5 Ways to Experience Community-Based Tourism in Peru
Peru is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse South American destinations. Seasoned and new travelers will enjoy exploring this country from the coast to the mountains, as well as meeting all sorts of locals, from the cosmopolitan to the indigenous. But because Peru draws such large crowds of visitors, it is important that travelers be respectful of the local culture, environment, and economy. The best way to do this is by participating in sustainable tourism activities.
We’ve put together a list of unique sustainable tourism experiences in Peru, in order to encourage visitors to travel through all the regions of the country via community-based initiatives. There are opportunities to discover the jungle, the desert, and the mountains when joining these travel experiences.
Additionally, all of these activities have not only been listed on Visit.org, meaning that they have been fully-vetted to be responsible to the local culture, environment, and economy — but they are also part of Mincetur’s community-based tourism program. Mincetur is the Peruvian Tourism Ministry, which has a special branch for community-based tourism aimed at generating the economic and social inclusion of rural populations through tourism.
What is sustainable tourism?
Simply put, sustainable tourism means traveling to a destination in a way that sustains its resources. With mass tourism activities (such as large cruises, or hotel-chain tour packages), participants may be insensitive to local customs because they are not truly immersed in a culture — leading to its deterioration.
Additionally, the main objective of mass tourism is to earn capital, making eco-friendly decisions less of a priority. The funds earned through mass tourism, however, are not kept in local hands, but instead get channeled into transnational corporations (only about 5% stays with the locals).
The alternative is sustainable tourism. This means that the local culture will not be disrupted, and in fact, will be preserved by the activities, allowing visitors to authentically immerse themselves in the destination. Moreover, the environment is looked after, with conservation and protection being of utmost priority. And finally, with sustainable tourism, the local economy is contributed to. Meaning that the funds stay in local hands, and also, local jobs are created for the community.
- Go off the beaten path in the jungle
Hosted by the community-based project Baawaja Expeditions, you can explore the jungles of Peru in a way that supports locals and their environment. Visit.org and Mincetur partner Baawaja Expeditions runs programs in youth education, health care for the elderly, cultural preservation, fish breeding, and forest conservation.
Booking a sustainable tourism experience with them will be unique: from discovering traditional medicines to encountering wildlife. But it will also be meaningful. Tour revenue will be reinvested into the causes that Baawaja Expeditions supports.
- Explore the Peruvian Coast
Hike with a group of friends through the beautiful countryside of Peru. The Asociación Circuito Ecoturístico Lomas de Paraíso VMT hosts the sustainable experience, and is a nonprofit organization that offers tourism services through local volunteers and young people as a way to help preserve the hills of Villa Maria del Triunfo.
The amazing thing about this special ecosystem is that the hills capture the high level of humidity in the air and allow the desert that Lima is to become green and full of lush vegetation. This organization, also works on a program to capture the humidity with tight nets and transform it into drinkable water for the residents of the zone. When you explore these panoramic hills, you’ll also learn about ancient and contemporary Peruvian culture.
- Experience the Islands of Lake Titicaca
Head to one of Peru’s most popular destinations, Lake Titicaca. For a truly unique experience in the largest lake in South America, book a tour with Visit.org partner org RedTurc, and meet the indigenous Uros people inhabiting the lake’s floating islands. With RedTurc you can enjoy a demonstration of artisanal fishing or discover traditional clothing of the indigenous people.Tour revenue will be invested in local programs promoting children’s education, family self-sufficiency, health, and environment.
- Get Immersed in Local Farm Life at the Colca Canyon
The community-based cooperative ASETUR hosts a Colca Cañon homestay tour. There, you’ll discover the daily lives of Sibayo natives and support sustainable tourism and development in rural Peru. ASETUR works with rural villages to create basic tourism infrastructure through which they may grow and modernize. So your trip down Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world, will not only be an unforgettable adventure — it will also make a positive impact.
- See the Natural Beauty of Huascaran National Park
Led by Visit.org partner Humacchuco, on this multi-day trek, you’ll visit the beautiful lagoon and nearby hiking trail in the Huascarán National Park, all while supporting the individuals of the village. You will also discover the natural beauty of the Peruvian landscape on our White Cordillera trail, located a breathtaking 3,300 meters (about 2 miles) above sea level. And being 100% sustainable, tour revenue is invested in supporting the local villagers in maintaining both an environmentally sound terrain and a financially stable lifestyle.