Located four hours downstream from where binocular-toting tourists board boats to discover the gifts that the Amazon has to offer, the Siona indigenous people living in rainforest communities already know. They have hunted the lands and fished the rivers of the Cuyabeno rainforest for generations.
With more than 400 types of trees, more than ten different kinds of monkeys, diverse bird populations, a plethora of snakes and other slithery creatures, and even caimen—to name but a few of the jungle’s offerings—it is no wonder that eco-tourism has found its way here. The indigenous community of Siyoqueya, however, is located just outside its current reach. And while the community shares its native land with the eco-lodges that operate, this community currently sees none of the benefit. The nearest school is accessible only by boat, and there is no community water system.
There is a distinct age gap in the generations of those gathered to meet with us. Children play and elders offer history, but those representing the generations in between, seduced by opportunities to earn income outside the Cuyabeno, are the least represented.
A locally owned eco-lodge would stimulate economic development for the Siona people and would increase opportunities for young people to stay in the Cuyabeno, preserving cultural traditions by sharing them with future generations and tourists alike.
It is clear to us that the people of Siyoqueya are eager to be responsible stewards of the forest while improving their own living conditions. The anaconda, believed to be the Queen of the jungle, showed herself during our visit, and our indigenous guides believe this to be a sign of good things to come for the jungle. We also believe.