A new short documentary highlights the innovative, locally-grown tourist ventures sprouting up in the buffer zone around Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve. Not only do these tourist adventures–some specializing in rehabilitating wildlife, others in finding out how locals live, and some even in jungle yoga–help provide jobs and income in a region dominated by extractive industries, but they are also help to keep forests standing.
“Most photojournalists who visit Madre de Dios go to tell stories about gold and deforestation. When colleague Barbara Fraser told me she had a different story in mind, I was delighted. She wanted to tell the story of community tourism near the Tambopata National Reserve,” said filmmaker Elie Gardner, who accompanied journalist Barbara Fraser to the Tambopata Eco-Tourism Corridor, an area where tourists–both foreigners and Peruvians–can select from a growing number of homegrown initiatives.
“We met with several entrepreneurs who have turned their passions into their businesses. I admire the way they live and the sacrifices they have made to be true to their values. In an area where there are lucrative opportunities in mining, development and timber, they have chosen a less popular path,” said Gardner.
She added that her own experience as a visitor was unforgettable.
“I remember pulling up to El Gato, a homestay along the Tambopata River, and seeing a cloud of butterflies, more than I have ever seen. Later the lullaby of bugs put me to sleep. The next day the neighbors treated us to grapefruits from their organic orchard, and Barbara conducted an interview (or two!) with a monkey on her shoulder.”
For more on these initiatives: Community tourism fills niche around Tambopata National Reserve