ecuador.

LIVE THE LIFE offers farm fresh delivery for residents. For more info, visit this page.

Dangerous chemicals in our crops

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | 

Earlier this year, a herbicide called glyphosate was declared “probable human carcinogen” by the United Nation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the broad-spectrum systemic herbicide Roundup, the most popular lawn and garden weed killer in the United States.

Glyphosate is also used in corn, soy, and cotton farms throughout the country.

Around 5 million acres of California farms that grow onions, sweet corn, grapes, citrus, almonds, and other consumer crops have also been infused with glyphosate in the quest to rid agriculture of weed.


A recent study by the same UN agency found glyphosate in the blood and urine of farm workers. The agency suggests an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chromosomal damage,, and tumor growth after exposure to the chemical.

Though no solid link between glyphosate and cancer has yet been established, many experts believe that prolonged exposure even to low levels -significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer.

Other potentially dangerous substances like pesticide and bt-toxins are also known to be present in with many of the crops grown throughout the US.

Organic farming in Ecuador

The same can’t be said of Ecuador, which is blessed with some of the richest volcanic soil in the world.

Its natural fertility makes it ideal for growing everything, including plants that nurture the insects that attack pests.

Combined with plentiful sun, pleasant climate and abundant fresh water, crops are grown naturally throughout Ecuador without harmful chemicals.

Among the many kinds of crops grown naturally and in abundance in Ecuador are peppers, coffee, cacao, corn, lime, papaya, watermelons, and potatoes.

No wonder the popularity of organic farming is currently at an all-time high, with many farms opening their doors (or fences) to volunteers from all over the world eager to learn Ecuador’s lessons.

When we turn our backs to glyphosate, we not only gain wealth in savings, but distance from ill health and cancer as well.

LIVETHELIFE offers farm fresh delivery for residents. For more info, visit this page.

Live the life in this beautiful 1.1 hectare property

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 19, 2015

Surrounded by majestic mountain vistas, gently sloping hills, and refreshing wide open space to dream a future in or settle a well-lived life down, properties like this unique 1.1 hectare come few and far between, so heads up.

What’s on offer? A home with a clear and unhindered proximity with nature, familiar creature comforts and personal accessibility in your own terms and at your own pace.

The home is located in the beautiful Yunguilla Valley, and is currently offered for $330,000.

A nature lover’s dream

What’s the property feel like?

Picture waking up to a freshly brewed cup of coffee while you enjoy a breathtaking view of the Falls of Giron.

Savor the clean, crisp mountain air while you hike through the mountains in the afternoon, returning in time for a sunset barbecue.


Dream of running your own bar, café, or restaurant in an exotic country?

This can easily be the waking reality of your own dining establishment, complete with outdoor grill and patio.

Because of its fantastic location, this property could also be the tourist stop you’ve been envisioning travelers of all stripe would drop in on their way to their defining destinations. Imagine the space being occupied by an equipment shop, an inn, a bed & breakfast, or a fishing or hiking outpost.

Yunguilla Valley attractions

A wide array of attractions and spots await the visitor to Yunguilla Valley:

  • A scenic drive through the ranchlands of Tarqui Valley offers a picturesque landscape filled with panoramic mountain ranges, lush rolling hills, dense woodlands, and gorgeous meadows.
  • A leisurely 45-minute hike through lush vegetation leads to a stone’s-throw sight of the awe-inspiring El Chorro de Giron, one of Ecuador’s most beautiful waterfalls.
  • A view of the symbolic Portete monument, acquaints you to Ecuador’s victory over Peru in the Battle of Tarqui.

See yourself running the place yet?

Complete the picture of you in your dream house in a pristine Ecuadorian valley by getting in touch with us today. Please call or email today.

Climbing Cotopaxi and Chimborazo

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 14, 2015

While it literally translates to “equator,” Ecuador is not all steamy rainforest jungles and sunny tropical shores. Ecuador also boasts of snowcapped mountain ranges, ice-coned volcanoes, lush, fertile valleys, and enchanting forest trails. Ecuador is definitely the outdoor enthusiast’s paradise destination for all seasons.

Ecuador is home to two volcanoes perfect for hiking and climbing: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. These two continue to attract adventurers from all over the world, hungry to scale their heights.

Up for the adventure of your life? Here’s what you need to know first:

Cotopaxi: Snow capped in the equator

Climbing the Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

Climbing the Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. Snow-capped and radially symmetrical, this stratovolcano is arguably the most popular hiking destination in the country. Climbs are scheduled, but the best months are June to July and December to January.

Scaling Cotopaxi is a bit technical, but not difficult. Don’t leave base without the checklist-complete climbing gear – crampons, ice axes, and crevasse rescue gear.

The volcano’s summit, consisting of two concentric craters, averages 675 meters in diameter at the outer rim – also the volcano’s highest point. Once over that high fence, trek leisurely down the inner crater rim, which is decorated with ice cornices and carpeted with thick snow it’s hard to believe you’re still on the equator.

Chimborazo: Ecuador’s highest point

Chimborazo is the highest point in Ecuador, and among the tallest mountains in the world. Climbing is possible all year round, but the best months are June-July and December to early January. You are well advised to set out before midnight, as warming temperatures after sunrise are known to cause rock falls.

Routes to the summit of Chimborazo include the most common one -a Class-4 climb that threads its southwest flank and requires route-finding and crevasse-crossing skills.

The more adventurous take the east route, also known as the Sun Ridge Route or Arista del Sol. A bit more challenging and technical, Sun Ridge involves mixed rock-and-ice climbing, something the amateur enthusiast can look forward to next visit.

