NATIVE COMMUNITY OF INFIERNO
lundi 29 octobre 2007, par,
Text : Amanda Stronza
The Tambopata River is a veritable lifeline of biodiversity that flows from the Andean slopes of Peru’s altiplano city, Puno, near Lake Titicaca, through the low foothills and terraces of the Amazon plain before feeding into the Madre de Dios River, and ultimately draining into the Amazon River. Along its trajectory, the Tambopata passes some of the most species-rich communities yet reported on earth for birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. It also passes a beautiful complex of thatched buildings known as Posada Amazonas, an ecolodge of great scale, both in appearance and concept, and yet nearly hidden by the trees. Built of traditional materials, including wood, palm fronds, wild cane and clay, and modeled after native Amazonian architecture, Posada Amazonas also features modern, low-impact technology. The lodge is at once inspiring and rustic.
A true ecolodge built in 1996, Posada Amazonas features 48 rooms, a lobby and lounge, open to the forest on all sides, and a dining area with cathedral ceilings of hand-woven thatch, Despite its location in one of the most remote and untrammeled forests in the world, comfort and service abound at Posada Amazonas, as packages offer specially-tailored itineraries, rich spreads of Peruvian cuisine, and naturalist guides, skilled with an enviable breadth of ecological knowledge, local lore, and sheer charisma. By all accounts, Posada Amazonas is a luxurious sweet-spot in one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots.
In its first three years of operation, Posada Amazonas was booked solid, attracting 3,000-4,000 tourists a year. Many were drawn by dusky-titi monkeys, the scarlet macaws, and the most playful predators of this rainforest, the giant river otters. A visit to the lodge may include a climb up a 35-meter tower that offers birds-eye views of the canopy, hiking a maze of dense and fragrant forest trails, or visiting a “colpa” frequented by dozens of blue-headed parrots and other birds.
But Posada Amazonas warrants attention not only because it is in the middle of a biological treasure trove, or because it has had success drawing boatloads of birdwatchers. Nor does it necessarily merit kudos because it is located in the territory of a local Amazonian community, Infierno. Rather, what makes the lodge of special interest is the fact that it is co-owned and managed by the 80 or so Ese’eja Indian, riberenho, and Andean families who make up the community. Local ownership of Posada Amazonas came by way of an innovative partnership. In May 1996, the members of Infierno and the private company, Rainforest Expeditions, signed a legally binding contract to begin building and co-managing Posada Amazonas. Calling their joint venture the “Ke’eway Association in Participation,” the partners agreed to split profits 60% to the community, and 40% to the company, and to divide the management fifty-fifty. A critical tenet of the agreement was that community members should be actively involved in the enterprise, not only as staff, but also as owners, planners, and administrators ; further, they should join Rainforest Expeditions in making decisions about the future of the company as well as providing services for tourists. The partners also agreed that after 20 years, the entire operation—the lodge and everything in it, short-wave radio, furniture, kitchen ware, power generators, etc. —will automatically belong to Infierno, and the community will have the choice of either continuing to collaborate with Rainforest Expeditions or taking over as proprietors and managers. Meanwhile, the company oversees the day-to-day operations, hiring and training community members to assume increasing amounts of responsibility.
Posada Amazonas is located on the Infierno Community´s territory and is directly adjacent to the 750,000 hectare Tambopata-National Reserve in southeastern Amazonian Peru.
Access is simple : fly from Lima or Cuzco on a daily scheduled commercial flight to the city of Puerto Maldonado. Then we drive half an hour to the Tambopata river port and board a boat for a one hour ride up the Tambopata River to Posada Amazonas. The lodge is located less than 15 minutes walking from the river.
Rainforest Expeditions SAC
Av. Aramburú 166 Of. 4B
Lima 18, PERU
Tel : 00-51-1-4218347
Web site : www.perunature.com
Cultural & background information about the community
Though Tambopata is home to many migrant and ribereño populations from throughout other parts of Peru and the Amazon, it is the ancestral homeland to only a few indigenous groups who remain. Among these are the Ese Eja, who live in Infierno, and have recently become actively involved in the ecotourism trade of Tambopata.
