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Examples of Sustainable Travel Through Cotopaxi, Ecuador
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.
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.
- 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!