On December 15th of 2012 we did at Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve the Christmas party for all the communities, we had more than 250 people that belong to different communities which surround the hotel. It was a day full of emotion and joy, because we did many games not only for children but for adults too.
The program started around 9 am with games for the children where each team was represented by each community who participated in the contest. The 8 children of the community of Kapawi won the first place; in second place was the community of Kusutkao and the organized gymkhana. After this it was time for the games for the young and here the test was more difficult, they had to build a typical hunting trap and at the end the community of Wayusentsa achieved the goal.
The adults had the proof of fire, they had to do the contest of the blowing gun (cerbatana) which let me say took them more time than the expected. The women also played soccer and the men played volleyball.
In the afternoon we gave the presents to each winner, note that this time with the exception of the children´s prize, the rest were educational materials. We also gave candies which were collected in Quito´s office by donations of allied companies that work together with Kapawi Ecolodge & reserve.
The tourism Ministry with the direction of the Pastaza Province and Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, organized a course of Technical Projects Applied to the Kapawi Ecological Reserve, which was done from October 29th to November the 5th of 2012, covering over 70 hours of training.
This course had 16 participants of different Achuar communities involved in touristic projects of the zone, the facilitators by part of the Ministry gave classes of birding, Ecuador´s cultures, guidance techniques and sustainable practices where the participants could put in practice most of their experience acquired previously in their work places and learn new techniques and knowledge to develop their own touristic projects.
The subject that they most enjoyed was birding, showing a big interest for the identification of birds, their sounds and the way to show the passengers the great diversity of birds that they have in their territory.
Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve in its Sustainable plan together with the GIZ, performed a project for the development of water at the Hotel Kapawi and its installations of laundry, located 15 minutes by canoe from the community of Kapawi, which provides a source of income for the women of this community.
At the Hotel the work was done replacing the gasoline motor pumps to new electric pumps connected to a central system of energy of the hotel which provides the 60% of solar power and the rest is provided by a diesel generator. These pumps connected to a pressure tank help to give a better service to the passengers and to reduce the cost of fuel, which is a rare good in this part of the region. We also changed the ozonizer for one of higher capacity.
Parallel to the Kapawi community we installed a complete laundry system and we stopped using the gasoline motor pump to obtain the water from the river.
We started identifying a source of natural water at the Kapawi community. After we proceeded to elaborate a concrete tank for water catchment and extend the pipeline to the laundry room and store the water in two plastic tanks of two cubic meters each one. The water pumping of the slope is done with a solar pump which helps us to maintain the water reserve.
The community worked with the people from the hotel for the installation of almost 500 meters of pipeline so that in a future we can take the water near to the village house and from the catholic mission which is in Kapawi.
Travelling to lands that few people know, one transforms once you get there in part of the same by diverse circumstances, while walking over the leafs, trunks, roots, swamps and in occasions manure without even notice it, to feel the humid wind that little by little will transforms your skin into sweat, when you are not used to this weather, it is uncomfortable at the beginning but after a couple of hours you will make friend with mosquitoes.
Snooping and asking again and again about the ancestral ritual which is done periodically by the people who live in this place, inhospitable and far from any civilization, this ceremony which wraps mysticism and fear, is called (Natem) by the Achuar.
With the physic and psychological disposition of experimenting this type of reaction I made the procedure so that Natem outbreaks on me, first of all no food in the morning, during all the day I did not had any type of food, I could only drink water in small quantities, while starting the afternoon we headed towards one of the places where they do it, there we had a lovely and enchanted environment.
It was time for what we have been waiting for, we went into the Shamans house and we made ourselves comfortable in the part of the Tankamash of his house, with a bit of incertitude of the reactions that this beverage will wrap us in, we took a deep breath and one by one we went towards the shaman so that he can give us the Natem to each one of who wanted to experiment this ritual.
