Entre Mundos Community Tourism Projects
It seems like it was so long ago that I spent 2 weeks documenting Entre Mundos in Guatemala. I’m finally getting around to finishing some pieces on my experience !
The last article I wrote about Entre Mundos we explored the a few of their Small Grants Programs. We will visit more of those later. This article is about their Community Tourism Program. This Program, which EntreMundos has run since 2010, aims to help rural groups strengthen and improve their sustainable community tourism projects.
“The principal goal is for local communities to be competent and capable of taking charge of their tourism projects without external help or financial support. This goal anticipates a process of accompaniment and institutional strengthening that offers an alternative source of income for rural areas that depend solely on agriculture, preserving natural resources while allowing tourists to appreciate their natural environment, culture, ancestral knowledge, and lifestyle. “ –Entre Mundos Website
While I was with Entre Mundos I joined Helvetas one of the community tour program companies that Entre Mundos supports. I traveled to various parts of Guatemala with Pam, Ana, Cesar, and Daniel.
The first stop for the day was a hike to see four of the twelve alters that are still used for rituals amongst the Mayans. The first alter is the Alter of the Toad, the second was an alter that appeared to look like an old man and woman. From the top of the hill you could see the valley of Quetzaltenango. On the distant mountain ranges additional alters presided. While on this tour we also went into an alter that was inside a cave.
Our second stop on this day was to Paqui. Here we hiked to more ritual alters with Luis, Santos, and Juan from the committee on sustainable natural resources and environmental projects of Paqui.
Our last stop on the first day was Parque Chajil Siwan. Here we met up with Santos Gutierrez who gave us a tour around the ecological park. The park is perfect for hiking, camping and bird watching. It also has a zipline that you can take around the park to get a true birds eye view.
Over the weekend, we traveled to San Marcos to visit a few more Community Tourism Projects. The first stop was Sustentar. A beautiful park that is perfect for hiking. The park also has beautiful cabins for both large and small groups to stay in as they make their way up to the top of local volcano. The large cabin area fits up to 15 people in a community like setting. While we were there we met a few new rangers who were learning about the all the wildlife and plants that are in the area.
Because of the rain (Note to travelers... it may be warm and hot in the US in June... it's cold and rainy in Guatemala.) we saved San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta for the next morning which. It was great because the weather was perfect. San Rafael is gorgeous. Known for it's hiking, and bird watching especially for the Quetzal. We spent the morning hiking around the park looking for the infamous Quetzal. Today they stayed hidden but we did see some amazing waterfalls.
On our way out of San Marcos we made two final stops. The first was at a coffee plantation called Fica Villa Alicia . Roberto took us around his plantation and showed us how he develops coffee from start to finish. We were able to see the coffee plants being planted.
Our last stop on the way back was to Granja San Fernando. This little farm off the side of the road is know for it's fresh goat cheese and tortillas. And they were delicious! The farm also serves fresh goat milk, eggs, and more.
The last stop that I visited for the Community Tourism Project was Parque Regional Municipal Quetzaltenango. This location was tough to get to. We drove for about 30 minutes on really undeveloped roads. Here we went on a 2 hour hike up a mountain to where we had a view of one of the active volcanos in Quetzaltenango. After the hike we stopped at a little hotel that had thermal baths from the volcano.