Our history: How two communities came together to create Andean Lodges
17 May 2019
Places where authentic traditional cultures have ancient roots and are thriving in a pristine landscape are becoming more and more rare in this ever-changing world. For many, and certainly for us at Andean Lodges, the importance of preserving those cultures and conserving the lands and resources they depend upon is paramount.
Andean Lodges was founded on the basis of such principles, with the goal of perpetuating the cultural heritage and ecological integrity of one of Peru’s treasures- the Ausangate region of Cusco and its native communities.
The inspiration for our work at Ausangate began in the first years of this new century, from the experiences of a professional mountaineering guide, Roger Valencia, who over the course of many expeditions and climbs at Ausangate began an ongoing dialogue with the local native cooks, llama herders and caravan drivers that accompanied his trips.
The key questions discussed were, “How do we improve the local economy? And how do we accomplish this while preserving the local traditional culture?”.
Enthusiasm for greater participation in tourism ran high among the local villagers of the Ausangate towns of Chillca and Osefina.
Thus inspired, they looked back in history to the ancestral Inca civilization, when travelers along the Inca road network would use domesticated llamas as pack animals, making stops at shelters known as tambos.
The idea of creating a circuit around magnificent Mt. Ausangate, where ecolodges would be strategically located at key sites with great views became the driving goal.
Roger Valencia took on promotion of the concept, both in Peru and globally. With the help of grants, market studies, and local financing, by 2006 the Chillca and Osefina communities had begun the gradual process of constructing of the first ecolodge.
At the same time, training workshops began for the villagers, involving many different tasks involved in operating treks and lodging services along the circuit.
New work positions for community members included: hospitality services, housekeeping, cooking, and leading llama caravans along the treks.
It took four years to construct the first lodge, Anantapata Tambo, due to the remoteness and climate conditions in the area. The lodge began operating in 2010.
Since then, three more ecolodges have been built, and dozens of both full-time and part-time sustainable job positions have been created for the local Quechua villagers.
Roger Valencia went on to become Peru’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, and he continues to be closely involved with Andean Lodges’ initiatives.
Culture and development
The native women weavers of the Ausangate communities have also become an integral part of the project, as they present their unique and beautiful handcrafts to visitors.
Over the years, Andean Lodges’ mission of providing the people of Chillca and Osefina with the means for sustainable economic development has been made a reality, and the close collaboration between the company and the local communities continues to grow.
The traditional native people of Chillca and Osefina really are the core and essence of Andean Lodges, as owners and stewards of the land, part-owners of the business, and the main participants in all aspects of the company’s operations.
At Andean Lodges we are very proud of our trajectory. We know that ours is a history of collaboration and success, and a model for ecotourism projects worldwide.
And we invite you to experience Mt. Ausangates’s amazing traditional culture and pristine landscapes by visiting us at andeanlodges.com.