Feline Conservation Federation Promises Photographic Adventure at Playa de Oro Reserve in Ecuador

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April 9 to 18 the Feline Conservation Federation is hosting an eco-tour to Playa de Oro Reserva de Tigrillos, in the coastal Choco Rainforest of Ecuador.

Have you ever dreamed of walking through a South American rainforest where jaguar and ocelot prowl and colorful parrots dart through the jungle?

The Feline Conservation Federation has made that dream a reality, hosting Eco-Tours to Playa de Oro Reserva de Tigrillos, in the coastal Choco Rainforest of Ecuador. The next Eco-Tour date is April 9-18, 2005. Photographer Terri Nash will guide the guests in April.

Terri’s passion for travel and exploration have led her to photograph 34 different countries producing a collection of images which highlight some of the worlds most intriguing wildlife, landscapes, peoples, and cultures.

FCF member Bart Culver visited the reserve last November and says, “This is a real participatory adventure deep in the heart of the jungle, two and a half hours up the wild Santiago River, as far as a dugout canoe can take you, where there are no roads or power lines.”

Local inhabitants earn income by hosting visitors at the reserve's lodge, which is built of massive mahogany timbers and overlooks the green banks of the Santiago River.

From the Lodge’s long veranda, one watches hummingbirds hover over the flowers, flocks of parrots and toucans fly overhead, hawks soar on the current, and all manner of birds feeding on bananas, papayas, and anonas ripening in trees around the lodge. A network of trails leads off in all directions enabling guests to safely penetrate the lush rainforest in search of shyer species.

The nine-day adventure begins at Quito and includes two nights at a charming bed & breakfast in Quito, an afternoon at the Otavalo artisan's market and lodging that night at an Otavalo bed and breakfast, followed by six nights at the Playa de Oro Reserve lodge.

Visitors marvel at the pristine waterfalls and deep, clear swimming holes. Guests are ferried upstream to see the fascinating geological formation called ‘la Cathedral’ and downstream to visit the village and be treated to the children's dance performance. Culver says, “The villagers were the wisest, happiest, most gracious people I have ever met.”

In addition to lodging at Quito and Otavala, lodging and all meals at the reserve, jungle guides, river trips and day hikes are included in the $700 trip fee. Private transportation between Quito, Otavalo, Playa de Oro and back to Quito is also included.

A decade ago, Earthways Foundation, working in partnership with the hunter-gatherer villagers of Playa de Oro, designated the 25,000-acres of virgin rainforest as protected habitat for all species of indigenous jungle cats and the countless birds and other species of the forest. Providing eco-tours employs the villagers.

The cost to visit is less than a vacation in the Caribbean. The value is priceless. In addition to an unforgettable nature-filled vacation of rainforest sights, sounds and smells, your visit helps support this one of a kind community owned wildlife preserve.

Culver says, “They can teach us more then we can teach them. If we can help these pure and beautiful people protect their pristine environment simply by escaping into it, what a perfect victory for us all.”

FCF also maintains an on-going wildlife surveillance camera project to document the native species. Villagers work with FCF to rehabilitate native wildlife for release back into the protected reserve.

Feline Conservation Federation Director Tracy Wilson is organizing the upcoming April tour and says independent travel to the reserve can also be arranged.


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