Lodge hosted by ancient ethnic people

A cooperative program engaging the Huaorani, one of the world's most isolated ethnic groups, as hosts on and stewards of their ancestral turf in Amazonian Ecuador recently involved a communal effort to modernize and refurbish the five-cabin guest accommodation, Huaorani Ecolodge.

The lodge is located in the region of Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that is home to as-yet uncontacted indigenous tribes, including the Tagaeri and the Taromenane.  The region is considered the most bio-diverse in the world.

The Ecuador-based eco-tourism company Tropic Journeys in Nature arranges authentic interactions with the Huaorani to witness first hand their day-to-day lives. Guests will also observe the sustainable manner in which recent renovations were accomplished. The dining room roof, for example, was reconstructed using durable materials that replaced the former thatched roof that had a short shelf life. The new roofs that will last for around 20 years were built with wood covered with a waterproofing material called Chova, a material made in Ecuador that is meant to repel moisture.

Guests may now enjoy a new gift shop and book store and the assortment of handicrafts available that are used as decorative motifs in the dining room. Sufficient construction material was left over to build covers for trash cans in the kitchen. Other projects planned for late fall are refurbishing kitchen and dining room wood surfaces, replacing in-room mosquito nets in the cabins and sanding and varnishing tables and dining chairs.

The nearby Huaorani-operated Nenquepare Camp (included in all Huaorani Lodge packages) also received improvements: a new bathroom with two each toilets, spacious showers and sinks overlooking the Shiripuno River. The local community of Nenquepare is involved in this development and will be trained to manage the site. The kitchen was upgraded with new ceramic walls and floor and in early winter a solar refrigerator and solar energy for light will be installed. New walking paths also connect the dining room with cabins and bathrooms.

A popular feature, a nearby jungle waterfall, also has easier access thanks to stairway maintenance. A new bridge is being constructed over a creek that leads to a self-guided trail.

Ecuador's award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic Journeys in Nature since 1994 has led tours through the country's most engaging landscapes. These include the rainforest region occupied by the Huaorani who, since 2008 with partner Tropic, are working to stabilize a heretofore ecologically threatened region of the Amazonian Ecuador, considered the world's most biologically diverse.

As Carvalho points out, the conservation/tourism partnership with the Huaorani has helped bring positive changes to the region. "The canopy is re-appearing over sections that were slashed and burned and along the rivers," he notes. "The region is showing signs of regeneration with more sightings of giant river otter, jaguars, giant armadillos and the very rare short eared dog."

Carvalho notes that since the Huaorani Ecolodge was created in 2008 the particular interest this ancient people now show toward their ancestral land in Yasuni National Park has encouraged natural reforestation along waterways and in turn ever-more-frequent sightings of wildlife whose habitat is no longer being suppressed.

Three and four-night lodge packages are available from $690 per person, double, for accommodations, meals, an English-speaking guide and guided activities (including one night camping). Details:.....

Carvalho launched his company to demonstrate that environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism can be a viable business model. Tropic pioneered indigenous community tourism in the Amazon region with the Huaorani people and over many years has been a consistent supporter, partner and promoter of indigenous tourism initiatives with several indigenous communities and organizations including the Siecoya, Cofan, Siona, Achuar and Quichua.

The company also integrates tourism with ecological, economic, socio-cultural and political concerns with local community tourism initiatives in the Galapagos Islands, the Andean region and the Pacific coast region of Ecuador.  The communities it works with receive proper economic benefit from the tourism operation and these and other benefits are pointed out to clients.

 

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