Love Hiking - Trekking? Read this!

Exploring the area around Chachagüí via the many trails that exist, is a rewarding experience - even for the most cynical out there. Although the walking trails require more development and collaboration (of utmost importance!!) with local communities, they will almost certainly be very popular with visitors from abroad as well Colombians who visit the area. Varying degrees of difficulty and length also ensure that they will be able to cater for the family with children keen for a walk, right through to the more hard/tough trekkers. Multi-day wilderness treks with visits to local farmers and villages along the way, is another exciting possibility.

The type of panoramas you can expect on trails in the area.

The great thing is that many of these trails can be adapted to themed walks with local guides like exploring different aspects of life in the area, agriculture including coffee cultivation, special interest walks for birdwatchers, lepidopterists (butterflies) and botanists, to name but a few. This adaptation will obviously go hand-in-hand with training of guides from the relevant areas. Giving people living in forest areas for example, an alternative income, bodes well for conservation negating the need to cut trees to sell as firewood. 

Obviously catering for the independent hikers who want to venture out there on is important as well. It’s for this reason that development of trail maps, location information with emergency contacts is necessary - even more so for the safety of independent hikers. This is where tourism sensitisation and collaboration with the local communities is of utmost importance; explaining and developing a product that benefits them as well. Examples include hikers enjoying meals with a family who also provides a space on their property for the hikers to pitch their tent or, if they have the space, provide a room for the night.

Development only of these trails is not sufficient, monitoring and obtaining feedback is very important as well. Some of the more important questions that need to be asked in this regard include;
  • What are the experiences the local communities have had with hikers they interacted with and/or hosted.
  • Is the benefit they receiving real or only a perceived benefit?
  • What are the hikers’ experiences.
  • when hosted in local communities.
  • along the trail (trail conditions, locations, relative to maps etc.).

What kind of areas are we looking at for walking trails? Well, this area has a diversity that’s difficult to match! Trails and potential trails can be followed in a single type of surrounding or trails that include a combination of surroundings, and almost all include spectacular landscapes and views. The difficulty grading  is most times relevant to the area that the trail is in as a canyon for example may have some more steep ascents and descents with narrow trails; 
  • forest (both primary and secondary forest)
  • grassland and agriculture
  • canyons, gorges and rivers
  • villages and farmlands that include all of the above.

Developing these into marketable packages is the following step with packages including/excluding meals, guides and transport (to and from trail heads). Given the array of different trails, I believe that the packages will be able to cater for all the different budgets from basic budget to the more expensive all inclusive trips. With the popularity of multi-day treks in neighbouring countries, this is a product that should prove very popular with trails traversing a huge range of landscapes, habitats and villages with their home cultures.

I’ll be posting more reports on individual trails encountered so far as well as information as we develop them for tourism.


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