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Pristine rain forest.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Jim Castner

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Explorama Lodge's Nature Reserves

Amazon Rainforest Reserve
Explorama Lodges began operation in 1964 and since this time the company has always felt an obligation to purchase and maintain primary virgin rain forest reserves near each of its Lodges. All original managers and stockholders of Explorama had been high school or university teachers prior to starting the company and this has always given the enterprise a strong emphasis on education about the rain forest, for employees, our guests, and the local Ribereņos or river people.
It has also accentuated our belief that as a company operating in the rain forest, we are responsible for maintaining the flora and fauna for future generations. At first the reserves were relatively small, with the idea of only maintaining trails and sites for our guests. Gradually, as the population increased dramatically along the main rivers, it became apparent that larger reserves were necessary if it was going to be possible to maintain habitats large enough to sustain the animal species many of our visitors expected and wished to see while in the Amazon area.

Together with others, the managers of Explorama started a foundation, CONAPAC, in 1990, to attempt to hold a much larger area of reserve land than would be possible under local laws at that time by individual companies. An area was surveyed extensively through the use of small float planes, to be certain that no fields nor houses were located in the area to be requested from the government. Also, it was necessary to pick an area which was far enough away from the major river systems, where the majority of forest people live, to ensure that fields would not immediately be cut in the area before the proper defenses could be put in place. A four meter boundary line has been cut completely around 100,000 hectares of land (250,000 acres). While it is impossible to stop all hunting at this point in time due to lack of funds, Explorama has managed to drastically reduce the killing of large quantities of game for the Iquitos market by visiting the area on a continual basis with guests, as well as by helping CONAPAC to hire a forestry engineer and with his permanent crew to act as forest rangers in the reserve.

The following is an outline of the various reserves that Explorama Lodges guests may visit during their stay in the Peruvian Amazon Basin:

Explorama Inn Reserve
The Explorama Inn Reserve is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) down the main Amazon River from Iquitos. This is the smallest of Explorama's protected areas, consisting of 100 hectares (250 acres) in total. Of this area, 34 hectares (85 acres) is primary or virgin rain forest, while 66 hectares is secondary rain forest, gradually returning from farm land to forested secondary growth. A strongwire and a cut boundary area several meters wide, as well as company guards, gives protection to this area. This is the closest area to Iquitos along any main river where primary rain forest may be found. As all of the area around the reserve has been cut down for farming and harvesting wood, this reserve is an excellent "island" which is being used by scientists to study the effects of a small area of rain forest cut off from a large block of undisturbed forest.

Explorama Lodge Reserve
The Explorama Lodge Reserve, located 80 kilometers down the Amazon from Iquitos, has been protected by Explorama since 1964. This is the oldest reserve shielded from destruction by the company. This reserve consists of over 200 hectares, or 500 acres, of mainly high Tierra Firme, or non-flooding forest. One small section is lowland or flooded forest. The Missouri Botanical Garden has found this reserve to be one of the highest in biodiversity of trees per square hectare in any area studied by scientists to date. The main reason believed to cause this high biodiversity is the lack of any defined dry or wet season in the area of Iquitos, unlike most tropical areas. The rainfall here may be at highest in any month of the year, depending upon the year studied. This lack of a defined dry or wetseason, through which many species of plants and animals would be unable to survive, is believed to be the major reason for the extremely high diversity in both flora and fauna, which has given this part of the Amazon Basin the title of "The Biodiversity Capital of the World".

In the vicinity of the Lodge is a small community of Yagua Native Americans which have clear title to their own reserve of 1,622 hectares (4,055 acres). This property surrounds the Explorama Lodge Reserve, acting as a buffer zone to help protect the area from the continual encroachment of the ever-expanding population of river people. Explorama helped with the legal process of obtaining this reserve for the community, provided the workers and supplies necessary to cut the boundary line around the property, and to obtain the accurate measurements of the land for the Peruvian Department of Agriculture.

Explornapo. Shimigay, and Sucusari Reserve
These reserves are located near the Napo River, and are reached by traveling 160 kilometers (100 miles) down the main Amazon and up the Napo River to the Sucusari Stream, a tributary of the Napo. Explorama has purchased three areas from the Government at different times to protect here. The Shimigay Reserve contains an interior blackwaterlake with giant Amazon lilies and the prehistoric-looking Hoatzin bird, the only flying bird which a pure leaf-eater. The ExplorNapo reserve includes the area occupied by ExplorNapo which started as a very rustic palm-thatched covered split-palm sleeping platform and is now a lodge with rooms, a large hammock house and screened dinning room. The newest of the Explorama reserves in this area is the Sucusari Reserve, a recently purchased piece of land with over 50% secondary forest which we hope to nurture back to primary status. The ReNuPeRu Ethnobotanical Medicinal Plant Gardenis located between the ExplorNapo and Sucusari reserves. In total, the three reserves cover 2,000 hectares, or about 5,000 acres. Adjacent to these reserves and acting as buffers are the CONAPAC Biological Reserve and a large 4,770 hectare reserve (11,925 acres) belonging to the Orejone Native American Community.

CONAPAC Reserve
Located to the North and East of the Explorama ExplorNapo Reserves is the largest reserve in which visitors to Explorama may admire the beauty and grandeur of the undisturbed Amazon Rainforest. This reserve consists of a little over 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres), with a 4 meter boundary line cleared all around the area. Satellite photographs using reflected light and digital representation of differences in this reflected light, show an unbelievable biodiversity in this area which has yet to be studied by scientists. The forestry engineer and crew who work on the boundary lines have compiled an impressive list of animal species which coincides with reports of zoologists and biologists who have visited the area. The reserve is in the possession of "Conservacion de la Naturaleza Amazonica del Peru, A.C.", CONAPAC. This NGO is responsible for construction and maintenance of the Canopy Walkway, and is in charge of its maintenance, the walkway is presently the longest walkway in the canopy of kind in the world. CONAPAC also organizes a program of adopting river village schools, supports research with graduate students and professional zoologists and biologists who wish to work in the area, and is working together with other NGO's to support teacher training of the local rural school teachers in conservation and sustainable use of the rain forest. CONAPAC, as well as it's close affiliate Explorama, strongly believes that without education there is no hope in saving the flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forest, but that with proper education this important goal is definitely obtainable.

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Canopy Walkway Guides & Staff Hotels in Iquitos & Lima Area Map
Rainforest Itineraries General Information
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Amazon Explorama Lodges, Amazon River, Iquitos - Peru.

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