Meet the entrepreneurs of the Booking Booster programme. Get to know Miquel and Laura from Awake in Colombia. Awake is connecting travellers and locals, in nature and rural destinations, to protect biodiversity
Miguel Torres Uribe - CEO
“I've been travelling around Colombia for 13 years and have had the chance to really connect with local communities in rural areas all over the country. This made me understand more and more about the harsh reality of our armed conflict, inequality and environmental deterioration. I’m trying to use my background in industrial engineering and business administration to make the most positive impact as possible to conserve these beautiful ecosystems and make local communities thrive at the same time."
Laura Romero Alzate - Head of Local Host Development & Product
"I am a traveler, an entrepreneur for passion, a retired lawyer, totally in love with nature and the local communities living there. I believe in the power of sustainable tourism and I have an obsession with finding solutions for waste problems. After setting up Awake’s sales, customer service and operation processes I was ready to fully focus on the product and align this with the needs and desires of our local hosts."
How did your Awake story begin?
In 2008 we went on a trekking and kayaking expedition through the Magdalena River and this changed our lives forever. We discovered beautiful rich biodiversity and astonishing landscapes. But at the same time we faced the harsh economic conditions for locals to make it through the day and provide for their families.
We felt there was a great opportunity to connect what the local communities had to offer with the need for unique nature experiences in Colombia. And so it begun, we started a kayaking tour operator company offering different journeys through the rivers of Colombia.
A few years later we changed the kayaking company into the nature travel agency, as it is known today, Awake.
What is one of your favourite nature experiences people can book at Awake?
Easy! Jungle trekking, community visits and whale watching in the Chocó (Pacific Coast). This experience is a perfect reflection of what we are all about. You visit several reserves and protected areas operated by locals; you see turtles´ conservation projects and support them with your visit; hike in the jungle with a former hunter while you enjoy one of the richest biodiversity hotspot on this planet. Chocó is not only unique because of its incredible biodiversity but also for the amazing cultural heritage, which can be experienced through food, dance, music, flow and joy. Your local hosts (Francisco, Gentil, Rosita, Antonio -”Toño”, David and others) make sure that you have an amazing time taking it all in in its full essence. It’s truly amazing!
What is your dream for Awake?
We want to be the key marketplace to buy and sell nature tourism experiences all over the world. We dream to have presence in every nature destination of the world, where rural communities live in harmony with nature and strive access to sustainable livelihood opportunities.
We want to generate and connect a global community of travelers and hosts who help to conserve the 36 biodiversity global hotspots and other nature destinations in the world. A global community that uses ecotourism as a tool to protect ecosystems and biodiversity while improving the wellbeing of millions of people in rural places.
We want to be a leading example for ecotourism in the world, where the commercialization of experiences in nature is only possible if it benefits the local communities and creates incentives to protect ecosystems