Eco-tourism at Beautiful Kapawi
Kapawi is located in Achuar Territory on the Pastaza River in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon Basin near the border separating Ecuador and Peru. As one of the most isolated areas in the Amazon basin, Kapawi can only be reached by air. Achuar Territory, which covers an area of 5,000 square kilometers, is considered to have one of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth and is fast becoming a popular eco-tourism destination.
With the emphasis on preserving the environment, Kapawi Eco-lodge and Reserve works together with the 64 Achuar indigenous communities to offer eco-tourism as a viable source of income, thereby avoiding the destruction of the Achuar Territory rain forest. Before Kapawi’s eco-tourism project was launched, the majority of the Achuar indigenous people made a living from cattle ranching. But today about 45% of their income is derived from eco-tourism by way of direct employment, supply of products and handicraft sales. This is seen as a significant motivating factor for keeping the area intact. Kapawi is considered to be an outstanding example of co-operation between a private enterprise and indigenous people in the implementation of sustainable eco-tourism.
Kapawi Eco-lodge offers numerous activities that can be organized to suit the needs of tour groups. Activities include visits to the Achuar communities, canoeing, bird watching, or hiking in the rain forest. A typical day of activities starts at 6:00 am with a hot beverage and a light snack before heading off for a short hike in the forest, or a canoe trip for some early morning bird watching. After breakfast visitors can enjoy their chosen activity, either returning to the lodge for lunch or enjoying a picnic in the forest. For the really adventurous, night hikes include caiman spotting and overnight camping in the forest can be arranged.
Visitors can look forward to seeing more than 570 species of birds, many species of insects and brightly colored butterflies, and over 10,000 plant species, many of which are used by the Achuars for medicinal purposes. Mammals that may be seen include fresh water dolphins, bats, monkeys, and cabybaras, as well as several other rodents. Jaguars, ocelots and jaguarundis are among the nocturnal animals that are difficult to spot in the day, although it is common to find their tracks during hikes. Some of the numerous species of snakes to be found in the area are venomous, however, they generally prefer to flee than to attack and under the guidance of well trained Achuar naturalist guides, visiting Kapawi is considered to be very safe.
Kapawi Eco Lodge can accommodate 70 people in the environment friendly bungalows, which are built on stilts in the water to minimize the impact on the area. To further ensure conservation of the environment, eco-friendly methods of power generation and waste disposal are utilized. Certainly, a visit to Kapawi in Ecuador will allow tourists to explore nature’s untouched beauty at its best.