Sustainable Tourism

What is Sustainable Tourism?

It is not a new concept. In 1993 the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) already established its definition as “a way to manage all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be satisfied, while respecting cultural integrity, essential ecological processes. , biological diversity and the systems that sustain life ”.

The goal is to meet the needs of tourists and host regions, but at the same time protect and foster opportunities for the future.

In 2015, the member countries of the United Nations took another step forward by signing the 2030 Agenda, which puts people, the planet, prosperity and peace at the center, under the slogan of “leaving no one behind.” 17 Sustainable Development Goals are established, known as ODS, of which three explicitly mention tourism. They indicate the need to put into practice policies aimed at promoting sustainable tourism by creating jobs and promoting local culture and products.

HOW TO BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

But as important as these supranational initiatives and of each country is the concern among citizens around the world to minimize the impact of the tourism and travel industry on the planet.

Here are the best practices to act as a responsible traveler when you go out to see the world. The 20 tips are taken from the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

1.- Research your destination to find out about its local customs, traditions and living conditions. It is a great way to understand the local community and to cultivate the illusion for the adventure that is going to live.

2.- Learn some basic words in the native language to be able to say hello, say goodbye or ask simple questions. In this way you will be able to establish more meaningful contact with the local community and its people.

3.- Enjoy and respect everything that makes the place you travel a unique and different destination: history, architecture, religion, dress and communication codes, music, art and gastronomy.

4.- Always ask for permission before taking a picture of someone. Their privacy is as important as yours is to you.

5.- Reduce environmental impact by taking care of nature’s resources, especially forests and wetlands.

6.- Respect wildlife and its natural habitat.

7.- Buy products that do not require the use of endangered plants or animals for their manufacture.

8.- Do not leave the areas of access allowed to visitors in the protected areas.

9.- Reduce water and energy consumption whenever possible. Leave behind you a minimal footprint and a good impression.

10.- Consume local products as long as they do not pose a health risk. In this way, you will contribute to favor the local economy and the families that make a living from it.

11.- Buy products and handicrafts manufactured in the area.

12.- Do not buy counterfeit products and articles prohibited by national or international regulations.

13.- Adopt the appropriate health precautions before and during the trip.

14.- Find out how you can receive medical assistance and how to contact the Spanish embassy in case of emergency.

15.- If you are going to participate in a volunteer activity, first make all the necessary inquiries.

16.- Complies with national laws and regulations.

17.- Respect human rights and protect children from exploitation. The mistreatment or abuse of minors is a crime.

18.- Avoid giving money to beggar children, it is preferable to support community projects.

19.- Do not take fragments of protected cultural property as a souvenir of your trip.

20.- When you return, tell your trip honestly and share your positive experiences.

As you can see, becoming a responsible traveler does not require any effort, rather on the contrary, all are advantages. By following these indications, your grain of sand becomes a mountain when you join the rest of the visitors.

 

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Lost in the forest

Things to keep in mind if you get lost in the forest

Lost in the forest – The main survival advice that can be offered to someone who is lost in the forest is: stay where you are or find an open place that is nearby. Especially if you are like Hansel and Gretel (that is, children from 7 to 12 years old … not necessarily trapped by a witch in a chocolate house).

However, in the event that you decide to walk, it is recommended to follow the course of the rivers, as they generally cross populated places.

It is known that most healthy adults can survive up to 3 weeks without food unless it is cold. But the same is not the case with water, which is necessary at least within three days. The best source of water is a spring, but if you cannot find it then there is no other choice but to drink from a stream, although this can cause disease. Wearing the sleeves of a jacket tying them around the ankles is also useful to hydrate yourself: when walking in the morning on the grass, the fabric will absorb the moisture, and then you can suck the fabric.

Here are 7 tips for finding north, including looking for moss (it usually grows north facing, because it tends to be the darkest and most humid) or looking for spider webs (they tend to appear on the south side of the trees).

These are tips to take into account, because every year hundreds of people are lost in the forests around the world: precisely because getting lost in the forest is easier than it seems.

Expert trackers indicate that a normal person leaves behind 2,000 tracks for every kilometer he advances. Tracks like a broken branch, shoe prints, a twisted blade of grass. A team of trackers, three meters apart, can generally detect 95% of useful tracks.

That’s why you don’t have to move too much (as long as someone knows that you are traveling in that place). Because the biggest problem that appears when a person gets lost in a lush forest is fear. Fear activates the large muscles of the legs. People who get lost get into such a state of alert that they can’t help moving forward or even running so sickly that they forget to look for food and water in their own backpacks.

Young children between 1 and 6 years old typically travel between 1 and 2.5 kilometers. As survival expert Ben Sherwood makes clear in his book The Survivors’ Club:

The youngest, between 1 and 3 years old, are not aware of being lost. If they are separated from their parents, they do not have the capacity to find their way and begin to wander without a goal, although they usually do not go very far. They are usually found sleeping. Naturally, 3- to 6-year-olds are more mobile and understand the concept of getting lost. They tend to take better care of themselves than older children or even adults. They take cover in bad weather and sleep in caves or burrows. They are normally “strange resistant”.

For that reason, one of the most dangerous groups is children between 7 and 12 years old. Because they tend to run when they get lost and, furthermore, they tend not to respond to seekers until they are hungry and cold for fear of a reprimand.

Also, when we lose landmarks, we tend to walk in circles. The reason for this is not, as is often thought, that we have one leg slightly longer than the other, but it is ignored. Various hypotheses are considered, which are even associated with the way information is processed in two cerebral hemispheres. But there is no conclusive explanation as to why, despite our belief, we are unable to walk in a straight line when we do not have visual landmarks.

 

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Survive a desert island

How to: Survive a desert island or forgotten forest.

Surviving on a desert island or in a place far from civilization can be very difficult and more if you find yourself lost without knowing what to do. You must be prepared to face any situation, whether you have lost yourself on a desert island or a huge forest. Preparation can make a difference to the result. This little manual will help you survive and stay healthy anywhere.

Keep calm

If you find yourself in this situation, the first and most important thing to remember is to stay calm, if you stress, you will not be able to think clearly and prioritize. Relax, the most important thing is that you are still alive and you are capable of doing anything if you set your mind to it.

