Why aren’t there monkeys jumping in our boat for bananas ?
Anyone who may have watched the travel channel series “hotel Amazon” may be super excited to book their trip so they can witness “wild monkeys” taking over their boats. I am sorry to bring the bad news but those are not wild monkeys. There is a river called Yarapa where there are many tourist lodges, there is an island on the river that the owners/ employees of these lodges drop off orphaned monkeys for tourists pleasure because it is hard to guarantee the observation of all those species on a typical trip of four days.
On the show, a group of tourist happen to “find” a troop of monkeys. When they come close to the trees, five species of monkeys aboard and commence a search of the boat for food (because the little island does not have have enough sustenance to feed everyone). Everyone gets excited and feeds the marooned monkeys bananas (banana is not in their wild diet).
I understand completely why this is done. It is so hard to guarantee sightings of certain primates in a short amount of time so there is the magical monkey island where the primates are hungry and will come swinging to the shore whenever they hear a boat. If that is ok with guests, no problem but they should not be called “wild” and they should explain to the guests that this is not how they are in the forest, otherwise, people go away with a false idea of how wild animals act.
I consider this similar to visiting a “native ” village. Allow me to confirm that there are no true “tribes ” that wear grass skirts within 400km of Iquitos in any direction. These are tourist shows. When they hear a boat, they ditch their smartphone, put on a grass skirt, take off their bras and pretend to be “uncivilized” tribespeople that happen to sell handicrafts.
There is a level of sensationalism that gets potential clients to book. Guides guaranteeing jaguar or anaconda sightings, an island full of tame curious monkeys and a visit to a native tribe.
We at Otorongo Expeditions do not put on tourist shows, we hike, paddle and earn our sightings of animals in their habitat. Sure we visit a native Yagua village but they are in their everyday clothing and do not put on a show for tourist. They are real people acting like they would if a tourist was there or not. Of course sometimes our guests come back from an excursion without having a fantastic siting but at least it was real.
We offer reality, in an exclusive zone where the only other tourists you may see are staying at our lodge. There are many new companies that sell with the sensationalistic views of the the Amazon that exist thanks to TELEVISON. Please don’t forget that television is not reality, even reality tv shows are not reality. Are you going to travel so far to see tourist shows or do you want the reality of the Amazon basin?
I want more lodges in the Amazon, it is an important resource for locals. We offer an alternative to the resource extraction economy. Unfortunately it seems that it is a cutthroat business here in Iquitos so new lodges and other competition must rely on sensation to sell more than reality. Why? Because in reality, sensation is earned not given. Sensation comes in surprises in the form of hiking hours and than getting a glimpses of wild animals. Or paddling through the flooded forest and finding an anaconda stretched on a sun exposed tree limb. We have real experiences that cannot be planned.