Eco Travel: Northern Argentina's Solar Towns

Argentina has become a very popular tourism destination since the devaluation of peso (three to one dollar), especially the northern and southern limits, north by its proximity with places like Bolivia and Brazil and south by Patagonia's mountains, lakes and green.

Well, now there's another reason to come to the end of the world: visiting the solar towns in the northern area of the country. In these villages, located to more than 4000 meters above the sea level, in deserts or hidden between the rocky landscapes, solar power was redirected to fulfill the small isolated towns' energetic demand. This might sound so simple to us, but it's a huge advance for this people, who live in a very dry region in high levels of unsatisfied needs, and can now enjoy, thanks to photo voltaic paques, the possibilities of almost endless source of energy at no price.
What's more appealing to this combination...... for us to place it in the eco-tourism category, is that the region (composed by Jujuy, Salta and Catamarca provinces) has a very rustic aesthetics, and the combination of the marinate houses with the futuristic solar plaques is a surreal dream. Like the needing past encountering with innovation and intelligent technological development, and both coexisting in harmony.

It's funny how in this country, poverty and lack of resources has become a motor for the development of sustainable alternatives. Just take Carlos Levinton's projects, the Eco and Socially Aware Materials from Córdoba province, or the great diffusion of CNG. All these have their base in the fact that they are, not only green alternatives, but cheap and useful.

In order to provide a guide for people interested in visiting this particular region, German biologist Barbara Holzer, along with Ecoandina Foundation -all in charge of this project-, have devised two touristic routes. Some of the highlights include antique cultivation terraces, a place where the locals build parabolic solar ovens, and San Juan de Misa Rumi, the town where the first solar panel was turned on in 1994, where there's also an ecologic house and the first prototype of a solar heating system which functions in the town's school. ::Ecoandina Foundation (site's in German, but the Kontakt area has some mails and it's more than sure that English is understood).

Through ::La Nación newspaper.