Supposing that you just arrived or woke up on an unknown island, your clothes will be wet, so put them in the sun and let them dry, you will not want to catch a cold as soon as the adventure begins.

Inspect the area

Every situation is different and needs different analysis and solutions. Take your time.

Once the nerves of the new situation have been overcome, it is convenient that you inspect the area in which you are, find out what animals there are, if the site is safe, if it can flood, if you have the necessary materials nearby to build a shelter later, etc.

As an advice, do not stay near the coast, in case you go up the road or you cut yourself with a coral, but do not go too far, preferably look for a high place and with good peripheral vision. This will increase your chances of being seen or of you seeing something.

Prioritize your needs

It is clear that once calm and after inspecting the area, you will have many questions and desire to do things, or on the contrary, you will not know where to start.

Well, in that case, remember the rule of 3. A person goes 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

According to the above, the water will go before the food. And before all that, your own safety of course.

In short, your priorities in the proper order are safety, water, shelter, and food.

Evaluate available resources

For all of the above, you must know what you have, either in nature or in your personal belongings.

Ideally, you would have lost yourself with a knife, with a rope, cables and laces (which you can get from your shoes if you wear them), flint and canvas (or raft). But since no one is prepared for these situations, you will have to be creative to achieve everything else.

Protect yourself from animals

You should find an area where you can build your shelter soon and that is also a safe area for animals. To do this, look for a wide area, where you can observe what is happening around, if possible where you can build a high shelter. So that the chances of animals or insects preventing you from sleeping are reduced. In addition, it is also very important at this point, to learn to make a fire, more to protect yourself than to cook.

Create a fire

In case of dangerous animals, use a fire at night to help keep them away.

As surely you do not have flint on hand to make fire. Here we will teach you some ways to make fire:

One way to make a fire is with dry herbs and litter, all placed compactly on top of a fine, dry wood, with a small groove where the tinder is placed. Rub with another stick until smoke appears, then go blowing and repeat the process until the first sparks appear.

And although these last two methods are more difficult to carry out if you do not have the right tools. There is, the method of the magnifying glass, with an optical or camera lens, by means of the sun direct the rays towards the tinder and maintain that position until it turns on.

The strap method is easier to carry out than the previous one, if we do not have rope or laces, we can use a strip of firearms cloth with our own shirt. With a soft wood log, we raise it a little with some stones so that it is slightly inclined. You pass the rope or cloth underneath, surrounding the trunk, and pulling alternately from one end to the other, we are causing the friction that will generate the necessary spark to have fire

Build a shelter

As we talked about before, building a shelter is necessary to protect yourself from predators and to find a safe place to return to when you go hunting or inspecting, in this way you can protect yourself from nature, even imagine that a torrential rain falls.

Refuge_brocha3Normally, these types of guides usually explain how to build a refuge, but it must not be forgotten that it can also be a natural refuge such as a cave.

The first thing that is recommended is that it be a shelter a couple of meters high, to avoid insects or other animals.

Once we have the area, the simplest thing is to build an A-shaped shelter, with two groups of long branches separated by 2-2.5 meters, nail them to the ground and join them at the upper end so that underneath it is A hole. Cover the sides of branches and leaves. If you have a raft, place it covering the poles to act as insulation.

Traps are another way to secure the area, or placing dry branches that break when something steps on them can be a warning.

Get water

There are several ways to get water, depending on the utensils you have. We will start with the simplest:

metodorocioDew method: it consists of tearing a little fabric and knotting it at the ankles, for this technique you have to walk in the morning which is when there is still dew. You can then squeeze the piece of cloth and store or drink the spray liquid.

Rain Harvesting: If there is no natural source of water nearby, you will need to build yourself something to collect rainwater. It is a not very effective method since for this you must wait for

DESALINATION WATER DEW that it rains and find a way to store that water, either with a container, with an inclined blade that guides the rain towards the bowl and even tie a shirt or piece of cloth on a branch and then drain it as in the previous way .

Water filter: with a shirt, dirt or sand and water filter stones, you can make a filter for dirty water. You will not clean the water completely but you can remove most of the impurities. The way to use it is as follows, you make the water pass and you stand under it to drink the drops that are falling.

Distillation: there are several ways to build a still, although the functionality is the same, here we will explain the most common. A still allows you to obtain water from solar energy.

Fruits and coconuts: remember that if you got lost on a desert island, fruits and coconuts have a high percentage of water and vitamins in addition. Coconuts can serve as containers or as tinder (the outer shell).

Get food

Food is necessary and that is why it is important that you investigate the area before occupying to locate the places where there are fruit, roots, berries and coconuts.

As a tip, before continuing, if you are not sure if a fruit or plant is poisonous, break the membrane and rub the inside on a part of your arm, wait 10 to 20 minutes and see if something happens (rash, inflammation …) If nothing happens, chances are that nothing will happen.

Another source of food is insects, although it seems disgusting they have many nutrients.

An original way to fish without a hook is to place large rocks and make a small wall in the shape of a “V” where the beak enters the sea, when the tide rises and falls again, some fish will remain trapped in your trap and you will get a delicatessen for dinner.

Rescue

Maybe after a while you don’t want to get out of there, but just in case, we will tell you how to do the best distress signals to be rescued.

One of the most typical signals is the SOS signal, you can use stones to form this signal; when large so that it can be seen from the sky, you can also place objects along the entire beach, something that is out of the ordinary it can be used to attract the attention of any nearby vessel.

Another good idea is to make the international distress sign, a triangle, for this you can serve 3 fires in the shape of a triangle. After you’ve made a fire, shoot live plants for thick smoke. This will help make you more noticeable and can be seen from further afield. During the night, the fire works well, as a beacon for ships or airplanes.

 

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Exploration

9 Top Tips for Exploration

The journey of exploration to unknown lands has awakened the curiosity and passion of many characters throughout history. Never like today has it been so easy to set off an adventure journey to discover new worlds. But it doesn’t hurt to be cautious and listen to the advice for adventurous travelers from those who have already embarked on routes outside the usual circuit.

