NEW YORK--The call of the wild has become increasingly important in
selling travel to South America, and the Amazon rain forest
experience is key to understanding what ecotourism is all about.
For client satisfaction, travel agents would benefit by studying
available programs closely, to match traveler expectations with the
appropriate rain forest product.
Miami-based Ladatco Tours' president Michele Shelburne recently
spent 10 days visiting both the Manu and Tambopata reserves in
She said that "above all, travel agents have to get the right
clients in the right rain forest."
She pointed out that anyone who says "I want to go to the
Amazon" should probably go to Iquitos in Peru or Manaus in Brazil,
for they undoubtedly expect an Amazon River cruise.
However, for clients who ask first to see wildlife, Shelburne
said she would choose "Manu for the adventurer and Tambopata for
the softer adventurer."
Clients who are hard-core bird-watchers, as well as photography
buffs, might have heard of Austin, Texas-based Victor Emanuel
Nature Tours, or VENT, which has since 1994 offered at least one
annual tour to Manu, with a five-day pre- or post-tour extension to
Machu Picchu. VENT itineraries are escorted by leading birding
authorities, and this year's program spent from July 30 to Aug. 17
in the Manu Reserve.
Another firm, International Expeditions, also is a major player
The company, which is based in Helena, Ala., will soon launch
its third expedition boat in the northern rain forest area,
departing from Iquitos on the Amazon River, and will offer the
southern Peru tours to Manu and its sister park, Tambopata, under
its Independent Nature Travel program. "The Peruvian rain forest is
for the independent traveler, one who wants the very personal
experience with nature and the flexibility of touring with one's
own sightseeing guide at one's own pace," said company spokesman
Mason Fuller. To get the exceptional payoff of the wildlife
experience, "you need to get remote," Fuller said, "and the
InkaNatura programs in Manu [Peru] provide this."
Fuller added that although Manu is for the adventurer, "it is
not hard-core nature travel but is rather easy to get to with quite
At the same time, Fuller saluted Peru's Tambopata National Park,
also in the southern area and accessed from Cusco to Puerto
Maldonado airport, as having more spectacular scenery, a more
developed tourist infrastructure and full of wonderful
Agents can contact these operators:
Phone: (800) 327-6162 or (305) 854-8422
Phone: (800) 328-VENT or (512) 328-5221
Phone: (800) 633-4734 or (205) 428-1700