Category Archives: Green Travel Exchange

101 Reasons to visit Lima!

On a global scale, Lima, Peru moves up in rankings for international events, which started with hosting the World Travel & Tourism Americas Summit and the COP 20 (UN Climate Change) last 2014, the World Bank-IMF Summit in 2015, APEC Peru 2016, EITI 2016 & the UNESCO World Congress for Biosphere Reserves, among the varied world summits.

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Caballo de Paso – dancing the “Marinera,” Peru’s National Dance. Photo via Hacienda Los Ficus

 

Called Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings) by the Spanish conquerors, the capital city is much more than the gateway to Peru. With the country’s best museums – more than 20 of them, plus striking baroque and renaissance churches, colonial mansions and houses (casonas), world-class restaurants, and outstanding night life, Lima deserves more than a quick stopover. The old colonial center, now identified as a World Heritage site, was the crown jewel of Spain’s South American empire. 

A mix of colonial heritage and Latin passion, grime and glamour — Lima is a tantalizing appetizer of what Peru has to offer. – Frommer’s

Modern Lima is an enigmatic, energetic city of contrasts, dotted with pre-historic sites and archeological ruins, and comprised of distinctive districts and neighborhoods. Sophisticated San Isidro, with elegant old homes and the lovely Olive Grove; as well as the galleries and bistros of artistic Barranco, and the charming flower filled parks and artisan shops of Miraflores, offer intriguing, uniquely Peruvian, urban attractions.

With Peruvian cuisine having captured the fancy of international epicures, Lima has become Latin America’s gastronomical capital, so let’s begin our breakdown of  101 reasons to visit Lima!

Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca, against backrop of high rise apartments.

12 Huacas (Ancient Adobe Pyramids): Pachacamac, Pucllana, Huallamarca, Maranga Complex (8 pyramids), and a little further up north, Caral;

Lima Art Museum

Museo de Arte de Lima – “MALI”

 9 Museums: Larco, Museo de Oro, Amano, Arte Lima, Arte Italiano, National Archaeological, Anthropology and History, Pedro Osma;

 9 Theaters: Gran Teatro Nacional (Grand National Theater), Municipal Teatro de Lima, Plaza Isil, Teatro Peruano Japones, Segura, PUCP Cultural Center, La Tarumba, Teatro Canout, Marsano;

 12 Historical Buildings: Casa Aliaga, Palacio Torre Tagle,  Archbishop Palace, Presidential Palace, House of Congress, Lima Municipal Palace, Casa de Riva Agüero, Casa Larriva, Casa de Osambelo/Casa Oquendo, Casa de la Moneda, Casa Miguel Grau, Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes;

9 Churches: Lima Cathedral, San Franciso, Santa Rosa, Nazarenes, San Pedro, La Merced, San Sebastián, San Agustin, Convento de los Descalzos;

Lima is also a mecca for handicrafts and arts enthusiasts, and a top shopping destination where hundreds of stores offer outstanding traditional crafts of the highest quality, as well as remarkable silver and gold jewelry, antiques, objets d´ art, tapestries, exquisite wood carvings, paintings and pottery. Colorful outdoor markets are popular, filled with dazzling traditional Peruvian items not to found in shopping malls.

Artesanias Markets/Shops (Handicrafts) Market & Specialty Shops: Mercado Central Lima, La Paz silver crafts Street, Miraflores antique shops, Mercado Indio, Barranco, Dedalo, Alpaca Shops in Larcomar.

43 Cuisine Specialties. Comida Criolla(Peruvian/creole): Jose Antonio, El Senorio de Sulco, Huaca Pucllana, Brujas de Cachiche,  Panchita, El Rocoto, La Rosa Nautica Fiesta, Malabar, Central, Astrid & Gaston; Cafés: La Tiendecita Blanca, Café café, Mangos, San Antonio, Café del Museo, Manolo; Cevicherias(seafood): Punta Arenas, La Rana Verde, La Red, La Mar, Pescados Capitales, Segundo Muelle, Punta Sal, Big Ben; Chifas (Peruvian Chinese): O Mei, Lung Fung, Wa Lok, Royal, Salon Capon, El Jade; Fusion/Japanese: Costanera 700, Cala, Hanzo, Kintaro, La Miga, Matsuei, Rafael, La 73, Osaka,  Amor Amar, Toshiro, Edo.

Cuisine Collage

Blessed with a mind-blowingly fertile ecosystem—3,000 varieties of potatoes is just the half of it—Lima is emerging as a new global culinary epicenter. – Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

43 restaurants, are just a tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  Hundreds more, old and new, big or small, are yet to be explored and savored!

For more information on Lima &  Peru, check out our blogs on Peru. Take a PERU DREAM TRIP by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay – any day departure. For travel assistance and bookings, check our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.

