While I’m a firm believer that every day should be Earth Day, it is always exciting when a major environmental achievement coincides with Earth Month. Peru’s sustainable Machu Picchu Pueblo has reached an exciting environmental goal. The city has been crowned the first in Latin America to become 100 percent sustainable.
As the area struggles to cope with overtoursim, Machu Picchu has introduced timed visits to the famous Unesco World Heritage Site. While this might help deal with the crowds, the city still has to cope with the trash produced by the industry bringing in the bountiful tourist dollars.
How Did Machu Picchu Pueblo Become Sustainable
It is a major accomplishment to hear of their success and this positive step towards eco-friendly living. Inkaterra, Peru’s leading group in sustainable tourism and the AJE Group, a Peruvian beverage company, joined forces to achieve the admirable goal of recycling 100 percent of their solid waste. Together they presented the first Organic Waste Treatment Plant to the city. The construction of a Biodiesel and Glycerin Plant took 3 years and was completed in 2018.
Over 6,000 liters of oil/month are generated from homes, lodges, hotels and restaurants. The plant processes this vegetable oil into biodiesel (a clean burning fuel) and glycerin, which can be used to replace cleaning chemicals on the stone floors. I first witnessed this type of process in India.
Through the process of pyrolysis, in which the waste is decomposed at high temperatures without oxygen, seven tons of trash is processed per day, generating bio-diesel, a natural fertilizer that will be used to restore the Andean cloud forest and contribute to the agricultural productivity of Machu Picchu.
In addition, a plastic compactor plant was donated by the two brands, processing over 14 tons of polyester plastic daily.
The strategic alliance between Inkaterra, the AJE Group and the Municipality of Machu Picchu aims to change perception of our wonderful city into a sustainable destination and become an example of management for ecotourism worldwide. We have managed to awaken the ecological conscience of the local community, which now segregates waste from homes and establishments. Today, we present an innovative technology that will contribute to traditional agriculture and help restore the Andean cloud forest in Machu Picchu. ~ José Joechlin, Inkaterra’s Founder and CEO.
InkaTerra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Visiting Machu Picchu lives up to all the hype. What a thrill it was for me to visit Machu Picchu Pueblo as they were in the midst of working towards the goal of 100 percent sustainability. The icing on the cake was a stay at the award winning Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in the Andes.
The Inkaterra Association is the conservation arm of the hospitality group. Their mission is conservation through the sustainable use of natural rescources :
- Forest Conservation managing over 30,000 acres of Amazonian forest
- A Production Program through organic practices that co-exist with the forest
- Biodiversity Management monitoring key species and implementing conservation strategies.
The Guides Field Station in Tambopata, Machu Picchu and Cabo Blanco is active with volunteers and serves as a base for training courses for new developments in ecotourism. Passing on information to the local community encourages appreciation of the value of conserving biodiversity as well as stimulating development in the local economy.
With over 40 years of experience with responsible tourism, Inkaterra has an emphasis on preserving Peru’s environment, customs and cultures. Tourism options and programs throughout have the ability to transfer that mission to guests.
Next to visiting the actual site, my guide Silver was responsible for one of the most memorable experiences I’ve encountered in my travels. His love of culture and desire to sustain, support and promote the indigenous population was infectious and unforgettable.
Beautifully nestled into the cloud forest landscape, Inkaterra claims real-estate alongside the majestic site found on bucket lists around the world. Representing both luxury and eco-responsible hospitality, the hotel provides guests with an authentic Inka experience both before during and after visiting the wonder of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Pueblo’s Outdoor Connection
In addition to other spa treatments, guests can indulge in a self guided Forest Bathing, a wellness trend gaining traction and receiving particular attention during Earth Day. Be it rain forest, pine forest, or Machu Picchu’s cloud forest, the health benefits are hard to ignore.
While I’m not crazy about the term forest bathing, retreating to nature, unplugging and immersing yourself in the surrounding environment signals our brains to switch to a restorative state. After walking the grounds, stone pathways and terraced hills of the 12-acre property, it would be impossible to deny the positives from being outside and walking along the Urubamba river.
Machu Picchu Pueblo, in the middle of the cloud forest, represents the access point for over 1 million tourists a year to the Lost City of the Inca’s. I think we can all agree that in an increasingly urbanized culture, hearing a story of sustainable success in a cloud forest gateway to such an important historical and environmental site is reason for travelers and environmentalists around the globe to cheer!
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