During their stay at Uakari Lodge, guests have the chance to better understand how the riverside people at Mamirauá Reserve live. They now count on you
On the way to Uakari Lodge, when we are navigating up on the Amazon River, we pass some places on the banks where there are elevated wooden buildings, activities of people and boats: they are riverside communities. Arriving at our destination, we are welcomed by some of the residents of the communities we see, they introduce themselves: they are managers, maintenance supervisors, and the staff responsible for food and beverages, kitchen, waiters and waitresses, housekeepers, guides and our guests really begin to understand how a Community Based Tourism (CBT) initiative works.
CBT is about making community players protagonists in the place where they live by offering organic and sustainable experiences. Traveling to Mamirauá is not just about visiting a place, but also getting to know the incredible people of the floodplain and their way of life (a transformative experience not only for tourists, but also for co-workers who grew up in a totally different reality, like myself).
How were these communities formed?
The settlement of these people at Mamirauá Reserve took place from the 1940s, when the Northeasterners who had migrated to work in the extraction of latex found themselves without conditions and support to return to their homeland after the fall of the second rubber cycle. These immigrants were establishing relations with the indigenous people who also inhabited the region, and that was how the caboclos or ribeirinhos emerged.
These inhabited places used to be very isolated, just one family per locality and only took the shapes of communities as we see today from the 1970s when the Basic Education Movement (MEB) organized by the Catholic Church began to raise and train leaders community. These leaders also worked to obtain government recognition and assistance. MEB also had a strong environmental appeal and that is how the riverside dwellers were able to categorize and protect their lakes, on which they depend to obtain the most valuable resource of the floodplain: fish.
Primatologist José Márcio Ayres joined this initiative and the notion that they needed to protect the place where they live, a researcher who arrived in Mamirauá to study the Uakari monkeys in 1983 (you can see how emblematic the monkey that gives the inn its name is in this whole story, right? ! But I will keep this is for another post 😄), and this partnership culminated in the creation of the reserve in 1985.
Ayres was also responsible for the idea of the Uakari Lodge that would start its operations in 1997 as a way to supplement the income of community members after the creation of the reserve and improve their living conditions by reconciling this with the preservation of the environment.
New challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic
During their stay at Uakari Lodge, guests have the chance to understand a little better how the riverside people live. These have as main economic activities fishing, production of cassava flour, agriculture and ecotourism. Many of these activities are stopped or hampered by the flood period and the COVID-19 pandemic that we are experiencing, placing the riverside populations in a vulnerable situation. The city of Tefé, the main support pole in the region, is one of the hardest hit by the new coronavirus, having one of the highest rates of confirmed cases per inhabitant in the country. Uakari Lodge is supporting a collective crowdfunding aimed at the purchase and distribution of masks, hygiene products and basic food baskets to help riverside residents to face this difficult period.
Text: Cynthia Lebrão / Imaged (photo and video): Gui Gomes
We need your support!
We want to help families in the Amazon with food, masks and information to face the pandemic in one of the cities most affected by the coronavirus – Tefé is the 5th city in Brazil in cases of COVID-19 (per inhabitant).
With your donation we will purchase basic food kits and hygiene products to be distributed by our partners (see below).
. £1 will buy 2 reusable masks
. £15 will buy a food parcel and hygiene kit to support a family of six for one month
Become a donor and join our support network to fight hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic in the interior of the Amazon.
Click HERE and help us support local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks!