THE BEST OF MONTECRISTI AND MANTA (World Cruise Tour Included)

  • Port

    Manta

  • Level of difficulties

    Moderate

  • Type

    Not available

  • Price

    Adults

    EUR0.01

  • Duration in hours

    4

  • Shore excursion code

    02VD

Description An excursion dedicated to those who love Ecuador’s local arts and crafts and shopping. We will discover the refined production process of the famous Panama hat in the village of Montecristi and of the Tagua nut, the precious “vegetable ivory”, which is modelled into wonderful and unusual objects that we can buy as souvenirs. For real connoisseurs!

What we will see
  • Manta seafront: modern tourist area and residential areas
  • Visit to the colonial village of Montecristi: production of the Panama hat and wicker items
  • Time available for photos in the central square and shopping in the local artisan markets
  • Visit to the Tagua coconut artisan workshop


What we will do
  • We will begin our excursion with a sightseeing coach tour along Manta’s seafront, the famous Malecón Escénico, the main tourist area in the city, lined with restaurants, beaches and modern architecture with some residential areas.
  • After around a 45-minute journey, we will reach the village of Montecristi, famous across the world for the handmade production of the Panama hat and wicker items. Located in the northern part of Ecuador, it is an ancient colonial village founded in 1628 when many of Manta’s inhabitants moved inland to escape the frequent pirate raids.
  • The Panama, which is produced here, is a type of hat that is hand-woven using fibres from a dwarf palm, the Carludovica palmata, or palma toquilla in Spanish, which is stretchy and bright. Produced in Ecuador, it takes the name of the city of Panama, which has been the main port for the sale of these hats for centuries. The production process has been the same for more than three centuries and involves various stages. Strands of toquilla straw of different thicknesses are woven together by hand to produce three types of Panama hat: Montecristi, Cuenca and Brisa. The hand weaving, which takes place in the village of Montecristi, takes four to six months because the weave is very thick. Also, the Montecristi hat is only produced early in the morning when the air is cool to prevent the fibres from breaking. This makes the hat long-lasting, lightweight and foldable. The Panama production process has been handed down from generation to generation, and the key elements are the varieties of straw selected and the ability and skill of the artisans in Montecristi. This hat is also famous as it has been worn by kings, emperors such as Napoleon I and presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt.
  • After seeing how they make the hats, we will have some time available to take some photos in Montecristi’s central square, embellished by wall paintings and elegant colonial buildings, and to shop in the local artisan markets selling ceramics and wicker products.
  • Next on our tour, we will discover another of the area’s typical products, the Tagua coconut, which is typical of the South American tropical rainforest and is also known as vegetable ivory. Once the fruit has dried out, its colour, consistency and appearance are very similar to animal ivory and it can easily be processed and dyed. It is used to produce mosaics, flooring, coatings, buttons, beads, jewellery, dice, domino and chess pieces, umbrellas, religious figurines, toys and musical instruments such as bagpipes. As a cheaper replacement for ivory, after the ban on elephant hunting, it has become an important low-cost and environmentally friendly product.
  • Then we will visit a local workshop where we can see how this nut is processed by skilled artisans that model it into a wide range of objects that we can buy as souvenirs.
  • After this interesting experience, we will return to the port and ship.


What you need to know
  • We recommend wearing a hat and lightweight, breathable cotton clothing, bringing cash in the local currency (US dollars) and sun cream and insect repellent.
  • The excursion takes place on uneven ground in Montecristi and flat ground during the visit to the ivory workshop.