Tourism in Peru is huge. It has been for decades and still gets bigger and bigger every year. Even though the economic benefits are undisputable, this investment sometimes doesn’t translate into a better way of life for the local communities and conservation of the historical and natural environment.
Low impact travel or responsible tourism can make a difference (a really big fat one!). Here are some tips to make your trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu eco friendly and benefit local communities in their everyday life. Make your amazing experience in Peru count!
Before you go
Besides surfing the web for the best tours, try to learn something about Peru and Cusco: the ancient culture, religion, local customs and more. Even practicing some words or phrases in Spanish will work great. Not only they’ll be very helpful among your way but will show respect and interest for locals.
Leave no prints!
The Inca Trail in Cusco has been there for centuries before you starting hiking through those amazing paths. And we wish to keep it that way for many more adventure lovers to come! Minimizing your environmental impact is key to guarantee environmental conservation.
The basic rule is to don’t leave rubbish behind. Please take them with you after visiting ruins or trekking and dispose them in suitable facilities in the main towns. Taking glass water bottles or canteens and refilling them is the best way to go instead of using plastic. If they offer you products made by endangered animals or plants or ancient artifacts, just walk away!
Work and buy local
Maybe by going through mainstream travel agencies you’re not giving anything back to the amazing community that is receiving you. Make sure to hire an operator that works with local people or that actually have projects that support local development.
Try to put your money in local businesses. Maybe instead of buying imported brands of food choose local products for your grocery needs. You won’t believe how good local beer and natural fruit juice taste. And don’t let us get started with the locally produced handicrafts… Just amazing!
They’re people, not scenery
Sometimes we can get too carried away trying to get the greatest picture of all times. Locals aren’t part of the landscape so always ask them before taking a photograph. If they are dressed up in traditional clothes they may want to charge you for the picture; negotiate a price with them but be careful not to encourage begging especially amongst children.
To haggle is common in Peru. Do it but just be careful not to take it way too far. A couple of dollars to you can mean a huge difference in the everyday budget of locals. Pay a fair price.