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Ecuador boutique hotels Kapawi lodge Amazon basin

Kapawi ecotourism lodge

The Kapawi project was initiated in 1993 by Carlos Perez Perasso, leader of the Ecuadorian journalism through El Universo, the major newspaper in Ecuador, through his vision and passion to nature his goal was to commence a new trend in ecotourism, in partnership with the FINAE, Federation of Achuar Indigenous People in Ecuador, by providing a monthly means of economic support and jobs to the Achuars, superior to the relatively limited lifestyle in an area of 5.000 square kilometers with a population of 4,500 people in 56 communities. In 2011, all installations will be transferred at no cost to the Achuars.

The lodge accommodates up to 50 visitors with double and triple accommodations and was built in accordance to the Achuar concept of architecture.

Kapawi is the largest community-based project ever developed in Ecuador. It was developed and built in co-ownership with the private enterprise, Kapawi was created to provide a high standard service in one of the remotest and most pristine areas of the south east of Ecuador, away from oil exploitation and other destructive practices.

At the moment up to 70% percent of all the employees that work at the lodge are Achuar. Kapawi also buys products and services for the lodge in the nearby communities. Tourists give a contribution of US $10 dollars as an entrance fee. For these communities their main income comes from ecotourism.

Kapawi has also provided a launching platform for the Achuar as it has brought the area to the attention of many people from non governmental organizations that invested money and time to develop projects to reinforce the structure of the FINAE organization and developing different projects parallel to ecotourism such as: health, communications, transportation, and education for the entire Achuar territory. Until the beginning of the 70´s, the Achuar were one of the last groups that did not have any contact with the western world.

Kapawi is different from other ecotourism projects for many reasons:

  • With an initial investment of two million dollars, it was built to be operated by private enterprise for fifteen-years
  • By the year 2011, Kapawi will belong entirely to the Achuars. In the meantime, they are being trained in different areas like management, house keeping, mechanics, maintenance, etc. .
  • Kapawi incorporates low impact technologies such as solar energy, trash management and waste water treatment.
  • Kapawi accommodates seventy people, including guests and employees, making it like a regular sized Achuar community!

Kapawi is located near the Ecuadorian and peruvian border, in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon Basin on the Pastaza River, a major tributary of the Amazon. Kapawi is one of the most pristine and isolated points in the Amazon Basin accessed only by air. The closest town is within ten days walking distance. Kapawi is located in one of the areas with the highest biodiversity on Earth, with 10,000 different species of plants and more than 540 different species of birds. Located at a 240 km from Quito, the Achuar Territory has 5000 square kilometers, and with a population of Achuar Population 4500 indigenous approximately.

Kapawi´s goal is to work with the Achuar indigenous community to provide a successful alternative to the traditional destruction created by enterprises in the Amazon Rain Forest

Since we use a small aircraft to fly to Kapawi, it is imperative to limit your luggage to a basic minimum as listed below. We recommend backpacks instead of suitcases. Maximum weight allowed is 25 pounds per person.

Before Kapawi, most of the Achuars based their external economy on cattle ranching. Today, members of the 58 Achuar communities base a significant percentage of their economy on ecotourism. Up to 45% of their total income comes from direct employments, supplying products to the ecotourist project and handicraft sales, which represents 21%.

The lodge was built at the edge of the Kapawi Lagoon. The houses were built on stilts in order to minimize the impact caused to the surrounding vegetation.

  • Sewage goes through a three-step drainage process and pumped onto the forest floor. The sewage drains into a cesspool and the excess of water runs into a second cesspool and then into the last from which it is pumped onto the forest floor. Yeast is spread on the ground to accelerate decomposition.
  • Our canoes are equipped with four-stroke outboard engines, which reduce noise and pollution considerably. Electric outboard motors for small and sensitive rivers are also available.
  • The entire lodge is powered by a hybrid system of solar energy and a diesel generator. The 75 watts obtained from the solar panel cover 60% of all the lodge energy needs.
  • Our solar-heated showers provide daily 5 gallons per person of hot water depending on weather conditions.

Can I go to Kapawi if I am disabled? Yes , it is possible. Nevertheless, it is necessary to confirm your reservation and necessities 30 days in advance so the Lodge can arrange a suitable logistic for you

We invite you to visit Kapawi, learn about the wonderful Achuar culture and help protect their rainforest for future generations!

Activities

There are many things to do including birdwatching, visit the Achuar native community, self guided trail, hiking, camping, canoeing among others.

A day in Kapawi starts at 6:00, hot drinks and a light snack will wake you up, for a short hike in the forest or an early morning canoe trip for bird watching in the banks of the Capahuari river or to visit the parrots salt lick. Passengers will be back for breakfast at 8:00, then at 9:00 approximately passengers depart for a morning activity which will take them back to the lodge at 13:00 for lunch or you can take the lunch along to enjoy a beautiful picnic in the forest and being back to the lodge at 17:00 approximately. For passengers who decide to have lunch at the lodge they will start their afternoon activity at 15:00. At 19:00 a briefing with the guides will be scheduled every day. Dinner is served at 19:30. At 20:30 passengers will have the opportunity to do a night hike, a caiman watching or to receive a lecture about the rainforest or the Achuar life. Sleep at night in the community or camping are also available upon request to the guides.