Photo Credits: Visit Peru, Gran Teatro Nacional

 

Peruphernalia- travel essentials to Peru

Peru is host to APEC 2016 and other key international events that started with EITI 2016, the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, among others. In order to make the most of your visit to this empire of hidden treasure and to prepare for probably the most incredible trip of a lifetime, here’s a compilation of useful guide and insider’s tips for you! Know and share.

Watch Peru, Empire of Hidden Treasures. Don’t just watch the movie, live it for real! “Enjoy the highest level of comfort, the most exquisite cuisine, breathtaking landscape filled with magic and fantasy and the entertainment you can only find here. Only in Peru. Empire of the hidden treasures.”

If Peru didn’t exist, travel guide books would have to invent it. It’s a land of lost cities and ancient ruins, brooding Andean peaks, dense jungles, quaint cities, festivals con-celebrating Roman Catholic masses with mysterious Incan rites. It’s like a whole world in a snow dome.- from the Travel Book.

Rich with majestic natural beauty, gracious people, and the legacy of  great ancient civilizations, Peru is a country that touches the soul.

The multifarious faces of Peru, one of the  friendliest people on earth.

The multifarious faces of Peru, from its three major geographical zones- Pacific Coast, the Andes mountains and the Amazon Rainforest – are some of the friendliest people on earth.

When planning to travel to Peru, in order to fully capture its magic and mystique, you need to understand what to expect. Prepare wisely with these important information for what will be one of the most amazing trips of your life.

Scenes from Lake Titicaca, seat of at least thre Peruvian cultures/civilizations.

Amazon River, one of the World’s New Seven Wonders of Nature.

 PERU FAST FAQs(Frequently Asked Questions)

 Acclimatization

Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased oxygen at high altitudes. Considering varying altitudes of the Andean mountain region destinations (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca), try to go first to the lower ones before ascending to higher altitude cities. It is a slow process that could take place over a couple of days. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.

Multi-civilizations - conserved cultural scenes from Lake Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake at 3,800 meters (17,000 feet) above sea level.

Multi-civilizations, scenes from Lake Titicaca, world’s highest navigable lake at 3,800 meters (17,000 feet) above sea level.

Altitude Sickness Prevention

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or soroche is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure usually above 2,400 meters (approximately 8,000 feet). The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. When you travel to a high altitude destination, do these to avoid altitude sickness: rest upon arrival, limit any walking or touring activity on your first day, drink plenty of water (or tea – they usually serve mate de coca – coca tea, for soroche), avoid taking alcoholic beverages and only eat light soup for your meal.

Connectivity / Communication

Peru is well connected with telephone landlines and mobile phones, as well as internet/ WiFi connections in most hotels and internet shops (cabinas de internet) in smaller cities and towns.

Seven Wonders: Peru has an archealogical motley of at least seven civilizations before the Incas.

Seven Wonders: Peru has an archealogical motley of at least seven civilizations before the Incas.

Currency/Credit Cards/ Foreign Exchange

Peru’s currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.) or Soles (plural). Peru is typical of many South American countries that operates a dual currency system; US$ American Dollar and the local Sol. In the provinces, credit card facilities may be limited only to major establishments. Travelers’ cheques are not common, so have cash  preferably in Soles on hand as foreign currency exchange is limited. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are mostly available only in the main cities.

As varied as the multi-cultures, wide array of exquisite cuisines awaits you at the Gastronomy capital of Latin America!

As varied as the multi-cultures, wide array of exquisite cuisines awaits you at the Gastronomy capital of Latin America!

Health/ Medical/Travelers Common Illness

To avoid any illnesses or travelers’ diarrhea, take care when eating raw or exotic foods. Drink bottled or boiled water and take precautions when buying/eating  street food/beverages. Hospitals and clinics provide adequate services, especially in Lima and the other main cities and can contact health care insurance directly.

Language

The official languages are Spanish (80% of the population), Quechua(Andean and highland regions), and Aymara (in the region of Puno high plateaus). It is generally easy to communicate in English with tourist service workers such as tour guides, travel agency employees and hotel staff in general, however it is very handy to know and practice a few basic phrases in Spanish. Besides, it also projects you as a savvy traveler, not to mention an educated one!

Luggage/Baggage Limit

Please know the baggage limit, number of pieces and weight allowed by domestic airline to your destination. Most domestic airlines have lesser baggage allowance (usually max. 10 kilos) than the international airlines (usually max. 23 kilos). In case of multiple destinations, it is advisable to travel light and bring only the essentials.

From the Amazon to the Andes and many cities in between there's an outdoor thrill for everyone.

From the Amazon to the Andes and many cities in between there’s an outdoor thrill for everyone.

If you are going to Machu Picchu, please take note that Peru Rail has imposed luggage limitation on the train to Aguas Calientes. Peru Rail Luggage Transport is a maximum hand-carried allowance of only 5 kilos/11 lbs. and measuring not more than 62 inches/157 cm (height, length & width) per passenger. Your heavier and bigger baggage may be transported in another train at an extra cost (US$1.80/kilo, one way, maximum 10 kilos) or may be left for storage at Peru Rail’s Luggage Storage only in Ollantaytambo Train Station at US$5.00/day.

