Helping to Develop Sustainable Tourism in Cuellaje

Cuellaje is situated in the Intag Zone of Ecuador, well known for its riches in ecological biodiversity and the famous endangered Andean Bear.
Unfortunately the region is not untouched by mining activity. The town of Junin has become a mining hub in Intag, despite its proximity to the nationally protected Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.

During 2006-07 the people of the Cuellaje Parish along with environmental organisation Decoin had a major fight on their hands to keep mining out of their backyard. They won, but the fight is not over.

Part of my volunteer project here is helping the communities of Cuellaje develop eco-tourism and voluntourism services sustainably and fairly (I’ll go more into the project in another post).

By sustainably and equitably developing tourism in the Parish to help the communities demonstrate to tourists, volunteers and other visitors the stupendous amount of ecological and cultural riches they have, they will be able to develop the local economy, which heavily relies on agriculture and farming and weaken the argument for the need for mining in the Parish.

High school students here learn tourism as a subject in their school curriculum. Just before Christmas one of their activities was to build and develop a blog. I helped Leydi, the lovely teenage girl in our host family with her project of developing a blog for eco-tourism in Cuellaje.

Beyond school activities, Leydi and the Flores family would like to continue the blog to show people some of the ecological attractions they have in their backyard (almost literally), with the hope of one day developing eco-tourism in Cuellaje in a way that will not threaten or damage the culture or biological diversity.

To take a look at Leydi’s blog and/or to make any suggestions visit

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  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
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