The Lodge provides multiple activities in programs that are characterized by their flexibility: we allow you to design day by day, with the rest of your group and your guide, the most suitable program for your interests and desired activity level. Most itineraries include visits to the Achuar communities, hikes in the rain forest, canoeing, bird watching, and other activities. According to your interests and physical condition (but not your age!), we offer three alternative programs: easy, moderate, and difficult. These programs depend mainly on the distance and time you would like to spend on our trails; all other activities can be included in any program.

Easy path: Short hikes in the rainforest (up to 2h30 hours) on well-defined trails, visits to the Achuar communities, trips in canoes and excursions on raft and kayaks. 

Moderate path: Medium distance hikes in the rain forest (up to 4 hours) and sometimes crossing flooded areas.

Difficult path: Demanding hikes of over 4 hours and in some cases all day or more, in poorly defined, hilly, and often flooded trails. Porters will carry food and supplies for longer expeditions. Excellent physical condition is required!

What may I expect to see in Kapawi?

  • Many, many birds (more than 540 species in the area).
  • Many species of insects, including brightly colored butterflies; many of them have not been identified by scientists.
  • Thousands of plant-species, many of them used for medicinal purposes by the Achuars.
  • Mammals such as fresh water dolphins, monkeys, bats and several kinds of rodents (including capybaras) that you may see depending on the time of year. Since they are mainly nocturnal, mammals like jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis and other cats are difficult to spot. It is common to find animal tracks.
  • It is possible to see amphibians and reptiles such as frogs, caimans and snakes. Certain reptiles like snakes are rather hard to find because they run away when they feel ground vibrations.

Birdwatching

Kapawi is a great place for birding. In ten days you can get a list of almost 400 species. The river islands often have Horned Screamers and Orinoco Geese. Muscovy Ducks are more prevalent here than at any other place and they are even in the Kapawi Lagoon. Pavonine Quetzals nest on the Kapawi-Montalvo trail as is the Rofous Potoo, and there are also Black-necked Red Cotingas, Pearly Antshrikes and Pheasant Cuckoos. Brown Jacamars are more numerous in Kapawi than at any other place you have been; ditto for Ecuadorian Cacique and Olive Oronpedola. There are many Blue-throated Piping Guans, Herons and Egrets. A Black Bushbird often hangs out near the cabañas and Red Fan Parrots are on the Capahuari river. You can see and hear Plumbeous Antbird, Dusky-throated Antbird, Dot-backed Antbird or Buff-breasted Wren.

Other bird of exceptional interest featured in Kapawi are Salvin´s Currasow, Buckley´s Forest-falcon, Sapphire Quail-dove, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Black-billed Cuckoo, White-chested Puffbird, Spotted Puffbird, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Orange-eyed Flycatcher, Moriche Oriole and the most amazing thing is that you yourself can see and record new species on the islands!

Facilities

Rooms:

The lagoon varies in water level throughout the year's season and provides the perfect setting for your accommodations.

The lodge accommodates up to 50 guests and was built in accordance to the Achuar concept of architecture. We offer 20 double and triple rooms with private bathrooms, sun heated showers and electricity provided by a solar panel system. Every room has a wide terrace. One thing you should kept keep in mind during your stay here at Kapawi is that you are in the “jungle”. Insects are by far the most numerous form of life in this habitat, even though the rooms are screened through the walls and floors, you may have some unwanted “guests” in your cabin.

Every cabana is illuminated by 4 lamps, the lodge is powered by 6 and 12 volts systems and 110 volts is available in some areas, where personal device batteries can be recharged.

Services:

  • Bar/Boutique/Library: Our library opens the whole day. We offer a wide range of paperbacks, magazines and books. A small boutique provides essential items you may have forgotten (film, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen lotion, insect repellent, hats, etc.), as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. Our well stocked bar is open until 10h00 pm
  • Water: Tap water is totally purified, as well as water you find in the glass bottle in your room, and in the plastic container in the dining room. This water has been filtered through a flush back and sand filter, and finally purified with ozone. However, this system is unable to filter very small particles of sediments. This is specially evident during periods of heavy rains or when the water table is very high. The presence of microscopic particles in suspension gives the water a murky aspect, this does not mean it is contaminated with microorganisms.
  • Dining room: Our dining room is located at the central part of the complex. With an outstanding service in a beautiful veranda where some meals can be served; it can also be used as a place for early bird watching while you are tasting our freshly brewed coffee

Meals

We serve a tasty combination of Ecuadorian and International dishes, combined with products from the rain forest area. Vegetarian diets are also available

Main Offices Address: Av. Gral. Rumiñahui , San Rafael                                                                                                           Quito - Ecuador