Truly isolated from the modern world it is only possible to arrive at Kapawi by air as the road nearest The Lodges is a ten-day walk away. Visitors leave from the small jungle town of Shell, the Achuar people’s administrative centre outside of the rainforest. The light plane ride over the dense vastness of the emerald rainforest canopy is an awe-inspiring experience and is one of the highlights of a stay at Kapawi. From the clearing in the jungle that forms the small landing strip, guests continue to The Lodges by canoe. As the canoe noses along the Pastaza and Capahuari rivers, there may be an opportunity to spot the unique, mystical, but highly endangered Amazon pink river dolphin.
Kapawi’s 19 traditionally constructed thatched cabins are grouped around a black water lagoon and are connected to the communal buildings via a raised boardwalk. The cabins, which stand on stilts, are spacious, well ventilated and fully screened against insects. Each has a private bathroom, solar heated water (not consistently available) and a balcony where you can relax and attune yourself to the rhythm of jungle life.
A stay at Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve, which is owned and run by the Achuar Nation, offers guests the unique opportunity to visit and interact with local Achuar communities. Rather than simply a quick photo opportunity, however, guests are invited into local homes where they are offered chicha, an important local drink made from yuca, which heralds the start of a fascinating cultural exchange as guests learn what it is like to live in total isolation, in a place where time and date have no meaning and where the jungle provides all you need to survive. Some itineraries at Kapawi offer an opportunity to camp overnight within the community for a near total immersion experience. There are good opportunities to purchase the excellent handicrafts made by community members from natural materials gathered in the jungle.
The rainforest around Kapawi is explored in the company of both an Achuar guide and a bi-lingual naturalist who, together, explain the complexities of the rainforest from both an ecological perspective and in a cultural context. In addition to traditional hikes, Kapawi also offers exclusive excursions and events that include private river cruises by candlelight, a traditional Achuar wedding ceremony and a Natem spiritual cleansing ceremony with a Shaman. A visit to Kapawi makes an important contribution to the conservation of the rainforest in the area and the Auchar Nation’s way of life.