Project A: "Ruka" - Food Court, intercultural place (Winner)

Below is the original project proposal which was voted a winner by the Members of in August 2010

October 2010 Update: Read the 1st Progress Report 

01. Organisation’s Official Name (Please enter your own name if self-employed)

 Indigenous Association Red de Senderos Turísticos Pewenche Trekaleyin.

02. Name & Official position/role at this Organisation

Pablo Azua García, Agricultural Engineer.

Role at the Association: Regional Manager of Sendero de Chile Foundation, Professional for technical support to the Trekaleyin Association. Email: pazuag [at] gmail [dot] com.

03. Company Registration Number / TAX ID / VAT Registration / Year of Incorporation

RUT 65.000.682-8. RUT stands for Rol Único Tributario in Chile and it is both the organization registration number as a legal entity and the Tax ID.

Trekaleyin started its business activities in August 2009.

04. Website

05. Project Title (up to 5 words)

Ruka – Food Court, intercultural place

06. Project Short Summary (up to 40 words)

The Community Based Tourism Network of Trekaleyin offers all-inclusive tours on ancestral trails at indigenous communities of the Alto Biobío, Chile. To deliver a good quality service, the project aims to set up a space where to offer traditional meals.

07. Project Description (up to 400 words)

Trekaleyin ( is an indigenous organization that in the last four years has been developing a community based tourism project in four Pewenche indigenous communities. The essence of the experience offered to tourists is to share Pewenche's traditional life, by horse-riding through ancient paths into the depths of the Andes in companion of local guides ready to share their knowledge, experience and stories about the territory, and by sharing typical foods.

Within the services delivered in each tour, traditional food is an essential component. This is based on simple but very representative dishes of the local culture. For visitors who have ridden through Trekaleyin´s trails, this is one of the highlights of the experience.

Each tour begins and ends with the sharing of a traditional food in a typical pewenche place. So far, with rather small groups, meals were made in a traditional construction, which unfortunately, two months ago got completely destroyed because of a fire.

Therefore, and to serve a larger number of people, a new building is urgently needed, with a specific location for the delivery of food on the excursions. For this reason, our project aims the building of a Ruka – food court to fill this gap.

Ruka means house in the local language, and corresponds to a traditional building typically built of axe - carved wood, with an open fire at the center. The use of forest resources for construction, cooking and heating has always been managed in a sustainable way by the communities; Pewenche people have a strong relationship with the environment, as much as other South American indigenous people. Historically, the fire has been the meeting place for Pewenche people, it is where the conversation and tradition flourishes. For visitors, the situation is not different; there is where exchanges between tourists and locals happen.

Our aim is to build a space that combines traditional elements of a Ruka, along with minimum quality standards for our visitors, without losing the essence of the Pewenche way of living. This construction will be set up on the place of one of the members of our network, who traditionally has received visitors at the beginning of the excursions.

The stages of our project are as follows:

- Selection of workers and volunteers
- Preparation and processing of wood for the building of the Ruka
- Acquisition of materials and tools for the work
- Building of the Ruka
- Construction of the Ruka´s furniture: Tables, Chairs
- Purchase of equipment for the Ruka: Dishes, Pots.
- Inauguration of the Ruka

07b - Clarifications:

(a) Please explain in what way(s) your project proposal meets this Year's theme "Ecosocial Justice through Tourism". In what way(s) can this project help rectify ecological and social injustice at the local level?

The Alto Biobío has been socially and ecologically harmed through its history. At the social level, there has been discrimination against Pewenche people which has diminished just in recent years, and until recently this was an isolated area where the only public investment for many years was a road for military purposes.
At the ecological level, in this mountain range area, the largest hydroelectric plant in Chile was built: Ralco. This mega-project meant a serious blow to the local culture and its environment, destroying a whole valley and bringing serious consequences that are still difficult to measure. Fortunately, there is still a valley (where the community lives and the tourism project is run) in adequate conditions and we hope it remains untouched.
In this sense, we believe that community-based tourism, understood as an authentic way to share the values of Pewenche people, can do justice on the richness of a territory and its inhabitants. Thus, although the Ruka -food court- is a small piece of something bigger, it surely contributes to this end.

(b) Please explain what was the cause of the fire

 It is very important to highlight the fire was not started in the original Ruka but in a nearby store building because of a mishandling of a heating stove. The fire spread to the Ruka from this construction. For this reason, the Ruka will be built separated from other buildings.

(c) Please provide a current photo of the destroyed building

 c1: The old Ruka.

 c2: Inside the old Ruka.

 c3: The old Ruka on fire.

 c4: The aftermath.


(d) The Ruka is a wooden building which has an open fire at the centre. Is this safe? Do you plan to modify the design for the new Ruka? Perhaps incorporate fire retardant materials / wood treatment / fire extinguishers?

