Aracari in Peru – Our Approach
We could not consider our tours of Peru, Bolivia and Galapagos to be of the highest calibre and authenticity without basing our operations in ethical and sustainable practices. We are devoted to promoting responsible travel that is respectful of the environment and cultures that our guests encounter during their journeys with Aracari.
Since the founding of Aracari in 1996, we have borne this ethos in mind when developing every facet of our business. This has entailed taking steps like working exclusively with companies that share our philosophy of ethical, sustainable travel and actively seeking out projects that support the local environment and communities. For example, we promote ecolodges with minimal environmental impact and are always on the lookout for projects directed by local communities that have incomparable insights into the environment and culture. By collaborating with operators that promote sustainable business practices and worki with local communities, our operators benefit from the business and can inspire other companies to follow suit. At the same time, the locals involved in these operations gain economically and are empowered, and travellers get a more authentic experience that is contributing to sustainability. In this way, everyone—the operators, communities and travellers—have a better experience that makes a positive impact.
We thoroughly research each of the projects that we support before we promote them to our guests, and we strive to stay as up to date as possible on changes and happenings within these projects. We do not simply give money directly to organisations or channel donations from our guests as this can often lead to dependency and misuse of funds. Instead, we stay in touch with our communities, projects and organisations in order to evaluate their ever-changing needs so that these donations can be most effective. Based on this research, we promote what we feel to be the most worthwhile initiatives through our website, blog and social media platforms to make the information available to our guests. If possible, we also encourage our guests to visit the organisation or project while on a tour of Peru to see firsthand what they are supporting and the effects of this support.
There are numerous projects, organisations and communities with which we have been involved over the years (listed below), and we are always investigating new projects and worthwhile causes to support. If you know of any projects in Peru or in the other countries where we operate that you think would be suitable, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us.
Organisations and Projects We Support
Tierra de los Yachaqs
We organise visits to local communities through the organisation Tierra de los Yachaqs. Working with eight communities in the Sacred Valley, the mission of the organization 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 like a textile demonstration or a hike with llamas. Read our account of the visits in the following blog articles: La Tierra de los Yachaqs: Community based tourism in Peru’s Sacred Valley and Tierra de los Yachaqs: An Afternoon with the Weavers of Amaru Community in Cusco.
Plant your Future
Plant your Future is a non-profit organization based in Iquitos, Peru that disseminates sustainable agricultural practices in Amazon communities and plants trees to reverse damage caused by slash-and-burn agriculture; between 2012 and 2013 they planted 20,000 trees. Working directly with smallholder farmers in the Amazon of Peru, Plant your Future assists them with planting fruit and timber trees and other crops on deforested plots to recover the land and generate revenue for the farmers who sell the products at local markets. The organization offers technical and financial support to prepare the land, create nurseries and plant saplings, and they provide regular training in the Amazon.Interested in carbon-offsetting your trip? Donations to Plant your Future will allow them to continue planting trees that absorb carbon and produce oxygen while the local communities can reforest the Amazon and improve their quality of life with sustainable practices. Read: Plant your Future: Restoring the Amazon One Tree at a Time
Located in the Urubamba Valley, Kusi Kawsay, which means “happy life” in the native language of Quechua, values the traditional culture of native communities and is dedicated to uniting every aspect of the education of local children with essential aspects of their daily lives. Inspired by the Waldorf school pedagogy, Kusi Kawsay incorporates art, dance, traditional textile weaving and music as well as Quechua into the curriculum, bonding education with students’ cultural identities in an effort to promote high self-esteem. Our guests have the chance to visit the school and learn about this educational initiative from one of the founding parents of the school during an afternoon or morning in Pisac. Read about our visits to the school: The Latest from Kusi Kawsay School in the Urubamba Valley and Visit to Kusi Kawsay School in Peru’s Sacred Valley
VISIT | DONATE
Established in 2013 to support the development of sustainable tourism in Peru, Albergues Peruanos is a non-profit organisation that promotes the travel industry in rural areas of Peru by fostering a network of unique and charming lodges (albergues). The network of lodges offer individuals access to destinations that are rarely visited by travellers from overseas, but that are nonetheless beautiful and offer unique opportunities for travelling off-the-beaten-path.
