Andean Lodges: Our Mission Statement
3 September 2018
Tourism today has become a business far different from what it was when it began. More and more, trips are marketed as a commodity, to meet demand for temporary travel fads and trendy destinations. At Andean Lodges we take a very different approach and break away from such consumerism by traveling far away from the usual crowds. We believe in creating unique, challenging experiences, and in sharing together in the traditional ways of life and stories of local native people. We want your trip to Peru to be a life-transforming experience- a time that you’ll forever remember and cherish in your heart and soul.
Andean Lodges was founded upon the idea of offering unique opportunities for travelers to encounter living cultures and impressive landscapes in Peru’s southern Andes Mountains. Our key goal is to connect travelers with the rich traditional culture of this region- with native people who continue to live according to ancient ways and timeless principles. By offering such adventures we create mutual benefit – our guests take part in challenging yet also comfortable treks, while the local communities enhance their livelihoods by providing key services and operations on the treks. Our offices are based in Cusco, the historical capital of Inca Empire. However, the starting and end points of our main trekking programs are the native villages surrounding majestic Mt. Ausangate, the Apu or mountain deity that shelters and provides water and life to those villages.
When we entered the travel industry we knew we wanted to do it in a different way. From the start, Andean Lodges has included the local indigenous communities of Chillca and Osefina as associates in our operations, under conditions which do not in any way impede their everyday life or harm their lands. The communities have become an integral and inseparable part of our organization, and a crucial component in the success of our trekking expeditions. Every community member who wants to collaborate with us is welcomed, and the company provides them with free-of-charge training in hospitality services. We understand the communities’ desire to develop tourism as a new source of income, and this coincides with our vision of how ecotourism should go hand-in-hand with local sustainable economic development.
We follow the guidelines and precepts of harm-free sustainable tourism. We use biodegradable systems for disposing of all organic waste. Non-organic waste is transported back to Cusco for further recycling. The food products we serve are locally produced, fresh and organic. As for transportation, our use of hardy, well-adapted llamas generates income for the local llama herders. We recognize the principle of providing fair wages. Our workers are paid immediately after each trek is over, thus creating a direct positive impact on the local economy. Finally, treks are organized for small groups so as to not damage the land and harm nature’s balance, and to enhance the trekking experience of each visitor.
The Vilcanota mountain range is home to our native colleagues and is the source of key resources for the communities that live there. Andean Lodges recognizes this fact and does everything possible not to adversely impact the existing ecological balance. Our treks take hikers to altitudes of over 5,000 m., where we visit ponds, lakes, glaciers and sacred sites. We know we’re guests in these lands, and we admire and revere nature’s great strength and fragile beauty. Thus, visitors need both physical stamina and mental clarity for the days spent with us, along with a healthy respect for the wind, the snow, the animals and the waters.
We’re very proud of our four eco-lodges. They were built in a joint effort together with the communities, and they’re well-adapted to their surrounding environment. We know what hikers need after a long day’s hike, so we provide all possible comforts within the sustainability guidelines we follow. The only heating we use is fireplaces and only in some parts of the lodges, so that the carbon footprint is as minimal as possible. Electricity, phones or internet connections are not available at the lodges, which makes the stay as realistic as real life is for the villagers. However, candlelight and plenty of warm blankets keep our guests warm and cozy during the Andean nights.
Our company’s work remains outside major commercial channels. We are not seeking to reach a mass market, or to increase the number of travelers participating in a single trek. That would not agree with our founding concept or our sustainability principles, nor would it be beneficial for the communities and ecosystems with which we collaborate and interact. Trekking Ausangate is the perfect adventure for those who seek unique, valuable experiences and not just a travel product; for those who travel not just to see, but to feel more alive and in full harmony with new lands and diverse people; and for those who understand that travel is not just a visit to an unknown place, but is a process through which one learns and discovers a great deal about oneself and about others.