Gotsezhy - Wiwa Community Tourism
Sierra Nevada, Colombia
In 2015, G Adventures 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. The Wiwa have a strong desire for access to tourism that upholds their cultural values and celebrates their customs.
Planeterra worked with the Wiwa community leaders directly to identify opportunities in communities along the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trekking route. 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. Planeterra has worked with Wiwa Tours 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 Gotsezhi.
Aduanemaku (aka Eduardo Gill) is the third of nine siblings. His father is from the tribe Wiwa and his mother is from the tribe Kogui, both located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in Colombia. Aduanemaku is considered a leader in the community for being descended from both indigenous group lineages. He speaks the languages Kogui and Wiwa, as well as Spanish. In 2008, he and some fellow Wiwa friends had the idea to bring tourists to Teyuna, today known as Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). Aduanemaku has been leading this Wiwa initiative for four years, and believes that tourism generates a lot of benefits, if and when it is well-managed. His goal was to work with his community to establish a micro-enterprise based on handicrafts to be sold along the trekking route, and to assist the Wiwas in their tourism development goals through training and infrastructure improvements.