For the Achuar Nation, eco-tourism has been the most promising option to develop as a sustainable economic alternative to oil or timber extraction. And until now, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve has been the flagship tourism operation in Achuar territory, gaining an international reputation for offering a unique experience to the discerning traveler. Nevertheless, the Achuar understand that in order to solidify eco-tourism’s sustainability in Achuar territory, a vision that offers benefits to a more diverse number of Achuar is needed.
A first step in this expansion was taken in October 2008, when Pachamama, in cooperation with Mentefactura, signed an agreement with the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) to develop a fresh tourism initiative in the Makusar association. The project aims to diversify the eco-tourism offered in the Achuar territory, thereby strengthening environmental preservation initiatives by local habitants, and offering benefits to an increased number of Achuar. Makusar, situated to the south east of Kapawi, is blessed with pristine jungle and a relatively low population; a combination that could make it an ideal location to achieve these objectives. Furthermore, the people of Makusar have a high level of consciousness regarding the importance of preserving their natural and cultural heritage. This is reflected by the fact that 8 years ago Makusar established their own natural reserve, bordering an enormous natural lake, prohibiting hunting or any other activity in the area. Their objective was to allow the fauna and flora of the reserve to flourish, and to eventually develop an eco-tourism initiative there.
This vision is now moving forward, and the 18-month project looks to develop eco-tourism in Makusar that unites and strengthens Achuar eco-tourism. From October 9th-13th, Fundación Pachamama and Mentafactura met with Makusar communities members and representatives from the Achuar Federation, NAE, in a ceremony held in the community of Chichirat to inaugurate the project. Following the ceremony, the participants took a hiking and canoe tour of some of the natural attractions that the association has to offer.