How do people live in the Amazon rainforest? What it’s like to live in the Amazon jungle?

Don Julio, Santa Maria de Fatima
Don Julio, member of the Santa Maria de Fatima community

On March, 2017 we went to Santa Maria de Fatima community, located in the Amazon river and we talked with Don Julio to share how Amazon rainforest people live.
Don Julio is part of a group within the community that is in charge of developing this area in the context of sustainable ecotourism.

He shared some insights with us in how people live in his community.

What is your full name?
My name is Julio Cahuachi Sanda.

How old are you?
I’m 67 years old.

How long have you been living in the Santa Maria de Fatima community?
I’ve been living here my whole life, since 1950, the year I was born. I’ve lived my childhood, when i was young and, well, now I’m an elder.
I’m permanently here, I haven’t been out that much, just to work in some other places. Mostly I dedicate myself to my community.

Amazon rainforest people
Don Julio and his house

What is your role in the community?
I work permanently with my group, we are about 20 people working in this paradise -I’m going to just call it like that, he says-. We have an environmental conservation area and we love that our tourist friends visit us and go deep into the Amazon jungle. Usually they enter in the afternoon and they come back in the morning after staying in the jungle.

Santa Maria de Fatima
Surroundings of Santa Maria de Fatima, a true paradise

Which animals can we find in the surroundings of Santa Maria de Fatima?
The jungle here is really charming. Many times you find animals like monkeys. We have 2 types here, the mono ardilla (squirrel monkey) and the cervecerita (pichico pardo, saddle back tamarin), that has a white mouth.
By night while walking you can find snakes in some ocassions, frogs like the sapo hualo and others.

Of the birds you can see here, the Herons are the most known?
Yes, the herons and the shansho (hoatzin). In the season you can find snowy egrett (garza blanca), white and brown boat billed herons (huapapa blanca y huapapa marron) and others.

Tower Santa Maria de Fatima
3 floor wooden tower. Built by the community to enjoy the landscape and look for herons.

When it’s the best time for seeing Herons?
The best season it’s from May until September.

How many people live in Santa Maria de Fatima?
In the community we are 65 families. Older than 18 years are considered part of the community. Counting childs and adults we are 232 persons.

What do you do for a living?
Here the work we have is the agriculture and fishing. We sow so we can produce banana, yuca, corn and other vegetables.

What do you like the most of living here?
I like my community a lot. I love living here and that is why I stay here.

school santa maria de fatima
Santa Maria de Fatima community: Blue buildings are the school

What are the problems that your community has?
We need many things here to improve. For example, an infrastructure to receive our friends that visit us like a community house, between other things that we have permanently delayed because we just can’t.

Do you feel supported by the regional government?
No. We belong to the Belen district but politically we belong to the Indiana district. In election times we go to Indiana, and to the Belen district, only 2 or 3 people go.
For example, in front of my house, there are documents for making a new local building but that has been like that for 3 years. The thing is we don’t have support.

What is the thing that visitors most like when they come?

I’m one of the local guides, when the visitors come I come with them and show them the jungle. They say to me that this place is charming.

What message would you like to give to the world, to the people who read this?
I would give a message to our tourist friends:

Visit our community, we will be glad to welcome you.

Thank you, Don Julio
Thank you, good day.


We are in the process of updating our tours in the Amazon river to include this destination. If you wanna visit them just send us a message. We strongly believe in the development of communities throught practices of self leadership and sustainable eco tourism. That’s why we support them.

If you wanna contact Santa Maria de Fatima community you can do so through their Facebook page

This is the first post of a series showing some perspectives from Amazon rainforest people.

Interview by Luis Bustamante

What does luxury mean to you? What do you think it means to others? What constitutes luxury travel?

All natural skin luxury treatment
Does an all-natural-mud skin treatment count as luxury?

We’ve been pondering on this question lately so we started researching different sources and brainstorming around this concept.

Definitions usually helps us grasp the meaning, features and limits of a word. So we will start with 5 definitions from across the web.

Definitions of luxury

1) Wikipedia
Running a search on mighty Wikipedia we get no definition for luxury, but a series of disambiguations, being the most prominent:

Luxury goods:
“An economic good or service for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises”

Wow, take it easy Wikipedia. Next.

2) Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary

Luxury:
“a) the use and enjoyment of the best and most costly things that offer the most physical comfort and satisfaction
b) anything contributing to such enjoyment, usually something considered unnecessary to life and health
c) the unusual intellectual or emotional pleasure or comfort derived from some specified thing or something producing such pleasure or comfort”

Why the “best and most costly things” produce only physical effetcs, while some apparently different “specified thing” (independent of the price) can bring intellectual and emotional pleasure?
I get the point of not being necessary for life as in being vital. That luxury is not a basic need for survival. But unnecessary to health? Not entirely sold on this definition.
The use of the word “unusual” sparked some fire in our brains. Why does it need to be unusual?
Besides from that it gets the award to most confusing luxury definition.

3) Cambridge Dictionary

Luxury:
“a) Great comfort as specially provided by expensive and beautiful things
b) Something expensive that is pleasant to have but is not necessary
c) Something that gives you a lot of pleasure but cannot be done often”

Okay. So we have comfort, expensive, beautiful, pleasant, not necessary, not often. Nothing new over the horizon so far.

4) Investor Words Dictionary

Luxury:
“A good or service that is not considered a necessity but is considered as something that brings pleasure and happiness”

This is a cool one. It doesn’t restrict it in frequency (have as many luxurious experiences as you want) and states one amazing word that was missing: Happiness

5) Merrian-Webster Dictionary

Luxury:
“A condition of abundance or great ease and comfort”

Abundance. Nice word. And it doesn’t restrict it to physical plain only.

Putting together all those definitions we get our new one:

Luxury:
“A good, service or experience that brings a condition of abundance and happiness without being a necessity for life. Could be associated to beautiful, expensive and scarce things.”
fried bananas luxury travel food
Having delicious fried bananas while camping in the jungle must be a luxury

The evolution of the word luxury: From sex to time

The first recordings of the word luxury (in English) are from 1340. It comes from France, imported by the Normans and it meant “lust” or sexual desire.

It can be traced back to the ancient Romans and the latin word “luxuria”, meaning “extravagance, excess”. It was used to describe chaotic and wild living. For wealth and splendor, they used the word “luxus”.

Going forward to Elizabethan times the word was associated with adultery.
Look at this Shakespeare extract from that time:

Would you not swear, All you that see her, that she were a maid. By these exterior shows? But she is none. She knows the heat of a luxurious bed. Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
—William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 1600

Over time, the word luxury kept evolving. From “sumptuous living or environment” to “nonessential” or “indulgent” practices, goods or activities.

In material goods, it started moving away from the cost of the materials and, in the present day, being more about the time spent in the making, the craftsmanship, and resourcefulness. Hand made things started to be appreciated as more luxurious in an attempt to get away from mass production.

Luxury today

I think that now, in this modern living, people are shifting their view in what constitutes luxury.
Marcin Rusak exemplified this in the installation “Time for yourself” inside the “What is luxury?’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This piece consisted in a compass spinning in random directions and a watch without a dial.
Rusak describes it as:

“It is almost impossible to get truly lost these days. It would take a lot of effort to experience this luxury

We certainly agree with that.

luxury travel getting lost
Getting lost in the jungle as a luxury

According to Skift 34% of people from the United States didn’t take a break in 2016 and 2/3 of all surveyed people said they took less than 10 days off in the same year.

Wow.

So maybe having some time off could be considered a luxury today if we assume that this would bring happiness and abundance to all these people.

Luxury travel

We think it is equally important to consider what do you make of that time off, if you truly engage in activities that bring you happiness and abundance.

That’s the aim we have in mind when we think about luxury travel.

travel luxury experience nature
Travel luxury at its best. Experiencing our connection with nature.

For us this means:

  • Caring for our visitors as people, not numbers.
  • Treating them with respect and giving them not only quality food or equipment, but quality experiences.
  • Making them feel safe and welcomed.
  • Sharing with them our passion and showing them we know the jungle and our craft.
  • Helping people feel more connected with nature.
  • Being widely available in a variety of channels and respond in a timely manner.
  • Being willing to customize itineraries according to the visitor needs (including food choices, activities, etc)
  • Owning our mistakes and responding accordingly

Having won the “Service Excellence” Award 2017 by Luxury Travel Guide made us think about all of this and what does it imply to be in the luxury category.

