Birding from a Canopy Walkway
| Host: Lucio Pando
When: Year round
Length of stay: As long as you wish
It's a detailed story, so here goes: The Explorama company which employs Luico also owns exclusive touristic rights to the Canopy Walkway, part of which is shown at the right. Therefore, users of the remotely located Canopy Walkway are obliged to stay in one of the on-site Explorama lodges or camps, and to sign up for a kind of "package." Moreover, especially because of insurance matters, visitors cannot simply climb onto the Canopy Walkway and spend the day with their own binoculars and bird-fieldguides identifying birds on their own, without being accompanied by one of the Explorama guides, of which Lucio is one.
EarthFoot generally does not promote such packages, but in this case the experience offered is so exceptional, the organization has such a fine record of environmental and social responsibility, and Lucio is such a fine host, that we are making an exception.
Explorama offers a variety of packages involving different mixes of lodges and camps (from very fancy to elemental), and different lengths of visit. If the package quoted here does not feel comfortable to you, you can ask about other options when you e-mail Lucio through his Host Helper Peter Jenson.
The ExploreNapo Lodges Basic Program, which includes five days and four nights, with two nights being spent at the ExplorNapo Lodge, costs $1,135 for one person. For a couple, the cost is $855 each. For three or four, $780 each.
The above fees include not only Lucio's salary, but also the following:
The fees do not include:
Two popular optional packages are:
The two last packages do not change price with different numbers of passengers.
When birding is slow, visitors may wish to visit the ReNuPeRu Ethnobotanical Garden, which is a teaching garden for medicinal and useful rainforest plants of the area. It is tended by a local shaman and his sons who are always interested in explaining to visitors the uses of some of the over 150 species of plants now preserved in the garden. Neighboring primary rainforest trails make it possible to view additional valuable plants in their original habitats.
The reserve is in the possession of "Conservacion de la Naturaleza Amazonica del Peru, A.C.", otherwise known as CONAPAC. This NGO is the co-builder of the ACEER Amazon Canopy Walkway and is in charge of its maintenance. The walkway is presently the longest walkway in the canopy of kind in the world.
The Canopy Walkway and the CONAPAC Biological Reserve have their beginnings back in 1964 when the company operating Explorama Lodges felt obliged to purchase and maintain primary virgin rainforest reserves near each of its several lodges. All original managers and stockholders of Explorama had been high school or university teachers prior to starting the company and this has always given the enterprise a strong emphasis on education about the rainforest, for employees, guests, and the local ribereņos, or river people.
At first the reserves were relatively small and there was only the idea of maintaining trails and sites for lodge guests. Gradually, as population increased dramatically along the main rivers, it became apparent that larger reserves were necessary if it was going to be possible to maintain habitats large enough to sustain the animal species that many lodge guests expected see while in the Amazon area. Together with others, the managers of Explorama started a foundation, CONAPAC, in 1990, to attempt to hold a much larger area of reserve land than would have been possible for individual companies, under local laws at that time.
An area was surveyed extensively through the use of small float planes, to be certain that no fields or houses were located in the area to be requested from the government. Also, it was necessary to pick an area which was far enough from the major river systems, where the majority of forest people live, to ensure that fields would not immediately be cut in the area before the proper defenses could be put in place. While it is impossible to stop all hunting at this point in time due to lack of funds, Explorama has managed to drastically reduce the killing of large quantities of game for the Iquitos market by visiting the area on a continual basis with guests, as well as by helping CONAPAC hire a forestry engineer who with his permanent crew act as forest rangers in the reserve.
CONAPAC also organizes a program of adopting river village schools, supports research with graduate students and professional zoologists and biologists who wish to work in the area. With other NGOs it supports the training of local rural school teachers with regard to conservation and sustainable use of the rainforest.
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