Huaorani Eco Lodge
The Huaorani are a timeless tribe. Their origins are unknown and their language (Huaorani translates as ‘The People’) has no relation to any other known tongue. For thousands of years they have made their home in the lush forests of the Amazon, moving silently through the jungle, living amongst the animals and plants, leaving little trace of their presence. ‘The People’ still maintain their traditional lifestyle. But unlike some closely related tribes, who shun outside influences and can be dangerous to approach, they are no longer nomadic hunters.
The Huaorani now lead a more settled and open existence in the humid tropical forests of Ecuador. Huaorani territory takes in some 1.7 million acres, but the presence of western life can be felt even here. The missionaries, the loggers and the oil companies have all had negative impacts on this isolated, but culturally significant people and the health and diversity of its tropical environment. Faced with the destruction of their surroundings and the possible disappearance of their way of life, the Huaorani have chosen to resist. By inviting small numbers of people to share their world for short periods they intend to keep their culture alive. They have opted for sustainable tourism. This is Huaorani Eco lodge
Huaorani territory is pure Amazon, complete with wide slow moving rivers, blue skies and a multitude of lush green flowering plants and trees, many of which have still to be recognised and classified. Huaorani Eco lodge is not simple tourism. This community based project forms an essential part of a plan to protect a globally important environment and enable a people to defend their unique forest culture.
Within each tent is a pair of twin beds (which can be joined to create a double if desired), a private bathroom equipped with a shower and flush toilet, drinking water at all times, a porch with comfortable chairs. Electricity is provided 24 hours a day by solar panels and environmentally-friendly soaps and shampoos are provided. There is also a hammock house which is ideal for relaxing and is located on the banks of the Shiripuno River. The restaurant provides from locally grown produce wherever possible. Fruit, tea and coffee are always on hand and a bar is available for beer, wine and soft drinks.
At the Lodge daily activities are designed to give you an opportunity to interact with the host community, observe wildlife and get to know the life of the Huaorani as they move within their forest world. Carefully chosen expert guides and community members will open windows into the Amazon habitat for you. With their knowledge and experience of the jungle they will help you recognize important features of the forest – plants and animals – explaining their significance for the community and showing how the Huaorani live and hunt in this special environment. You will travel quietly, moving by dugout canoe along the strong and tranquil Shiripuno River and on foot along extensive rainforest trails, often in the course of the same day’s activity. Should you feel like spending some time alone in the forest, self-guided trails are available.
Day One: Getting to the Huaorani’s world is part of the experience. We drive from Quito to the town of Shell, passing through the spectacular ‘Avenida de los Volcanoes’. Here we board a small plane, flying for 35 minutes to Quehueri´ono over spectacular rainforest panoramas. On arriving a dugout canoe will take you to the Lodge where after settling in we get our first taste of the Amazon explore one of the short forest trails close to the Lodge.
Day Two: This is the day we get a chance to know the people of the Huaorani Community of Quehueri’ono. We join them in some of their daily activities and share their history, myths and magic.
Day Three: On the Hunting Trail. Accompanied by our guide and a member of the community equipped with lance and blow pipe, we explore the ways of the forest and the animals, entering the world the Huaorani share with them.
Day Four: A visit to the community of Nenkepare and a hike to a stunning waterfall are on the agenda. One of the highlights of the day is the early morning departure in dugout canoe, poling silently as the sun begins to rise and the mist dissipates on the Shiripuno River, with a chance to see forest animals that are often active at this hour. We will camp overnight at Nenkepare in comfortable fully serviced tents.
Day Five: Leaving our fully serviced campsite in Nenkepare, we prepare to travel on the Via Auca to Coca and the flight back to Quito. The journey will be revealing. The road was constructed by Texaco in the nineteen seventies as a way to access the oil fields and as we move along its eroded surface we will experience what the oil industry brochures don’t show you and appreciate why the Eco lodge is so important.
This land once belonged to the ‘The People’ but now threatens the way of life of the community we have so recently come to know and appreciate. To know the Huaorani and truly appreciate what the Eco lodge represents, we need to know the alternative future.
Belmont House, 23 New Street, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2BP