Huaorani are hunters and gatherers and their main sources of protein are mammals (yes, including monkeys), fish and birds. The goals of this project are to preserve the traditional practices of the Huaorani culture and, in turn, to protect both the people and the tropical rain forest. After breakfast, a Huaorani guide will accompany you on a long nature hike into the forest. The local guides are also experienced hunters and they will teach you the secrets of rain forest survival without killing any of the creatures that live there. You’ll learn how to set traps, make fire without matches, build a shelter in minutes, use a blowgun, practice the perfect swing of the machete and catch fish in small creeks. Your guide will let you taste edible insects, identify medicinal plants, and show you which clay is used to make pottery. Then, change into your swimsuit and take a dip in the fresh river water, swimming beside the creatures of the Amazon. Do not worry, though, the animals won’t bite; humans are the only true threat in this jungle! The Huaorani will likely join you for the swim; the river plays a central role in their lives and they love to play in the water!
Spend the afternoon with the community and get to know them personally. The relaxed, informal visit may lead you to sharing a bowl of chucula (a sweet drink made of ripe bananas) or admire the beautiful handmade artifacts and learn about their woven hammocks and bags, blowguns, traps and necklaces. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Bi-cultural Ecology Education project and learn how to harvest manioc root, join in a game of ecua-volley or visit the community’s handicraft market. The production of crafts is one of the ways the Huaorani maintain their culture, and buying crafts is way to provide direct support the Huaorani families: it provides employment in the village and another reason to protect the natural areas around the community.
Return to the lodge by canoe to relax before dinner, then your naturalist guide will offer short discussion, or charla. Like the day before, if you’d like to extend your day and continue observing, ask your guide to bring you on a short night hike.