Ecotourism succeeds through hot springs

EcoGo - Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs and Resort - Ecuador

Pamela Lanier heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and Ecogo.org. She authored an article about sustainable tourism development in a protected cloud forest. Recently the IUCN-WCPA Mountain Biome network published this success story, and EcoGo is pleased to share it with a wider audience here. 

Mountain Protected Area Update (September, 2015)

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional and Hot Springs Ecotourism, Poised at 3,300 meters

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands as a doorway to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Acting as a wildlife corridor for animals such as the spectacled bear, white-tailed deer, culpeo, tapir, and the Andean condor, Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve is composed of almost a million acres (400,000 hectares) of protected land. Located in the high mountain cloud forest, temperatures tend toward cold and wet, especially in winter. Annual rainfall is from 500 to 3,000 meters.

Visitor activities include trekking, mountaineering, sport fishing, camping, mountain biking, guided nature hikes or self-guided along footpaths, and ecological observation and education of the unique flora and fauna of the area. For those wanting comfort, an eco-resort is located on the upper and outer edge of the park. Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs Spa & Resort includes a hotel with 32 rooms, 13 cabins which can be either one- or two-storied, and a convention center. Each hotel room is heated and has a private bathroom, while the cabins are ideal for families, offering a warm and welcoming environment with a fireplace in each living room. The Spa features thermal waters, pools, and an assortment of private treatments.

Due to its proximity to Quito, this is one of Ecuador’s most utilized National Parks. There is a community spa and swimming pool that is priced for and extensively used by the locals. The conference center also doubles as a learning space for school and other civic groups. A marvelous exhibition garden with carefully labeled fruits, veggies and herbs and a small dairy operation are located nearby, and both are frequently toured by Quito children on school outings.

Termas de Papallacta carries historical achievements as well, such as being the first Health Spa ever approved by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health for the study, use, and therapeutic applications of its thermal waters, and the first Spa & Resort in mainland Ecuador to receive the Smart Voyager sustainable tourism certification. The country of Ecuador is the first in South America to adopt and be accepted into the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s “Country Certification Program.”

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands out as a very well integrated and utilized national park, both for mountain aficionados, local residents, and adventurous travelers alike. After all, where else can one luxuriate in natural hot springs in the morning, and have dinner that evening at a cloud forest ecolodge?

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