Ecotourism Network

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La Vega del Volcán | Guatemala

banner-la-vegaOverview

Find yourself surrounded by green mountains and dig into a plate of fresh trout and organic veggies as you share with the innovative small farmers of La Vega del Volcán. The Cooperative of La Vega del Volcano is made up of rural men and women committed to finding new ways to support their families without leaving home or harming the environment. This local development organization is supported by Mennonite Central Committee.

Accommodations

Guests can stay in the newly-built lodge with views of the whole valley, equipped with 16 rooms and hot water. There is also the option of staying in the home of one of the co-op families.

Both options cost Q30/$4 pppn; with the families, the guests have the option of trying out a traditional Mayan bath called the chuj or tamascal for an additional Q10/$1.50.

Meals are also available and range between $3-$5.

Activities

The “Trout Trail” Tour is 1.5km, 2 hour (light) hike, which includes the following stops:

Testimony of a Successful Producer: Froilan talks about turning the mountainous terrain into trout ponds and how he’s expanding his work.

Vega’s Natural Riches: Lisandro shows his land filled with Calla Lillies and the beautiful views of the Tacaná  Volcano and the Cambaj mountain.

Hurricane Stan, Disaster, and Opportunity: Urbano shares how his family’s livelihood was threatened by Hurricane Stan, as well as how he has learned to take advantage of natural resources to support them.

Agro-ecology and the Future: Arnulfo and Mari give a tour of their organic farm and explain why it is so important to implement agro-ecology in the community.

Vega del Volcán sits at the feet of Tacaná Volcano, the second highest volcano in Central America. Apart from the “Trout Trail,” coordinator Gustavo Ramos can organize a hike up the volcano.

Getting There

Add information on contacting MCC and the Connecting Peoples program for phone numbers and emails of local leaders of the co-op.

Guides from La Vega will meet guests in Sibinal, about a 2 hour bus ride from San Marcos, the head of the department.  Visitors can easily find buses to San Marcos and the same for San Marcos to Sibinal.  From Sibinal to La Vega, there is the option of taking a pickup (Q350/$45 for up to 10 people per truck) or hiking (three hours, moderate-difficult hike).

Making a Difference

Cooperative members receive income through acting as guides, cooks and housekeepers. Money from the tours is used to support the workshops and trainings in agro-ecology, trout production, nutrition, and community organization.

Contact Information

Gustavo Ramos:  502 5581 6055 |  ramosgustavo50@gmail.com

Connecting Peoples: connecting@guatemala.mcc.org

Blog:  www.connectingpeoplesguatemala.blogspot.com

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Panabaj Village | Guatemala

Overview

Nestled in a lush volcanic valley, the Tzutuhil Mayan villagers of Panabaj offer day tours for a unique look into their story of hope. The Asociación Nuevo Amanecer de Santiago Atitlán (ANADESA) is a cooperative of 16 artisans and their families. These indigenous people are dedicated to a positive future for themselves and their Mayan neighbors. This local community development organization is supported by the Mennonite Central Committee.

Accommodations

The ANADESA families invite you to stay in a Tzutuhil home and experience traditional Mayan life. The rate for the homestay option is Q90 (pppn) and includes 2 meals. The homestay option is rustic and consists of block houses with bunk beds and blankets. In addition, travel guides list lodging in nearby Santiago and Panjachel. If prior arrangements are made, lunch is provided during the ANADESA tour and for an additional charge.

Activities

“Walking in the Wake of Disaster” tour is 5–stop, 75 minute, 2.5 kilometer walking tour situated in the valley of Panabaj. The tour stops include:

Peace Park– A monument commemorating the 13 Tzutuhil indigenous people murdered by soldiers and long-awaited exit of Guatemalan military.

Coffee Forest- Some of the best coffee in the world is grown around the Lake and is a vital part of the local economy.

Volcano Canal– Example of the efforts being made by local government and international aid agencies to prevent future weather hazards from developing into disasters.

Ground Zero– A formerly bustling residential area buried after the fatal mudslides of Hurricane Stan.

Product Show & Lunch Site–Over lunch, get a change to relax and chat with the members of the cooperative themselves. In addition, you may browse their beautiful handmade crafts.

Tours cost about Q40 (about US$5) per person. Lunch, if provided, is an additional charge from Q25 (less than US$3) per person. The tour is in Spanish, but English translation is available by prior arrangement through the Connecting Peoples Program (see below). The translation services charge a Q75 fee per tour group.

The Lake Atitlán area is scenic and the tourist hub for Guatemala. While the ANADESA tour takes only a day, there are many more sights to see in the region!

Getting There

The Connecting Peoples Program of the Mennonite Central Committee may provide some assistance in help you meet the villagers of Panabaj. Their contact information is provided below. Guests travel to Panajachel city in southwestern Guatemala. Once at Panajachel, take a boat trip across Lake Atitlán to Santiago. Because the region is popular with tourists, there are many options for crossing the lake. The trip takes about 30 minutes and generally costs about Q25 pp (about US$3) one way. The tour guide will meet guests in Santiago and arrange transportation from Santiago to Panabaj. At the end of the tour, guests can stay in the village or return to Santiago, a distance of about two kilometers.

Making a Difference

ANADESA creates income generation opportunities by pooling the skills and resources of per- sons with similar talents. All profits generated by the tour are distributed among cooperative members and support the group’s activities. The cooperative uses your tourist income to run an adult literacy program, a children’s art and an environmental education program for its members and other at-risk persons living near Panabaj.

Contact Information

Juan Ramirez, your Spanish speaking tour guide in Panabaj | 502/5359-4302 Mennonite Central Committee office headquarters Guatemala City, Guatemala 502/2475-2870 | mccrep@guatemala.mcc.org Connecting Peoples Program — connecting@guatemala.mcc.org

NOTE: The village Panabaj is pronounced “pahn-a-bah.”