Mission: Assessing Ecotourism Potential in San Juan del Cesar, Colombia

September 08, 2017
Mission: Assessing Ecotourism Potential in San Juan del Cesar, Colombia

From September 6-8, Members of ICCF’s International Conservation Corps visited San Juan del Cesar in La Guajira, Colombia and its newly designated Protected Forest Preserve: the Manantial de Cañaverales.

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International Conservation Corps team members included Carolyn Richard and Sam Vaughn

The goal of the visit was to review the town's proposal to upgrade a spring area, the Manantial de Cañaverales, to provide higher quality visitor services while better protecting the resources. Including the spring, the team visited a number of sites in the local town and surrounding countryside, experiencing both the local cuisine as well as Guajira’s long history of “Vallenato” music.

A local group of dedicated women have created a plan to protect the spring, provide recreational opportunities with sustainable services (food, restrooms, etc.), and develop a trail around the springs that promotes a contemplative experience, while working to conserve the area’s natural beauty and resources into the future. This group of women invited International Conservation Corps team members to visit the area to determine whether their plans were viable options for the town and neighboring protected area.

From this visit, it is easy to draw the conclusion that there is great potential for visitors to enjoy the surrounding natural areas as well as experience authentic local culture in the San Juan del Cesar area. Keys to success will be enlarging the protected area around the spring and working with a potential combination of local guides and international tour companies to widen the tourism options for exploring San Juan del Cesar while protecting its authentic local culture.

The Manantial de Cañaverales is a large natural spring that brings clear, sparkling blue water to a series of pools meandering through the sunshine and green forest. This spring supplies fresh water to San Juan and other communities as well as area farms and ranches. The distance between San Juan del Cesar La Guajira and Cañaverales La Guajira is approximately 17 miles passing through a tropical dry forest ecosystem and a number of ranches.

International Conservation Corps team members have determined that care will need to be taken to preserve the authentic local culture to assure it stays a unique and fascinating venue. Better protection for local natural gems such as the Manantial de Cañaverales spring must be achieved to help assure the sustainability of this effort to provide both economic opportunities and natural resource protection. These goals, they have determined, are compatible and, indeed, complementary, as well as achievable.

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