It is true that not all travelers are the same, the personality of each one is imposed and you could be among those who prefer to take the stay more tied or be one of those who bet on total adventure and let themselves be carried away once they set foot in it. chosen destination. In any case, as it is about living a great experience with each trip, it is convenient to put aside any prejudice for a moment and attend to some tips for adventurous travelers that will allow you to make the most of your route.

  1. BEFORE LEAVING

If you like to discover exotic destinations and you are taking the first steps of initiation in this «creed» (yes, once it is tried, it hooks), do not ignore this post in which you will find suggestions in which you may not have fallen.

2. GATHER INFORMATION

As they are less common destinations, the requirements to be able to enjoy the stay are also less known. To have an overview, it is advisable to consult the travel recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. On its website you can get an idea of ​​everything you will need, from the documentation and necessary visas to the security conditions of the country or the main telephone numbers of interest.

3. Get vaccinated

With this information in hand, you will most likely have to start by getting vaccinated to prevent diseases that are not common in Spain. It is the main “toll” that must be paid to be adventurous travelers and return home safely. Keep in mind that you may have to do it a month or a month and a half before your departure. In the International Vaccination Centers (CVI) they will offer you all the information and advice you need.

4. ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTATION

In parallel, you must start the procedures to obtain the visa. As you have already reviewed the recommendations of the ministry, you will know if it is necessary, but experience tells us that it will be so. Don’t waste time and find out as soon as possible at the Consulate or Consular Section of the Embassy of the country or countries of destination accredited in Spain. The concession period is set by the country you visit and you could get an unpleasant surprise if you do not manage it in time.

By the way, if you plan to drive you will also need an international driving license and specific accident and civil liability insurance. Do you know how to change a tire? Do not laugh, because you would not be the first or the last to screw up a day of travel by not having practiced changing a wheel before.

5. Be safe

You may not be a friend of insurance, but your hiring for a trip should be seriously considered, including coverage of medical expenses in case of illness or accident. It is important to check that it covers all the activities that you are going to do, especially those considered risky such as diving, paragliding or trekking.

In case any eventuality arises, it is also worth taking a small medicine cabinet with painkillers and a specific drug for diarrhea and allergies. It is also advisable to add insect repellants, sun creams, a bandage, tape and a disinfectant to heal small wounds.

And to complete the first aid kit, how about attending a practical class before embarking on the trip or at least spend some time watching practical videos on the subject. You will think that it is a hassle or a waste of time, but we remind you of the saying “knowledge does not take place” and who knows if it can get you out of trouble or your knowledge helps another person.

6. BE FINDABLE

The Travelers Registry is a good virtual tool so that in case of any incident the Spanish authorities can contact you, especially if you travel alone. In any case, it is worth noting that adventurous travelers provide family members or friends with the itinerary they are going to take and an email to contact them, such as the places where they are going to stay.

7. PLAN THE TRIP

Before venturing out, look for documentation about the destination (weather, customs, activities, language …), soak up all the possible details, look for related readings, it will be an aperitif that will help you enjoy more when the time comes and even you It will take you to visit places you didn’t imagine.

It’s interesting to map out a route beforehand, but like all good adventurous travelers, you must learn to follow your hunches and deviate when you feel like it to discover that something that will have been worth the trip for.

8. ECONOMIC RESERVE

Regardless of the money you spend on your adventure, a question that you can consult in the blog post on currency exchange, you should have a reserve for emergencies. The trips are unpredictable and it is not hidden from anyone that even the most experienced travelers can be victims of a loss or theft. This reserve you should always keep it in interior pockets or other places that are really difficult to access, because it can save you from a great upset.

9. BE CAUTIOUS

Minimizing risks is one of the tips for adventurous travelers that they should turn into a mantra, especially if they travel alone and are impulsive. When you do not have previous experience or even have it, it is convenient to have some support at the destination that you can trust to know the areas to visit, the associated risks and how to act in the event of an unforeseen event.

OTHER USEFUL QUESTIONS
As with the tire, we recommend that even if you smile when reading this group of last tips, do not discard them. True adventure travelers should know or at least defend themselves in:

The use of the needle and thread. If you think about it, you will be surprised at the number of situations that can be solved by knowing the art of sewing.

Swimming. You never know when to use this skill, perhaps for an emergency, but also to enjoy an aquatic experience at your destination.

And as you put these tips into practice, before you know it, it’s time to start your journey.

 

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Survival Adventure

The Bare Essentials for a Survival Adventure

Survival Adventure – adventuring the world grows with more and more followers, as people who, despite being on vacation, prefer to stay active. Here the main thing is to discover (or rediscover) a place from another point of view and activate the adrenaline to make the experience completely unforgettable. Of course, a fundamental element for those days will be to have a good backpack. Depending on where you go, what you are going to spend on and the time of the trip, you will choose one or the other. In any case, a wide selection of models can be found online, in mountain shops where you can also find everything you need for the trip. In this article I list everything you need on an adventure or outdoor trip.

GPS, compasses and maps. Having the technology is very good but it may be that it fails just at the moment when it may be needed most so, beyond GPS, it is convenient to use more basic but equally useful tools, such as a compass. and maps of the area. Before starting the adventure, it is best to take a look in case there have been any changes in recent years (something that can happen on certain routes). The more up-to-date information is available, the better.

Tents. You have to think of this as an investment because if you opt for a mid-high-end tent you can use it many more times and even in inclement weather (because this can happen) you can have a site sheltered wherever you are. Before making any purchase in this sense, you have to take into account a couple of basic aspects such as their assembly (they are not usually very complex but if you travel alone it is better to opt for those that are well thought out) and the number of people you will have to house. There is a great variety to choose from, you just have to take some time to see which is the most appropriate in each case.

Sleeping bag. The ideal complement to the previous point. Here too there is a wide variety to choose from. We are talking about rectangular sacks, mummies, sheet sacks… And of course, there are different types of materials, such as polyester or down, depending on the temperatures to which one is going to be exposed.

Camping kitchens. An adventure trip never knows where it can take its intrepid travelers. It is for this reason that it does not hurt to get hold of a stove, in case it was necessary to be away from civilization for longer. In this way, the adventure can continue smoothly.

