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Ecuador’s Tropic Journeys in Nature Recognized by Germany’s Leading Travel Trade Magazine for Work with Ancient Ethnic People

September 23, 2013 Accolades No Comments Email Email

An active travel company in Ecuador that supports an indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest is the 2013 recipient of Travel One Sustainability Award from Travel One, Germany’s leading magazine for travel professionals.

Ecuador’s award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic Journeys in Nature (Tropic), was among 30 tour operators considered for the Innovation Award. This company, led by Jascivan Carvalho, was singled out for its commitment to addressing the needs of the Huaorani, an ancient ethnic people threatened by oil interests in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest.Huaorani_blow_dart_hunting_lr

Since 2008 Carvalho’s company has partnered with the Huaorani first to launch and then to maintain an ecolodge on ancestral lands dear to the tribe.

Travel One is published twice monthly on Fridays and targets with news of the tourism business travel agencies, tour operators and tourist boards, among others. It also publishes a daily newsletterMorning News.

Christian Schmicke, editor-in-chief, said the selection was made by Travel One’s board that includes seven scientists related to the tourism industry. The award which first began in 2010, will highlight the project within Germany’s tourism industry. The Travel One award was presented on Sept. 12 during an event attended by 200 industry representatives in Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany. The publication is headquartered in Darmstadt.

Tropic (http://www.destinationecuador.com/) facilitates small group interaction with members of the indigenous community 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). 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 create 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.

Three and four-night packages start at $690 per person, double, for accommodations, meals, a guide and guided activities (including one night camping).

Guests take a 45-minute flight in a small aircraft from the Amazonian lowlands town of Shell to the grass airstrip at the Huaorani village of Quehueri’ono. Travelers then board a dugout canoe for the final leg to the lodge.  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 theAuca 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.

“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.

Carvalho launchedhis company to demonstrate that environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism can be a viable business model. 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.

The company also integrates tourism with ecological, economic, socio-cultural and political concerns with local community tourism initiatives in the Galapagos Islands, the Andean region and the Pacific coast region of Ecuador.  The communities it works with receive proper economic benefit from the tourism operation and these and other benefits are pointed out to clients.

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