Tropic Journeys in Nature Opens Window on Huaorani Indigenous People Threatened by Oil Interests in Amazon Rainforest

Tropic Journeys in Nature Opens Window on Huaorani Indigenous People Threatened by Oil Interests in Amazon Rainforest

Tropic Journeys in Nature

Proposed New Development Puts Ecuadorian Indigenous Tribe at Risk of Extinction

What's the experience of an indigenous people whose thousands-year-old culture is threatened by oil interests?


Ecuador's award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic Journeys in Nature (Tropic), since 1994 has led tours through the country's most engaging landscapes. This includes a region occupied by the Huaorani, one of the most isolated ethnic groups in the world, in contact with the so-called the civilized world only since the mid 20th century and today threatened by global oil interests.


"This year as visitors spend time with this ancient Amazon forest culture, they’ll experience the distress of this culture as oil interests threaten to force the Huaorani from ancestral lands," says Jascivan Carvalho, Tropic’s owner. This is perhaps as close as we can come today to understanding how, for example, the American Indians of the Wild West felt when they were being displaced and impacted by the rush for land in the 1800s."


Tropic facilitates small group interaction with these people as guests of Huaorani Ecolodge deep within the Ecuador jungle. The lodge is the result of a sustainable tourism partnership between Tropic and the Huaorani (or "People" as the name translates).


Walled by rainforest on the downriver float, guests may see monkeys, toucans, macaws and other Amazonian wildlife. After the stay, on the return drive along the Auca Road built by the oil companies in the early 1970s, guests will witness miles of oil pipelines and the damage that oil exploration has done to the forest and Huaorani hunting grounds.


The government of Ecuador has requested that the international community raise funds to help off-set potential oil revenues in order to justify keeping the new oil development out.


Huaorani Ecolodge: Solutions for Remote Communities through Sustainable Tourism

In January 2008 Tropic assisted the formation of a five-community tourism affiliation to help secure the tribe's health and heritage through the tools of sustainable tourism. Members of this tribe are trained to work at the award-winning, five-cabin Amazon rainforest lodge that they built of traditional materials harvested from Yasuni National Park, perhaps the most biodiverse region of the world. They are also learning how to produce and sell crafts. Produce is bought locally; there are plans to create a laundry service in Quehueri'ono to increase local employment; and biodegradable products are used in housekeeping services as well as in the bathrooms.


"Indigenous groups with their own conservation efforts should be a source of national pride. Our community-based tourism project allows the Huaorani to earn an income while maintaining control of their territory and lifestyle," notes Carvalho. The lodge is in the Yasuni International Biosphere reserve, one of four so designated by UNESCO in Ecuador for their ecological importance in the conservation and protection of biodiversity.


Accommodations at the Huaorani Ecolodge are individual palm-thatched cabins of local wood. Each cabin has twin beds, a private bathroom equipped with a shower and flush toilet, and a porch with comfortable chairs and hammock. Environmentally friendly soaps and shampoos are provided. Lighting comes from solar panels that power the shortwave radio, refrigerator and water pump. A bio-filter renders all waste products either recyclable or harmless before being discharged into the river. Meals are taken in a communal dining room.


On a two-day trip down the wild Shiripuno River, the Huaorani will explain how to use a blowgun, demonstrate hunting techniques, build fires without matches, climb trees, decorate faces with red achiote and point out exotic wildlife.


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.


About Tropic Journeys in Nature

Tropic Journeys in NatureEstablished in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability.


>> See Tropic Journeys in Nature's member profile



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