Footwear. Footwear is essential so that the journey does not become harder than it already will be. It is highly recommended to try on that new footwear before the trip itself and give it something of yourself, so that later it does not cause any type of chafing. Of course, it will be necessary to take into account what type of footwear is needed: winter, water, sports, trekking, mountaineering …

Clothes. The fundamental thing in adventure travel is to travel with the essentials but without going overboard. That is to say, here the ‘just in case’ have no place since they will only make them occupy and be heavy. When you think of clothing to wear, it must be as multifunctional and resistant as possible. In addition, it will not hurt to stock up with a rope and some soap to be able to wash what is needed and let it dry in the sun.

First aid kit. Since it is an adventure trip, one has to know that you can expose yourself to certain risks and although without fear you have to be prevented. In this sense, a medicine cabinet equipped with the essentials is always useful. Here we will include tape, scissors, bandages, alcohol … And, incidentally, an anti-mosquito, which can avoid future discomfort.

Lantern. Something so simple can be vital when night has already fallen. Although there are batteries, the ones that can be recharged based on movement are the most useful. Of course, you have to make sure in advance that they are charged to be able to use them when necessary.

Water purification tablets. Drinking water is always essential but you are not always near an area where you can get drinking water. If this is the case, it is better to have these tablets that purify the water and sterilize them at the same time.

Knife and lighter. They are two other basic elements but which can also be used a lot. They hardly occupy or weigh but they are needed, surely you will appreciate having taken them into account and putting them in your backpack.

 

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Adventures

Central Coast: Top 5 Adventures

Warrah Lookout ǀ Brisbane Water National Park

For the Adventurer – Tucked away in Brisbane National Park, Warrah Lookout offers magnificent views stretching over Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River. If you manage to get there at sunset, you’ll be able to experience one of the most stunning views on the Coast. As the sky turns to shades of pink and orange, it is reflected in the clear water resulting in a shining, pink river.

Sea Caves ǀ Lake Munmorah State Conservation Area

Located between Snapper Point and Ghosties Beach, these sea caves are a stunning reminder of the power of nature. The grandeur of the cave will leave you breathless as you take in the massive space beneath the rocks. However, we must say that these caves are infamously unpredictable and can be dangerous, so if you dare explore them, go with someone who has had experience with them previously.

Emerald Pool ǀ Popran National Park

The Emerald Pool is a shimmering shade of emerald due to the bright green ferns that line the bottom coupled with the crystal clear water. In the spring and summer, you’ll often find the area surrounded in various wildflowers and stunning greenery.

Monkey Face Lookout ǀ Watagans National Park

Not only one of the best views in the Watagans National Park but on all of the Central Coast, this stunning lookout provides views of the picturesque greenery of Martinsville Valley. The lookout will have you sitting amongst the high hills of the national park, making you feel as though you’re sitting in the clouds.

Sphinx Memorial ǀ Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Look, this place isn’t exactly on the Coast, but it’s so beautiful we couldn’t leave it off the list. This memorial will take your breath away for a bit of a different reason that the others on this list. The beautiful memorial was hand carved by a returned WW1 soldiers as a commemoration to his fallen friends. The memorial took two years to complete, and he passed away only a few months after it’s completion. While this is quite close to Sydney, it’s only a short drive, and it is so beautiful be couldn’t leave it off this list.

 

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Start Climbing

Top 5 Arguments – Why you NEED to Start Climbing as Soon as Possible

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” — Edmund Hillary.
 
We all know being in the mountains can make life better but what about climbing to the top of those mountains? Here are a few arguments about why climbing mountains can help everybody in a positive way.

Argument 1.
 Not only will you built incredible strength and endurance from climbing mountains (consistently) but you will also find that your diet becomes better. Hesburger are not readily available in the top of a mountain (thank goodness for that!).

Argument 2. Climbers are an awesome breed of people. You will find these a few similarities between them: They are all positive, they are all strong and confident and they are all happy.

Argument 3.
 Mountains are so special; they makes you feel there´s a lot of magic around you. Maybe it is the fact they are so dangerous or maybe it is because they make us feel so small. Even if you don’t even climb them they call to you.


Argument 4.
 After seeing what untouched places look like you will want to protect them. Clear cutting and human interference in any of these beautiful places will be the worst thing imaginable to you. You might finally understand why there are so many rules in national parks and that you are so thankful for these rules.


Argument 5.
 Age is only a number. I’ve seen hikers under the age of 7 and I’ve seen hikers over the age of 70. I am learning more and more that age only represents the number of years you have been alive. It does not serve as a litmus test for opportunity. Those who decide early in life to care for their bodies and not allow age to limit their potential will not be handicapped by it.


Go, climb a mountain! You’ll love it.

Picture
 

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Uninhabited Island Philippines El NIdo

Real World: Surviving a Deserted Island Paradise in the Philippines!

Could you survive on a deserted paradise island? Make your own shelter? Find your own fresh water and fish for your own dinner? In today’s society we have become so comfortable that we have forgotten about the basic skills needed to exist in a sustainable way. But what if you could go back to this simple way of life? Would you be happier? Feel more freedom?

I’ve always wanted to escape from the system, society, money and the material world. I’ve always wanted to get back to nature and live off the land. Forget about deadlines, meetings and making money. Life is so simple, why do we make it so complicated? In short, I want to feel free, try to be self sufficient. One day in the office last year, I made the decision to spend my 26 days holiday getting a taste of another existence and to make my biggest dream come true…

Finding the Chosen Island!

We stayed in traffic-clogged Manila for just one night, eager to get out into the real nature. We then fly one-hour to Puerto Princesa on the beautiful island of Palawan… before heading north by bus to El Nido… looking for the spot where we had planned to find our special island. Getting closer to paradise.

El Nido itself is very beautiful in terms of nature, landscape, perfect weather and surrounding islands… but there were still too many tourists for us here! We headed to the Tourist Office and discover that we need permission from the local police before sailing out to an island of our choice – a document that will basically say that the local government is not responsible for the safety of these crazy foreigners. It costs around 4000 pesos for the permission and return boat trip to one of the islands.

