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Published: September 19th 2011
If you swim with Aligators, something will happen to you. Sounds obvious I know but when the Napo Wildlife Lodge in the Amazon said 'you can swim in the lake' they didn't say it was infested with Aligators. Two nights later we found lots of Aligators, some the size of a large torpedo, on the lake close to our huts. Still the nice man in the green shirt reassured me with 'they've not attacked anyone yet'!
My problem ended up not being the Aligators, but more the microscopic bugs I consumed while flailing around in the murky waters. Overnight vomiting and a day or more on my back ensued but I had already seen lots of birds, monkeys, insects, spiders, frogs and even a pig to justify the trip. But the most amazing thing of all was just being there. Being within the jungle. It was so dense, like an Aussie rainforest gone mad. And it was full of foreign sounds that would spook a child under 69. I learned a valuable lesson in there. Don't stand still for too long. I did, and my rubber boots got invaded by ants that bit my leg furiously. I guess I was in the way!
Now I'm a bit of a closet Eco-Greenie type and I am naturally concerned about the disappearance of the Amazon rainforest, especially since it impacts the worlds climate. So I was pleased to learn about the business-Eco model that the Napo centre has successfully deployed. The whole tribal community, some 130 of them, no longer hunt for food, cut trees down and plant vegetables. Instead they have built this wonderful Eco friendly lodge for us tourists to enjoy. Since 1998, the hunters are now the guides and are ably led by a qualified naturalist. All people in the community work on the lodge in some way and get paid. If they are caught hunting or clearing trees, they won't get paid for six months and will still not be able to hunt. Other communities are looking at the model. Let's hope it works out for them too.
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