How to Visit the Amazon Rainforest Responsibly
Visitors to the Amazon can have a very positive impact on the rainforest and its inhabitants and we do our best to make it so on our expedition cruises. Our staff and travelers are a team in exploration and sustainability. On arrival on the M/Y Tucano travelers are provided with the very detailed booklet called the Expedition Guide which outlines the best ways to enjoy and protect the wild places we visit and to ensure that our voyages have a positive impact. All our staff are devoted to forest preservation. As a team, we and our travelers visit the rainforest with conscience - so that whatever impact there may be will be completely positive.
Zero Impact: We observe a zero impact policy on our expedition cruises. We do not remove anything at all from the forest, no plant material, no flowers, nothing. And we leave nothing behind. Everything that goes with us into the forest, comes back out with us. Yes, we have made a system of trails, but they are minimally invasive. They are not the heavily trodden highways for humans that are typical of most tours, but are instead barely visible forest tracks. To keep our trails from modifying the forest, we do not significantly clear vegetation and we do not walk on them repeatedly, week after week. This way our visits do not frighten off the more shy creatures and our presence does not change the interrelated complexity of life in the rainforest. Our expedition teams, composed of both guides and travelers, stay on these defined trails. We avoid cutting new trails so that our presence does not have a broad impact on the forest as a whole.
Just as important as non-invasive trails are to forest preservation is how we walk on them. When we enter the forest we take no food, no one smokes, and our teams are quiet so that we can fit into the subtle sounds of the forest. We keep noise and excessive talking to a minimum so that the quiet sounds of the forest, to which all the wildlife are very highly attuned, are not overwhelmed. When we do observe creatures we are very careful not to disturb them. We do not get too close and if an animal becomes agitated, we leave the area right away. This caution in the forest is one reason that the places we visit still have populations of the more shy kinds of animals; creatures that permanently flee areas of obtrusive human presence. We never handle creatures that we encounter - an animal that is covered with the human scent can be at serious risk. We do not touch, pet, or feed the creatures we encounter. Though it is becoming a popular tourist activity, we do not visit places that feature swimming with dolphins. These marine mammals are kept in semi-captivity by a feeding routine that disrupts the learning of young animals. The consequence is that they fail to master the hunting skills and migratory patterns that are essential for their long term survival. We avoid flash photography, we do not startle or chase any animal from a nesting place. We are careful in the forest not to disturb the web of life, but this does not make our trips less interesting. On the contrary, it enables us to observe creatures in a pristine environment. Our entire approach is to try as much as we can ourselves become part of the forest environment - to become a small part that observes and admires, but does not modify.
This policy of caution applies to every aspect of our expedition cruises, including our contacts with local peoples. We are very emphatic that our M/Y Tucano team, both staff and travelers, never purchase anything at all made with animal products such as fur, feathers, fish scales, porcupine quills, or teeth. When we are near the city we are sometimes approached by local entrepreneurs with sloths, primates, or snakes in hand. Their hope is that we will give them money to photograph these creatures. But our policy is never to give money to anyone with captive animals. These captive creatures have very short lives due to improper care and as a result there is a constant need to replace them with new ones taken from the forest. Also when we visit remote villages we ask travelers never to offer to buy artifacts or animal teeth or claws from local villagers. One reason for this is that the settler would simply kill other animals for trade goods. Another, less obvious reason is that local folks have medicinal or ceremonial purposes for animal parts that may not be clear to us. We are there to look and listen, but not interfere.
One last, but very important, awareness that we an expedition team have is avoiding cultural disruption in the small and traditional communities that we visit. Our voyages do not include any “made for tourism” experiences. There are no visits to a native shaman and no scripted tribal dance re-enactments. We have a commitment not to disturb the traditional cultures that we encounter. Instead, we take special care to present the people and natural history of Amazonia as they really are - without exaggeration or artifice. The places we visit are bizarre enough that there is no need to create make believe activities.
The Secret and the Key to Sustainable Travel
The key to sustainable travel is awareness and conscience. This true story and beauty of the Amazon are found in the authenticity of the experience. Our staff and travelers work together as a team to get the very most our of our adventure into the rainforest while at the same time protecting its wonders.