Security  

It is important that you take common sense precautions when visiting Peru, just like in any major destination in the world, such as taking extra care of your belongings in public places or avoiding deserted places at night. The following are recommended as precautionary measures:

  • Secure electronic copies of your passport, airplane tickets and credit cards. Leave all your travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel vouchers etc) in the hotel safety deposit box and take only electronic copies with you.
  • Know the unsafe areas of the city/destination and avoid visiting them, especially at night. If you must exchange money, do so authorized money changers and exchange bureaus, or in banks. Avoid doing this in plain sight.It may not necessarily an immediate threat to you, but you should always be extra careful in crowded places such as busy avenues, airports, markets and tourist sites.
  • Try to learn a few key phrases in Spanish before you go, if not to help yourself get by, then at least to make the locals think you can speak the language and thus make you a more conscientious traveler who is careful and prepared.

    With over 3,000 festivals, how many native dances shall there be?

    With over 3,000 festivals, how many native dances shall there be?

Travel Insurance

It is recommended to buy a travel insurance to provide you general coverage in case of emergency or medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, lost tickets, baggage or damage, etc. This way, for any unforeseen event or circumstances, you have an insurance to fall back on.

Vaccinations and/or Medications  

It is recommended that you take the proper measures to protect yourself, specially from mosquito bites, in order to prevent infection from, among other diseases, yellow fever (vaccination) and malaria (repellant and medication). Consult your doctor before traveling.

Water

Potable water is limited in some areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and do not buy from street vendors or hawkers.

Conserved handicrafts, a living and thriving culture through centuries.

Weather/What to Wear

The Peruvian Coast is hot and sunny (northern area) or very humid (raw or damp, in Lima). Generally light comfortable clothing and footwear during the day and a light jacket for cooler nights.

At the Peruvian Andes, rainy season is between November and March, so best to bring water proof windbreaker or parkas. Temperatures drop dramatically at night, thus one should always prepare warmer clothes to layer. The Peruvian Jungle is hot, with a tropical climate, so we suggest light, (neutral-colored, khakis or forest green) cotton to wear; however certain times of the year, the jungle experiences “friaje” or cold front. It has daily temperatures averaging the 30°C and night temperatures could drop to cold 15°C so bring warmer clothes to layer. For more accurate information, please check your favorite destination weather website for forecast prior to travel.

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, or contact SSTDI.

Photo credits: all photos via Visit Peru

Sustainability meets splendor at the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Living culture at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba
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High in the Peruvian Andes, a verdant valley cuts a pathway between the imperial Inca city of Cusco and the dramatic peaks that protect the citadel of Machu Picchu. This is the Sacred Valley of the Inca, once the heartland of the Inca Empire and still shrouded in the mysteries of their great civilization. Perched on a slope overlooking the valley floor, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba reflects the region’s Andean and Spanish-colonial influences, capturing the essence of a destination with many cultural layers.

Upon arrival at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, you might first be struck by the spectacular vistas—in a lodge where nearly every window shows a panoramic view of the Andes, it can be difficult to look away.  Each excursion provides cultural insights into the storied Sacred Valley—opportunities to uncover the secrets of the Inca and the vibrant traditions of their descendants. ~ National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

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Bespoke Design, Owner’s Suite.Stay in a stunning countryside spanning 10 acres (4.05 has) at the property with 12 rooms including a three-room ‘Owners Suite’. Enjoy the panoramic views of the valley as well as the astounding Andes around you and be completely immersed in the overwhelming scenery. An additional 24 casitas will be opening the summer of 2015, offering a private and bespoke accommodation choice.

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For your comfort, relax at  exclusively designed custom made interiors and framed pre-Columbian textiles that accent the walls carefully picked by Denise Guislain-Koechlin, with help from her husband, Inkaterra’s founder and CEO Jose Koechlin.

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Earth to Plate Experience. With the Inca history being so deeply engrained in the local region, it is no surprise that the new Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas takes inspiration from this ancient civilisation with 10 acres of farmland, the new hacienda uses some of the same methods that the Incas used centuries ago. The property is surrounded by an organic plantation, where you can pick your own produce from quinoa and artichokes to Urubamba giant corn.  Guests are encouraged to get involved in the natural farming methods used to maintain the land, including ”tacllas” – a hand plough, pulled by an oxen.

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Crops such as Quinoa, Potato and Corn are resilient, ideal for the Peruvian climates thanks to how the Incas farmed them all those years ago.  At Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, they have recreated and solely use the traditional methods of the Incas to grow these crops.

Quinoa Flickr image courtesy of net_efekt http://bit.ly/1Jq0WVn

 They use tacllas, a foot plough, developed by traditional farmers to prepare the soil for planting by using human weight to turn up the ground.