The Ese Eja, meaning ‘true people,’ is the self-denominated term for this indigenous group of the Tacana linguistic family. The Ese Eja can be divided into three sub-groups, based on minor linguistic differences and geographical origin. The Ese Eja currently living in the community of Infierno are considered Bawaja Ese Eja, and they are historically identified with the Tambopata River and its tributaries. The other two groups are associated with the Heath River (also in Madre de Dios), and the Madidi River in Bolivia. Some Ese Eja oral traditions identify the headwaters of the Tambopata (or “Bawaja”) River as the place where the mythological ancestors descended from the sky along a cotton rope. Examination of ethnohistorical records indicate that the Ese Eja were living on the Tambopata river since the 16th century.
Prior to contact with outsiders that began sometime in the 16th century, the Ese Eja led a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The rubber-tapping trade initiated a period of cultural exchange between the Ese Eja and peoples from other regions in the Amazon, as well as with migrants from Bolivia, Brazil, and as far away as Japan. Rubber tapping was also the first major step towards market integration and contact with outsiders. In the twentieth century, after changes wrought by the rubber boom, the Ese Eja began to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Largely through missions, Ese Eja were incorporated into the nation-state, both in terms of spiritual beliefs and language, as well as in socio-political organization. With sedentization came increased exposure to epidemics. Just prior to the rubber boom, the estimated population of Bawaja Ese Eja was more than 1,000 ; today, the number has decreased significantly to fewer than two hundred.
Despite its native name, Infierno is not comprised solely of native, or more specifically, Ese Eja, people. Historically, the land that is known today as the Native Community of Infierno was just a piece of an extensive homeland of the Bawaja Ese Eja. In the late 1960s, the Peruvian military government of Velasco passed a law that granted land rights to indigenous peoples. From then, indigenous peoples began to claim legally titled indigenous territories known as native communities. In 1976, the families living in Infierno received legal title to 9,558 hectares, situated on both sides of the Tambopata river, about 40km from Puerto Maldonado and legal status as “native community.”
Range of activities and services offered
Target : Posada Amazonas offers the ideal short, economic, introductory nature tour to Amazonia´s richest rain forests.
Combines traditional architecture and materials (wood, palm fronds, wild cane and clay) with modern, low-impact, eco-lodge technology.
Room size (7X4 meters), airy and well–ventilated with clay walls to regulate heat
Visitors are close contact with the forest : the “wall” looking onto the forest is a waist-high veranda.
Private bathrooms with showers and flush toilets.
Dining and lounge areas are designed for 80 people with ample space.
Three daily meals combine international, Peruvian and local cuisine. Vegetarians welcome.
Features 35-meter canopy tower
Natural history attractions include oxbow lake with giant river otters, parrot clay licks and small monkeys.
Opportunities for cultural interaction with people of the local community, Infierno : guided activities include ethnobotanical walks and visits to swidden-fallow farms.
Guides are local community members and English-speaking Peruvian naturalists
Lodge staff comprised primarily of community members, providing income and other benefits to the community.
Visit to Oxbow Lake
Visitors can paddle a catamaran around the oxbow lakes near Posada Amazonas in search of families of 1-7 playful two-meter long giant river otters.
Parrot Clay Licks
Less than one kilometer from Posada Amazonas are two parrot clay licks. The noise level and superb photography at this distance complements the increased diversity and abundance of parrots experienced at the famous clay lick at the Tambopata Research Center.
A thirty five meter metal tower provides safe and effortless access to the canopy : visitors walk up a banister staircase, stopping to rest and inspect the canopy on any of the tower’s twenty platforms.
Ask your guide about opportunities for night walks. After dinner, groups will take short hikes on trails searching for frogs and nocturnal mammals. These outings provide the best opportunities for macrophotography of insects and frogs.
Most of our staff and a few of our guides are community members with whom you’ll be able to share stories and anecdotes. On guided walks you will learn from community members the way in which they utilize forest resources in everyday life.
What to bring ?
We recommend that each visitor limit gear to good binoculars ; camera gear ; tight-weave, light weight, light colored, long cotton pants ; long sleeved, tight-weave, light colored cotton shirts ; undergarments ; absorbent socks ; ankle-high hiking boots ; sneakers ; a powerful flashlight with batteries ; a small toilet kit ; a water bottle ; sunblock lotion ; sunglasses ; a secure, broad-brimmed hat ; 100% waterproof, head-to-ankle rain suit ; insect repellent ; yellow fever inoculation certificate ; small denomination bills and a small daypack.
Posada Amazonas Rates
3D/2N US $190 2N at PA
4D/3N US $280 3N at PA
Extra Night US$90.00
Single Supplement : US$35.00 (per night)