We used to think that luxury was associated with 5 stars hotels.
Now we know that it’s more related to enjoying a clear-sky night view of 5 thousand stars in the middle of the jungle. And being damn happy about it.

Discussion

We don’t attempt to provide a definitive answer on what is luxury or luxury travel today, but rather to engage in this opportunity to reflect and share our views with you.

What do you think? What are your views on the term luxury? When was your last luxurious experience?

Share with us on our Facebook or drop us an email at booking@amazonexperience.net.

We will love to hear from you. Have a luxurious day!

After being nominated and shortlisted for the LTG Awards 2017 (Luxury Travel Guide Awards), a few days ago we received an email that made us jump and high-five everyone in our office:

LTG Service Excellence 2017
Amazon Experience – LTG Awards 2017

Yes! We won.

That LTG Awards recognizes our work is great because it means that all the effort we put into caring for our visitors is being reflected not only in raving excellent reviews but by being recognized by International standards in Service Excellence.

In their own words:

All winners of the Holiday & Tour Specialist awards are subject to the same rigorous assessment criteria, carried out by our experienced in-house professionals as well as several celebrity guest judges. This ensures that only the most deserving teams, businesses, and individuals walk away with one of these prestigious accolades.

All Luxury Travel Guide Award programs represent the pinnacle of achievement, championing the best in their respective fields, therefore to come out as a clear winner is an achievement to be proud of.

 

Indeed we are very proud of this achievement and it encourages us to continue delivering a quality service with a smiling face to all our visitors.

Thanks for tuning in, the Sloth will now play the celebration song.

Sloth Banjo Amazon Experience
Weeeee aaare the chaaampions.. yeah yeah

 

Peru tourism has been growing steadily over the years, welcoming millions of visitors each year.

Wanna know why?

Short answer: Peru is awesome.

It has three different areas to visit: Coastal, Andes, and Amazon, each one with its own unique landscapes, wildlife, cultural backgrounds, gastronomy, etc.

Peru tourism is based mainly on Cultural tourism and Ecotourism.

Having the third largest extent of tropical rainforest in the world (after Brasil and the Democratic Republic of Congo) makes Peru a paradise for those looking out for wildlife spotting and flora appreciation because of its biological diversity.

Amazon river Victoria Regia
Victoria Amazonica, biggest water lily on Earth.

Peru tourism: How many people visited Peru in the last few years?

One image speak for a thousand words.

Peru Tourism Arrivals
Peru tourism arrivals trend (yes, is going up)

Over 4.500.000 visitors to Peru in 2016. That’s around half the population of Austria or Sweden, for making a comparison.

From which countries visitors came to Peru in 2016?

We receive visitors from all over the world. They come mainly for vacations, holidays and to explore all the hidden treasures that Peru has to offer.

In 2016 the main top 15 countries from where visitors came to Peru were:

Country Number of visitors in 2016
1 Chile 1.075.079
2 United States 572.595
3 Ecuador 288.930
4 Colombia 179.260
5 Argentina 176.638
6 Brasil 146.947
7 Spain 140.705
8 Bolivia 133.603
9 France 97.889
10 Mexico 83.009
11 Germany 75.915
12 United Kingdom 70.808
13 Canada 69.330
14 Italy 65.333
15 Japan 54.878

Where do visitors go in Peru?

Most of the visitors coming to Peru arrive at Lima (or visit it during their stay), being around 90% of the total. The second most visited city is Cusco, with over 80% of the total.

Can you guess how many tourists visit Iquitos, located in the Amazon rainforest? You are in for a surprise:

Visitors Peru by City

Places visited in Peru by country (Graph)
Places visited in Peru by country (Graph)

The answer is around 5%. That’s right, only 5 out of 100 tourists visit Iquitos. Being visitors from Italy the lowest (2%) and from the United Kingdom the highest with 7% (Thanks for coming guys!)

