An eco-tourism initiative in Bolivia featuring a route that retraces the last days of legendary revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and aiming to improve the lives of impoverished people, has been nominated for this year’s Guild of Travel Writers Award.
The project is supported by global humanitarian organisation CARE International, and funded by the UK’s Government Department for International Development (DFID) alongside the Bolivian Ministry of Tourism, with the aim of developing the remote Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca areas of south-eastern Bolivia.
This region, among the poorest in the country, is populated mostly by indigenous Guaraní farmers. It is here that Che Guevara and his guerrillas spent 11 months before being captured and killed by the authorities in October 1967.
"The objective is to create opportunities for impoverished local communities whose only means of sustainability has traditionally been agriculture. This project offers them an alternative, and a means of improving their quality of life," says Jacqueline Peña y Lillo, project manager for the Che Guevara Trail at CARE’s Bolivia office.
Since the trail’s inception, selected tour routes have been developed in the region that has changed little in the last 40 years, allowing the visitor to travel just as Che and his comrades did - by mule or on foot through rocky forested terrain – or in four wheel drive along unpaved roads.
The trail visits places of historical interest including the site of Che’s guerrilla camp, the school where he was finally captured and killed, and his former grave. Visitors will meet local people who met or travelled with Che.
The trail also includes a number of Guaraní villages, where visitors can learn about and sample local Guaraní culture, thereby supporting local livelihoods and bringing business to these isolated communities.
The opportunities created by the Che Guevara Trail include locally-run and owned simple lodges, cabins and campsites, restaurants, snack stands, small handicrafts businesses selling locally produced items, a Che Guevara Trail museum, transportation to the start of the trail, and employment for local guides providing cultural and historical information.
The objective is to retain the rugged appeal of the trail and minimise environmental impact. The income generated will contribute towards improving health and communication services in the area.
It is estimated that around 3,000 people will benefit directly and 12,000 indirectly through the development of the trail. “The local Guaraní people will play a key role in determining the future of the project, and in this way, promote self-empowerment.
All decisions relating to the trail will be made by local people themselves”, Ms Peña added. The trail will be officially launched by the Bolivian Ministry of Tourism on 8 October, 37 years to the day since Che was captured by the Bolivian Army and later executed. Media Contacts: