Napo Wildlife Center and the Kichwa Yasuní Ecolodge

22/Mayo/2012 | 16:03

By Ilan Greenfield

Nestled in northwestern Amazonia— baffling for its extreme nature— Yasuní is the Land of Creation par excellence. Out of one hundred consecutive trees found in any given plot of lush tropical rainforest, almost every single individual will be a different species.

It’s not the same on the other bank

As anyone who has visited Paris knows, the “right bank” is not quite the “left bank”. A mysterious thing, really, the air feels different when you cross the Seine. The much wider silt-clad Napo River slices across the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin creating a similar distinction.

While the “right” bank – or north bank —seems like endless virgin forest, the left bank, where so-called Yasuní begins, is something else. At face value, could you tell the difference? Probably not. But the statistics are overwhelming. Apparently, biologists haven’t found an end to Yasuní.

Home to astonishing biodiversity levels with record-breaking countsof amphibian, bird, mammal and vascular plant species at a global scale, crammed into an area less than 0.05% of the entire Amazon Basin, Yasuní seems as complex and limitless as it did when research first began.

So if you ever wondered what the Garden of Eden was like, Yasuní might very well be the closest answer.  At least, die-hard biologists would agree it to be the closest thing to a religious experience.

Visiting Yasuní: not only possible but delicious

Napo Wildlife Center became the first tourism venture to operate in the Yasuní National Park. Through a carefully thought-out environmentally sound project, the “ecolodge” seamlessly joined experiencing the intense nature of the Amazonian rainforest with comfortable accommodations and exclusive service.

Building the site itself proved to be a near-impossible challenge, as materials were epically transported on canoes along a miniscule black-water stream onto Añangu Lake, where the lodge and its 16 fully equipped jungle cabins lie today. It took the Añangu Community months to complete it, but the hard work paid off, as Napo Wildlife Center has become a reference in terms of sustainability, community-based and reduced-impact tourism and conscientious management.

While many other such ventures throughout Amazonia —none of which being 100% owned by the native community as Napo Wildlife Center is—have worked hard to sustain their business ventures NWC’s Añangu are continuously setting the trend.

But who are the people of Añangu? How have they managed to break through the cultural barriers to create such successful hotel management while still showcasing the forest and its biodiversity, keeping their traditions and maintaining their dignity?


Añangu’s new project:

The Yasuní Kichwa Ecolodge


Behind Napo Wildlife Center lies a tight-knit community of Kichwa families who have lived in this nature sanctuary for generations. They gather at their humble “town hall” to make decisions on behalf of their territory and, since 2000, their tourism venture.


One of the more difficult decisions the Añangu Community had to agree upon was ceasing artisanal hunting throughout the territory in benefit of the wildlife experience afforded to visitors at secluded Napo Wildlife Center. Today, the creation of Yasuní Kichwa Ecolodge, in the village itself, is yet a new challenge the community has accepted to confront.

“We want different types of people to get to know Yasuní as well. That’s the idea,” says Mariela Cárdenas, Marketing Manager of the Community. Creating accommodations at more accessible rates will increase the community’s opportunity to spread the ecological importance of preserving Yasuní.  At the same time, it will deepen interaction between visitors and the local families, which is a means of cultural exchange that always interested the community, but was never fully implemented at Napo Wildlife Center.

As the community strives to keep the ecological footprint to a minimum, new visitor sites have been created, while the construction of the Yasuní Research Center, already underway and also within the village, will further make the experience deeply relevant for visitors interested in science and the environment.

This crucial contribution to the Yasuní National Park and the international scientific community as a whole shall increase the already important role that the people of Añangu play in global conservation.




Ciudad Ecuador

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