”Where wildlife is wild, as it should be.”
Covering 16,000 hector in the pristine Peruvian rainforest,
a private-owned land, it crosses from the water to the land,
where the wildlife is rich and intact, a private Noah’s Ark.
When I first saw Tapiche on the map,
It locates in the middle of the jungle,
perfectly embraced by a meander river, and no sign of civilisation.
The only way to reach there is a full days’ journey by boat.
I know this is the place I have been looking for.
The reviews from other travellers picture Tapiche as a authentic jungle,
”…This was my fourth time in the Amazon, and probably my 30th trip to a tropical rainforest worldwide, and I rate Tapiche very highly.”
”Tapiche was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Few places on Earth compare. If you’ve made the effort to come to the Amazon, make sure you get to see what the rainforest should be like. (this reviewer is a biologist) ”
Grew up in Brazil,
The founder of Tapiche reserve, Katoo,
knows that the rainforest in Peru is more vulnerable compared to Brazil.
The need for protection is urgent.
The people came here during the growth of the rubber trade in the late 1800s, remained here after the rubber boom but lacked personal connections with the jungle.
Logging, poaching and hunting became the only way to make a living.
Tapiche reserve had agreement with the local people,
Instead of using the more and more commonly tin roof,
they hire local people to build lodges with traditional design, techniques, and natural materials, to ensure the cultural sustainability.
The workers won’t hunt while working on Tapiche’s project,
and with the better payment they get,
they don’t need to hunt for a while after the project period.
We arrived after the Christmas vacation,
and therefore has the privilege to have a private guide with us all the time.
This magic man is José.
Although José speaks little English,
and our fault not learning any Spanish,
it hasn’t been a barrier in the jungle where our months were shut almost at all time.
We went out every day with the boat, exploring lagoons, lakes and wetland.
The advantage of exploring the jungle with boat is that we can be really quiet, like a piece of leaf drifting downstream along the creek.
José literally knows everything about the jungle.
He has excellent spotting skills, can amazingly see those spectacular animals that are difficult to tell apart in their camouflage environment.
Still-resting sloths in the top of the trunk,
tiny pigmy marmosets sleeping between the branches,
or a baby caiman with only part of the head sticking out from the water covering with duckweed.
The team in Tapiche reserve, Katoo and Deborah,
have been devoting to rehabilitate the wildlife,
protecting the animals and their habitation from poaching.
I would rather say that instead of touring, we are humble to share their achievements for more than 10 years work.
The housing is very rustic,
but with everything I expect in a jungle,
including snakes and many tree frogs.
We drink rain water, take shower in the tapiche river,
Indulging in the oropendolas’s beautiful singing,
which I couldn’t find a better description than ”a gurgle following by a liquid trill.”
The jungle symphony is so loud and harmonic.
The day when we left,
it dawned on me that it is much quieter outside of the reserve area.
The reason is obvious.
Jungle adventures are among the most popular tours in the small cities at the edges of the rainforest.
There are tours of all kinds,
including advertisements of a variety of ”eco-touring,”
often together with the pictures of a selfie with sloths and macaws, with big smile on the face in the ”real Amazon jungle”.
What they won’t tell you, is that they capture the docile animals and keep them as pets in the lodges to attract tourists.
In the local market near the big cities like Iquitos or Cuzco,
You can see souvenirs and handcrafts made with vivid colouring feathers,
piling up on the shelves or hanging on the roof.
I asked one woman who owns the store and was eager to show me more products at her place,
”You didn’t kill the birds to get their feathers?”
I made a gesture of a cut on the throat.
”No no, the feathers were picked up in the jungle.” said the woman.
But she is not telling the truth.
Macaws with the most beautiful and colourful feathers only live in the well-developed forest,
where the old trees provides them with abundant nuts and seeds.
The fact that the jungle with high maturity is almost inaccessible to human being is ,however, the best protection for itself.
You might think that there must be a place in the world which is still ”pure wild”, but there is not.
We need more places like Tapiche,
”Where wildlife is wild, as it should be.”
But now Tapiche is forced to close because of severe situation in Peru during COVID-19.
No volunteers are able to come, and no income to hire back the local workers. Tapiche needs our supports to continue their conservation work in the turtle nesting season – rescue the turtles from poaching.
The fund collected will directly support Tapiche reserve, and the rescue progress can be followed on their homepage and FB: https://www.gofundme.com/f/taricaya-turtle-preservation-project?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp%20share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR3Q8yCcXclBXcGtvPvXKqdey20sqRPdY7wFbmMptAaBv8lBTcc7O_AXTFk
More about Tapiche reserve https://www.tapichejungle.com/projects