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From the Andes to the Amazon Rainforest: Peru Educational Journey with Worldwide Ecotours and InkaNatura Travel
By Isabelle Alvarez
Peru is so much more than its well-known lost city of Machu Picchu. A large part of the country's territory lies within the Amazon basin rainforest east of the Andes. With the goal of highlighting educational experiences, the 18-day journey "From the Andes to the Amazon", by Worldwide Ecotours and InkaNatura Travel combines the Andes and the Amazon rainforest of Peru, visiting such destinations as Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, and the Manu Biosphere Reserve. It is a perfect trip for those who want to travel differently and leave a positive footprint.
Educational Journey in Peru
The Incas could not live without the rainforest, and they made several expeditions to enlarge and protect their realm and gain access to products from other ecological zones. The journey therefore starts with a visit to the highlands and the legacy of the Incas and that of the Spanish conquistadors who also explored the rainforest of Manu. We will then visit Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and a World Heritage Site, the Sacred Valley of the Incas with the impressive fortress of Ollantaytambo and the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, also a World Heritage Site.
Having explored Peru's historical heritage, the journey continues to the Manu Biosphere Reserve, located in the Amazon Basin of southeastern Peru. The 1,8 million ha. Manu Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, extends from the highlands at 13,000 ft to the lowland tropical rainforest at 666 ft, and is one of the jewels of Peru, home to 13 species of monkeys and approximately 1000 species of birds. The experience of the Biosphere will not be complete without learning about the lives of its people, both its native inhabitants and its settlers.
The tour visits the rainforest Indigenous communities of Huacaria, Shintuya and Diamante, which belong to three different ethnic groups of Machiguengas, Yine and Amarakaeri.
Throughout the tour, the group stays in hotels and lodges that have social and/or environmental policies and that, in most cases, have incorporated the sustainable tourism program of Rainforest Alliance, including the hotel Los Andes de America in Cusco, the Cock-of-the rocks lodge in the cloud forest and Pantiacolla Lodge and Manu Wildlife Center in the lowland rainforest.
Giving Back and Leaving a Positive Footprint
Through various nature tour activities, such as visiting the cloud forest canopy walkway at the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station or observing the tropical wildlife at the Manu Wildlife Center, the tour supports ongoing conservation research projects such as those led by the Peruvian NGO ACCA (Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica / Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin).
The tour itinerary has also been intentionally designed to incorporate opportunities to support social and cultural causes, such as meeting and learning about rainforest indigenous communities as well as one of the educational projects of ANIA (Asociacion para la Niñez y su Ambiente / Association for Children and their Environment) and the organization of alpaca owners, producers and conservationists in Cusco.
The CO2 emissions associated with the air travel are "offset" by donating funds to support a local rainforest conservation project that focuses on reforestation efforts by the cloud forest community of Queros, in South Eastern Peru. This project is supported by ACCA and is a credible carbon offsetting program.
The guests can participate in the voluntary offsetting program to support a local rainforest conservation project. Offsetting certificates will be delivered by ACCA.
This trip, organized and led by Isabelle Alvarez, will be offered from July 11-28, 2012. For more information on the trip, please contact Isabelle Alvarez Email: ialvarezal[at]hotmail.com, Phone: +1-403-264-5348.
Photos by Isabelle Alvarez
Isabelle Alvarez is a naturalist with a strong interest in tropical ecosystems and the Amazon region. She works as a consultant and her areas of interest are sustainable tourism, indigenous tourism, cultural tourism and protected areas. She has also worked as a tour guide and a park interpreter. Isabelle has lived almost four years in Peru while doing research on ecotourism and conservation in Manu Biosphere Reserve. Isabelle has a Master’s Degree in Tourism from the University of Angers (France) and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary (Canada).
Worldwide Ecotours was established from a love of travel and a sincere respect for nature, offering trips planned to minimize the impact on the natural world and local communities. Worldwide Ecotours specializes in nature tours and vacations for groups, families, couples and friends, through longstanding relationships with outfitters, guides, transportation services and accommodations.
InkaNatura Travel is the only leading tour operator in Peru owned by a nonprofit conservation group, Peru Verde. The mission of InkaNatura is to to provide the best travel services in Peru for those particularly interested in nature, culture, and archeology. Their work is part of Peru Verde's overall strategy to protect the country's unique cultural and biological diversity. InkaNatura contributes heavily to the maintenance of national parks, reserves, and archeological sites while at the same time treating local people with respect and dignity.