Sustainable travel in South America is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after experiences for adventurers around the world. As travelers become more conscious of the impact they have when they board a plane across the world, ecotourism and responsible travel are becoming increasingly popular. But how are these efforts actually benefiting the region?
Whether you’re supporting local tour operators or finding sustainable lodging, choosing sustainable travel options has the power to transform communities in South America. If you want to learn how to visit South America responsibly, read this travel guide to see how easy it is to make a positive impact! And by following these practices, you’ll be directly supporting locals, including these five communities that benefit from ecotourism and sustainable travel.
1. How Buying A Souvenir Can Support Local Peruvian and Quechua People
One of the most fascinating cultural experiences to add to your Peru itinerary is a day trip to meet a community of expert weavers. Not only do hand-woven textiles make an amazing souvenir, but this practice is also rooted in centuries of tradition. If you’re planning to explore Cusco any time soon, consider adding a day trip to one of the many indigenous weaving communities in the surrounding area. Immersive cultural exchanges like this are an amazing way to learn about a destination while directly supporting the people.
One amazing community near the city of Cusco is Patcancha. This small Quechua village is known for its high-quality textiles. During your trip here, you’ll be able to see a live weaving demonstration by a few of the expert women in the village. From washing and dyeing the fabrics to intertwining yarn in complex and intricate patterns, this is an opportunity to see some amazing craftsmanship unfold in front of your eyes.
Then, you’ll have an opportunity to shop around and purchase a few items to take home. When you buy from these local weavers, your money goes directly back into the community. Instead of buying from a vendor who may be selling you machine-made products, here you are typically purchasing items from the same people who made them! The money then goes back into supporting the families of Patcancha and allows them to improve the community. All around the Andes and the Sacred Valley, you can find weaving communities like this to visit in person. When you do, you’ll gain an invaluable cultural experience while they will gain an economic boost that improves living conditions for the entire community.
2. Staying At This Ecolodge in Ecuador Can Help Save The Rainforest
Have you ever wished something as simple as a hotel reservation could directly benefit environmental conservation? Well, when you visit Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador, a five-star resort in the Ecuadorian rainforest, you will find yourself in a comfortable oasis nestled in the middle of the Amazon that acts as a center of environmental research and protection.
Located in the Chocó rainforest, this lodge was built by the same people who operate the Mashi Reserve. This reserve spans across the cloud and rainforest of Ecuador. For over twenty years, biologists and researchers have been studying the ecosystem here to better understand how we can protect and conserve our Earth. Today, Mashpi manages several different research projects about trees and vegetation, insects, fish, birds, mammals, and more. Their efforts are then used to help conserve the ecosystem, as well as ensure that the Mashpi Lodge provides travelers with a sustainable and eco-friendly place to stay while exploring the rainforest!
At the lodge, you are immersed in the elements with luxurious accommodations designed to blend in with the environment. Every detail of the lodge is a reminder of the love and care being poured into taking care of the natural world even while traveling. Mashpi is also an excellent jumping-off point for discovering the awesome world of the rainforest, so nature and wildlife lovers will be in a true paradise. Your stay here will benefit the natural communities we often forget about as you help to preserve the flora and fauna of Ecuador.
3. Boost Education For Local Argentinians When You Visit This Estancia
One of the best ways to learn about the culture of Argentina is by staying on an “estancia,” or ranch as it’s called in English. Estancias have long been the center of gaucho communities. These South American cowboys have tended to the land, nourished the wildlife, and fought as soldiers throughout history. Today, a stay in an estancia is one of the top bucket list experiences for travelers visiting Argentina. But if you want to ensure your stay supports local communities, you’ll want to choose the homestead carefully.
One excellent option is Los Potreros, a family-owned and operated estancia and cattle farm that is a beautiful countryside escape that has several sustainable travel programs operating at all times. Thanks to their style of farming and ranching, this estancia has been able to support the rehabilitation of endangered species and provides local wildlife a safe place to roam.
In addition to supporting the natural environment, Los Potreros works with the local community’s school. Attached to the estancia is a small shop where travelers can purchase some souvenirs and specialty goods. All proceeds from this shop are then donated to the rural school, helping to improve the education program and accommodations for the children who live nearby. Furthermore, the estancia prioritizes hiring local employees who know the region and can provide travelers with an expertly curated experience, from the dishes prepared each day to the horseback tours and beyond.
4. Keep Rural Culture Alive By Visiting This Remote Chilean Island
Another amazing way to support local communities while traveling is the simple act of visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations. Some cities get all the attention when travelers come to explore, and while there are many great experiences in these bigger tourist destinations, it’s worth venturing elsewhere if you want a unique trip. One of these lesser-known places in Chile is the Chiloé Islands. While this remote location is well known amongst the country’s natives, most people outside of Chile have never even heard of Chiloé! This archipelago offers stunning architecture, rich cultural traditions, and some impressive gastronomy options, so if you’re looking for a hidden gem in Chile, this is an excellent option.
The Chilote people here are fiercely proud of their island community which has evolved with time while still maintaining its authentic traditions. Today Spanish, Mapuche, and Chono cultures are celebrated on Chiloé and kept alive through sustainable tourism efforts. As the outside world began to explore the island, the Chilote people fought hard to preserve their communities by keeping up traditional architectural practices, passing down local mythology, and preserving tradition by hosting regular festivals and celebrations.
Traveling to Chiloé is an amazing opportunity to support smaller indigenous communities and practices. Discover the influence of Spain by trekking to the 16 different churches recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site, or spend a day mingling with locals as you eat your way through the best local restaurants in the region. If you’re interested in exploring the stunning landscapes and coastal neighborhoods here, talk to one of the Kuoda experts and we’ll help curate a list of locally owned businesses to support and help you select some of the best off-grid tours to discover the rugged natural scenery.
5. Tour A Coffee Plantation In Colombia To Support Local Agriculture
Coffee is one of Colombia’s main international exports. It is estimated that over 500,000 families rely on this industry to support their day-to-day needs. While visiting Colombia, take a day to explore one of the many amazing coffee plantations for an immersive learning experience, one that can help more people than you will ever know.
Colombia’s coffee region is made up of three departments: the Caldas region, the Risaralda region, and the Quindio region. Each point of this triangle has an amazing world of flavor to offer, and some beautiful nature to accompany your morning brew. No matter which destination you choose to visit, the best way to experience the coffee region is by touring one of the farms yourself. Learn how this simple beverage most people enjoy every morning is produced, from harvesting the fruit to roasting each bean to perfection.
If you want to ensure your next trip to South America is as sustainable and beneficial to local communities as possible, be sure to plan it with Kuoda. Our mission is to provide you with a one-of-a-kind vacation that leaves a positive impact on the destination you visit!
The Amazon Rainforest, often referred to as the "Lungs of the Earth," is a vast and ecologically critical expa...Read Post
Sustainable travel to South America is critical in ensuring the destination, its biodiversity and rich culture...Read Post
Imagine cruising through the Amazon Rainforest and going piranha fishing or sailing through the majestic icy f...Read Post