Dream Hunter Interview: C is for Conservation in Colombia

In Colombia’s famous coffee region, I am indulging in a cup of Arabica with investment banker turned musician turned conservationist, Nicholas Panayiotou.  We have spent the past few hours walking around Kasaguadua, Nicholas’ nature reserve in Salento, Colombia.  It was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in Salento as we trekked around the nature reserve we were able to eat fresh lemons and raspberries off the trees, hear parrots singing in the distance and observe varieties of flora and fauna native to this rich Colombian environment.

Kasaguadua Nature Reserve

Kasaguadua Nature Reserve

A native to Britain, Nicholas left his unfulfilling London banking life behind when he decided to backpack Africa for a year to learn more about African music, in particular, drumming and percussion music.  It was during his time in Burkina Faso, Africa that he met his current business partner and long-time Colombian friend, Carlos.  Soon after he returned from Africa, Nicholas bought another plant ticket, this time to Bogota, Colombia to visit Carlos. Colombia enchanted him and he decided to make it his new home, teaching music and english in Bogota for a few years. It was during this time in Bogota, the seed of a dream was planted….here’s the full story via my Dream Hunter interview with Nicholas:

(TD) How did the dream of Kasagudua come about?

(NP) Music made me realize that I wanted to live closer to nature. After a few years in Bogota, Carlos and I thought it would be interesting to buy some land to cultivate, conserve and call our own. We looked at various places in Colombia and finally got a call about some land near Salento, in the coffee region. This dream evolved.  It first started as a conservation goal then we had ideas to live on the land then we wanted to create a place where others could enjoy the land too. So that’s our vision- to bring it back to basics and create a reserve where like-minded people can come to enjoy Colombia’s nature. Our nature reserve represents our way of life.

 

(TD) What experience in your life most shaped who you are now?

(NP)  I was close to death when I caught malaria in Africa.  It was a surreal experience and overcoming that illness was a turning point for me.  After that, I went back to London, sold my house and bought the plane ticket to Colombia.

 

(TD)  After 10 years living in Colombia, what strikes you most about this country?

(NP)  Colombia is so diverse.  Choose a climate and there is a region in Colombia that has it. Colombians are open, warm and create a strong sense of community. There is a sense of belonging here. This is who I am.

 

(TD) What food could you live on forever?

(NP) Wagamama’s miso ramen, ebi goyoza  and a fruit juice.  When I go back to London, this is a necessary stop.

 

(TD)  As a musician, what is your favorite type of music?

(NP)  West African music because of what is represents and where it comes from. Tribal music is spiritual. I play an instrument called djembe ( the “talking drum”) and also the didgeridoo.

 

(TD)  What is your definition of fulfillment?

(NP)  Fulfillment is defined through what life expects of me and what I do, not just what I say. I need to be doing things with my hands, to be with like-minded people and fulfilling my dreams.

 

(TD)  So, what is next for Kasaguadua?

(NP)  We recently won a Fonda Enprender government grant from SENA. We were thrilled because we were one out of twelve chosen from ninety business plans. This partnership will provide us with additional resources to get Kasaguadua ready for our guests. The community is behind us here as well. We abide by the rules of being a Natural Reserve and we take our commitment to conservation seriously.

If you are in Colombia, you can come meet Nicholas, walk in the diverse Colombian reserve Kasaguadua and live off this land. Contact him directly at: (+57) 313 889 8273 or email him at kasaguadua@gmail.com

 

Conservation in Action: replanting native trees

Conservation in Action: replanting native trees

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5 Responses to “Dream Hunter Interview: C is for Conservation in Colombia”

  1. Beautiful story, Tania. I really enjoy getting these little glimpses of your travels, through the people you meet. Also, kudos to nicholas and carlos for their important work, combining conservation with entrepreneurship.

  2. Lourdes & Darryl Says:
    February 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Many happy returns of the day.
    All the best now and always.

    Love

    Darryl, Lourdes & Charles

  3. Nicholas Panayiotou Says:
    March 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

    It was lovely meeting you Tania!!! Great write up about my story and the reserve; however, the reserve is co-owned with Carlos and not solely mine.

    Hope to see you again once we have completed the construction phase!

  4. The Global Sponge The Global Sponge Says:
    March 10, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Thanks Stacey, I know you appreciate the work Nicholas and Carlos are doing and I think you’d love a trek around their property.
    Thank you Lourdes, Darryl and Charles for the bday wishes!

    Nicholas, apologies if the co-ownership wasn’t more clear in the article. I know it’s a equal joint effort from both you and Carlos. I see how much sweat and passion you guys are putting into it. Best of luck! Look forward to returning to lounge in a hammock one day!

  5. buenas acabo de enterarme de tu webblog y la verdad es que me parece estupendo no sabia de mas personas interesadas en estos temas, aqui tienes un nuevo lector que seguira visitandote quincenalmente.

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