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Oxen and llamas are also used on the farm and they also only use traditional oxen carts, instead of modern farming such as machinery and tractors to transport crops, thus it’s low impact and zero carbon emision.

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These farming methods have helped the lodge develop its exclusive ‘Earth to Plate’ concept, giving guests a completely unique taste and food experience.

Spotlight on Sustainability

The lodge works closely with the National Geographic-sponsored Inkaterra Asociación, a nonprofit organization that develops scientific, technological, and cultural research projects geared at managing and protecting the biodiversity and local communities of the Peruvian Andes. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba purchases produce from the association’s Andean Farm Project, which has gardens in the nearby town of Huayoccari. Here, cutting-edge agro-ecological techniques are applied to the growth of organic produce and medicinal plants. The cultivation techniques were carefully selected for their ease of replication, with the initiative’s long-term objective being to establish an agricultural training center for local farming communities. – National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

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See this traditional farming at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba as part of your Inkaterra Experiences. Enjoy a range of in-house activities such as bird watching (over 30 species of birds on the grounds) and horseback riding. Excursions can also be taken to the surrounding areas to ensure you have a truly authentic Inkaterra holiday.

Why We Love This Lodge

Many visitors to Peru’s southern highlands treat the Sacred Valley as the road to Machu Picchu, and some bypass it altogether by boarding a train in Cusco bound for the legendary Inca citadel. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba invites guests to stay awhile and soak up the spirit of the valley—an enigmatic place where ancient fortresses mark Inca-Spanish battlegrounds, traditional weaving still lives on in hillside hamlets, and the majesty of the surrounding mountains inspires awe in onlookers.

The lodge helps tell a different part of the Inca story: one of life in the empire’s heartland. Guests can spend time in local farming communities and attend spiritual services to hear Quechua, the language of the Inca; walk through the surrounding hills to see evidence of Inca agriculture and architecture; and sit on the lodge terrace to gaze at the same celestial bodies that inspired the building of Inca temples. Here, traces of the empire are everywhere, and Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba strives to help guests discover them. ~ National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World

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Learn more about Peru by checking our blog posts Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975 with 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay – any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, contact us.

The Inkaterra Hacienda Urubama experience:

Sources: Inkaterra and National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. Photo credits: Inkaterra blog.

Peru: come, live the legend!

Watch “Peru, Live the Legend” video:

“Peru is often called the quintessential South American destination evoking images of Andean mountains, fabled lost cities, panpipe players, llamas and, of course, the ever-fashionable and functional poncho.” – Blue List, Lonely Planet.

High fashion inspired by Cusco. Photo via Visit Peru.

High fashion inspired by Cusco. Photo via Visit Peru.

Peru is everything unexpected: from its vast sandy dunes and deserts all throughout its coasts, stunning uplands in the Andes home to the country’s greatest attraction: the Inca city of Machu Picchu and beyond the intimidating heights, the astounding lush jungles with meandering rivers and vast waterways, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the Amazon River and Basin.

Viewing Nazca Lines - "Candelabro" on the desert. Photo via Visit Peru.

Viewing Nazca Lines – “Candelabro” on the desert.

However, there’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu: this immense wealth of sights and experiences has its roots in one of the world’s richest heritages, with its fabulous archeological gems of six Pre-Inca civilizations, the monumental adobe temples and ruins along the desert coast and mysterious Nazca Lines which can only be viewed best from the sky. Enjoy city life in Spanish-influenced cosmopolitan capitals, with their colonial-era mansions, churches, monasteries, and museums.

Cindy Crawford selfie in Machu Picchu, photo via her Instagram.

Cindy Crawford selfie in Machu Picchu, photo via her Instagram.

THE DESTINATIONS

Lima's city center - UNESCO World Heritage Site -highlights include balconies & the Plaza de Armas.

Lima’s city center – UNESCO World Heritage Site -highlights include balconies & the Plaza de Armas.

LIMA – CULTURE, CRAFTS & CULINARY CAPITAL 

Called Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings) by the Spanish conquerors, the capital city of Lima is much more than the gateway to Peru. With the country’s best museums – more than 20 of them, plus striking baroque and renaissance churches, colonial mansions and palaces, world-class restaurants and amazing shopping, Lima deserves more than a quick stopover.

You can also Lima from the sky through paragliding! Photo via Visit Peru.

DID YOU KNOW? You can also see Lima from the sky through paragliding! Photo via Visit Peru.

Experience highlights

  • Visit remarkable cathedrals, cloisters and monasteries, appreciate some of Peru’s best archeological and art museums, and feel a sense of awe in the city’s elegant old colonial center.
  • Savor exquisite Peruvian cuisine in the “Gastronomy Capital of Latin America,” with varied influences from the coast, mountains and the Amazon.
  • Experience Lima’s incredibly varied shopping, from exclusive factory visits, to artisan and antique shops, souvenir and handicraft markets offering an endless selection of handmade alpaca clothes and accessories, silver jewelry and decorative pieces, pottery, colonial religious art and wood carvings.

