About Rainforest Expeditions
What we do
Rainforest Expedition is a Peruvian Ecotourism company. Since 1989 our guests and lodges, have added value to standing tropical rain forest turning it into a competitive alternative to unsustainable economic uses.
How we do it
For the next twenty years, we want to be able to walk the forests that have hosted us and find the same ancient trees with as many or more monkeys and macaws on them.
Rainforest Expeditions was founded in 1992 by Eduardo Nycander and me. In the late eighties (I was barely twenty), we met while working in Manu as macaw field research assistants for the Wildlife Conservation Society. This is the story of our company. It involves many great people from all walks of life.
1989 - Eduardo is invited on an expedition to the little known Colorado clay lick in the Tambopata River. He buys a sizable patch of pristine forest which included the clay lick, to protect it from the threats of uncontrolled logging.
1990 - Tambopata Research Center is built: a floor raised on stilts, a palm thatch roof, no walls, mattresses on the floor, an earthen stove and latrines are pretty much it. The 1.5 million hectare conservation unit called the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone is declared, with TRC in the middle of it. Unlike a National Reserve, a "Reserved Zone" is provisional, and could be revoked.
1991- Eduardo bootstraps macaw research out of TRC. We hang burnt pvc pipes 30 meters above ground to supplement natural nesting sites.
1992- We incubate macaw eggs with low survival probabilities in the wild and raise the chicks in semi-captivity, giving birth to the first generation of Chicos. Rainforest Expeditions is founded to operate tours to the Tambopata Research Center.
1993- We upgrade TRC. We learn from the few people who have stayed with us that contact with the forest from the lodge is a big plus. We thus decide to leave out the fourth wall (the one which looks out to the forest). It becomes a signature feature.
1994- We´re in the January issue of National Geographic, thanks to famous photographer Frans Lanting, who did amazing work with macaws. We have our first year fully hosting guests. Many of them own parrots and macaws at home, and are fascinated by the clay lick.
1995- We receive a letter from the Community of Infierno, asking if we can hire more members of the community at TRC. We ask them if they would like to join us in a partnership in community territory.
1996- We spend half the year explaining the ecotourism project to community members at Infierno, going house by house. The project is approved almost unanimously in May. We sign a 20 year contract for management of a community lodge. This same year, the government creates the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene National Park.
1997 – On behalf of the community of Infierno, we obtain funding for the construction of Posada Amazonas. We also build a canopy tower to watch a harpy eagle nest.
1998 – We open Posada Amazonas in April. We start monthly “Control Committee” meetings to take decisions regarding lodge managements. Representatives from the community hack it out with company reps. Those meetings are still a staple.
1999- We bring Dr. Donald Brightsmith on board to run the macaw project. Great decision. Over a decade after, the macaw project has produced dozens of peer reviewed publications, is supported by the Schubot Center for Avian Veterinary Sciences and conducts cutting edge research with a host of graduate students and volunteers, all thru the year.
2000- We help refurbish Centro Ñape, the community ethnobotanical center, and start visiting it with guests. Centro Ñape is paid an entry fee for every guest that visits it. That entry fee maintains a staff and infrastructure that attend local residents requiring traditional medicine.
2001- We finish paying for Posada Amazonas. The first dividends are distributed to the community.
2002- Were almost kicked out of the community of Infierno! Community members complained we were hogging most of the decisions. They were right. We take more decisions to our board meetings with the community. Good call.
2003 – Were forced to move TRC. The river moved fifty meters horizontally over the past decade and passes right in front of the entrance. We take it apart carefully and reconstruct with much the same flavor, but renewed materials, about 100 meters from the rivers edge. Were in the middle of white lipped peccary territory!
2004 - We develop kayak, biking and canopy climbing for adventurous folk.
2005 - We build and open our third lodge on the Tambopata River, Refugio Amazonas. It is in purchased private land in the middle of a community of ribereños (second or third generation settlers). We make new friends with farms and Brazil nut concessions.
2006 – We get in trouble with the community once again, although not as bad as the last time. Now the issue is the exclusivity clause. The Posada Amazonas management contract stipulates the community can not start other tourism operations while we are there. However, we have built a third lodge. This is clearly unfair. So we revoke the clause, and make sure there is an understanding of the importance of managing tourism volumes the communities´ keystone resources.
2007 - We stop sinking money at expansion in the Andes. We lose a lot of time and money. We learn we are Amazonian.
2008 – We are hired as marketing and product development implementation consultants by iSur, the non-profit arm of the Interoceanic highway concessionaire. Our goal is to help eighteen home stay owners from the Tambopata River improve their products and gain market share and profitability.
2009 – We embark on a tough course of action: verification by Rainforest Alliance. It takes us two years, but we make it!
2010 – We start talking to the community of Palma Real, a traditional Ese’eja native community. We spend over a year explain the nuances of tourism businesses to a committee elected leaders.
2011 – We put a great new product out to test – photo workshops which include top of the notch equipment – 600 mm lens, robotic tripod mounts and extreme macro lenses.
A lot is next. We want to open a fourth lodge, along the same lines as the three we already have. We want to help develop home stay products elsewhere in the Amazon, as we feel that type of product has good potential with less accessible regions (aka – most of the Amazon). We also want to expose our guests to opportunities to shop for beautiful Amazon jewelry, handicrafts, and wood decorations produced by native communities that live too far to get to. We are trying to make our guests impact every corner of the Amazon.
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