Gotshezhy Wiwa Community Tourism

Santa Marta, Sierra Nevada, Colombia


Since the Wiwa community developed their Indigenous-owned tourism business in partnership with Planeterra, the community has benefited greatly from the opportunity to increase their economic income and is now able to invest in social programs such as garbage management, community gardens, improving access to drinking water, and education. Women have had a greater entrepreneurial role by participation selling their handicrafts and being part of the food experience, youths are training as local guides sharing their culture and traditions.

people employed
community members benefitting

Critical Need

In 2015, Planeterra began working in Colombia with the Indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada — the Wiwa and Kogui. They are descendants of the ancient Tayrona people and have remained in isolation throughout history until the last couple of generations, where they have had increased contact with the outside world as they struggle to avoid conflict in the high mountainous region where illegal activity persists.

Most of these communities that are located on the route to Santa Marta benefit very little or are excluded from the tourism sector

Our Involvement

The Wiwa community had a strong desire for access to tourism that could uphold their cultural values. They wanted to celebrate and share their customs and traditions, while also guaranteeing territorial sanitation and economic autonomy for the families of these communities. Planeterra worked with the Wiwa community leaders directly to identify opportunities in communities along the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trekking route. 

Planeterra worked with Wiwa Tours, an Indigenous-owned agency, to develop a training and capacity-building program for the Indigenous-owned tourism businesses and guides to increase employment opportunities in the area. As a result, a training kitchen, meal and handicraft experience have been developed in the Wiwa community of Gotsezhy all guided by local people. Establishing a community enterprise on the trek route now provides opportunities for women to sell traditional bags and other handicrafts to customers from tour groups that visit the area as well as to provide meals to trekkers.