The heights of the Andes have for centuries given shelter to hundreds of indigenous communities, quechuas and aymaras, dedicated to agriculture or the livestock breeding which has taken place since even before the Incas. They are the true inheritors of the pre-hispanic cultures which lived in Peru for centuries and they still preserve a large part of the culture, organisation (agricultural technology, water maintenance, textiles) and the cosmic vision of the ancient Andean people.
Their know-how is a cultural inheritance of great value. Each community has its own reality and its own special history which is reflected in its culture, as well as in its economic organisation, its relationship with the language, with nature and, of course, with the ‘modern’ world.
The Andean farming communities, just as with those of the jungle, are protected by community laws. However, in recent years they have been threatened by the financial interests of large multi-national companies who are often seeking access to energy resources which are to be found under the earth. They accuse the indigenous population of not being ‘productive’.
Access to the tourism market can mean an important stimulus for rapid growth and competitiveness. This, nevertheless, should be carried out with due caution and supervised technical criteria and a balanced approach. Tourism is an added bonus but shouldn’t be a substitute for the local agrarian forms of economy.
The communities which participate on projects of community-based tourism, are in general to be found in the most emblematic locations, both for their history and remarkable landscape. The initiatives are managed on a very small-scale and with a limited number of visitors. These projects are developed with the technical support of NGO’s, private institutions or the State. They offer consultancy services to the communities on subjects such as waste management, environmental management, the revival of indigenous traditions, and the setting up of a service industry amongst others.