It is safe because it is a form of construction that has been done for centuries, and Pewenche inhabitants in the Alto Biobío have a considerable knowledge of appropriate fire management.

Usually the stove is set up in the center, away from the timber walls and surrounded by stones.

However, the floor normally has soil which prevents burning, for tourism services we prefer to build the Ruka in a concrete floor.

In any case, we believe that incorporating fire extinguisher is something to behold.

(e) How many Rukas does the network curently have?

Currently the network has 3 Rukas which are set up in remote areas to be used as shelters during the excursions.

(f) Who owns the land on which the Ruka is to be built?

The Ruka is to be built in the land of Mr. Luis Narciso Vita. The right of using that land was transferred directly to Mr. Vita by his father, Mr. Narciso Vita (the owner), through a “real derecho de uso” (a legal form of use in the Chilean law). The land has the status of indigenous single field, which means it can not be sold to people who do not have this condition.

(g) Please provide a current photo of the Pitril community from a vantage point, and illustrate, with an arrow, where exactly the Ruka will be built




(h) Please explain who will be responsible for documenting the Ruka construction, taking videos & photos (You may include the relevant cost in the Budget)

For documenting the construction we have the support of Pablo Azua Garcia and some other people who live very close to the Pitril community. Besides, Mr. Vita and his son know how to operate the digital camera Trekaleyin owns.

09. Project Budget Breakdown in as much detail as possible.


Number of Items

Item Description

Item Cost
per unit in local currency

Total Item
Cost in local currency

Total Item Cost in

exchange rate used:   EUR 1 = CLP 659.081


Wood for Ruka construction










Building Materials





Work tools















PayPal / Bank Transfer Charges







CLP 1,313,000

EUR 1,992

08b - Clarifications:

(a) Please break down the budget items: number of workers, number of work hours, type of furniture, type of equipment, type / units / kg of building material, kg of wood for Ruka construction.

  • Number of workers: 3
  • Number of work hours: 8 hours a day. In the community the work times are between 8:00 to 18:00 hours, taking 2 hours for lunch.
  • Type of furniture: locally made rustic furniture: tables, chairs benchs and single seats.
  • Type of equipment: dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, glasses, jars.
  • Type / units / kg of building material:

-              Cement bags of 45 Kg. (1,2 x m2) = 20

-              Nails of ½” = 10 Kg.

-              Water hose: 10 mt

-              Zinc panel ceiling: 5 sheets.

-              Taps: 2 units

  • Kg of wood for Ruka construction: It is not possible to tell how many kilograms of wood are needed, as the weight depends on the type of wood and its moisture. 7,5 cubic meters or 250 cubic feet will be needed. It is important to consider that the wood price at the community is cheaper than in other markets.
(b) Is the budget based on a past construction of a Ruka by the Network?

Yes, the budget has been prepared according to the previous experience on building this type of construction by the local builders.

10. Exact physical location of the project:

Address: Pitril Pewenche Community, Comuna de Alto Biobío, Provincia del Biobío, Región del Biobío, Chile.

Map: Precise Longitude & Latitude:  -37.794593,-71.49353,

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11. Pictures - Up to five relevant pictures illustrating the site of the project and what it is all about.

  11a: Pehuenche Traditional Food: Roasted goat meat prepared on the grill, accompanied by local vegetables.

  11b: Traditional Pewenche Ruka: shelter at Koniñamco, offers rustic accommodation in the middle of a trail

  11c: Traditional lunch at the end of a trip in the community of Trapa Trapa. In this case, as the group was of three tourists,
  the food was served at the home of local guides.


  11d: Traditional Pewenche Ruka, used as a rustic shelter for tourism in the community of Butalebun, this Ruka represents
  the work of the traditional native timber.


12. Is this project, or parts of this project already under way?

Our Community-based Tourism Network has worked and developed itself in the last five years. In this sense, considering that the Ruka – Food court is part of a larger circuit, it can be said that part of the project is already underway. However, considering the specificity of this project, no action has been taken to date for the construction and equipment of an area to provide food to tourists and visitors,

13. Project Completion Schedule with dates


Execution Date

-          Selection of workers and volunteers 

September 2010

-          Preparation and processing of wood for the construction of the Ruka

September –October 2010

-          Acquisition of materials and tools for the work 

September –October 2010

-          Building of Ruka 

October – November 2010

-          Construction of the Ruka furniture: Tables, Chairs

October – November 2010

-          Purchase of equipment for Ruka: Dishes, Pots. 

October – November 2010

-          Inauguration of the Ruka

November 2010


14. Who or what will mostly benefit from your project? (up to 200 words)

At first, the project will directly benefit families working in the food services at the begging and at the end of Trekaleyin trips. As an example, a group of 10 visitors requires the work of at least three families in the preparation of meals and attention of tourists. These families are rotating their service on the different tours generated.