Most people thought we were crazy when we told them our plans. They told us that there were some freaks who had stayed on the nearby islands, but only for a night or two. No one had ever done the survival test for two weeks! We got chatting to a fisherman called Ruel who told us of a particular island and even better, he told us that he would take us there and back for 2000 pesos. Could we trust him? Would he come back for us in two weeks time? Well, we’ll see…

Stocking up on Supplies

Once we heard that there was no fruit or water on the island, we decided to go shopping for supplies. We bought 15kg of rice and 6 big canisters of water as emergency supplies, around 120 litres – hey we were beginner survivors – we didn’t want to die! We also bought a machete, oh and lots of Tanduay Rum, the local Filipino tipple! We also took with us: a hammocks, tarpaulins, paracord, mosquito repellant, stainless steel pot and pan, snorkel and goggles, swiss army knife (every boy needs one of these!) salt supplement sachets, camera, solar charger, We were prepared! Or so I thought…

Arriving at the Island & Setting up our Camp

We set off with Ruel on his bangka (a local Filipino fishing boat) and it took us around two hours to get to the island.

It is everything I had dreamed of… stunningly beautiful, a long golden sandy beach, fringed with palm trees, high mountains as a backdrop and not a fellow backpacker in sight! There was not one building, not even a bamboo hut on the island… this is what I had been talking about! We unload the boat and say goodbye to Ruel. Hopefully he would come back for us in two weeks, there was no phone coverage on The Island…

Deserted beach on our paradise island

We found a place to hang our hammocks, mosquito nets and tarpaulin and cleared the ground of some bushes and banana trees, getting cut and scratched in the process. We made a fire to cook the rice and got ready to watch the sunset on our first night on the island.

However, our plans of a relaxing evening were thwarted as we are swarmed by a high cloud of mosquitos and sand flies! Perhaps attracted by the fire? Crazy stuff! We hid in our hammocks, got away with just a few bites and went hungry for the night! No way of getting out from under the net! This survivor island would take a little getting used to…

The first night was a bit unnerving, and we hardly slept. The massive jungle behind us was alive with insects, birds, monkeys and the ground was moving with life. We thought that we hears the sound of a large animal under our hammocks – but not sure what it is… imagination ran wild.

Surviving in Paradise

So what did we do during our time on the island? Every day we woke up at the crack of dawn. Our days were spent mostly bathing in the sea and attempting to fish with a broken spear-gun that we borrowed from Ruel. The little fish were all near the rocks and I kept getting cut as I attempt to fish. After hours and hours each day, sunburnt and exhausted, I came away with just a few little fish to go with our 15kg of rice!

Other than that – we made fires, cooked the rice, snorkeled, swam, drank some Tanduay, sang, laughed, just felt free and happy… how could you not in a place like this? My job in England seemed a million miles away.

Not a backpacker in sight!

One day we saw some big tracks and discovered that there were seven big monitor lizards living near our camp. We decided one day to try to catch one – not kill – just catch and have a closer look at it – by digging a big hole in the ground and putting a few fish in it and take some photos. We waited and waited and waited… the lizard approached, took one look at the bait and retreated! They are cleverer than we thought! The next morning, we awake to see that the fish are gone… much cleverer than we thought!

Our trap for the monitor lizard!

Reflections

We were certainly beginners to surviving on our own in paradise, things were difficult at first (the flies, the fishing, the anxiety) and we were hungry a lot of the time! But I certainly felt that sense of freedom that I have never felt anywhere else. Time ceased to exist and we just lived day by day with no commitments other than surviving. So many people in the West have never experience such a basic way of life for even just a day.

When it was time to go back to the civilized world, I felt like one dream had ended and it was time for another one to begin…

Amazon Tribe Huaorani - By Bowers Fashion

A JOURNEY INTO THE AMAZON: LIVING WITH THE HUAORANI TRIBE – PART 1

Lying here in the swinging hammock motorised by the hands of Penti’s beautiful 5 year old granddaughter E’ta, her warm smile contagious with the spider monkey playing mischievously, a cool breeze after returning from my first tribal hunt…

 

I’ve never known fear until I reached Ecuador.

 

Surprises

After what felt like days, changing in Miami since 9/11 brings with it heightened security through connecting flights. Finally arriving in Quito after no sleep since London as 22 hours had passed, I reached my hotel. Tired and exhausted I open my room door past midnight to be pleasantly surprised by the comfortable arrangements. But still the curiosity of the city, a new humid country full of culture forced me into the shower to clean up and head out for a brief hour. Ready to leave I decide not to bring much, with $50 and some smokes I venture out from the hotel to flag a taxi, a couple stop with a smile and ask where I’m going, I replied smiling “comer y cerbeza” – food and beer – which lifted their smiles higher. Stopping to let me out at a small lit stall I asked how much, they said $2, I replied “yo prefer $5”.

After 2 beers and chorizo with chips I flagged a taxi, the driver had an average build although distinctly coughed flem and spat out the window. He drove past what I found in my few hours of stay to be familiar. Before stopping and asking again the name of my hotel; Inca Imperial. I later found this to be a somewhat of an unknown hotel, possibly due to the high competition engrossed in a centre mass of side streets, he phoned his friend and spoke softly only raising his voice to show the name of the hotel, a recognition to me that he was taking me there.  We went left, he stopped and ask to see the name of the hotel on my key, once given he tooted the horn, I held out my hand to  return the key, he turned and looked at me as though looking straight through me, glazed and distant but somewhat focussed. The stare felt like hours before both doors to my sides flew open. I struggled and the man on my right held his body weight heavy on my inside arm. The man on my left the same but different. Either a knife or screwdriver pressed against my left throat, pulling both arms back in a crucifix position the driver sprayed my entire face with what I found later to be tear gas foam.

I was being robbed.

And only been there for 5 hours.

Pain surged through my face opening my eyes once fuelled agony shooting further behind my eyes, it was horrible. The silent man on my left moved the sharp edge into my ribs, the man on my right looked for one clean connecting blow shouting loud for “dinero”, when I spoke he replied with “KAYATE puto de madre” “KAYATE” . As we drove on what must have been 10-15 minutes of rummaging through my pockets and shoes followed with more punches the man on my right stood up knee to knee, moved me to where he was, opened the door and out I went from the moving car.

I was standing in a slum crossroad which could only be described as a favella.

I shouted “policia” to be answered only by 20 or more dogs barking from all sides. Went on the northern road, running blind to find nothing, stopped. Focused. Separating the barks from the noise of engines. South. Now a race to get back to the hotel before they did with the key. Holding my hand out I was blind, exhausted and in a race. Literally jumping onto the motorway with eyes closed waving both arms a man stopped, did’nt really need to say anything.

The police showed little concern; they laughed and made jokes thinking a gringo would never understand. Opening my room back at the hotel to find it as I left it bright a sigh of relief, a mischievous side of me smiled and thought:

I’ve been hit harder by a girl

Enjoy your $37.

The Journey

Waking up in Quito the next morning was a shock to the system, up and out, first stop, sunglasses.

Quito is a hard place to describe, the slums are apparent within the centre streets, some men dressed in old worn suits with no intention to have a day in the office.  The atmosphere was dry and stale, local music played in my favourite part of the city, the park. Grabbing the few last needed supplies the few smiles received were complimented only with the change of dollars. One day here is enough; I bought a tomahawk which fits perfectly in my long leg pocket in the Bear Grylls style Craghoppers, it’s a dreaded thought returning to volunteer at the orphanage when I return back from the Amazonian tribe. The next morning with all my travel gear I flagged an intelligently selected taxi, the driver had a kind face and wore a shirt and tie, we laughed about true Scotsman and how cold it is under the kilts. The girl at the ticket desk made allot of eye contact through the sunglasses hiding the eyes and cut face. She giggled and played with her hair as I pulled out the passport from down the front of my jeans. $10 to Coca, I’m on my way.

Arriving in Coca with a new found friend, David was 26 and from Canada, a pleasure to be with he has no problems smiling and greets people with a kind presence.  We shared a bus and moved seats when our driver was given a speeding ticket, the police made everyone come off the bus, changing was fine and we arrived in coca safely. A carpenter by trade David was travelling to Peru’s capital Iquitos to meet a friend as business back home was slow.

His Spanish was much better than mine as he negotiated a twin room to share, the next night we drank back a few beers and said goodbye as it was time for him to continue on to Peru, and for me to keep going further into the jungle.

I needed a guide, the next morning I went down to the tourist information hoping to find a bushman to show me the survival tactics of the Amazon and the way to the Huaorani indigenous. No one spoke English when I got there, for such a detailed request it was difficult to understand the specifics. One guide made out what he could of my story and phoned two shady looking lads who agreed to take me as far as X, leave me with a tent somewhere in the rainforest, then someone will come to take me to Y to meet the tribe.

Meeting the Tribe

Recommended by the tourism information this was my only option as the guide I came to find, Pato Juanak, wasn’t in town. We agreed on $100 per day, walking back to the hotel for my bagpack a man with a case full of maps stopped me. He spoke slow Spanish for once I absorbed every word.  He asked how I’d come to speak to the two men at the rio Napo docs and what were my intentions? His speed doubled with his hand on my shoulder to take me back to the waterfront, who should I trust? This guy looked shadier than the two I’d just shook hands with, and I’ve just agreed to go with them; trying to stop and turn back he almost pulled me round the corner.

And then I knew why…

Walking towards me was a small stalky tribesman; his genes brought with them raised cheekbones and long hair as he carried 2 fingers and 1 thumb on his left hand. Now side by side I asked if he was going to be my guide, without looking at me his chin held high as he stared straight forward to reply…. “si”

His name was Penti, and from this moment forward he proved to be somewhat of a protector. We agreed on $120 per day, I couldn’t stop smiling, think he liked me too. My luck had changed as Penti never came to town, he was here for the private tribal “fiesta” supplies, which I would now be a part of, and later learned I was about to be the first person to visit them alone, without a guide or translator and travel with the actual tribe themselves as they went home.

Heading back to the hotel for my bagpack we agreed on 1 hour to meet back at the waterfront, walking back we met again he was coming to my hotel, from the bank I withdrew 8 days of dollars and handed 4 days in a half now half when I’m still alive deal. He asked me to wait at the rio Napo.

Time had passed as his son came to check on me, brining me to a dark back street to wait, puppies and chickens locked in cages next to food stalls, homes made from sheet metal, eyes followed my every move, local men walked closer to stare through eyebrows from inches away, I would not have been there on my own. Penti came round the corner with 2 elderly ladies, 2 young women one with a baby, 3 teenage boys 1 teenage girl and a small girl with a puppy. Very difficult to put into words the way Penti’s 5 year old grandaughter E’ta pushed through the locals sizing me up to show an enourmous beaming smile with tiny baby teeth and huge brown eyes, in seconds I felt soothed just by the gesture its self, taking my hand off the tomohawk handle.

The Waorani tribe had come for the celebration supplies, by truck for two hours they sat in the back with chickens and my bagpack, I sat in the front with the driver, it was late when we arrived at a jungle lodge where I happily let go of $10 for a private room. The next morning waking at 6:45 we left to take a 10 hour motorised canoe along the rio Shiripuno, by 07:00 we were on our way but not everyone that was there the night before was present, before I’d arrived they had already loaded the supplies as Penti added my bagpack to the mix sliding down the mud he pointed up at the oil pipes changing the pointed finger to a stern closed fist, Penti spoke broken Spanish well but not native, he explained a story about oil companies.  Sitting in the canoe they smiled and greeted me with curious touching of my tattoos. I couldn’t help notice they cherished the large new supply they had come by, and was happy to be a part of the fiesta catering.

Watches for men - Amazon Tribe Huaorani - by Bowers Fashion

A Journey Into the Amazon: Living with the Huaorani Tribe – Part 2

Into the Rainforest

The motorised boat drove fast with the wind and water rushing past I opened the bag pack to find the bandana and noticed the poncho rain cover jacket which I gave to the lady holding a baby as with the arm rest seat. Within the hour we came to a tribal camp on the waterfront, stopping to get out my head still moves from side to side, we ascend up the hill to the living huts, dogs whined at the hands of tribal women in hand made hammocks while the chickens ran after a puppy, in the shadows unnoticeable at first but right in front was a Waorani hunter male. 


The jungle had shown its ways on this one eyed practically naked man, large ear pierced holes came down from this noble and humbled warrior. He saw the camera despite my best efforts to hide it, consciously he touched his missing eye and returned to the cabin. I hope to this magnificent person again.

Invited into the main living quarter for water and eggs I walk in smiling to show a person with no harmful intent, the living space was dark with no window, 7 people sat in a room approximately 4m x 3m telling stories together which I’d expected were similar to when any family meets. Returning to the canoe where we began our voyage deeper into the heart of the Amazon basin, along the way I filmed our route into the ever growing depth of plant life, swamp and thousands of creatures silently judging our presence. Birds constantly flew at the speed of the boat, turtles jumped from their logs when passing, Penti stopped the canoe to show a boa snake wrapped around a tree branch, they poked it with sticks and threw twigs until it moved. We passed several albino caiman, butterflies flew past the atmosphere was fantastic, the smell of the jungle settled every time we slowed down I expected it to smell the same as growing up as a child in Thailand but it was very different, more pungent and thick, the swamp smell was surprisingly sweet with a tropical must. After 8 hours in the canoe a storm arose, when thunder came the tribe count  fingers, sitting on a wooden makeshift bench complemented with heavy rain crashing down. I gave my comfy seat and rain jacket with hood to the lady with the baby Daboto but this did not go unnoticed and for the following 8 days she kept an eye on me to see I was fed and given water. The last 2 hours on the boat was hell but we got there eventually, it was dark when we arrived on the water front under outlines of  pitch black trees, shadows stood meters around me, I was completely unexpected, someone took my bag in the blackness only vivid shapes reflected partial moon light, with hands and feet I made it up the mudslide barely able to walk after the 10 hour wooden plank, head still swaying, with a broken arse I collapsed in my hammock.

Waking up at 05:45 a spider monkey was swinging from and pulling up the mosquito net. Clucking throats and excited “oooh ooh” giggles came as though pulling up a ladies skirt in public. It became a game to see how much the little monkey with long limbs could swing on the net before I clapped my hands or stood up. The game then turned into how close pee could be dropped from above without actually hitting me. A few days went and closer and closer until one day I knew the monkey would sit on top of the net and drop bombs, ultimately winning the game. For this occasion I’d engineered a cunning plan; to leave a wasp in one of the bananas….

But that day never came, no one won the game, this morning she didn’t swing on my net, I found out her name is Digi, and she rolled back my sleeping bag and quietly woke me. She turned her back and through the mosquito net I stroked her shoulders and neck. She came under the net with a tail around my arm, with a hand on my chest she fell asleep.

The Indigenous

After being here for 4 days I still can’t understand why some wear t-shirts, why some are topless and why some are naked, think it comes down to personal choice. We were in the jungle every single day, each time I was bitten and so were they, makes more sense to help prevent this? I love my new found relationship with the Huaorani, I met them alone and seldom to people come here, I’ve seen a video of a tour of 8 people visiting and staying for 3 days, a question put to Penti, the average length of stay was confirmed never usually more than 3 but in the Tribal Wives documentary the team stayed for 5 days, in the video’s the tribe came down to the waterfront to welcome them with traditional sing and dance. Valued as a long standing tradition it seems to aid the limited (if any) tourism which help fund Penti’s meetings with the United Nations to fight the political wars on logging and oil, in turn protecting the Tagaeri and Taromenane the completely un-contacted living very close to us. I requested that Penti spread the word around the village that in no way will I intrude in their lifestyle and prefer to go unnoticed on my hammock, or walking through the jungle with them.

I came here alone, the first person to ever visit them without a guide or translator, my visit was unexpected and for much longer than normal.

It’s been a bit chaotic, they wanted to know why I was there, what my job was, my families work…

But I’ve seen the real Huaorani, that was my goal. They are traditional and methodical, they use medicine from the jungle, the primary camp is next to an enormous sacred tree of life, which I touched today as a bat flew inches from my fingers.

Tonight I need to move into a smaller hut, Penti explained for the fiesta over 100 Huaorani will visit for the once a year tribal celebration. Everyone’s excited, the fruit we collected on the canoe has covered various faces and both my arms, however accepted in truth I’ve been shown boundaries, I eat with Penti’s immediate family never with the senior tribe members or the hunter males, they stay up late over the fire chanting and reflecting which I’m happy to see from a distance. 

A new morning today and more family greet me with informal broken Spanish “dias” or “buenos” from the few who venture out to Coca, although many look to question why I am here. For breakfast a charred boar head came off the fire, I noticed my carving below the left eye and smiled again remembering the cheek is considered somewhat as a delicacy, the taste blew my mind. Later in the afternoon I came back to write, I don’t understand why but the mass of crowd have left, no one’s here I’m alone except for middle aged lady crying outside my hut. She swings her legs from the raised log where the cries come in long drawn rhythm, as though a chant for when you feel sad, she looks to her right in anticipation, but not to see me through the cracks in the panels. 

Just back from a trip in the canoe the rapids and strong currents forced us to the upstream banks, we pulled the plants and trees to make it through the stronger centre flow, small yellow birds played and each time you look down a new insect is crawling on you. The calm water in small pools so still they seemed notorious for feeding grounds, different noises layered the plants growing through the thick brown water, I’d like to know the what’s beneath but maybe a thought best left to the imagination. 


Arriving back to find on the small grassy centre hill where a stretch of grass separates the huts, 4 elders stand in a circle constantly active shredding vines with their fingers or sharp edges to free wood from its bark. I can’t help but wonder about the 5 journalists who were speared years ago before visitations were approved. Now a motion picture I know the incident occurred in Huaorani territory on a long grassy landing strip and can’t help but wonder if the actors played the roles of these men, or their fathers.  

They didn’t like me or my camera.

Daily Life

My new hut seems to be the a housing for a female chicken, she’s laid 4 new eggs in the corner and since I’d gone unnoticed quietly writing, the neck feathers are now raised high and wings are spread in defence over the eggs, I stand up as the wind blows the cloth which acts as my door, it’s the last I see of her. 

