Kawsay Wasi is a community based tour guiding service in Bolivia’s Carrasco National Park. Each of the 15 partners who form Kawsay Wasi are certified naturalist guides from the surrounding communities.
Situated between the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba Bolivia, Carrasco National Park’s landscape includes the Andes Mountains down into the Amazon. The national park has over 600,000 hectares and features dramatic changes in altitude ranging from 280 to 4,700 meters above sea level (980 to 15,400 feet above sea level). The biodiversity of Carrasco National Park is extremely high with over 5000 plant species and 800 bird species.
Kawsay Wasi’s 15 partners represent 7 communities: Bateón, San Mateo Alto, El Palmar, Ivirizu, Km. 118, Muyurina, and Bolivar. These communities developed Kawsay Wasi as a response to the creation of Carrasco National Park in 1991 and the increase of visitors to the area. The business would provide the surrounding communities an economic alternative in order to support their families. Their idea was to operate tours through the park using local well-trained naturalist guides. These guides would interpret the flora and fauna of the national parks and would also help conserve these natural resources.
Constructions and Operations
Each of Kawsay Wasi’s local guides have completed extensive training through a CI sponsored program for local naturalist guides. This training includes 17 courses that total over 720 hours of training including site visits to successful ecotourism projects in Bolivia. Each guide is now able to offer high quality tour guiding services for day and overnight camping trips.
Transformation of a Community
The community based tourism operation has generated a sharp growth of visitors to the park over the past 3 years. This growth implies a greater group of tourists visiting the region as well as guests supporting local businesses in the nearby town of Villa Tunari.
Initially Kawsay Wasi targeted mainly the domestic market, but after being included in the Lonely Planet guidebook and featured on Spanish television, international tourist now account for 25% of all visitors.
Approximately 80% of the money generated by the project is reinvested back into the business to increase the quality of services. The remaining 20% is used to improve the standard of living of the communities involved, including putting up a new roof for the for a police sub station.
Another benefit of the Kawsay Wasi project is the environmental awareness programs the local guides provide to the over 100 communities living inside the park. The local guides relate well to their fellow community members and can help them incorporate lessons back into daily livelihoods and their families.
IN DEPTH: Explore more ecotourism destinations.
Facilities and Tourist Information
Kawsay Wasi offers two different types of adventures:
- Day tours of the park’s Wildlife Sanctuary where you can find the Oilbird (Steatornis capipensis) Caves and Bat Caves. The Wildlife Sanctuary is only 15 minutes away from the town of Villa Tunari. Additionally, for interested birders, there is a 3 hour trail past the Repechon Cavern where you can view one of the more spectacular birds in the Andes, the Peruvian Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peuviana).
- Overnight camping tours, including a three day hike called Walking in the Clouds. The tour starts from an altitudes of 4,300 meters above sea level and descends down to into the Amazon Rainforest. Beside greater opportunity to see wildlife over 600 species of ferns and 700 species of orchids that have been identified on this tour.
To contact the guides of Kawsay Wasi please call:
Tel: +591 717 89 408 or +591 717 49 970