In a second line, the project benefits all members of the Trekaleyin Network, since the use of the Ruka is transversal to the excursions of all communities. Therefore, having better services benefits the organization as a whole.

Finally, visitors will benefit, since they can enjoy better services on their visit.

15. Do you have experience with similar projects in the past? (up to 200 words)

Trekaleyin has experience in implementing such projects. In the past five years infrastructure projects based on traditional typologies have been implemented, specifically the construction of mountain huts, which have been beneficial to the local community, and today it is part of circuits of the Network.

Our association has also implemented projects related to tourism product development with identity, market development and exchange tours. All these projects have provided an important learning experience when it comes to making the best use of resources. 

16. Have you consulted the local community and/or their elected representatives about their real needs and feelings about this project? Please clarify and provide evidence if you can. (up to 200 words) 

The Trekaleyin Community Tourism Network is an organization composed exclusively by members of local communities without the involvement of people outside the territory, expect for technical supports. Precisely, its greatest challenge is to be an entity that can clearly represent the aspirations and interests of its indigenous members.

As an annual planning, the Network holds a portfolio of projects that have been identified as “musts” by its members. Within this list, the building of a Ruka to give an appropriate food service to visitors appears constantly mentioned in the meetings.

Answering to the question, the project presented here arises entirely as a requirement of the local community.

16b - Clarifications:

(a) Please explain what other projects have been identified as "musts" by the Network Members and why you have chosen this one for the Awards

Other projects considered as “must” for the network are:

-            Building of hill shelters for middle mountains conditions in all the lodging spots of the network excursions.

-            Bathrooms, with ecological systems in all the lodging spots of the network.

-            Building of cabins in each community, in the low areas.

-            Enable systems of solar energy o eolic energy

-            Work trips to get to know other community based tourism experiences.

 The Ruka’s Project was considered for the awards, mainly because of the urgent need of adequate infrastructure for the coming tourism season. Although, every single project we enumerate here is important to improve our service, we believe the Ruka’s project is vital above others to be able to keep offering a good service.

Besides, it’s one of the only projects that can be developed with the budget proposed by

17. Have you examined all legal, tax and technical aspects of this project? Please clarify and provide evidence if you can. (up to 200 words) 

Legal aspects are related to the initiation of activities at the Internal Tax Service of Chile. In this sense, the network has in order all taxes affairs. Other technical aspects important to consider are related to health permits, which may not be covered completely with the resources of this project, and constitute a second stage for us. We will do our work with temporary permits.

17b - Clarifications:

(a) Please explain if Health Permits are really required for the legal operation of the Ruka as an eating facility, and how easy it is to acquire temporary permits. Do the other Rukas operated by the Network currently use Temporary or Permanent Health Permits?

Currently, the Rukas and, in general, all the tourism services in the rural area of Alto Biobío, are run without permanent permits. This flaw is mainly because of the costs involved. For this reason, there is a formal agreement with the local government authority on having a “grace” period in which to operate until they can afford and get the permanent permit.

18. Are there any other unknown or uncertain parameters about this project?  Does it depend on any external factors? (up to 100 words)

In global terms the project is not dependent on external factors for its proper implementation.

However, a parameter that may negatively affect the success of the project would be a reduced number of tourists, and that eventually the infrastructure does not comply with the uses that have been designed for. For this, Trekaleyin has a marketing strategy and actions in conjunction with other partner organizations and support

18b - Clarifications:

a) Please clarify how the Ruka may 'eventually not comply with the uses it has been designed for'

In the event that tourists were no using the Ruka, and it were only used for the owner’s family instead of the network.

(b) Is there evidence that points to a possible significant decline in visitors?

Not at all. The indicators and both our and our partners’ efforts, make us to firmly believe the number of visitors will increase in the medium term, among the range of the load capacity of our territory.

As an example, the amount of visitor since 2008 has increased in a 66%. Even though numbers are still small (109 in 2008 to 181 so far in 2010), we are happy to see they are growing!.

19. Who will actually implement this project? (organisation employees, local volunteers, tourist volunteers, local workers, others?) (up to 100 words)

The project will be implemented mainly by local workers of the Pitril community, who will receive fees for their work. It is also expected to have the support of local volunteers, mainly from the local school of the commune.



20. If your project is not chosen, will you still go ahead with its implementation? (up to 50 words)

 Of course, since the implementation of the cultural space for giving food to tourists is considered to be number one priority for the Network. Either through our own resources or external funding, we will make this to happen.

Please enter your full name below and the date to indicate acceptance of the above terms:

Pablo Azua Garcia

Date: 22 June, 2010