Tropic, an award-winning ecotourism company specializing in Quito, Ecuador, has a new program, “May We Introduce You” featuring visits to artisanal workshops in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The program, which is launching toward the end of 2014, features a 90-minute tasting tour at the new showroom of Ecuador’s award-winning indigenous chocolate company, Pacari, that made a clean sweep of the dark chocolate field in a 2013 international competition in London.
Pacari is the first single-origin, 100 percent organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. (The word Pacari means “nature” in Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andean region.) The new tasting room scheduled to open at the end of the year is in Quito’s trendy, bohemian La Floresta neighborhood, home to top restaurants and boutique hotels.
A journey by story and video takes guests through the history of Ecuadorian cacao, followed by a tasting of the award-winning Pacari chocolate. The presentation also focuses on the agricultural side of chocolate cultivation and production and the communities that work with Pacari to bring the product to market.
The tastings will reveal the ingredients and secrets of 10 varieties of Pacari chocolates (four single origin chocolate bars, one special-edition chocolate bar and five dark chocolate bars). The complete tour with tastings is expected to be approximately 90 minutes. Each guest on this tour receives a complimentary gift box of chocolate. The tour cost per person is $107 for groups of 2 to 4 (Current Special: $54 per person through September 2014). See: www.destinationecuador.com/chocolate-tasting.html)
When his schedule permits, Santiago Peralta, founder of Pacari, will lead the tours. He was recognized as the outstanding Chocolate Maker of 2013 by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association at the organization’s winter event in San Francisco. With his wife, Carla Barboto, he has revolutionized the chocolate industry in both Ecuador and Latin America by creating a transparent model of tree-to-bar manufacturing based on innovation, ecological and social responsibility, and direct trade with certified organic farms throughout the country.
Pacari was also the main winner of the 2013 prestigious International Chocolate Awards World Final in London, winning six gold medals and a silver in the important category of Unflavored Dark Bars. The World Final took place within the framework of the Salon du Chocolat of London and Pacari bars competed against the 200 winning bars of three national rounds and two larger semi-final contests (European and Americas) that had taken place in the United States, England, Italy, Canada, and Israel during 2013.
Obsessed with purity of flavor, Peralta spends much of his time in the field sourcing cacaos from genetically diverse old farms that capture the full range of flavor and aroma of the best cacao regions of Ecuador, the largest producer of cacao in the world. Paying higher prices for quality-certified organic cacao, Peralta and his company benefit more than 3,000 farming families.
In addition to fighting to position their brand and chocolate on the international market, entrepreneurs Peralta and Barboto are promoting locally the benefits of cacao and chocolate.
On small farms, the cacao trees have been growing and intermingling for hundreds of years. The cross pollination of cacao which occurs in natural settings greatly reduces the possibility of a plague destroying the trees in Ecuador. Much like seed banks that exist for other crops, supporting family farms in Ecuador ensures that there is genetic material that can be used in the event that a disease does affect cacao in other countries.
In spring 2014 Tropic’s “May We Introduce You” campaign began guiding guests to La Mundial, a luxury custom boot company which now offers a factory tour in Quito. Please see http://www.destinationecuador.com/ecuador-custom-boot-tour.htm. This full day tour which also includes a tour of Quito’s Colonial Center and Middle of the World Monument with lunch runs $151 per person.
Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability in three distinct areas:
For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / US Toll-free: 1.888.207.8615 / Website: www.destinationecuador.com.
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