How can your globe-trotting be regenerative?
Travellers with limited time and budgets find it challenging to find local customs and experiences that provide alternatives to the current extractive mass tourism.
Indigenous communities miss out on opportunities to connect and build enduring relationships with those who visit their ancestral lands.
They often have little choice but abandon their ways of life to focus their energy and resources to compete with each other in tourist markets selling handcrafts, ceremonies or photo opportunities.
In addition tourists often don’t appreciate the value of their handcrafted and cultural artefacts when compared to mass produced, factory-made tourist souvenirs.
Getting Off the Mystical Detours
Study online with Amaru Stay
Get to know the Amaru community and start to build a relationship with them before you even visit the Andes.
Learn directly from Lucia Ccana Santa Cruz, and Walter Peña Huarca, community leaders in the Amaru Community. Lucia and Walter are the founders of Amaru Stay, a homestead experience more than 3,800 meters above sea level in Sacred Valley, Peru.
EcoNova Leaders and Tours for your Soul are collaborating with Amaru Stay to provide online cultural teachings answering questions about courtship, marriage, homesteading, child rearing, dealing with modern technology and more.
Karina also established Inshi.Textiles, a fair trade enterprise that aims to help our local Peruvian friends sell their artefacts virtually, to make up for the absence of tourism.
The program includes tips for good etiquette when visiting remote indigenous communities, as well as themes about work, family and life as experienced by mountain communities as they navigate the delicate balance between maintaining traditional life and industrial paradigms.
We ask them questions that are universal, with the purpose to inspire travelers to make similar inquiries when meeting other indigenous communities wherever they go.
The recordings are done safely outdoors, using the available digital technologies and limited internet connection in Pisaq, Peru. All recordings are paid for, therefore providing positive and fair exchange of knowledge, with respect to Amaru Stay’s guidance to ensure as authentic an experience possible. The content is also available to Amaru Stay to use as they wish.
This collaboration with Amaru Stay is now being turned into an online Introduction to Regenerative Travel course currently on our online community on Mighty Networks. This forms the foundation of the EcoNova Leaders Regenerative Travel and Retreat Practitioner program.
Proceeds of the course will go to Amaru Stay as part of our effort to ensure fair and sustainable revenue and recognition of the value, as a supplement to their other income generating activities, such as potato farming.
Watch one of Lucia and Karina’s videos recorded in celebration of Valentine Day, 2021.
MaRi’s Travel Story
During 2020 the impact of the pandemic laid bare how fragile the future of communities were when tourists disappeared almost overnight.
One of my biggest frustrations as a traveler, was being unable to find access to off-the-beaten track communities and cultural experiences away from tourist traps or performance spirituality and self-growth retreats.
During group retreats I had to adhere to a pre-determined itinerary and cultural experiences that were not always providing me with opportunities to connect with locals in a way that I wanted. Some group leaders even prohibited such contact, mediating all the interactions and preventing future relationship building.
What really bothered me was the challenges to know how to be respectful and ensure porters, indigenous teachers and guides received a fair exchange for their contribution.
It was also difficult for me to find female indigenous teachers, in particular to learn about the practical aspects of their lives.
Mass wellness and spiritual tourism often dominates places such as Peru, Thailand or Nepal, making it almost impossible to connect with real people and their lives.
I also knew that tourism (including myself) was having a detrimental impact. For example, in Peru llamas have been replaced by sheep, and many mothers travel daily on the dangerous mountain roads to sell their handmade crafts to big tourist markets, often with little to show for their effort.
When the pandemic arrived, I started exploring how to make a more long-term positive impact beyond charity financial support.
I asked Karina Fortier, who introduced me to Lucia and Walter, if Amaru Stay would be open to share their knowledge for virtual cultural travel experiences.
To our delight we discovered not only much richness in their content, but also that these videos were emotionally uplifting for people living far away from the pristine Andean mountain environment. Lucia, in her gentle way, was also providing much food for thought about how we can support her passion to protect ancestral knowledge for her communities to be resilient and sustainable for the future.
Over time the realization dawned that we could turn this into a new source of income for them, as I had access and expertise in creating online training, Karina was a translator, and Lucia and Walter were good advisors on how to engage and interact in a more holistic way with indigenous communities around the world. Karina also established a free and fair trade enterprise to support communities to find new market opportunities for their globally recognized and popular crafts.