It was my turn and slowly I sat in front of the Shaman and in a small container he put the beverage and I drank it, the sensation in my mouth was something amazing because it mixed the bitterness with the instant magic, this Natem which he learned to do many years ago and which has passed through generations in his family has an eternal boom.
I returned to my place where I had to wait for my reaction to start in my body to this event. After a few long minutes I felt that I was starting to slowly feel relaxed, I felt lighter and with my view in only one place and listening to everything around me, even the smallest shoe rubbing. I already felt like they say here, it caught me. I got up and then I sat backwards to the shaman, with some singings, whittlings and leaves in his hands he started to shake them up and down and in circle with clockwise direction.
I went out of his house and lie down on the floor where previously my friends put some banana leaves; they whispered that I should lay down backwards to the ground in case if I had secondary effects.
The rest of the experience, visions, and feelings will have to be done by each one of you.
Another year has passed, new experiences, new lessons, new falls, new ways of moving forward; it is once more time for special dates, Christmas dates are for sharing and being unconditional to our neighbors is essential for our lives.
Year by year Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve has done a small but very emotional tribute to all its collaborators and especially to the children of the Achuar Community that are in many of the cases still living in the Ecuadorian Amazon, a place full of magic, nature and culture that will leave you without breath.
This year with the support of several companies and collaborators, we have thought in the need of rewarding somehow the most outstanding children in each one of their schools, there were a total of 12 boys and girls that left from each one of their communities and towns where they live to do an unprecedented trip, a rich full trip, a unique but most of all, a trip with lots of love.
Each one of their faces was notable the innocence, distinct of childhood, curiosity, anxious and a little bit of fear for all that was coming. Faces full of happiness looked at us while they were gaining trust and were getting closer.
So it was time to start their new experience, the same that for many of them started the moment they left their communities and homes because most of them did not knew more than their Amazon forest so full of Magic and life, their animals, friends, nature, culture but all of this was going to be left behind for a few days to get to know Quito, the capital of Ecuador, with all its culture, people, attractions and why not entertainment….
It was a memorable trip of learning, fun, games, gifts, food, but most of all these 12 kids understood the clear message that we transmitted to them. To share and give love to the rest of our partners was our legacy, to learn that there is a world beyond their communities and homes and of course that there is a reward for being the best students in their schools.
They where overwhelming days but at the same time enriching, days that these 12 children will never forget, and once they go back to their communities at the Amazon rainforest they can transmit this experiences to their people and friends, giving this new message of preservation, support and love for their environment… The wonderful rainforest which is so affected and in danger but it is our duty to preserve it or else, every insect, every bird, every mammal or plant that we find in this place, it is reflected our own life and existence and it’s a legacy that we cannot stop taking care of.
¿Would you dare to try?… Live The Kapawi Experience! visit us at www.kapawi.com
The community Tourism, has become in many countries a strategy of local development, where the service providers are the own habitants of the community, for such reason one of the most important touristic products is the coexistence with the community and participate in an active way in their way of life and manners, enjoying their ethnographic and their natural and cultural heritage. This is the type of tourism that grows as an economic alternative to the rural, indigenous, peasant, mestizo and afro decedent’s communities.
It is differenced by the other branches in Tourism because it parts from the income that this activity produces and it is reinvested in plans and communitarian programs. The axes of development that this tourism is based on are the organization, culture, environment and economy.
While community tourism is being developed worldwide, in Latin America it is a phenomenon that arises from the last decades and has had many special advances, especially in Ecuador which is one of the most developed countries and most known for this type of tourism that counts with more than 100 community experiences.
To do Tourism in the communities and towns in Ecuador means the protection of their territory, the way of life, and right to maintain their cultures and nationality. The communities and the Tourism operations are grouped in the Plurinational Federation and Communitarian Tourism of Ecuador, FEPTCE, which is the representative organism of the communitarian tourism in this country. It is structured with representatives of all the communities involved and the federations of provincial and regional networks.