SACRED VALLEY – VALLE SAGRADO – EXPERIENCE LIVING CULTURE

Sacred Valley of the Incas - Valle Sagrado, Urubamba. Photo via Visit Peryu

Sacred Valley of the Incas – Valle Sagrado, Urubamba.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, home of the finest Inca sites offers a glorious beginning to your Cusco visit. The Valley’s sublime climate, overwhelmingly beautiful scenery, picturesque villages, colorful folk arts and crafts and warm, friendly local people all reflect the Peru that visitors travel thousands of miles to see. The valley is also a haven for eco sports adventure such as trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking and river rafting.

Ancient Incan sites: Maras Salt Mines & Moray Rice Terraces.

Ancient Incan sites: Maras Salt Mines & Moray Rice Terraces.

Experience highlights

  • Start your Cusco discovery to acclimatize in glorious sunny weather, either before or after your Machu Picchu visit.
  • Perfect base to myriad activities in the Valley: visits to Inca ruins and archaeological sites and gourmet picnics.
  • Spectacular location for outdoor adventures such as horseback riding, mountain biking, river rafting or trekking.
  • Interactive and socially responsible excursion in a visit to a workshop or community of weavers, pottery, ceramics, among others.

MACHU PICCHU – THE ROYAL INCA RETREAT

Who wouldn't want to visit Machu Picchu?

Who wouldn’t want to visit Machu Picchu?

“Machu Picchu was… the favored country retreat for the royal family and Inca nobility.” – The New York Times

Machu Picchu Historical Reserve is a magical place that fascinates through its vast archaeological remains, geological formations, unique flora and fauna, and spectacular cloud forest. The most remarkable part of the reserve is the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, one of the world’s New Seven Wonders. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, is considered “the Garden of Eden” by Condé Nast Traveller where you will experience life at an exclusive royal Inca retreat for your stay.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Experience highlights

  • Explore the wonder of Machu Picchu and discover the essence of a Royal Inca retreat.
  • Authentic barefoot luxury in whitewashed casitas and villas in a private 5 hectare Andean Garden of Eden, teeming with orchids and hummingbirds.
  • Visit the ancient Machu Picchu Citadel in company of a certified English-speaking guide, as well as other attractions in the Natural Reserve.
  • At Inkaterra Hotels, included in house excursions such as Bird Watching, Orchid walk, Tea Plantation Visit, Nature Talks, among others, offered on 12-acre grounds.
  • UNU Spa

CUSCO -ENDURING FUSION OF INCA MYSTIQUE AND SPANISH SPLENDOR 

Cusco, ancient capital of the Incan empire (that's South America, folks).

Cusco, ancient capital of the Incan empire (that’s South America, folks).

Vibrant is the word which best describes Cusco, capital of the vast Inca Empire some six hundred years ago, now transformed as themost important colonial center in the Andes, an axis of exploration and favorite destination for today’s international traveler. Inkaterra La Casona Cusco, an exquisite 16th century colonialmansion, is an exquisite and exclusivemanor, carefully restored to retain its historical heritage. It offers guests contemporary luxury without sacrificing authenticity with the privacy and privilege experienced by those who once lived there.

Inti Raymi, Cusco's foremost festival.

Inti Raymi, Cusco’s foremost festival. Photo via Visit Peru.

Experience highlights

  • Discover a four-century fusion of Spanish colonial and Inca culture, both in Cusco and at Inkaterra La Casona, Hot Listed Best New Hotel by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine U.S., U.K. and Travel+Leisure.
  • Enjoy contemporary luxury without sacrificing authenticity, in an exclusive privilege and privacy experienced by those who once lived at the fully restored 16th century manor.
  • Explore from Inkaterra La Casona, a destination as well as a hub from which to begin your discovery of the Andes, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu as well as Lake Titicaca.
  • Visit Cusco’s landmarks, impressive churches, museums, quaint neighborhoods, artisan workshops and other remarkable Incan archaeological sites.
Inkaterra La Casona,  former Incan Royal & Peru's conquerors' residence, now Cusco's foremost luxury boutique hotel.

Inkaterra La Casona, former Incan Royal  residence & Peru’s conquerors’ quarters, now Cusco’s foremost luxury boutique hotel.

