TO DO Award 2021 Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias, Chile
In 2012, young Mapuche in Curraehue, Chile, called their community members for a meeting, with the objective of identifying new economic perspectives in their native villages while remaining true to their ecological and cultural values. They managed to achieve just that with Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias. With their heart and soul, personal initiative, and without any external funding they established a community-based tourism initiative.
Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias officially appears as a tour operator. Central to the community-based tourism concept are the roughly 30 partners. On seven different routes they familiarise guests with the Mapuche’s culture and ways of life.
The activities along the routes are manifold – from story-telling about the Mapuche’s world view or their traditional medicinal plants to visits to farms and vegetable gardens. Every route also includes hikes in their beloved “territorio“ – the unique scenery of mountains and valleys. On different occasions, guests and hosts get opportunities to talk to each other, whether during joint meals, traditional Mapuche games or while producing handicraft – from the weaving and dyeing of wool to the processing of plan fibres. Guests staying over night will be put up with families and have dinner with them. During their entire stay, guests are accompanied by a guide.
The particular strength of the project lies in the fact that it gives a voice to the Mapuche in Currarehue. An authentic voice that they use – the elderly as well as the young ones – to recount how they experience and master the process of continuously finding a balance between different worlds: A balance between tradition and modernity, between how others see them and how they see themselves, between traditional livelihoods in Currarehue and educational and income opportunities in the cities.