Taking a look at these images and with the above information in mind… Where would you go if you wanna get away from the crowds and explore some off the beaten path destinations?

Visiting Iquitos as a gateway to exploring the Amazon Jungle can be an excellent option for those looking out for adventure, boat rides, and wildlife viewing.

Are visitors satisfied after coming to Peru?

The definitive answer is Yes.

satisfaction rate of 94% has been reported for visitors after their stay in Peru.

Peru Tourism Satisfaction
This is how Satisfaction looks like in the Amazon Jungle.

Summary

The growing number of visitors coming each day to Peru, being highly satisfied with their choice, is a reflection of all the things this country has to offer. There are many different areas to explore (with varied geography, weather, flora, and fauna), many activities to do and many things to learn. It doesn’t matter what kind of traveler you are: Backpacker, businessman, honeymooner or part of a big family. You will surely find something for your taste.
In short: Come to Peru, you will not be disappointed.

Ready for Adventure?

Amazon Rainforest Tours


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Photo attributions:
(1) Vianney Lhoumeau
(2) Observatorio Turistico del Peru
(3) Observatorio Turistico del Peru
(4) Vianney Lhoumeau

Source:
INEI Peru
Observatorio Turistico de Peru
Peru.info
Trading Economics

The Amazon river dolphin, pink dolphin or Boto is a freshwater dolphin. It inhabits South America, mainly in the Amazon river, but also in the Orinoco basin and Madeira river.

So, what actually is a Pink Dolphin?

Pink dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) are a species of Toothed whales classified in the family Iniidae and it contains three sub-species: Amazon river dolphin (I. g. geoffrensis), Bolivian river dolphin (I. g. boliviensis) and Orinoco river dolphin (I. g. humboldtiana). They seem to have some relationship with their South Asian counterparts, the Ganges river dolphin (P. g. gangetica), predominant in India, and Indus river dolphin (P. g. minor), predominant in Pakistan. The pink dolphin is the biggest of all river dolphins.

Pink dolphin facts: DIstribution in South America
Distribution on Pink Dolphin sub-species in South America

How does a Pink Dolphin look? Can you show me one?

With the adult males reaching an average lenght of 2.3 metres (7.6 ft) and an average weight of 150 kilograms (340 lb), and the females reaching a length and weight of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and average 100 kilograms (220 lb), they will not pass unseen by your side if you are navigating in their habitat. In contrast with other cetaceans, in this case, the male is bigger than the female.

Amazon Pink River Dolphin - Boto - Inia geoffrensis (Pink Dolphins)
Amazon Pink River Dolphin – Boto – Inia geoffrensis

Their cervical vertebrae are not fused, allowing the head to turn 90 degrees to each side. This, in conjunction with large pectoral fins, gives them very good maneuverability to swim through the flooded forest searching for their prey. You can see the way they swim and move in this video put up by National Geographic

In his head we found quite a few interesting things, so for the ones of you digging this article for your homework, keep reading!

They have small eyes, but good eyesight, in and out of the water. Between 25-28 pairs of teeth to each side of both jaws helps them capture fish, tortoises or crabs. It is curious tho, that they are the only toothed whales to have different types of teeth in their jaw. And finally, the melon on their heads, which they can modify by muscular control for using it as a Biosonar (or Animal echolocator)

Are they really Pink?

Depends. The color of their bodies varies with age. Young dolphins have a dark gray color, which in adolescence transforms into light gray. Adults can display a range of colors from light gray to pink (varying from solid to mottled) and even brownish.

It is not entirely clear why they have this color but one of the strongest hypothesis says it’s due to the repeated abrasion of the skin surface. Some observations correlate with this theory, for example, that males tend to be pinker than females (they fight more between them, displaying intra-species aggression). Another hypothesis, like the one of Tim Caro, mammal coloration expert from the University of California at Davis, says that this coloration could be to match the particulate red mud that follows heavy rains in some rivers.

All in all, no one knows for sure why.

Pink dolphin facts they exhibit different patterns and colors
This Amazon river dolphin exhibits a mottled pattern

What do Pink Dolphins eat?

Basically pink dolphins eat almost anything small that swims. They eat around 50 species of Amazon fishes, including piranhas. Turtles and crabs are also on the daily diet which consist of around 2.5% of its body weight every day.