Suggested Itinerary in Brief:

Day 1 – Arrival in Lima; Overnight

Day 2 – Full Day  in Lima

Half-Day City Tour – Peruvian Welcome Lunch; Rest of Afternoon Free

Day 3 – Lima – Cusco- Sacred Valley; Check in at hotel & Acclimatize

Day 4 – Full Day in Sacred Valley – Pisac & Ollantaytambo Tour

Day 5- Fully Day 2 Sacred Valley –Chinchero, Maras & Moray

Late afternoon – Train to Machu Picchu Pueblo – overnight;

Day 6- Full day in Machu Picchu; Overnight in Machu Picchu

Day 7 -After lunch, train ride to Cusco; Acclimatize; Overnight

Day 8 – Full Day Tour & Shopping in Cusco

Day 9 – Depart Cusco for Lima; Overnight Lima

Day 10 – Departure from Lima

For more information on Peru, check out our blogs on Peru. Take a PERU DREAM TRIP by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay – any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, contact us.

Photo credits: Visit Peru & Inkaterra.

Love the green? Travel green in Negros Occidental!

Countryside, Crafts & Culinary delights Travel green to Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, the Philippine’s foremost sustainable agri-tourism and organic farm capital. Step back in time to the countryside, re-living turn  of the century old towns and haciendas, feeling a sense of green and tranquility as you traverse along undulating sugarcane fields. Take an eco-trip to a rainforest and marine reserve, learn the importance of coastal biodiversity conservation to combat climate change and savor exquisite Negrense cuisine from freshest exotic seafood to healthy options of organic farms and produce.

Rapha Valley, Don Salvador Benedicto

Rapha Valley, Don Salvador Benedicto

Focal Points:

  • Visit remarkable churches, stately mansions, and diverse organic farms
  • Enjoy culinary delights from traditional home style cooking to East-West fusion, with a wide array of seafood, organic and healthy options.
  • Buy local, support local – world-class handicrafts, from exclusive factory visits, to community and producers’ shops, souvenirs showroom.

    Handmade Gallery Useful Gifts

    Buy local, support local. Eco-friendly, world-class arts and craft abound in Bacolod City! Photo via Handmade Gallery.

Foremost Jaunts:

Organic Farms & Sustainable Agri Tours: North, Central & Southern loops.

Sustainable Agri Tour- Northern Loop, Negros Occidental

Sustainable Agri Tour- Northern Loop, Negros Occidental

Souther Farms Loop

Souther Farms Loop

Central Farms Loop

Central Farms Loop

Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB)Rapha Valley

DSB's Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it's clean and green!

DSB’s Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it’s clean and green!

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

GET INSPIRED!

Green Weddings & Events (M.I.C.E) 

Green weddings and events at Nature's Village Resort. Photo via midorimoon.com

Green weddings and events at Nature’s Village Resort. Photo via midorimoon.com

 Stay green!

Nature's Village Resort, Negros Occidental, ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee

Nature’s Village Resort, Negros Occidental, ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee

 Ecofriendly Family Getaway & Educational trips

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

SUGGESTED ITINERARY – 4 DAYS/3 NIGHTS

To make the most of your visit and trip, stay no less than 4 days/3 nights, otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be planning your next vacay again!

Don Salvador Benedicto Waterfalls

  • Day 1- Arrival, Check in at Nature’s Village Resort. Bacolod City Half Day tour
  • Day 2 – Full Day Tour, Southern & Central Loop, Overnight at Rapha Valley
  • Day 3 – Full Day Tour – Northern Loop & Souvenir Shopping, Overnight at Nature’s Village Resort
  • Day 4 – Departure

For more information and reservations, please send us a message.

 “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”

Discover Danjugan Island – the Philippines’ conservation pioneer

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island

History

It was in 1974 when Gerry Ledesma, first visited Danjugan Island with some of his diving mates. Its thick limestone forests hosted many different kinds of birds and bats; its underwater was so clear with schools of fish and magnificent, intact coral reefs.  Scuba diving became popular and most divers then were spear fishers—and at the end of each dive day, tall stories were told about the sharks seen —there were tigers in the outer reefs surrounding the island and white/black tipped in the nearby reefs– and the big fish that got away.

Gerry Ledesma, Founder & President, Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. -PRRCFI

The early 1980s saw the decline of scuba diving due to the economic crisis brought upon by the government’s mismanagement of the sugar industry that most of the divers in Negros depended on.  1984 was a bad year too for Danjugan Island as Maricalum Mining Corp (MMC) stopped operations and its displaced workers started destructive fishing with blasting caps and cyanide from MMC.  The year also brought Typhoon Nitang that destroyed the shallow reefs of the island as well as in the entire foreshore of municipalities of Cauayan, Sipalay, and Hinobaan. The years of early to mid 90s emphasized the need for Danjugan’s conservation with episodes of logging and poaching and this finally provoked the offer to buy the island but Gerry didn’t have money. William Oliver, a British zoologist working on Negros endangered wildlife species, suggested contacting John Burton of the World Land Trust (WLT) whose thrust is the purchase of important biodiversity sites for conservation.  Soon, a noted marine scientist from the UK, Sue Wells, came to visit and not long after, Peter Raines of Coral Cay Conservation (CCC).  Then, an invitation to England for the launch of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Project (PRRP) and within a month, a fund was transferred to PRRP for the down payment of Danjugan Island.