In this manner, the community Tourism becomes a strategic area of social, economic and cultural development. On the other hand, it is a complementary alternative to the classic models of development and by the other hand it balances the search of economic activities compatible with the environmental conservation.
The Achuar Language belongs to an ethnic group of the Jivaroanos, same as the Shuar. Traditionally the Achuar have had a pattern of dispersed settlement in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rain Forest, the house was occupied by a wide family, whose organization responded to the practice of polygamy and levirate (The brother that dies without children gets married with the widow), thereby, the house represented a basic quantity and self sufficient of production and consumption, they did not have chiefs, only in war times. 20 year ago, under the influence of the missionaries and the indigenous organizations, the Achuar have adopted the modality in communities. The economy is based in, fishing, hunting, the horticulture and the recollection of fruits; activities that today are still accompanied by a primitive agriculture production.
One of the differences that marcs the life of the Achuar and the Shuar is the type of beverages they have. The Achuar drink the Guayusa tea, they practice it every morning to eliminate the impurities of the spirit. The traditional Shuar drink is the chicha of chonta.
The Achuar people fight, as the rest of the native groups of the Ecuadorian Amazon, to achieve their survival and social self determination with their auto sustainable projects which is the Ecotourism.
Tourism: The Achuar are proud of having implemented the most ambitious Eco Touristic project in the Amazon Rainforest, through the private company. Kapawi Eco Lodge & Reserve.
Some of the Achuar houses are particularly spacious, they can measure 23 meters long by 12 meters wide and 7 meters high, it can accommodate 20 people. The materials for its construction are obtained in the jungle: Panbil and Guadúa for the posts, palm leafs for the roof, bejucos and tree crust to tie up the structure, etc.
Their manners are still active, such as their language, the continued and massive drinking of the chicha of yucca and wayusa tea and the paint in their faces.
The Achuar people practice the community work, among their main morals of this nationality is, honesty, solidarity, sincerity, strength and determination. In meetings and at home they always follow a protocol.
Teaching is in charge of the fathers, the mother in case of the girls and men in charge of the boys. When the girls are 10 years old, they help the mother wash the family clothes, take care of her brothers and cooking the chicha, while the boys go out with the father to hunt.
The day starts at 4:00am when the family gathers to plan the tasks or solve any problem. The ancient are called to give advice to the young.
Another particularity is that the Achuar culture practices the polygamy. One man can have the wives he desires. In average each family has 10 children.
The Organization of Space by Gender
The large oval-shaped house standing in the middle of the garden is the focus of a social life that is clearly divided and codified: visitors are received by the owner of the house in the tankamash, the men’s portion, for the aujamatin or ceremonial dialogues, and are offered chicha – a fermented manioc drink.
The ekent, on the other hand, is the women’s domain where domestic tasks are undertaken and to which the outsider is forbidden entrance. This gender-based division of space extends to the outside.
Women preside over the garden, where they spend a large part of their day raising an amazing variety of plants; more than one hundred different species, from the omnipresent manioc in its many varieties, to medicinal and cosmetic plants, such as the annatto and the genipa, with which they daily paint elaborate designs on their faces.
The rain forest is the men’s domain. Almost every day they go off alone to hunt with long, slender blowguns and darts tipped with curare. Less frequently, because ammunition is difficult to come by, they use shotguns.
Humanizing the Biosphere
The garden and the rain forest are spaces as important to social interaction as is the house because the Achuar believe that most plants and animals are persons, endowed, as are they themselves, with a soul, or wakan, by means of which they are able to affect human behavior. Associating themselves with Nunkui, the mythical mother of the plants they raise, women treat their modest community of manioc as though its members were their children, communicating mentally with them through anent, secret chants of great poetic force by means of which they order the plants to grow, to resist disease, and to multiply. The presence of Nunkui in the garden is also a guarantee of success, of which each woman assures herself by asking for protection from other anent; this is all the more necessary given that the manioc is famed for its ability to suck human blood, no doubt by way of compensating for its destiny.
