WRITTEN BY QUEEN CHESS & JAUMESSE
How did a French woman traveler come to volunteer in and then fall in love with the second largest city in Colombia – Medellín? What can be found in this city in the state of Antioquia in the north west region of the country? Medellín has blossomed into a new era, and Cathy Gallioz wants as many people as possible to know and appreciate this culturally rich place. It is surrounded by the Andes mountains inspiring artists and creatives of every kind, yet many travelers and visiters are unaware of the city’s magic.
When Cathy came to Colombia from Switzerland, she came with great passion and appreciation of the countries of Latin America and wanted to discover more. First, she volunteered with a Spanish school in Medellín through Workaway . It was soon clear that Colombia was where she would stay after extending her time, living with a local family, learning Spanish, and immersing herself further into the culture while participating in diverse projects.
Then, an idea came to find a way to highlight the vibrant life and activity of this community to others through a different way of traveling. Cathy saw an opportunity to help locals and travelers connect with each other and create unforgettable moments together. This is how her company
Kaanás Travel was born. She desired that those visiting or moving to the area would get to know and appreciate this lush and beautiful place through guided tours of the “comunas” or neighborhoods. It was important for Cathy to provide an authentic and unique experience that accurately represented the culture and people of Medellín.
An example of one of these comunas is Comuna 13 which is going through a social transformation. If you were to take the tour, one would leave from the city center by public transport and ascend by cable car and electric stairs to one of the highest points of the city. Comuna 13 has developed a tight-knit and self-sustaining community due to not having easy connections with the rest of the city. On any given day, one can witness teenagers break-dancing, unearth incredible street art around many corners, learn of the cuisine and history, and see amazing panoramic views of Medellín. One can easily interact with the locals over drinks and food with much music filling the air.
After a successful few years in existence, Kaanás Travel is moving beyond Medellín to other parts of Colombia expanding its services to include tours and so much more. This alternative and solidarity tourism agency offers guided tours, assistance with accommodation, unique experiences with locals including meals in homes, permaculture, handicraft workshops, and opportunities for volunteering. It aims to provide the best travel experiences in Colombia with positive social and environmental impacts and is constantly evolving to promote responsible tourism.
“Kaanás” means the art of weaving in language of the Wayúu, an ethnic group of the Guajira Peninsula. In the indigenous tradition of the Wayúu tribes, weaving is a community work where each motif represents a symbolic around the natural elements, spirituality and life-learning.
Just like Wayúu people, Kaanás Travel works to weave people, places and stories into a lived experience with the aim of preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Colombia.