Peru community-based ecotourism experience at Casa Matsiguenka Lodge, Manu National Park
Manu National Park
The Manu National Park is one of the most pristine natural areas in the world with extraordinary biodiversity. The park’s over 1,700,000 hectors, between 492 and 13,779 ft in altitude, of amazing natural environments range from Andean grasslands to cloud forests to foothill and lowland forests. The park is home to an unrivalled variety of animal and plant species, with over 1,000 species of birds and 200 species of mammals, including endangered species such as the harpy eagle, jaguar, and giant river otters.
The park is inhabited by different Indigenous communities including the Matsiguenkas, Yaminahua, Amarakaeri, and Mashcopiro. While most of these Indigenous peoples have had contact with visitors, the Mashcopiro, who live along riverbanks and lakes deep inside the forest, has continued to subsist on fishing and hunting without much exposure to other people from outside the area.
Casa Matsiguenka Lodge
The Casa Matsiguenka Lodge is located inside the touristic zone of the Manu National Park, adjacent to one of the most beautiful oxbow lakes, Salvador, and is owned by two Indigenous Matsiguenka communities, Tayacome and Yomibato. The lodge was built and financed from 1997 to 2002 by a German NGO, but communal income from the lodge’s profits has been minimal.
Qasana Tours has started to partner with Casa Matsiguenka Lodge with the goal of making the lodge a successful model of partnerships between community-owned and private enterprises. The partnership is designed to create a profitable ecotourism product that effectively catalyzes the conservation of natural and wildlife resources, while helping improve the lives of the Matsiguenka people.
Qasana Tours and Casa Matsiguenka Lodge encourage visitors to support community-based ecotourism in the Matsiguenka community, patronizing locally owned enterprises and, when possible, interacting with local people in an authentic environment. This type of ecotourism, we believe, can provide a sustainable form of livelihood for local community members.
The community-based ecotourism initiatives, moreover, aims to engage local people to be more directly involved in conservation. Their ecotourism product depends on the ability of offer opportunities for quality encounters with spectacular Amazonian wildlife, which in some cases include endangered animals.
Casa Matsiguenka Lodge plays a crucial role in providing a real community-based ecotourism experience in the pristine Amazon rainforest, while offering a comfortable lodging for visitors. The lodge, built with traditional construction techniques and native materials, helps maintain the local context within the native communities’ tourism endeavor.
How You Can Help
As travelers, you can contribute by participating in the Matsiguenka Volunteer Program and sharing your time and skills: The Volunteer Program is an approximately three-week trip, where volunteers will be able to interact with the Matsiguenkas and learn about their culture, while training the Matsiguenka people necessary skills to handle visitors’ needs, and teaching basic English. Volunteers will also be able to explore the forest with the Matsiguenkas and learn more about their ancient knowledge of the forest and wildlife.
By participating in the Matsiguenka Traveler Program in the Manu National Park: During this unique seven-day journey to the Manu National Park, you will learn about the Matsiguenka people and the forest wildlife. This is an excellent opportunity to experience this wonderful nature reserve and at the same time get to know the culture of the Matsiguenkas.
About the Manu National Park
The area was declared a National Park in 1973 in order to protect its expansive pristine areas. The park has been designated a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site since 1987.