This type of tourism allows you to visit indigenous communities and become steeped in their traditions; likewise, it is ideal to get close to nature in a respectful and kind way. Many communities offer visitors lodging (usually in cabins), food, guided tours and workshops, among other activities, that emphasize their commitment to nature and fair commerce. Locals are usually very hospitable with guests, and they make every effort to provide them a comfortable and pleasant vacation.
An exceptional experience
Visiting a town surrounded by mountains, or a community buried deep in the jungle, is a memory that will last a lifetime. In these places, you will experience the region’s beauties, will be able to savor homemade traditional dishes, get to know the sound of indigenous languages, admire and buy handcrafts, witness ceremonies and rituals, and experience many other things. Without a doubt, these communities have a lot to offer.
Alternative tourism is a proof that you do not need to empty your wallet to spend a memorable vacation. The prices for services (lodging, tours and food) vary according to the community you visit; however, this amount will hardly ever surpass 39 U.S. dollars a day per person. It is an excellent opportunity to rest, learn, savor and have fun.
Where to go
Bioplaneta is a network of Mexican sustainable cooperatives that offer eco-tourism activities in rural areas from the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz. Here, you will be able to enjoy beautiful natural landscapes, observe a great variety of flora and fauna, take a bicycle, kayak and boat ride, camp in the middle of the jungle or at the beach, get a massage and submerge in clay baths, buy local handcrafts and attend workshops about environmental rehabilitation and traditional medicine. Furthermore, you can learn to harvest cocoa and organic coffees, rehab ecosystems or set crocodiles and turtles free.
Oaxaca and Veracruz are home to a good number of self-managed eco-tourism communities. In Oaxaca, they are located in La Ventanilla, Mazunte, San Rafael Toltepec, El Tomatal, Laguna de Chacahua National Park, the Pueblos Mancomunados and Soyaltepec Island. In Veracruz, they are located mainly in the Tuxtlas region, home to the Tuxtla Eco-tourism Community Network, such as the Catemaco communities.
Chiapas also possesses a great number of self-managed communities, located deep into the jungle, that offer an experience full of colors, flavors, nature and fun. Naha and Metzabok, which in Nathual means “the place of the black man”, is good example. Located in the heart of the Lacandon jungle, in the municipality of Ocosingo, these indigenous communities, some of the oldest throughout the jungle, are surrounded by an amazing biodiversity. Here, you can setup camp, visit the archeological sites, take guided tours through the local sites and do many other activities.
Mayans, natural-born hosts
The Mexican Caribbean is another very important destination for alternative tourism. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to the town of Muchucuxcah, a cooperative that offers a diversity of cultural and natural activities. Visitors stay at cabins with palm roofs built by locals. In the neighboring community of Chan Chimila, one can stay with Mayan families, who will get us engaged in their daily activities and will offer traditional dishes that originate from sustainable agricultural practices. Here, we can learn how they weave hammocks, carve wood or make tortillas, and we can also participate in ceremonies and rituals, and learn the basics of the Mayan language.
The scantily visited Caribbean beaches are a real paradise for those who like to get away from the crowds and the conventional tourism. Here, locals manage the lodging, food and other services offered.
An escape from the city
For the Mexico City residents that wish to spend a special weekend but cannot get too far away from the city, the best option is the community of Huehuecoyotl, in Tepoztlan, Morelos. Founded in 1982, this self-titled “eco-village” offers eco-homes; and the locals, activists of many nationalities, offer workshops on organic gardening, solar energy, ecological buildings, holistic health and community development. To book a room in one of the 14 homes, you need to get in touch with the community members in advance.
If you wish to live a unique experience, support the development of rural communities and do your part in the conservation of the natural environment, this type of tourism is the best option, without a doubt.