Carolina Canto, of social enterprise and responsible travel company Sumak Travel, reports on a new homestay initiative in Argentina…
As a part of a rural travel experience in Argentina, the co-operative ‘Red de Turismo Campesino’ (Rural Tourism Network) in the Calchaquíes valleys of Salta offers a great opportunity to enjoy local culture, share in their daily lives and to be a guest in their homes.
To improve their livelihoods and provide opportunities for authentic cultural exchange, these rural communities decided to offer their homes to tourists. Part of this income benefits the host family directly while the rest is invested in a common fund for the community.
Accommodation: There are various houses along the valleys that offer accommodation to visitors. Each of them has one to three double bedrooms that are especially allocated for visitors. Beds, mattress, blankets and bathrooms have been recently renewed or improved in order to guarantee a comfortable stay. The capacity of each house generally varies between two to four guests, with six being the maximum.
Food: Traditional Andean dishes are cooked by family members as a part of the experience. Guests have the opportunity to either join in preparing the meal or to sit down, relax and observe the cooking process. In addition, visitors are invited to join them during their farming tasks growing several types of seeds, fruits and vegetables. Do try their delicious Andean cuisine made from fresh ingredients from the region and discover their different techniques of organic wine making.
Activities: Visitors can take guided walks along the valleys through the croplands and vineyards enjoying the beautiful landscapes of Salta. From growing onions or cattle breeding to horse riding and ceramic adobe craftsmanship, the community of Salta offer the traveller a great opportunity to enjoy a ‘living’ experience of rural life in the valley.
Recommended for… Those who are looking for a respectful and authentic cultural exchange with the community in Salta, and real interaction with nature. The activities are not physically challenging and distances are short so that anyone is able to join in and enjoy them.
Be aware that… This is a traditional homestay with welcoming hosts – but if you need a hotel-style experience this may not be for you…
- The ‘Red de Turismo Campesino’ of Salta, Argentina is an active member of the Argentinian Network of Rural Community Tourism
- By winning the contest of the ‘Citizen fund of Argentina’, the community was awarded funds to support their expenses and continue with the strengthening of their touristic offer
- The co-operative and network are self-managed by 50 rural families from Salta, in the north of Argentina
- They work under the framework of fair-trade, responsible tourism and cooperative work with local identity
- They have designed a rotating working system in which each family has the same opportunity to provide services and sell their handcrafts to tourists, so that the benefits from tourism are equally distributed within the network
- The cooperative aims to make tourism a complementary activity that allows them to improve their livelihoods while preserving their traditional lifestyle
About the author: Carolina is a staff member of the recently launched ethical travel company and social enterprise Sumak Sustainable Travel. Sumak offers responsible travel experiences connecting people with local life in Latin America and opening the door for travellers to meet and exchange with inspiring people and projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. For more information, including other eco-travel tours, visit www.sumak-travel.org.