chocolate from ecuadorEcuador is one of the biggest exporters of the Cocao bean to make Coco and Chocolate in the world. The plant which comes from South America was even used as a common currency throughout this region before the Spanish invasion.

What might surprise you when you get to Ecuador is why its so hard to find good chocolate in a country that produces 130,000 tonnes of Cocao a year. Its because all the Cocao is for export and monstrous corporations like Nestle control the local market.

But chocolate lovers dont despair just yet, there is an oasis in the desert.

Salinas de Guaranda

salinas ecuadorSalinas de Guaranda is a famous little town in the Ecuadorian Andes that is about two and an half hours by bus from Riobamba. What makes the town so popular amongst both Ecuadorian and foreign tourists alike is its cheese and chocolate factories as well as the great variety in hand-knitted llama and alapca wool clothing.

A Swiss man called Father Antonio Polo used his knowledge in how to produce Swiss Chocolate and Cheese to set up a cooperative run by the people of Salinas that has literary pulled the entire community out of poverty.

salinas villageThe delicious swiss Chocolate they make in Salinas melts in your mouth and include the famous Blue Bird “Pajaro Azul” Chocolate named after the local moonshine alcohol and my favorite hot chocolate laced with chile powder.

Now with regards to the Cheese if you have been in Ecuador and South America for a while you will know that the omnipresent fresh, white, and tasteless stuff they have over here leaves a lot to be desired compared to our aged cheeses back home.

But the cheese in Salinas de Guaranda is every bit as good as the chocolate – so good that they are both sold on the international market along with all of the handwoven alpaca wool clothing.

How To Get There

The Conventional Way:
From Riobamba take the “Arenal Guaranda” bus that leaves in the morning from the main bus terminal. (The G in Guaranda sounds more like a W) It will cost about $2.50

The Adventurous Way:
Check out the Horseback Riding Trips and Chimborazo Remote Communities Trek we run that let take you around the beautiful scenery between the Chimborazo Highlands and Salinas.

ecuadorian village picture

horse riding in ecuador

picture of ecuadorians
Ecuador is one of the biggest exporters of the Cocao bean to make Coco and Chocolate in the world. The plant which comes from South America was even used as a common currency throughout this region before the Spanish invasion.

What might surprise you when you get to Ecuador is why a country that makes 130,000 tonnes of Cocao a year has such crappy chocolate for sale in all the stores. Its because very little of the Cocao produced is for the local market which monstrous unethical corporations like Nestle have consumed.

http://www.ecuadorecovolunteer.org/inspiring-ted-talk-reforesting-the-rainforest/

major exporter of Cocao Dark Chocolate is something you must try as you get the chance. Arriba is a select cocoa variety grown only in Ecuador that emits fragrant, floral nuances. When dark chocolate is prepared from these beans, the flavor is clear and pure with nutty undertones.

Salinas de Guaranda is a famous little town in the Ecuadorian Andes that is about two and an half hours by bus from Riobamba. What makes the town so popular amongst both Ecuadorian and foreign tourists is its cheese and chocolate factories as well as the great variety in hand-knitted llama and alapca wool clothing.

So whats so good about the cheese and chocolate? Well if you have been in Ecuador and South America for a while you will know that the omnipresent fresh, white, and tasteless cheese they have over here leaves a lot to be desired compared to our aged cheeses back home.

A swiss guy came to Salinas over half a century ago and taught the people there how to make real cheese and swiss chocolate. The cheese comes in a variety of flavors and you can even get ones filled with oregano and and chilli.

Although not too frequented by tourists the bus ride from Guayaquil into Babahoyo is most scenic and you will often see agricultural workers hard at work tilling the fields.
There is a frequent bus service to Salinas de Guaranda with Transportes Cándido Rada leaving from Plaza Roja in Guaranda. Or, take a bus from Cuatro Esquinas, located on the road to Ambato (10 km north of Guaranda). From there, take a truck to Salinas (20 km). A taxi costs around US$15. To go back to Guaranda take any bus from Salinas’ main plaza (all of them go to Guaranda).

Father Antonio Polo initiated the FUNORSAL Foundation (Fundacion de Organizaciones de Salinas) to set up and manage cooperatives to transform raw materials to finished goods. See the Headquarters building (SEDE FUNORSAL) among the pictures below. For example, cocoa to chocolat candy, wool to yarn and textiles, meat to sausage, mushrooms to soups and packages, and milk into fancy and natural cheeses. To do this, workers are selected and trained (often in foreign countries), machinery is procured (often previously used), and extensive marketing is conducted. Much of the production is sold in Europe and North America and the basic producers get to share in the wealth created from their work.

There is a frequent bus service to Salinas de Guaranda with Transportes Cándido Rada leaving from Plaza Roja in Guaranda. Or, take a bus from Cuatro Esquinas, located on the road to Ambato (10 km north of Guaranda). From there, take a truck to Salinas (20 km). A taxi costs around US$15. To go back to Guaranda take any bus from Salinas’ main plaza (all of them go to Guaranda).

  • Mary-oli says:

    salinas de guaranda me trae el mas hermoso recuerdo  por haberme  dado la oportunidad  de realizarme  como mujer indigena colombiana al viajar con pastoral social de la diocesis de ipales grasias por compartirme sus conicimientos y darme a conocer de sus empresas dándome asi un recuerdo k lo llebare  por siempre

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