Pink dolphins have a powerful jaw. The front row of teeth helps to puncture and to hold fishes (or other preys). The back row is for crushing and smashing.

After they catch their food pink dolphins swallow their food without chewing. All indigestible parts (like bones or spines) are regurgitated after.

Pink dolphin facts: They eat fishes, turtles and crabs
Pink dolphin looking for its dinner: Fishes, turtles or crabs.

Are Pink Dolphins smart?

We might have heard that dolphins are very smart animals, but what kind of intelligence do they have? The answer is Cetacean intelligence. They are aware of themselves and their different body parts, are able to experience basic emotions, engage themselves in some degree of abstract thought and understand the structure of their environment. They learn by observing and even mimicking, solve problems and choose their own actions, even remembering their own recent behavior.

When interacting with humans, they appear to recognize the difference between children and adults and tend to be more gentle and patient with childs. Some researchers suggest that dolphins are “non-human persons” who qualify for moral understanding as individuals.

There are no specific studies related to Pink dolphins and their intelligence, but being part of the same family we can suppose that they share most of their cognitive system.

For more in-depth information about the brain power of dolphins (and whales) click here

Amazon river dolphin facts: They have Cetacean intelligence
Pink dolphins are intelligent. Some researchers suggest they have moral understanding and qualify for “non human persons”.

Are Pink Dolphins threatened or endangered now?

Yes, they are threatened by many factors such as the contamination of the river (with mercury, for example, by the ilegal mining operations) and the increased deforestation of the Amazon jungle that affects many different ecosystems changing the migration patterns of some fish species that they eat.

But the main threat to them is the hunting and deliberate killing along with their incidental capture in fishing gears. A big part of the income of riverside families that live in the Amazon is the fishing activity, and dolphins are prone to damage fishing equipment when they get entangled in it or when they want to eat the fish from the nets. They are also used in the Catfish or Piracatinga, (Calophysus macropterus) fishery as bait, and the increasing demand for the piracatinga has created a market for distribution of dolphin carcasses.

Some efforts in favor of their protection are being made. Precautionary measures are one of those efforts, through good fishing practices taken together by fisheries managers and fishermen to start developing multiple-species management and ensure sustainable practices. Other measure is law enforcment, as the one put by IBAMA that prohibits killing the Amazon river dolphin (but fails to compensate the fishermen for the damage done to their equipment and catch), or the one made in year 2012 by the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales putting up a law that bans fishing freshwater pink dolphins and declares the species a National Treasure.

Pink dolphins: amazon river dolphin photo
Hello friend. I am mister pink dolphin, a national treasure.

And what about their Conservation Status?

The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It means that pink dolphins (along with other 21.000 species) are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless strict regulation is enforced in order to protect the survival of the species in the wild. It is also listed in Appendix II of CMS meaning that they would significantly benefit from international co-operation regarding their conservation.

The Conservation Status is a classification system that shows if a species still exists or how likely it is to become extinct in the near future.

Pink dolphin information: Conservation status by IUCN
Conservation Status ranking system by the IUCN

The Pink dolphin is classified as Threatened (between Endangered and Vulnerable, due to lack of actual data)

Pink dolphin conservation status vulnerable
Vulnerable means a high risk of extinction in the wild
Pink dolphin conservation status endangered
Endangered means a very high risk of extinction in the wild

All in all, the current situation for the Pink Dolphin is worrying, with a high to very-high risk of extinction, more coordinated efforts are still needed for their preservation.

Wanna see some Pink Dolphins?

Buckle up and prepare for Adventure!


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Photo attributions:
(1) Cetacea range map Amazon River Dolphin by Pcb21 and Vardion / CC BY-SA
(2) Unknown/Pending attribution
(3) Amazonas-Flussdelfin Orinoko3 by Oceancetaceen / CC BY-SA
(4) Pucate_2015 07 27_0586 by Harvey Barrison / CC BY-SA
(5) Boto vermelho by lubasi via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA
(6) Inia geoffrensis by Joachim S. Müller via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
(7) Conservation Status Ranking by Peter Halasz (Pengo) / CC BY