The animals hunted are also humanized: the men treat parrots, toucans, monkeys, and peccaries like brothers-in-law who have to be seduced with the anent and attracted through magic spells. The hunt also requires the consent of the “mothers of the animals,” fearsome spirits who watch over the prey as a shepherdess over her flock, and accept the kill of those under their protection only if certain rules are respected, such as that only what is absolutely necessary for the family is hunted, and that the animals hunted are not teased, and that those orphaned are taken to the house and treated with affection. This “ecological” attitude prevents the indiscriminate destruction of the fauna just as the planting of small plots serves to preserve the rain forest which quickly recovers when a garden is abandoned.
Fuente bibliográfica: http://www.minelinks.com/ecuador/achuar_es.html
Ecuador is classed as one of the less than twenty mega diverse countries in the world, due to the awesome diversity of animal and plant life species that live and grow here. Back in 2008, the new constitution was brought into effect, which legally enforced the Right of Nature, and Ecuador is the first country in the world to do this. There are a number of protected areas in the country, and these places are the best spots to try and catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife that roams the land. Ok, so exploring Ecuador’s wonderful national parks and wildlife reserves may not be as luxurious as a cruise aboard the liberty of the seas, but it is much more eco-friendly. You will be surprised at how much fun seeing exotic wildlife and nature at its most stunning can really be. It might not be for everyone, but if a little bit of adventure and excitement is what you crave, then taking a trip around one, or even all, of the protected natural areas in Ecuador could be just what you need.
Cotopaxi National Park
High up above sea level, the defining feature of the Cotopaxi National Park is the Cotopaxi volcano, which towers almost 5,900 meters above sea level. The majority of the park lies between 3,500 meters and 4,000 metres above sea level, making it much cooler than the Ecuadorian lowlands. The volcano, one of the tallest active volcanoes in the world, is capped with snow and temperatures do not usually get higher than 20 degrees Celsius in the park. The park is home to some very rare species, including the spectacled bear, Andean condor, and the brocket deer. You might not see these animals, but you are much more likely to see rabbits, foxes and white tail deer in the park. The park is found around 50 kilometres south of the capital Quito. Entrance is cheaper for Ecuador nationals, at just $2, but tourists can expect to pay $10 for a day ticket.
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve
The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is one of the most unique protected natural areas in the world. Around 2500 years ago a volcano collapsed on itself after a strong eruption, and the geological formations that resulted have lent their hand to creating an area of amazing biodiversity. The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve was the first National Park to be created in Ecuador, and the whole of South America. It has been protected since 1966, and it was in 1978 that decree law No. 2559 was passed to declare it a Geobotanical Reserve. The 2000 different species of flora are the big attraction here, and the dense forests of trees lend their hand to supporting all sorts of life. Mammals, birds, and exotic insects all call this place home. The park is just 17 kilometres north of Quito, and tourist can expect to pay a $5 entrance fee, opposed to the $1 fee for Ecuadorians.
Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Widely considered as a National Park which contains one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is a finely conserved area of the Amazonian ecosystem. The humid tropical rainforest is cut through by rivers and lagoons, and is home to literally thousands of different species of different flora and fauna. Reptiles here include, river turtles, anacondas, and alligators, and bird species include the Amazon eagle, kingfishers, and many different types of parrots. Located in the north east of the country, close to the border with Columbia and Peru, it one of the easiest national parks in Ecuador to access. On top of that, there is not entrance fee to pay, so anyone can visit the park for free!
Podocarpus National Park
At the opposite end of the country, the Podocarpus National Park is right down at the bottom of Ecuador, in the south east corner. Created back in 1982, the park covers just less than 1500 square kilometres, with more than 100 lagoons within the forests of tall trees that cover most of the park. Stunning waterfalls are scattered all over the park, and is often referred to as the ‘Botanical Garden of America’ because of its abundance of different types of flora. The park is a natural home to a few endangered species, including the Spectacled Bear, the Jaguar, and the Mountain Tapir. There has also been 560 different species of bird registered on the park, which is 40% of all birds species found in Ecuador. Loja is the closest city to the park, around a half hour drive away, and expect to pay $5 entrance fee when you visit.
