Jukil Community Lodge
Santiago de Agencha, Bolivia
The Santiago de Agencha community is located two hours across the salt flats from Uyuni, meaning many youths choose to leave the small community of about 280 habitants in search of opportunities there. This contributes to many of the issues associated with urban migration, including lack of housing, strain on infrastructure, lack of access to services, and diminishing populations and traditional cultures of home communities. The community is also located in the most expensive (but not wealthy) part of Bolivia (due to its remoteness) and low incomes create a day-to-day struggle for residents. Drought has also been a major problem of late, preventing success for families’ traditional crops such as quinoa, and increasing the need for a successful tourism industry.
The community-owned salt lodge was renovated and expanded through a major project in 2016 funded by Planeterra, with a generous donation from Live Out There to make it possible. With many of the village’s younger residents in search for economic opportunities, this lodge is seen by the community as a way to rescue their indigenous culture and provide opportunities for the future. Visitors learn about the local agricultural practices, including their specialization in quinoa production, and take a guided walk with a community member to the sacred Jukil mountaintop.
Before their partnership with Planeterra and G Adventures, Jukil Community Lodge had been closed for five years due to lack of customers and had fallen into disrepair. Beginning in June 2016, Planeterra began funding the construction and upgrade of equipment and facilities at Jukil Lodge, as well as a training program and technical assistance for organizational management, cooking, restaurant operations, business formalization, business administration, and more. First G Adventures tours started in January 2017, after the completion of the expansion and renovations, and the lodge sees a monthly average of 300 visitors and an income of around USD 9,000 per month with profits to be invested back into the business and to a community fund to pay for improvements to social services in the village such as education and healthcare.