A community tourism trip with a focus on permaculture
By ENTRE MUNDOS team
In San Lucas Tolimán, on the shore of Lake Atitlan, is the Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture IMAP (by its name in spanish), a community organization composed of 40 active members, founded in 2000 by a group of Mayan Cakchiqueles. The organization is oriented to self-sustainable development through permacultural techniques that promote the creation of spaces and systems that respect the natural and cultural environment and promote the sustainability of ecosystems.
Since 2000, IMAP has provided education on environmental conservation, food sovereignty and traditional Mayan practices, supporting more than 10,000 female and male producers and training around 15,000 people on these issues. Through the creation of a network of producers, IMAP supports organic production and fair trade. By producing and encouraging the consumption of highly nutritious foods such as amaranth and chan, the organization seeks to contribute to the reduction of malnutrition especially at the local level. Also, with these foods the producers elaborate flours, biscuits and cereals; products that they put on sale to the people who visit the organization.
In addition to having a seed bank, conducting educational tours, workshops, certified courses and promoting volunteering and internships; the IMAP provides the services of accommodation, healthy food and educational tours. Biodiversity, permaculture, food sovereignty, ancestral knowledge and education merge with the landscape offered by the beach on the shore of Lake Atitlan and the crops of the IMAP. With a scenic view of the most beautiful lake in the world, the IMAP is an ideal space to connect with biodiversity and go hiking or bird watching activities.
Considering all this potential, the IMAP seeks to develop activities related to tourism. As in any project, there are challenges, however, the illusions, the desires and the will to work are also present. For example, during 2019, the economic situation of the organization allowed to see the tourism project with eyes of sustainability and growth, but since March 2020 the situation changed drastically due to SARS-COVID-19 and its variants. At that time, the provision of touristic services decreased leaving only the activities of elaboration and sale of organic products, which contributed to the economic stability of the organization.
Fortunately, for the first 2022 semester the tourist situation and the demand for educational tours increased and since January, IMAP reports having served an average of 40 people per month. In general, the project has the potential to develop community tourism activities such as tours of the productive plots or making tours of production processes.
Some potential activities could include, the experience of planting or harvesting a product or the cooking of a local traditional dish. Activities for adventure lovers could be offered as well providing a combination of nature tourism services with camping, canoe tour or bicycle. Despite the day-to-day difficulties, IMAP has many expectations and in the short term they hope to implement trails, viewpoints and build a space to offer the organic and artisanal products of the partners.
To get to IMAP and know its projects, you can access the site (from the Inter-American Highway CA-1) by two routes. The first one, arriving from kilometer 117 known as Las Trampas until reaching Godínez and from there to San Lucas Tolimán. The second one, is entering at kilometer 168 by the Sololá-Panajachel route and from Panajachel, you can continue to San Lucas Tolimán by land or cross the Lake Atitlan in a boat. Both ways take approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes departing from Guatemala City.
If you want to know more about IMAP work and projects, you can contact them by phone at 4549 0578 or visit their website https://imapermacultura.org/