Sustained tourism1, also known as Sustainable Tourism is an activity committed to perform a low impact over our environment and local culture, at the same time that it is generating income and employment for its local population.
According to the OMT, the principles that define the sustainable Tourism are:
- The natural and cultural recourses are conserved for its continued use in the future, at the time
- The touristic development in planned and manages in a way that does not cause any environment or social cultural problems.
- The human quality is maintained and improved;
- It seeks to maintain a High level of satisfaction of the visitors and the destiny retains its prestige and commercial potential ;
- The benefits of tourism that are spread amply among all the society
These characteristics make Sustainable tourism to be a strategy tool in the local economical development. On one hand, Tourism is an opportunity in some zones where there are no alternatives economic activities as in the sector of services. It offers more opportunities for the following of local business (We need to consider that also, in more developed countries, this sector is composed mainly by PYME). And despite of being a sector that requires of strong investments, infrastructure and equipments, also uses intense form labor for what so it offers numerous work and business opportunities for women and young.
Speaking of Tourism in Ecuador, I can say that, today the natural, cultural and social values in the community activities are more respected. This has allowed to enjoy of a positive exchange of experiences between residents and visitors, where the relation between them is fare and the benefits of the activity is distributed in an equal form, also where the visitors have a true participatory attitude in their trip experience.
The Amazon Rain Forest is a precise place where we can conserve the rainy forest; here we can contribute to maintain the indigenous knowledge of invaluable environmental resources.
As we can see the Sustainable tourism is an economic activity that has the capacity of contributing to the conservation of the eco systems and contributes to the human welfare.
However, the management of tourism demands policies and instruments of management that assure the sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources for local population. In this sense, to depend on healthy eco system, the sustainable Tourism oriented to nature can become in an ally of the conservation
The Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest Region, is one of the most biological diverse region in the world, it comprehends the provinces of Orellana, Pastaza, Napo, Sucumbios, and Zamora Chinchipe. It extends over an area of 120.000 Km2 of exuberating vegetation, characteristic of the humid-tropical forests. Its limits are marked by the Andean Cordillera in the western part of this region, while Perú and Colombia the eastern limit respectively.
The existence of an inexhaustible flora and fauna with extraordinary variations of macro and micro habitat has the most important characteristic of this region.
The Ecuadorian Amazon Rain Forest offers a countless diversity of flora and fauna; it is a hidden wonder in middle of many trees. Thanks to an immense floristic variety in the Ecuadorian jungle, there is a great richness of fauna with a diversity of shapes of life.
In the Ecuadorian rainforest we find different indigenous communities of the Amazonas.
One of these communities are the Achuar, who are located in the provinces of Pastaza (Rivers Pastaza, Capahuari, Copataza, Bobonata, and Conambo), who are located in the province of Morona Santiago. Their official language is the Achuar that come from a linguistic family Jivaroana.
This community is located in Ecuador and Peru, in Ecuadorian territory they have a population approximately of 5.440 people, gathered in 836 families. Their most important economic activities are agriculture, hunting, fishing and collecting fruits.
In this community we have Kapawi Eco Lodge, which is a Project that belongs to the Achuar, Kapawi is a sophisticated touristic destiny, here we can live a unique and unforgettable experience.
One of my best experiences has being working with this project, and knowing the Achuar, who offer hospitality, kindness and cordiality. Kapawi is a place where anybody who goes there, lives an amazing experience, taking in their heart this little piece of forest found in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Kapawi is “The place where time doesn´t exist and living is a feeling, where nature is art and the footprint of man is culture”.
Please visit us at www.kapawi.com