River Jump | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America
Interviews | Colombia | 17.05.24

An Interview With Pierre-André Krüger from Nomad Lodges

Pierre-André Krüger spent years in South America scouring the continent for a special kind of hideaway, in a remote location, perfectly in step with the local community. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he set out to create it.

Born from his mission is Nomad Lodges, an ecotourism project cradled by the Colombian Amazon, where guests experience the region’s life in all forms: its people, its wildlife, and the intricate ecosystems that sustain them.

Our very own Hattie Mills spent three nights at Nomad Lodges, where she sat down with Pierre amidst the chorus of the jungle to learn more about the origins of the project and how it has paved the way to include indigenous communities in the future of sustainable tourism.

The Cocoon Suite | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America

What brought you to this part of the world in the first place?

When you’re a tour operator, you try to find the best places and the best experience for the client. The idea was to find some amazing places and to create something amazing in terms of service and concept.

I made 150 inspection trips throughout the continent looking for the most remote places, where you can find something special in terms of environment, or in terms of inhabitants, or culture. When I came here for the first time, it’s not only the environment aspect that impressed me. More than that, it was the capacity of the people here to adapt with nature. To find this balance between human being and nature, for me, was something incredible.

We began with only two bungalows, and the idea was to create a model to replicate and make it grow.

How long has it taken to gain the community’s trust?

I’ve been working on this project for more than 10 years and with this community for about 7 years. The past seven years have really been step-by-step. You always have a feeling when you’re traveling, and as an entrepreneur, it’s the same. You have to make decisions and try to go the right way. It takes time.

 

Tarapoto Lakes | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America

So, you’re always striving.

It’s all about passion, and I’m so passionate about this place and about these people. More than me bringing them something, they have brought me so much. Every day is another day and every day I’m learning something different. It’s very challenging, but if you trust in your project, you just have to run with it. And in this case, it’s not just my project, you know? It’s all about the community.

What is it about Latin America that made you come back 150 times?

The idea was to learn Spanish. During my first stay in South America, I was pretty sure that I would be back—so sure, that I went back to Switzerland and began to work as a tour operator. I was the first tour operator in the western part of Switzerland offering tours only in South America. I’ve done this for 35 years and I honestly don’t regret it. There is so much to discover. I’m not really curious to go to other continents now because there is so much to do here, and I have so much attachment to South America. Now, as Spanish is my second language, it’s so easy for me to get in touch with the people and really have a discussion.

Staff | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America

What should we learn and take away from a community like this?

Wow, a lot. Reconnection to nature—it’s all about that. It’s hard to be conscious of this when you live in Europe, but when you live here for a long time, you’re pretty sure that we’ve been going the wrong way. Instead of going with nature, we are going against nature. We belong to nature, and not the contrary. People here are very conscious of that.

The locals here identify themselves to an animal. Everything has a mind. Everything has a spirit. It’s all about dreaming.

Huito Painting Children | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America

What’s your favorite thing to do with the travelers that come to stay here?

We adapt ourselves to each traveler.

We visit the Lago Tarapoto which is one of the most impressive things we can see here in the region. We have two ecosystems in the Amazon. We are very lucky to be in the middle of the flooded forest and the highland forest. It’s important for us to show the guests both.

But for me, it’s really important and its really part of the project to show them how the locals are living. When we think about the Amazon, we see huge landscapes, untouched. We see a lot of trees, a lot of water, but there are a lot of people living there. A lot of life. A lot of culture. In the Amazon, there are more than 360 different etnias, each one with its culture, its habits, its language. It’s something amazing. The cultural aspect is enormous here.

River | Nomad Lodges | Plan South America

What are you hoping to achieve at Nomad Lodges?

The idea is to be a source of inspiration and to make it as long-term as possible. This type of project is never finished. It’s always an evolution. You have to grow and grow and grow and evolve. The idea is to integrate the people here, and probably one day they will be able to manage it themselves. I will be very happy to for them to lead the project. Because the idea, for me, is to develop other projects at other places and if I can have them leading the project, it will be great.

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