Third Lagoon, Danjugan Island. Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) was established to manage and operate the PRRP, as well as the conservation program based on Danjugan Island that was expanded to include Southern Negros Occidental.  Due to the ignorance of marine and wildlife conservation, the group piloted the 1st Youth Marine Camp in 1991 with their children and children of friends and relatives.  The camp had pleasing results and children from the village of Bulata were included in the subsequent camps.  Presently, the camps are conducted each summer as the Youth Marine and Wildlife Camp and with the Philippine Department of Education as the Danjugan Environment Education Project (DEEP).

Location & Biodiversity

Resting 3 kilometers southwest off the coast of Negros Occidental, Danjugan is a lush, 43-hectare island rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity. This island, about 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers at its widest point, has 5 lagoons and is covered with limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species that struggle to exist in the mainland.

Together with Sipalay City and the Municipality of Hinobaan, it forms the southern border of the province and is situated in the Sulu Sea, an important eco-region for marine biodiversity.  The island’s surrounding reef is under the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries with three Special Management Areas or No Take Zones established in 2000 through Cauayan Municipal Ordinance 99-52.

Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

Mangroves, a marine biodiveristy sanctuary in Danjugan Island.

It holds an incredible biodiversity given its small size. At least 72 bird species have been recorded on the island, including a nesting pair of White- breasted Sea Eagles Heliatus leucogaster that have been breeding atop Typhoon Beach Camp since 1974 and  Tabon scrub fowls Megapodius cumingi which are common around the island.

Lizard Fish (Synodus variegatus)

Commercially important marine invertebrates such as the giant clams (Tridacna crocea, T. squamosa and Hippopus hippopus) are observed in the reefs. A restocking program for the endangered Tridacna gigas is being implemented in collaboration with UP-MSI. Other commercially important invertebrates observed are Abalone (Haliotis asinine) and Spiny lobster (Panulirus spp.) The endangered coconut crab (Birgus latro) still occur in the coastal and mangrove forests of the island. The western beaches of Danjugan Island are known nesting sites of the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Sea Chelonia Mydas Turtles. There was one sighting of a Dugong in the past while sightings of dolphins are common within the municipal waters of Cauayan which is a migration path of some larger marine mammal species.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Watch this video:  

Increasing environmental awareness in the youth has been one of the major priorities of PRRCFI. The Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program (DEEP), funded by the Foundation of the Philippine Environment (FPE), endeavors to teach Biodiversity Conservation, Sustainable Development, Climate Change Issues and Values to teachers and elementary/highschool students of Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan municipalities in Southern Negros. These are where the last remaining good coral reefs in Negros Occidental remain. DEEP attempts to inspire to teach students to be stewards of the environment.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

The DEEP was implemented starting June 2011. In the two years that it was executed, it aimed to address the shortcomings of environment education by delivering modules on biodiversity, marine and terrestrial wildlife awareness, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainability, and principles of responsible ecological stewardship to select public school teachers, students, barangay councils, and BLGUs.

To date the program has reached out to at least 14 schools in the project sites, over 800 elementary and high school students, and over 50 barangay officials from 3 BLGUs. Members of the LGUs that were participants of the program also developed work plans to implement marine protected areas and more effective solid waste management plans in their communities. The success of DEEP is evident in the greatly positive response and continued support of the Department of Education in Region VI, which has also recognized DEEP as an official co-curricular program for schools in the SNCDP area.

Genuine green ecotourism

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island is now open on a limited capacity basis for visitors, to experience ecotourism at its purest: learn about the biodiversity within the area, its conservation efforts, eco-friendly facilities to include eco cabanas, solar powered electricity, communal served meals based on native cuisine and seasonally-available local produce and services offered by the locals within.

Typhoon Beach House. Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

Make a difference and travel green to Danjugan!

You may also support its programs in environmental conservation and education when you visit. For more information and and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

The Danjugan Island is part of our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDINegros Occidental initiative, the sustainable tourism development & stewardship program for the province.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK and 

The International Ecotourism Society

Photo Credits: Photos of Danjugan via its Facebook Page & Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel as captioned.

Coron, a GREEN sanctuary

 

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Foreword. The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SSTDI-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.  

CORON A green sanctuary

MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.

For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.

After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.

You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellants, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.

To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.

A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.

What is important is to be a responsible tourist if we are to keep Coron and the rest of the islands pure and green. When we go on these trips, we should not expect city life and comfort. Rather, we should live as the natives do. We should all help in maintaining the peace and quiet of these islands. And of course, help in keeping it green and unadulterated.

There are eco advocates who have joined the movement and you may be better off seeing them on your visit to make sure you are with the green people:

Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.

Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.

Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like  using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.

Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.

Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.

Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.

Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.

PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.

Susan Santos de Cardenas is the moving force behind Sustainable Tourism initiative and has helped CCCNI find partners in the international community despite her being Japan-based.