Dirt Bike Riding in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 9, 2015

An adventure for thrill-seekers awaits in the small town of Santa Isabel in the Azuay Province. It’s time to don your protective gear and get your daredevil on as we explore dirt bike riding in Santa Isabel and the rest of Ecuador.

Dirt bike riding 101

IMG_0547You can think of dirt bike riding as the rugged brother of simply riding on the streets. Divided into two classifications (motocross and trail riding), dirt bike riding is an extreme sport popular around the world.

It’s a risky business; like all extreme sports, the threat of danger is constantly on the horizon, but then again, it’s the thrill of the sport that keeps enthusiasts going. If you want to guarantee a successful off-road adventure, you need to properly plan and prepare necessary gear. It might require a lot of work, but dirt bike riding, especially in Ecuador, is extremely rewarding.

Go fast or go far

Before going dirt bike riding, you need to have the proper motorbike. Are you going cross-country, or are you looking for fast sprints?

Get a trail bike if you’re looking to go far on an off-road, cross-country expedition. Beginner-friendly, trail bikes are for the long haul. They’re usually equipped with a softer suspension and a larger gas tank, among others, to take you far. Trail bikes are great especially if you’re planning on touring Ecuador on a motorbike or conquering the mountains of San Isabel.

A motocross bike, on the other hand, is highly recommended if you’re looking for loads of intense action. Tall seat heights and stiff suspensions are common features, and to make it more trail-friendly, you can have it modified.

Don’t have a bike? There are plenty of dirt bike rental places throughout the country, many of which are owned or co-owned by expats.

Ecuador: the next big dirt bike riding destination

Ecuador has some of the best and diverse terrain where you can kick your dirt bike into action. From Santa Isabel in the Yunguilla Valley, you can take trails that lead to nearby places like Lentag, Sulupali Grande, La Tarabita, and La Asuncion. You can even visit the majestic El Chorro waterfall all the way in Giron. Just grab a map or consult dirt bike riding locals for the best trails and off you go on an adventure. Guided tours are available as well.

Have fun!

Life’s a Beach in Mancora

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 6, 2015

IMG_0581Ecuador is a great country overflowing with natural beauty and biodiversity, but that doesn’t mean we don’t travel beyond its boundaries. After all, we’re in amazing South America! More wonders of the earth are just a border hop (or two) away.

One of these is the coastal community of Mancora in northern Peru. Located approximately 210 miles from Cuenca, it’s equivalent to roughly 5 hours of being on the road. The long drive is all worth it, however, and when you get to sink your toes in the creamy sand and plunge into warm waters you’ll see why this coastal Peruvian jewel is popular among South American vacationers and foreigners alike.

All about Mancora

IMG_0595Located in Peru’s Piura region, Mancora is a haven for those who are looking for a balance between relaxation and some party action. Folks over at describe the town as “Thailand’s Koh Samui and Koh Phangan before they were fully developed.” So, what can you expect aside from white sand beaches and balmy waters?

The sunniest region of Peru provides a host of great accommodations that fit every traveler’s budget. Whether you’re looking for five-star resorts or you’re more a backpacker type of sun worshipper, Mancora has a place for you to rest your body after a day of beach-bumming and a night of partying.


IMG_0643Of course, like every party central, Mancora’s streets are lined with local restaurants that deliver on the promise of a Peruvian dining experience like no other. Since it’s a beach town, expect to find lots of seafood joints. As Mancora has grown popular over the years, restaurants that serve international flavors have sprung up as well, which is just fine if you’re in the mood for something familiar. While you’re in town, check out the following restaurants: Cucin Amore, La Sirena d Juan, and Deli Market Nicolini.

Party under the moonlight

Mancora is especially known for the Full Moon parties hosted by The Point Hostels. Dubbed as the “biggest and best all night beach party in Peru,” the Full Moon Party attracts thousands of party-goers from all over South America. You’ve never really been to Mancora if you haven’t been to one of its legendary parties!


Climate and Biodiversity of the Andes

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | October 1, 2015

Formidable and awe-inspiring, the Andes in South America are not only the longest, but one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. Stretching from the northern tip of the continent and running down 4,500 miles to the south, the mountains are a stronghold of biodiversity and feature multiple climates.

Beautiful sunset in Andes between Loja and Catamayo

Beautiful sunset in Andes between Loja and Catamayo

From hot to cold

One of the reasons the Andes are so particularly interesting is the fact that the climate changes dramatically throughout the biome. Why? It’s all about location. Some parts of the range are closer to the equator, and some are located near the Antarctic. For easier categorization of climates, the Andes are divided into three natural regions: northern, central, and southern.

Northern Andes is situated closer to the equator, and as a result, has a hotter climate. You’ll find rain forests in this part of the Andes. The Venezuelan and Colombian Andes are part this section.

The Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Bolivian Andes, on the other hand, are part of central Andes. Since it’s somehow midway between the equator and the Antarctic, the climate in this section is comparatively milder than its northern and southern counterparts. You’ll find the largest herb in the world, Puya raimondii, high up in the central Andes.

Last but not the least is the southern Andes, which covers the Argentine and Chilean portions of the mountain range. The harsh and beautiful Patagonia is also part of this section. Since the region is closer to the Antarctic, the climate here is considerably colder.

Rich in flora and fauna

The Andes are home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, with each region typically having its own mix of species. In its forests you’ll find Polylepis trees, wild potato, and other types of evergreen trees. Polylepis forests in the Andes also serve as the habitat for a variety of forest birds. Speaking of avian wonders, Andean condors, Cock of the Rock (Peru’s national bird), American kestrel, and falcon aplomado are known birds of prey that live in the area. Other animals found throughout the Andes include the alpaca, spectacled or Andean bear, puma, jaguar, vicuna, guanaco, and the chinchilla.