Taking care of the Salkantay Mountain is essential not only for its imposing beauty but also for its environmental significance and critical role in maintaining ecosystem balance. This mountain is the most representative peak in the Vilcabamba Range in Cusco, serving as a vital water source for numerous rivers and streams in the region. Additionally, it harbors biological diversity of species in both flora and fauna, many of which are endangered.
The Salkantay Mountain holds cultural and spiritual importance for local communities. Caring for this natural environment is a way to respect and preserve the rich cultural heritage associated with the mountain. Therefore, its protection and safeguarding are crucial, given its status as one of the glaciers with a significant climatic impact.
Salkantay Trekking is a promoter of sustainable and ecological tourism, which has translated into the promotion of environmental practices, awareness workshops, and multiple waste management campaigns for over 10 years.
On December 2, 2023, the VIII Environmental Cleanup Campaign “Salkantay Te Quiero Limpio” was conducted with the purpose of cleaning up the area around the Salkantay Mountain (Mollepata, Challancha, Soraypampa, Humantay, Abra de Salkantay) and raising awareness about the importance of caring for nature while engaging in outdoor activities.
During the campaign, more than 80 participants, including tour guides, chefs, muleteers, drivers, porters, and all office members, took part. The activities began in Mollepata, and the gathering point was at Sky Camp in Soraypampa, where all participants assembled. Two routes were assigned: one leading to Laguna Humantay and the other to Abra Salkantay. Subsequently, the cleaning, collection, and inspection of each route were carried out meticulously for over 7 hours, utilizing poles, gloves, and sacks with the aim of gathering the maximum amount of solid waste. The activity concluded successfully, with the collection of 27 bags of solid waste, including glass bottles from alcoholic beverages, plastic bottles, and other debris found along the way.
Participating in the Salkantay Mountain cleanup campaign was not only an enriching experience but also a reminder of the importance of direct action to preserve our natural treasures. Here, I share details about my participation and the lessons learned during this transformative campaign with Salkantay Trekking.
Preparation and Participation
Two months prior to the environmental campaign day, we coordinated the work methodology with the Salkantay Trekking office staff and company collaborators. Additionally, we called for voluntary work and managed visual and infographic material on social media and digital platforms as a dissemination tool.
Connection with the Local Community
The campaign was not only about physical cleaning but also about connecting with the local community. We shared stories, learned about local traditions, and understood the importance of the Salkantay Mountain in the daily lives of the people who call it home. This interaction added a profound human component to our mission.
Waste Collection: Challenges and Achievements
As we ascended the slopes of Salkantaypampa, we meticulously collected every piece of litter we encountered. The diversity of waste, from small containers to remnants of hiking equipment, was enlightening and underscored the need for greater awareness of waste management in remote areas.
Environmental Education in Action
Between cleaning sessions, campaign leaders provided valuable information about the importance of conservation and sustainable practices. This environmental education was essential to foster a deeper understanding among participants and ensure that our actions were informed and respectful of the environment.
Community and Global Impact
The campaign not only left a mark on the Salkantay Mountain but also had a broader impact on global awareness. Images shared on social media, along with accounts of the experience, raised awareness about the need to protect our most precious natural places.
The campaign was not just a one-day event; it was the beginning of a long-term commitment. Organizers established follow-up programs, including environmental monitoring initiatives and ongoing awareness campaigns. These efforts aim to ensure that the Salkantay Mountain continues to be a symbol of natural beauty and sustainability.
After the campaign, I reflected on the experience and the necessity for collective change. My commitment to sustainable practices strengthened, and I became an active advocate for environmental conservation, spreading the message of the importance of being responsible guardians of nature.
Participating in the cleanup campaign of the Salkantay Mountain was more than an act of service; it was a profound connection with the land and its inhabitants. I hope this narrative inspires others to join similar movements and recognize the transformative power of community action in preserving our most cherished natural environments.