Aracari in Peru – Our Approach
It would be difficult for us to justify offering the best quality of tours to Peru if we didn’t strive to operate in a responsible and ethical manner. We believe that only by behaving as respectfully, conscientiously and sustainably as possible within the environment where we work can we truly hope to provide our clients with the most authentic of Peruvian travel experience.
Since the founding of Aracari in 1996 we have borne this ethos in mind when developing every facet of our business. From only working with suppliers who have a similar mentality and care for their staff, to giving practical support to the communities we work in. We feel that this approach is not only an altruistic one, but that it reaps benefits for all involved.
For example, by having a strong connection to rainforest tribes we can ensure that our clients are ensured good wildlife viewings, as it is local people in these regions who know better than anybody where the abundant wildlife is. In the same vein, because we treat support staff such as our trekking porters with kindness and appreciation, we are rewarded back tenfold with loyalty and an extra special service for our clients.
Aracari founder and director Marisol Mosquera talks about our approach to ethical travel in the video interview below, particularly with regards to our early involvement with the community of Patakancha.
What we do
As Peruvians and residents of Peru we pay more than just lip service to the many deserving causes in our locality. There are numerous projects, organisations and communities with whom we have been involved since 1996.
We do not simply give money directly or channel the donations of clients misguidedly as this can often lead to dependency and misuse of funds. Instead, we retain constant contact with communities, projects and initiatives and evaluate their ever-changing needs on an ongoing basis so that these donations can be most effective. Based on this research, we promote what we feel to be the most worthwhile projects through our website, blog and social media platforms so that they are accessible to our guests and visitors.
Finally, and in addition to facilitating the worthwhile donations from our guests, we encourage our guests to actually visit projects while on a tour of Peru to see the effects of their donations first-hand and even to lend a hand by volunteering.
Below are just a few examples showing where we strive to make a difference in our beloved home country. To see how to get involved in these projects, have a look whether you can donate, visit or actually volunteer at each of the projects. After you have decided which of these you would be interested in doing, contact us letting us know and we will help to arrange this for you.
Projects we support
In Ollantaytambo in the Urubamba Valley, we encourage our guests to visit the UK registered charity Living Heart at their office in the Hearts Café. Profits from the café go directly towards supporting various communities situated in the high Andes around the Sacred Valley. Living Hearts collaborate extensively with the local communities to evaluate their needs and provide for them in the most effective and sustainable way possible. “We are not a hand-out charity” explains their website. Read more about the project in the following blog post: Supporting Andean Communities: Living Heart and Heart’s Café. Aracari met with the founder Sonia Newhouse in May 2011.
In the Sacred Valley we organise visits to local communities through the project Tierra de los Yachaqs. Working with five communities in the Sacred Valley, the mission of the project is to preserve the history and traditions of local people while enabling them to support their economy with responsible, authentic and high-quality tourism. This consists of travellers visiting the communities and participating in local customs, traditions and practices. Read our account of the visits in the following blog article: La Tierra de los Yachaqs: Community based tourism in Peru’s Sacred Valley
With the help of Willka Tika we offer our guests the opportunity to visit and contribute directly to schools in the hills above the Sacred Valley. Wilka Tika have long been involved with providing the schools with such basic materials as pens, workbooks and furniture as well as organising food drives and our guests have the opportunity to sponsor these projects and deliver vital materials in person. We are currently investigating new schools in need of assistance so that we can continue to offer support in the area.One such school with whom we have built a personal contact is in the community of Huama. Read our related blog article Aracari in Cusco: Visit to the school and community of Huama for more details.
While touring Lake Titicaca, we encourage our guests to visit the community based tourism project at Luqina Chico. This is not only an authentic look into the lives of indigenous Aymara speaking Peruvians but the proceeds from this well-managed initiative go directly towards alleviating poverty in the region and to supporting the community financially.
We regularly send our guests to the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, who work devotedly to retain the heritage of local weaving traditions by teaching these skills to children amongst others. We feel that the quality of textiles that can be bought here is simply exquisite – far and away better than tacky, factory produced garments that can be found in over-touristy markets such as that at Pisaq. It gives us immense pride knowing that our guests purchase from here as they are supporting a hugely worthwhile cause as well as leaving Peru with excellent quality wares, a genuine Peru souvenir.
Marisol is on the committee for The Inca Ball 2010 for SOS Children in Peru, a fund raising initiative for SOS Aldeas Infantiles in Juliaca, one of the most impoverished regions in Peru; Marisol personally visited the project in August 2010. The Ball, which aims to support the community by providing funds to build 12 new houses, was held in London in November 2010.
The mission of our friend Mother Antonia feeds breakfast to up to 600 people in the village of Yanque in the Colca Canyon; we always try to encourage our clients in the region to visit there and donate to the mission. Mother Antonia sadly passed away in 2010, read our tribute here: A Tribute to Madre Antonia, “The lady of the Colca Canyon”
We give donations to victims of environmental crisis, such as that to theHacienda Arona on the Southern coast of Peru which was badly damaged in the 2007 earthquake.
We have taken concrete steps to support the preservation of Lima’s architectural heritage with the restoration of Casa Prado. a beautiful historic seventeenth century house in the Centre of Lima and the home of the presidential Prado family for over two centuries. The house was listed as one of the top 100 most endangered sites 2008 by the World Monuments Fund and Marisol was personally involved in its restoration.
We are always on the lookout for new projects to support and different ways of correctly dispersing ours and our clients’ donations to worthwhile causes that we know are responsibly run by genuine actors in the world of both natural and cultural conservation. If you hear of projects in Peru or in any of the countries where we operate that you think would be suitable, please let us know by writing to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us.