GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- Of all the lodges situated in the Amazon, few
have received as much notice for their sensitivity to both the
environment and the indigenous population as the Kapawi Ecolodge
The lodge is owned and operated by Canodros, an Ecuadoran
The company also owns the Explorer II, a cruise ship that plies
the Galapagos Islands, where a tanker used to fuel ships ran
aground Jan. 16, spilling at least 190,000 gallons of diesel oil
into the water and endangering the ecosystem of the Galapagos
Prior to the spill, Canodros' general manager, Andre Barona,
spoke about the company's sensitivity to the concept of
Barona said Canodros has sought since its inception to balance
tourism and preservation, providing biodegradable soaps and
shampoos, and employing cleanliness and good screening to take the
place of chemicals, including insecticides.
When the Kapawi project, deep in the Amazon basin, was proposed
in 1993, two of the company's managers, both experts in the fields
of ecology and biology, conducted impact studies on the environment
and the indigenous Achuar people who inhabit the area.
Also from the beginning, Canodros exhibited a sensitivity to the
Achuar community. The project was a joint venture of Canodros and
the Organization of Ecuadoran Achuar Nationalities (OINAE).
Canodros rents the land from the Achuar nation and, according to
Gabriel Jaramillo, resident manager of the lodge, all decisions
must be discussed and authorized by the Achuar federation.
Citing a tower under construction for bird observation,
Jaramillo described how Canodros first went to each Achuar
community, explaining why the tower would be a good thing and
soliciting the opinions and suggestions of the elders.
Also notable is that the information booklet given to guests
carries a forward and a greeting, not by the director of Canodros,
but by the president of OINAE.
According to Canodros, it will turn over all installations to
the Achuar federation in 2011.
Nearly all of the lodge's staff is Achuar. But unlike some
Amazon lodges where "natives" don loin cloths to demonstrate bows
and arrows and blow guns to tourists, no one at Kapawi is "dressing
up or down" for guests, Barona said.
For nature walks, canoe excursions and village visits, guests
are assigned both a Spanish-speaking Achuar guide and an
English-speaking non-Achuar guide, who remain with the group for
the duration of its stay.
Kapawi buys as many vegetables and fruits from nearby Achuar
communities as possible and refuses to purchase meat from animals
that have been hunted. Similarly, although the lodge sells Achuar
crafts, it does not stock anything made of animal skin or bone.
A recent joint project of Canodros and the Achuar federation,
with some help from the Ecuadoran government, has resulted in
construction of a nearby ecotourism-oriented high school, where
Achuar students study English, tourism, ecology and management of
resources along with more basic subjects. Each month, a group of
students visits the lodge for first-hand observation.
In 2000, Kapawi received two Arts & Entertainment television
network awards for excellence, appearing on both its Top 10 Animal
Adventures and Top 10 Exotic Destinations lists.
The same year, Kapawi also earned "high commendation" from
Conservation International in its first ecotourism excellence
awards, and in 1998, it received a British Airways Tourism for
Tomorrow citation for its commitment to ecology.
For more information, contact Canodros at (011) 593-4-285-711;
fax (011) 593-4-287-651; e-mail: [email protected], or visit the Web site at www.canodros.com.