All of the lodges have been chosen for their location, their standards of hospitality and their connection to the natural environment. Read: Albergues Peruanos: Network of Sustainable Lodges in Peru
While touring Lake Titicaca, we encourage our guests to visit the community based tourism project at Luqina Chico, a small village on the Chucuito Peninsula. 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. You can read about Aracari founder Marisol Mosquera’s visit to the community: Luquina Chico – Community Based Tourism on Lake Titicaca tours
Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco
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 touristy markets and shops. 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.
VISIT | DONATE
Colegio Sol y Luna
Colegio Sol y Luna opened in 2010 through the Sol y Luna Association, which was founded by creators, Franz and Petit. The school has grown and now has 140 students from various towns in the Urubamba Valley ranging from age 3 in initial to age 12 in the first year of secondary education. Some students who live in remote parts of the Andes and can only arrive to the school by walking are able to stay at the “Niños de Jesús” boarding home from Monday to Friday. There, they receive care and alimentation while they are at the school for the week away from their homes. We encourage our guests to ask about the school during their stay at the hotel Sol y Luna Lodge and Spa in Urubamba and to consider donating to support this worthwhile effort to make education more accessible to the Andean communities. Read more on the blog: Colegio Sol y Luna, Supporting Education in the Sacred Valley
Queuña Raymi Tree Planting Project
We participated in a reforestation project on November 29th, 2014, working with local communities in the Sacred Valley to plant 50,000 Queuña trees in one single day in the Lares watershed area of the Andes. 20,000 trees were donated by the organizers and money was raised through donations to plant the remaining 30,000, with each tree costing only three soles, or one US dollar, to plant. Every year projects such as this one invite locals and volunteers alike to participate with the ultimate goal of planting a remarkable one million trees by 2020. This year 500 Quechua-speaking locals from nearby villages helped to plant the trees and everyone that helped with the project, from children to the elderly, was treated to a communal dinner, in addition to receiving a day’s salary for their hard work. Read more about the project in the following blog post: Queuña Raymi: Planting trees in the Sacred Valley to alleviate climate change
Organisations and Projects We Have Supported
Throughout the years we have come into contact with a variety of individuals, organisations and communities that have undertaken remarkable work to help to improve the lives of people in the Andes and protect the environment. However, due to the delicate nature of this work and the enormity of the issues that are being addressed, it has not always been possible to support projects indefinitely. In some cases an organization may have ceased to operate or the project has terminated, while in others the opportunity for Aracari to support or promote a project has disappeared or ceased to be of benefit, or we have chosen to focus our support in other areas. Below are a list of projects which with we have been involved since 1996:
In Ollantaytambo in the Urubamba Valley, we supported the UK registered charity Living Heart who ran the Hearts Cafe. Profits from the cafe went directly to various communities situated in the high Andes around the Sacred Valley. Living Hearts collaborated extensively with the local communities to evaluate their needs and provide for them in the most effective and sustainable way possible. 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.
With the help of Willka Tika we offered 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 had the opportunity to sponsor these projects and deliver vital materials in person. Aracari also investigated new schools in need of assistance including a school in Huama with whom we built a personal connection. Read our related blog article Aracari in Cusco: Visit to the school and community of Huama for more details.
Community of Patakancha
We developed a relationship with the village of Patakancha, a Quechua-speaking community nestled in the hills above Ollantaytambo. For a time, a number of the porters, cooks and carriers who operate our treks came from this village, which provided them with regular employment. In May 1998 we set up a medical cabinet there with the aim of providing free medical assistance, a project that has reaped many rewards. Though now Patakancha is more independent and does not require as much support, we continue to check in with the community when we get out to visit the Sacred Valley.
The Incall Ball for SOS Children in Peru
Marisol was 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.
Mother Antonia’s Soup Kitchen in Yanque
The mission of our friend Mother Antonia feeds breakfast to up to 650 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”
Donation Hacienda Arona
We give donations to victims of environmental crisis, such as that to the Hacienda Arona on the Southern coast of Peru which was badly damaged in the 2007 earthquake.
Casa Prado Restoration
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.