And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.

There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.

Note: Original article By Ms. Chit U. Juan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2013. Highlighting and hyperlinks by Sustainability Guru. 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI, the Philippines’ pioneer in Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is working on The Coron Initiative, implemented in Coron, Calamianes Islands, Palawan, with institutional partners Zero Carbon ResortsGreen Hotels & Green Fins. Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Take a green trip to Coron, Palawan, Philippines, site of The Coron Initiative– a UNEP APFED showcase program on Sustainable Tourism  Development & Stewardship, the Philippines’ first sustainable tourism program.  For more information and travel assistance please visit our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.   

 GREEN HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC is our network of the most reliable eco responsible hotels around the world to help the hotel industry embrace sustainability by integrating innovation and added value with environmental actions in a vibrant green global exchange of hoteliers, operators and responsible clients.

Eco-Responsible, Sustainable & innovative Green Hotels in Asia Pacific

Eco-Responsible, Sustainable & innovative Green Hotels in Asia Pacific

GREEN FINS, Sustainable Diving & Snorkeling is an innovative  onservation initiative designed around threats to coral reef biodiversity. It is a practical system to implement environmentally friendly guidelines and a robust management and assessment system to monitor success and apply lessons learned. 

Green Fins

Green Fins, Sustainable Diving & Snorkeling conserving coral reefs and marine ecosystems

 

Sustainable Tourism, the way forward

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative - promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative – promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment for many developing countries. Since the mid 90’s we have heard of the term “Sustainable Tourism” and thought of it vaguely as something good for the planetand for the future of tourism but most of us do not really know what it is and its value.

Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer since 1975, Carbon Neutral & Conservation Leader

Sustainable is Explainable. Here, we will try to explain what is meant by Sustainable Tourism according to the World Tourism Organization(WTO). Sustainable Tourism is “satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities.” Put simply, Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time with due consideration for carrying capacity. Forhumanity, it is the continuing maintenance of its well-being, as it depends on the natural resources’ benefits and its responsible use.

In the Philippines, the 7107 islands archipelago is blessed with a wealth of natural resources: verdant tropical forest and a stunning range of marine biodiversity, even declared in one region as a Natural World Heritage site. However through the years, ignorance, recklessness, lack of education or awareness, poverty, deforestation and destruction of marine eco systems has damaged some of theislands’ beauty and assets, the very same source that provide livelihood for millions of citizens. More so for its top beach attractions, where stakeholders and travelers alike are unaware of their responsibility to conserve and avoid damage to the places they develop or visit, now vulnerable and threatened, and worse in some, endangered. This is not withstanding the fact that global climate change has fast-tracked the destruction.

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” ~ Edward Wilson

According to UNEP, Sustainable Tourism describes policies, practices and programs that take into account not only the expectations of tourists regarding responsible natural resource management (demand), but also the needs of communities that support or are affected by tourism projects and the environment (supply) 2. Sustainable tourism thus aspires to be more energy efficient and more “climate sound” (e.g. by using renewable energy, minimize waste); consume less water;  conserve biodiversity, cultural heritage and traditional values;support intercultural understanding and tolerance; generate local income and integrate host communities with a view to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty.

Photo of Boracay's White Beach courtesy of Rene Thalman.

Can we still protect & conserve Boracay for the future generations? ~ The Boracay Initiative

Local cultures, values and traditions are affected adversely from the profusion of massive expansion without any regard for eco balance. One major loss is authenticity, a major pillar in the principle of sustainable tourism, which should maintain the geographical character of a place, its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and well-being of its residents.

The Coron Initiative Sustainable Tourism Development & Stewardship co-organized by SSTDI.

Sustainable Tourism: benefits local communities & raises awareness, support for sustainable use of natural resources

Sustainable is Attainable. According to the WTO guidelines, “Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participationof all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.” To achieve Sustainable Tourism, all sectors have to follow a continuous process which requires constant monitoring of impacts and implement the necessarypreventive and/or corrective measures at all times.

In summary WTO’s Sustainable Tourism is:

  • Making optimal use of environmental resources that form a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity to meet climate challenge 

    Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

    Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

  • Respecting the sociocultural authenticity of host communities,conserving their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

“The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.” ~ Max Lacado

  • Ensuring viable, long-term economic operations, providing equal socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders, including stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Luxury lodgings at jungle’s best: exquisite regional cuisine, guests learning about rainforest, biodiversity AND conservation.

Sustainable tourism should not only satisfy the travelers’ needs of pleasure and relaxation but also ensure a meaningful experience that raises their awareness about preserving and conserving nature and culture while contributing to the local community as a lasting legacy.

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Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK and a member of:

The International Ecotourism Society

References: UNEP, UN- WTO, National Geographic, Wikepedia 
Photos credits: Al3 Photography for Coron, Palawan, Inkaterra for Peru

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