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Tony Fernandes

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Quito is the capital city of Ecuador with a population of almost 3 million. It is the closest to equator and highest (9,350 ft above sea level) capital city in world. It is located on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active volcano in the Andes mountains. While the centre of Quito is 25 km south of the Equator, it extends to within about 1 km of zero latitude
Its historic center is one of largest, least-altered and best-preserved in the Americas and was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. The oldest traces of human presence date back to 8,000 years BC.
The are many parks, impressive churches, palaces, and other interesting things to see and experience including an aerial tramway up Pichincha volcano to 13,500 ft. For the physically fit, one can hike up to one of the summits, the highest being Ruku Pichincha at 15,400 ft. Tose fotografia

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Mid October through mid November is a great time for nature’s colouring book in Vancouver. Took my camera with me on a few neighbourhood walks and captured this album showcasing some of Vancouver’s natural fall beauty.

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Otavalo has a population of about 40,000, largely made up of the Otavalo indigenous group. It sits at an elevation of 2,532 metres (8,307 ft) and is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura (4,630 metres / 15,190 ft), Cotacachi (4,995 metres / 16,388 ft) and Mojanda volcanoes.
Indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles that are sold at the famous Saturday market. During the market's peak, 1/3 of the town is full of stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool.
During the week in Plaza de los Ponchos and the many local shops, one can still find a wide range of wares. I was there on a Sunday.
Near Otavalo is the 18m high Peguche Waterfall. It is situated in a small park that is a sacred place for the Indians who have a close relationship with nature.
Also nearby is Cuicocha Lake at the base of Cotacachi Mountain. It is a deep volcanic crater that is 4 km long and 3 km wide. In the center are 3 domes of volcanic rock that form 2 islands covered with vegetation and separated by a water channel called the “channel of dreams".

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Cotopaxi is an active volcano in the Andes Mountains, 50 km (31 mi) south of Quito. At a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft), it is the 2nd highest summit in Ecuador and one of the world's highest volcanoes.
Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times creating numerous valleys formed by mudflows around the volcano. The last eruption lasted from August 2015 to January 2016.
There are many day trips available which stop at a car park at 14,750 ft and then you can climb to the Jose Rivas Refuge at 15,958 ft. I found it a tough hike due more to the altitude than the steepness of the path.

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amaZOOnico is an animal rescue centre in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest for animals who are victims of illegal trafficking or people who think they want exotic pets and later abandon them.
The Centre’s aim is to care for, rehabilitate and reintroduce the animals back into the wild when they are ready. Unfortunately, some are so injured or never developed appropriate instincts due to being in captivity from birth that they can’t be released. It is an inspiring place.
The album including the motor canoe trip to amaZOOnico on the Rio Negra and Rio Arajuno.

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Although it is called Cabañas Pimpilala (Pimpilala Lodge), it is the family home with a building for bedrooms and some outside bathrooms for visitors.
Delfin and Stella, their sons and daughters and grandchildren are a warm, friendly and very fun family that made our stay a great experience. There was always a dozen or so of the family at the home entertaining and feeding us. Only 1 of the family spoke English well.
It is a rustic location with electricity only for a security light near the bedrooms building, no running water and oh so cold showers.
In 4 days we did so much - hikes in the jungle; an “organic / natural” jungle spa treatment; learned about Ecuadorian history, culture and the role of Shamans in communities; a mock wedding of 2 of our group; hike to Laguna Azul; a visit to Amazoonico Animal Rescue Centre (a separate foto album); made chocolate from freshly picked Cocoa beans; ate Chontacuro worms and learned to use a blowgun.
A highlight was a 3 ½ hour waterfall hike. An exhilarating romp through streams wearing rubber boots, climbing embankments with assistance from ropes and fallen logs and even scaled 2 waterfalls using ropes to pull ourselves up the cliffs.
Even what normally would be considered a negative was fun here - having my hiking wounds treated with Dragon’s Blood, a sap from a tree which has amazing medicinal qualities.
It was an fantastic, memorable experience.

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Nazaré is one of the most popular seaside resorts towns on the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata). It has a population of about 15,000 and has 3 neighbourhoods: Praia (along the beach), Sítio (an old village on top of the cliffs) and Pederneira (another old village on a hilltop). Praia and Sítio are linked by the Nazaré Funicular railway.

The earliest settlements were in Pederneira and in Sítio that provided inhabitants with refuge against raids by Viking, French, English and Dutch pirates. This lasted until the beginning of the 19th century.

The town has changed significantly in the last 40 years. My first visit was in 1973 when old traditions were still common eg. main source of living was fishing with a sizable fleet of boats and the daily catch was sold by the beach. I recall being able to buy barbecued sardines and other fish on the beach from the many vendors. Today, little of this is left although many street vendors still wear traditional clothing.

There are many fotos of the people of Nazaré in this album. I found the people interesting and picturesque.

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Mafra is a small town in the district of Lisbon known for the baroque style Mafra National Palace. It is an ancient area, one of the oldest human presences in Europe. Remnants of early inhabitants date back to 7000 BC.

Alcochete is just across the bay from Lisbon, accessible via the longest bridge in Europe, the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is a pretty village on the waterfront.

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Kauai (or Kauaʻi ), is the oldest geologically and 4th largest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Known as the "Garden Isle", it has several stunning natural landmarks.
My favourites are:
• Waimea Canyon, “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, is 10 miles (16 km) long and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep. Waimea means "reddish water", referring to the erosion of the canyon's red soil. The island's central peak, Mount Waiʻaleʻale, is among the wettest places on earth.
• The Nā Pali Coast - 16 miles (26 km) starting at Keʻe Beach extending to Polihale State Park. The na pali (“high cliffs”) rise 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above the Pacific Ocean.
• Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse.
• Wailua Falls, an 83 foot waterfall located near Lihue.
• Spouting Horn, part of the Koloa Heritage Trail ... with every wave, water shoots upward (up to 50 feet) through an opening in the eroded lava rocks and creates a hissing sound.

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The 20,000 people of Tomar take pride in their heritage ... refer to their town as “Cidade Templária” (City of the Templars). It is a town rich in history.
It began inside the walls of the Convento de Cristo constructed in the late 12th century by the Knights Templar. Under the modern city lies the Roman city of Sellium.
In 1159, the land was granted to the Order of the Knights Templar and in 1160, its Grand Master in Portugal laid the first stone of the Castle and Monastery that would become the headquarters of the Order in Portugal. The Convento de Cristo was home to the warrior monks (Knights Templar) that protected the region from the Moors.
In 1314, the Pope banned the Knights Templar throughout Europe but in Portugal, their rights and wealth were transferred to a newly created Knights of the Order of Christ. In the 15th century, it was a centre of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ.
I was lucky enough to be there during the annual “Festa Templária” to enjoy the many activities put on to celebrate their Templar heritage.
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