Posadas Amazonas Lodge

The Posadas Amazonas Lodge is native community-based ecotourism lodge that provides rustic and comfortable accommodations in a lush rain forest setting. The area is habitat for giant river otters, monkeys, and an abundance of birds, especially parrots. Resident naturalists guides provide visitors with an education in tropical ecology, wildlife behavior, medicinal plants, and native Amazonian culture while leading fascinating hikes through the protected reserve. Their ability to find wildlife and identify species is amazing. Posada Amazonas recently won Conservation International's 2000 Ecotourism Excellence Award. Posada Amazonas was built using native architectural techniques and local materials, principally wood, palm fronds, bamboo and clay. Raised log paths connect the complex of four sections: 23 bedrooms, a dining area/ lounge, a central reception area, and support facilities.

Each room has a private bath with cold shower, sink, and flush toilet, and fits three single beds with equipped with mosquito nets (although rooms are generally set up as a double). The walls dividing the rooms are built of bamboo and clay. Each room has an open picture-window view of the primary forest. The dining area, with a lounge, a bar, and hammocks, is also designed as a conference room for evening lectures. Visitors enjoy nightly video presentations about local wildlife. The garden is especially designed to attract tanagers and hummingbirds. Night time lighting is provided by lamplight, lending to a romantic jungle atmosphere. Enjoy a short orientation and a complete briefing about this ecotourism project over dinner.

The Ese'eja Community Project
Posada Amazonas' Esé eja Ecotourism Project is a source of sustainable economic development for the local Esé eja native community. As co-owners of the lodge, the Esé eja participate in its management and activities in ways that are community-directed and fully compatible with their way of life. While helping to support the Esé eja Ecotourism Project, visitors benefit from an insightful and authentic rain forest experience. Other vital aspects of this venture are the conservation of the populations of large macaws and eagles that inhabit community land, and protection of all wildlife and forest resources in the surrounding rain forest. Another important aim of the project is local education. The entire Ese´eja Native Community have made this project their own and realize that all wildlife species, if properly protected and managed, will generate much needed income through ecotourism.

The Ese'eja Native Community
The Esé eja ethnic group belongs to the Tacana language family that has traditionally inhabited the Tambopata, Heath, Beni, and Madidi River Basins in Peru and Bolivia. In 1948, the Esé eja population was estimated at 15,000. Presently, the Esé eja native community of the Tambopata River has around 400 members, and other Esé eja communities exist along the Heath River. Historically, a drastic decrease in indigenous population occurred due to both diseases introduced by early settlers, and to atrocities committed during the late 1800's rubber boom.

A small percentage of the local community is comprised of Andean immigrants and mestizo settlers who lived within the territories of the community when it was officially founded in 1976. These residents now form an integral part of the community, although their customs vary somewhat from those of the Ese'eja. The community's principal activity is subsistence agriculture, and this is combined with a wide variety of complimentary activities such as Brazil nut gathering, hunting, fishing, and collecting a variety of useful forest resources. The Ese'eja Ecotourism Project is designed to introduce tourism in a manner compatible with the current Ese'eja way of life, while allowing for current generation of jobs and sustainable sources of income for the community from this economic alternative. Fundamental aspects of the ecotourism project include:

Training and participation of indigenous community members in all lodge positions.
Community participation in all aspects of project design, management, and operations.
Combining wildlife conservation, management, and research practices to develop local natural history attractions.
Permanent monitoring and evaluation of the economic, ecological, and social impacts of tourism on the area and community, which are discussed at communal workshops.
Enhancement, rescue and preservation of local indigenous cultural values.

The conservation and development of natural history attractions for guests staying at the Posada Amazonas lodge has spawned a number of wildlife conservation efforts, such as the following:

Harpy Eagle Nesting Sites. Two harpy eagle nests, one crested eagle nest, two ornate hawk eagle nests, and one king vulture nest have been located by community members within their territory. Although eagle activity has been reduced in the past year, the community continues to monitor the nests.

Giant River Otters. Another exciting wildlife species frequently seen in the oxbow lakes around Posada Amazonas are families of giant river otters. Visitors to Posada Amazonas can paddle a catamaran around Tres Chimbadas Lake to search for and observe these playful, gregarious six-foot long otters, the largest and most endangered of all otter species.

Parrot Clay Lick. Parrots and macaws are also common at Posada Amazonas. Less than 500 yards from the lodge there is a small parrot and macaw clay lick, which has less intensive activity than the large one at Tambopata Research Center, but where it is possible to see the same species perch to eat clay.

Mammal Clay Lick. It is possible to observe larger nocturnal mammals at one of three nearby mammal clay licks. The nearest one is located less than 15 minutes walking from the lodge, and is visited throughout the night by numerous larger mammals.

Rescue of Indigenous Cultural Values
The positive effects of the preservation of indigenous cultural values increase as the project matures. Traditional aspects of Ese'eja daily life which tourist can learn about include Ese'eja utilization of forest resources in everyday life. Cultural rescue workshops take place in which the community's elders demonstrate and discuss traditional practices and beliefs. The community determines which traditions and practices are to be integrated into the tourism project. The cultural rescue efforts and their integration into the Posadas Amazonas programs have produced a re-evaluation and strengthening of Ese'eja native traditions within the community.