An Insider’s Guide to Sustainable Destinations
Tom Johnson-Sabine from our marketing team looks at some of the great strides being made in responsible tourism in Latin America.
Ever since we began pioneering journeys to Latin America over 30 years ago, travelling responsibly has always been integral to the award-winning holidays we create. Making sure we help support and protect the places we visit is of utmost importance to us. We strive to give something back to the region that we're passionate about and that has bought us so many unforgettable and authentic experiences.
One of the ways we do this is by seeking out hotels and suppliers on the ground, that share in our philosophy. Latin America has made great strides in recent years to improve its responsible tourism and many of its hotels have introduced innovative new systems and sustainable programmes that set real examples to the rest of the world.
Below are examples of just some of the hotels and lodges that are making progress in this arena, and you can join us at any one of them as during your journey around Latin America.
Priding itself on being able to offer guests a 100% carbon neutral stay, the Inkaterra group has pioneered ecological research for conservation since 1975. They recruit many local workers in doing so, and were named the first carbon neutral tourism company in Peru.
Their work has established permanent conservation areas (of which Inkaterra manages 17,000 hectares of rain and cloud forest); A rescue centre for endangered Andean or Spectacled Bears; The complete restoration of five hectares of native forest at the Machu Picchu hotel site; And field monitoring programmes undertaken by permanently employed resident biologists.
You can find out more about Inkaterra at Machu Picchu and include it as part of Luxury Peru and Galápagos: Machu Picchu and the Enchanted Islands.
Pousada Naturalia on Ilha Grande
Pousada Naturalia is a beautiful guesthouse built with conservation of the surrounding area as its primary concern. Eight of its rooms have solar-heated water, and all rooms have an optimisation system to avoid electrical energy waste. The guesthouse features an environmentally friendly septic cesspool with filters, while all pillars used in the guesthouse construction are made from sustainable eucalyptus wood and all stones found on the site were preserved and used in the construction. Pousada Naturalia on Ilha Grande can be enjoyed as part of Brazil's Emerald Coast.
One of the most dangerous threats to the Galapagos’ biodiversity is introduced invasive species. So the Galapagos Safari Camp (GSC) has started reforestation project that helps to tackle invasive species, with assistance from Conservation International and guidance from the Botany Department at the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Situated on the last farm before the National Park, West of Santa Cruz, the difference between introduced and endemic flora is at its most apparent here. GSC’s work helps to control further dangerous invasions that leak into transit-zone park land.
Galapagos Safari Camp can be enjoyed as part of a tailor made holiday to the Galapagos Islands.
Windsor Martinique in Rio de Janeiro
The Windsor Chain does much to support communities in and around Rio, including when in 2010 in partnership with the City Hall they adopted the gardens and water fountains of the Princess Isabel Ave Boulevards to undertake a complete revitalisation of the area (including replacing the old illumination system with a more economic form of energy supply). The Windsor Chain also make contributions to a number of charities including the Assistance Association for Disabled Children (AADC) for whom they distribute Christmas cards each year. They also operate a successful ‘Young Apprentice’ programme that has already offered hundreds of local youngsters career opportunities in the hospitality industry. Windsor Martinique Rio de Janeiro can be enjoyed as part of Explore and Relax Peru and Brazil: Machu Picchu to Rio.
Situated on Copacabana’s waterfront in Rio de Janeiro, in August 2012 the hotel launched its “Small Gestures, Big Hopes” campaign that automatically adds 1 euro to a guest’s bill. (This can be removed or increased according to each guest’s preference). Porto Bay started the campaign off with an initial donation of 10,000 euros, and in the seven months between launch and February 2013 have successfully raised just under 28,000 euros. The donations have gone towards several worthy causes, primarily in disadvantaged areas of Portugal, including amongst others ‘Associacao de Parilisia Cerebral da Madeira’, supporting young people and adults suffering from cerebral palsy; The ‘Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro’, promoting the prevention of cancer, supporting research, and giving care and support to patients. Porto Bay Rio Internacional can be enjoyed as part of Hummingbird: Ocean to Ocean.
Zuleta is a colonial working farm that dates from the late 16th century, owned by the family of Mr Galo Plaza (a former president of Ecuador), where guests enjoy delicious home Ecuadorian cuisine, almost all of which is produced on the farm. Fresh milk and cream comes from the farm’s dairy cows; Handmade cheeses are produced from the same milk and crafted in the farm’s small cheese factory; Rainbow trout are caught on the grounds and freshly churned butter melts over warm bread baked from wheat harvested on the Hacienda.
Not to mention the abundance of fresh organic fruit and vegetable picked from the gardens and used to make delicious juices and salads. Zuleta also operates an Andean Condor rehabilitation programme ‘Condor Huasi Project’ that works to reintroduce captive Andean Condors back into the wild as well as conserving the ‘paramo’ (high-altitude grasslands) for the condors in the area. Hacienda Zuleta can be enjoyed as part of Aracari: Waterfalls and Wildlife.
Located close to the world famous Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, this hacienda does a great deal to support the local Mayan community whose ancestors built the famous site that attracts tourism to the area. This includes promoting the ‘Pack for Purpose’ scheme that encourages guests to make use of their full airline baggage weight allowance by bringing gifts and donations that they will pass on to the local communities. Hacienda Chichen has also recently built a new Nutrition Centre for the local community. Here they run nutrition and health programmes and workshops for young adults to learn how to successfully budget for proper meal plans. Providing them with nutritious foods, the centre has helped support local Mayan families, and in its first two months aided 120 children suffering from malnutrition. Hacienda Chichen can be enjoyed as part of Honeymoon in Mexico: Lost Cities and Beaches of the Mayan Riviera.
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.
Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.