Sometimes the experiences we remember from our travels are the ones that take us a little off the beaten path, the ones where we feel we are getting a more local experience. Suddenly we see a place with fresh eyes and go beyond the postcard shots that may have drawn us there. That’s why Audley Travel, who specialise in holidays that give you an authentic travel experience, are asking us to share our photos of special travel moments or lesser known places we’ve visited, with the tag #MyLittleKnown. One of you who share your unique travel moments will win an amazing 10 day holiday to Ecuador and I’m delighted to have been invited by Audley Travel to be one of the judges.
You can enter the competition here but first let me tell you a bit more about why Ecuador is such a special place.
Why I love Ecuador (and you will too if you win a trip with Audley Travel)
If you were ever to go back through nearly 10 years of articles on Heather on her travels, you’d find that the trip that started me off on this blogging journey was to Ecuador. I journeyed with a couple of friends from Quito through areas with picturesque names like “The Avenue of the Volcanos” and the “Route of the Waterfalls” that were guaranteed to make the adventurous traveller’s heart beat a little faster. In a dug-out canoe we travelled down one of the Amazon tributaries, camping on sandbanks and staying in rainforest communities, until we reached the border with Peru and flew back to our startpoint in a tiny aircraft, looking down over the rainforest canopy.
This journey really was life changing for me, since it lit the spark of this blog to share my travel experiences with a wider audience. If you’d like to share your #MyLittleKnown travel experiences too, you can enter the competition here
How to enter the competition to win a trip to Ecuador
There are a few different ways that you can post your photos and travel stories to enter
- To enter via Instagram or Twitter tell us why your little-known experience is so special with a supporting photograph or video and include @AudleyTravel and #MyLittleKnown on your post.
- To enter via Facebook share your little-known experience on the Audley Travel Facebook wall with a supporting photograph or video and include #MyLittleKnown in your post.
A few things I loved that are #MyLittleKnown
To get you in the spirit of #MyLittleKnown I thought I’d share a few of my own travel experiences that felt very special and took me to places away from my everyday life, either mentally or physically.
When I was in the rainforest community of Sarayaku in Ecuador, I noticed children decorating themselves with black dye, just as we might have fun with face paints. The dye, called Wika is made by roasting a local fruit over the fire, then grinding it up to make a black ink that is painted on with a palm stalk. In the past it was used as war paint but these days both adults and children use it to decorate their faces and bodies for fun. The children painted a snake curving up my arm which lasted for a couple of weeks and I felt rather sad when my Wika snake tattoo faded away since it represented the happy memories of my time in Ecuador.
Read about the time I had a Wika Tattoo in Ecuador | Check out the holidays in Ecuador that Audley Travel offer.
Last summer I took a road trip through Canada with my husband and visited Mont Tremblant park in Quebec province. It was a fabulous outdoor playground where we spent a day canoeing down the Meandre de Diable, a winding stretch of river with sandbanks and beaches to stop for a picnic. It felt so peaceful as we drifted downstream, with dragonflies dipping in among the lily pads and the odd river turtle sunning itself on a log. While it’s a popular activity for visitors to the park, we only saw a few other people all day and really felt we were getting away from it all and reconnecting with nature.
Read about some of #MyLittleKnown moments in Canada | Check out some of the holidays in Canada that you can book through Audley Travel
In the South Tyrol region of northern Italy, it’s popular to go climbing on the Via Ferrata, literally “iron roads” built with ladders and cables to enable soldiers in the First World War to move around the Dolomites safely. But while this might have been a piece of cake for someone brought up in the mountains, for me it was a big physical challenge, even though I was with an expert guide. Once I’d climbed high above the valley, clipped on to the rock with a cable, I reached the peak and was able to look around at amazing 360 degree views of the Dolomites, feeling on top of the world. Read about the time I climbed a Via Ferrata in South Tyrol, Italy
About Audley Travel
I’ve worked with Audley Travel before and love their ethos of sending travellers off the beaten track and giving them unique, authentic experiences. You can find plenty of ideas for trips on their site, but most of their holidays are tailor made for each traveller and they have specialists who really know each destination inside out and can put together a unique trip that’s right for you, so be sure to enter the #MyLittleKnown competition here
Read some more articles from this site about the exciting destinations that Audley Travel cover;
Now about that trip to Ecuador…
If you’re the lucky winner of the #MyLittleKnown photo competition, you and and your travel companion will be flying with Iberian Airlines to Quito to begin your ten-day tour of Ecuador. You’ll start in the capital city of Quito which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best-preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. You’ll stay at La Casona de la Ronda in Quito and also visit the nearby city of Otavalo to see local handicraft villages and surrounding mountain scenery.
Your journey will then continue south along the volcano route where you’ll visit a local market in the town of Latacunga. Your next two nights are at Hosteria Abraspungo, Riobamba, which is the third largest city in Ecuador, known locally as the ‘Sultan of the Andes’. Afterwards, you’ll explore the remote mountain village of San Rafael and learn about the Paqocha Alpaca project which re-introduced the native alpaca to provide a sustainable source of income for the community.
You will then ride on the Devil’s Nose train which is widely considered one of the most impressive feats of rail engineering and one of South America’s most desired experiences. After this you’ll spend three nights at Mansion Alcazar, Cuenca and enjoy a tour of the historic city and the nearby Saraguro where the people are renowned for their distinctive indigenous dress and handicrafts.
Your final stop is a two-night stay at Hacienda La Danesa, a working farmhouse set in the countryside outside of Guayaquil. There are many activities to choose from including horse-back riding, tubing, cycling and relaxing before heading to Guayaquil for your flight home.
The competition t&c
You can read all the terms and conditions for this competition here but basically what you need to know is;
- You should be 18 or over to enter
- The competition is running from 12 July 2017 and ends on Thursday 31 August 2017 at 11.59pm
- Any photos or videos you enter should be your own work
- Please don’t enter any photos that depict wildlife in an unnatural environment or captivity – this would be contrary to Audley’s responsible travel ethos and they will be excluded.
- The winner will be notified by 8 September 2017
- The prize must be booked by 31st October 2017 and is valid for travel between 6th January 2018 and 19th December 2018, excluding 26th March to 6th April.
Winner Update: To find out who the winner was of the #MyLittleKnown photo competition head over to this article, where you’ll also be able to see some of the judge’s favourites.
This article is in collaboration with Audley Travel