I’ll take them to Penti he’ll be happy for the new eggs, I enter his family hut to find relatives and his partner, I hand her what turned out to be 7 eggs and made a sleeping gesture, they roared in laughter as though I’d shit them out myself. 

I’m sure the hunting men had special names for me like “princess balls” or “girly man” which is fine, I’m not being speared.

Sitting in the open grass observing the tribes play football a mature teenage girl comes and speaks, 10 minutes with her I’ve leaned enough to answer the previous questions asked, an elder tribesman walks past and frowns, tilts his head and walks on glaring. She assures me some senior members are traditional and not to worry. Reality still kicks in from the things seen here; walking with the hunting party through the rainforest, boars and monkeys over shoulders covered in blood, for centuries relying on the jungle for what they need and matching that with their own tools provided by the environments, spears, blowpipes, fire and medicine culminate the priority list bringing true culture with shaman’s visions and a genuine delicate touch to the things around them. The taller men are a few inches shorter than me whereas back in Scotland think I’m just below the average height, they walk with raised chests which rest their long hair I believe packs of dogs have once influenced their ways. They growl in day to day conversation and when all goes quiet a human wolf howl breaks the silence. In dances the girls chant in a circle and the boys form a triangle with the eldest at the frontal point panting loudly “hah hah hwooooooo” before howling as a group in sync. Some men smile wide showing teeth while talking followed directly with an immediate frown of anger, this happens in as commonly as the conversation itself, it’s hard to tell if they’re telling a funny story or very pissed off.

Eating around the fire today I saw my friend Digi for the first time since moving huts, as the small spider monkey came forward I crouched, hesitant and cautious before suddenly running into my stomach with the tail around my arm and shoulder, I’m one of the few who don’t kick her.

I haven’t written for a while, allot has changed, I made a joke about being nervous when I first arrived like charades I scratched the side of my neck, looked left then to my feet and picked my nose mumbling. The whole camp loved this gesture and now when I see people they do it back. By the next morning everyone in our  community was doing it when they saw me laughing hysterically, I did it back as they almost fell over. To laugh at yourself seemed to be the key. They could also see now I showed no signs of being awkward, very much relaxed with them.  One man in particular who held stern face, a physically strong hunter male and from the beginning I thought he’d been plotting to turn me into a baguette… this afternoon he stood next to me as I watched the young ones start the field fires for the fiesta, he folded both arms, sharp eyes pierced the thick brow below the straight line traditional fringe. He looked at me, I looked back, he looked away and smiled almost holding in a laugh. Yea he wanted to do the nervous joke thing, but far too honourable for shenanigans.  When I’d returned later back I found waiting in my hut an old senior frail man, with a long grey moustache he sat cross legged for me to join him. I laid out a world map from Coca tourist information, offered him a smoke which he accepted and pointed to highlight Ecuador on the map, the Amazon, equilateral line through to the Congo and on to Asia. Circling Europe I ended the shape at Scotland and put my hand on my chest. He took some time staring down and pointed at the Antarctic and the mass of white. I made a gesture of being cold; we sat for around 15 minutes as he conducted his completely silent interview.

La Selva

After this day I sat with the group unnoticed, mostly just watching them play football with my paper and pen, they had adopted the sport and somewhat revitalised the way it’s played. The Huaorani in our village had enormous strong flak jacket feet, the thick bottom layer had grown into dark yellow armour which in some cases had almost reached as high as the ankle bone. The girls played rough rugby football, a large slap bellowed each time the ball whizzed from the kick they’d give the rugby boys back home a run for their money. One player was around 7 months pregnant; they all used their chest to stop the ball, combined with shoulders this also acted as an offensive battering ram.

Penti showed me the ways of their people in what felt like the final time we would go together on another adventure through the selva, he was a very busy man during this celebrations and took me with an armed hunter for what I think was protection. Delicately opening a circular leaf to show the colors of a red caterpillar, before closing it very softly leaving it exactly as he found it. Such a contrast from the flying spears and blood baths witnessed before, to the now soft careful considerations. Before me stood for the second time the enormous ancient tree, this is more than a jungle, it flourishes with wonder, flocks of tropical coloured birds unsettle as they flash colours through the playful monkeys observing our presence, a spiders silhouette lay on a leaf above my head. The silent quicksand  waits to help the tribe claim food, the red leaves serve a purpose to mark trees with petroglyphs, orange and blue butterflies land to investigate and lush green leaves surround us with water drop reflecting the sun. Penti and the hunter that smiles with frowns seem more than interested in my video documentary and when alone with them it feels very different as when filming and not trying to hide the lens when in public. They want to know how many people will view my video, and possibly choose to visit the Huaorani. The writings I’d made lying on my hammock- how many will read this and venture into meet them; ultimately bringing finance to help Penti campaign with the UN for land rights oil and logging. 

Arriving back at camp to be greeted by an indigenous Huaorani women who had probably never been out the territory, practically naked she greeted with a smile held up by large raised cheekbones, enormous feet and few remaining teeth encompassed in her scarred face, I wondered what people at work would do if they saw her walk through the doors and log into a PC.

I played the nervous charade joke hoping she’d heard the news, she confirmed as her knees gave into the laughter…. 
I was back in the community and welcomed well for the beginning of an incredible celebration. 

Something’s Left Unsaid

I’ve left many things out of these tales with the contacted region of this mystical Amazonian society.

If you’d like to know more for yourself come to Equador alone or with a friend, head to the Orellana province, do not speak to any guides and find a Huaorani who likes you, and be prepared to properly shit your pants.

Stop washing your hair, wearing deodorant and putting anything on your feet, especially in the jungle.

The dirtier you are the less they notice you.

The more I smelled the closer they came.

You will never be one of them, they are the proud Huaorani 
and you are a tourist.  

The untrue smiles in the first few days will stop, to be exchanged for small touches and an honest consideration. 

They’re curious about us too and for a short time you can feel the ways of their lifestyle while in careful hands. 

 

Sourced Image: watches for men – into the amazon

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