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Examples of Sustainable Travel Through Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Posted by on in Central America Green Travel
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Horseback riding at the foothills of Cotopaxi volcano

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador to give a presentation at the Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC). Many speeches and declarations were made during the conference, but the most notable was when the Minister of Tourism, Sandra Naranjo, announced that Ecuador was partnering with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to create standards for sustainability in tourism.

A fantastic step forward indeed! But, what does that mean to you as a traveler?

As you consider traveling to the beautiful country of Ecuador, here's some practical examples of boutique hotels located in the Cotopaxi region that are already implementing standards of sustainability, namely Hacienda El Porvenir, Black Sheep Inn and Chilcabamba Eco Lodge.

The Cotopaxi region is located about 30 miles south of Quito in the Andes Mountains. The Cotopaxi volcano considered the world's highest active volcano, and the region offers spectacular biking, hiking and horseback riding opportunities for adults and children alike.

Cotopaxi Volcano

I had the pleasure of visiting both Hacienda El Porvenir and Chilcabama Eco Lodge properties (as well as meeting the owner of the Black Sheep Inn) and while very different, you can't help but feel a gracious hug of warmth, comfort, and peace upon entering the lodges.

So, why are these properties examples of sustainability?

  • Community / Social Engagement - Hacienda El Porvenir is working with (rather than just in) the local community to develop experiences that educate travelers on the Andean way of life. These experiences include: being guided by an authentic chagra (Andean cowboy), involving travelers with reforestation efforts as well as the workings of a real farm, and offering travelers a way to pay it forward by working with local primary schools that teach computer science, English, Art and sports education, in addition to ecology.
  • Community / Economic Management - Black Sheep Inn is entirely operated by the local community.  The local host, Edmundo, who recently spearheaded ACHUTECS (Asociación de Chugchilán de Turismo Ecológico Comunitario Sostenible), rents the property from the owners who are responsible for maintenance and community engagement.  Along with a recycling center, the Inn is making a positive impact on the livelihoods of the local community through the establishment of a local public library / computer learning center, workshops in family planning and guiding skills, and provision of an interest-free loan to a neighbor to start a horseback riding business.  Lastly, the Inn offers additional proposals for the protection for the Iliniza Ecological Reserve that includes wildlife surveys and patrols.

 Black Sheep Inn Green Innovations

  • Environmentally-Sound Construction - Chilcabamba Eco Lodge was built entirely with local and recycled materials while the Black Sheep Inn has installed alternative energy and water collection systems, an organic garden and its infamous composting toilets. As it's under new management (under Destination Ecuador), Chilcambamba is planning to reconfigure its rooms, upgrade bathrooms and expand its outdoor garden space using sustainable methods.

Do you know of other properties in Ecuador, or around the world, that evoke these principles of sustainability? If so, please share!


Check out our trips through Ecuador, including the Cultural & Wildlife MultiSport Adventure, Galapagos Yacht Cruise, First Look Galapagos & Amazon Adventure, and Galapagos Culinary Adventure.


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Irene is the founder & president of Greenloons. She is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 32 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, Huffington Post blogger and radio talk show guest. 


  • Guest
    Stacey Stovall Wednesday, 27 May 2015

    Missed you at ESTC

    Hello Irene!
    I must have missed you at the ESTC in Quito. You and I talked a year or so ago re: your project to gather data on ecotourism. I moved from Idaho to Cuenca, Ecuador last year.

    Great article. The next time you're in Ecuador, please give me a shout.


  • Guest
    Irene Wednesday, 27 May 2015

    RE:Missed you at ESTC

    Hi Stacey,
    It was a beautiful venue for a conference, but difficult to find people. Happy to share my ESTC presentation with you, if you'd like. Otherwise, happy to meet up the next time I'm in Ecuador.

    All the best,

  • Guest
    Nilufar sheikh Friday, 14 October 2016

    Sustainable Travel Through Cotopaxi,Ecuador

    Sandra Naranjo, the Minister of Tourism announced that Ecuador collaboration with Global Sustainable Tourism Council about Creating standards for sustainability in Tourism. This is giving positive impact for traveler as it emerges the implementation standards of sustainability boutique hotels especially in the Cotopaxi region. As stated in the article above, Cotopaxi region offered the beautiful Cotopaxi volcano which is the world’s highest active volcano and while visiting traveler could enjoy the scenery whether by biking, hiking and horseback riding for adults and children. Those boutique demonstrates the principles of sustainable tourism through the activities mentioned earlier. There are communities or social engagement which is empowering local community to come up with activities for travelers by experiencing Andean way of life. These activities are guided by Andean cowboy named Chagra, working in a real farm for reforestation efforts.

    Furthermore, they also open up opportunities for traveler to teach in local primary schools. Next thing, they teach local community to manage the economy sectors. In fact, one of Inn is fully operated by local community. Pioneering to rent the property from owners which responsible for the maintenance and community engagement. Not only that, they also have recycling centers which give positive impact such as job opportunities in local establishment. Moreover, these local inn also offers extra proposals for the protection of Ilniza ecological reserve including wildlife surveys and patrols. Last but not least, they additionally implement environmental sounds construction which means one of Eco lodge was built fully with local resources and recycled materials. Other than that, they also install alternative energy water collection systems and organic garden. All of this construction is under new management, Chilcambamba is planning to reconfigure its rooms, upgrade bathrooms and expand its open area garden space in sustainable methods.

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Guest Sunday, 25 February 2018

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