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Amazon River  🇵🇪   Perú

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Why aren’t there monkeys jumping in our boat for bananas ?

04 Jun
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. 

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2 Responses to “Why aren’t there monkeys jumping in our boat for bananas ?”

  1. Nicole June 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    This is an extremely well written article. I was a visitor of Otorongo a few years back and genuinely appreciated the care that Anthony takes in respecting the environment and locals around him. I appreciated that nothing was staged for us. The guides know where certain flora and fauna like to spend their time around the lodge, thereby increasing your chances of a sighting, but they do not alter the behavior of wild animals to guarantee specific experiences. This is very responsible of them. If you have a knowledgeable, hard working guide, they know where to take you to increase your chances of finding certain organisms. But it does take work. For example, finding the hoatzin birds took a full afternoon of hiking through knee deep mud and it did get discouraging and nerve wracking, but we did find them – and it was worth the work. Spend your time and money supporting respectful locals; its an important practice for them and for us.

  2. Jeannie Rodman September 22, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    The saddest truth about the orphaned monkeys is that their mothers were most likely murdered because that is the only way to acquire baby monkeys. People who then purchase these orphans, sometimes for the very understandable reason that they feel bad for the poor creature, actually perpetuate this practice. If you take a trip to visit the butterfly farm and animal rescue just outside Iquitos the founder will tell you the horrific stories of the animals she has spent the past 35 years saving and caring for. Unfortunately, the Peruvian government allows trophy hunters who pay enough permission to shoot whatever they want, regardless of rarity, potentially leaving behind more orphans. Otorongo has an excellent reputation for preserving and honoring the Amazon and its creatures, human, animal, land and river. There is plenty of drama and excitement to be discovered without resorting to dishonest and inhuman practices, and their excellent guides provide fantastic, knowledgeable adventures in the jungle and on the river. Thank you, Anthony and crew for running a class act.

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