Author: Rachele Marini
Date of Trip: November 2011
I visited the traditional community of Xixuaú, in Brazil, thanks to a nonprofit organization (Amazônia Association) and it was a really marvellous experience.
The journey to Xixuaú, a small village in the Roraima state, is possible only travelling by boat from the city of Manaus, along the spectacular Rio Negro and then up the Rio Jauaperi.
Ecotourism at Xixuaú is runned by the local cooperative CoopXixuaú and offers the unique opportunity to get to know a region that is still pristine and largely unexplored, right in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
We were warmly welcomed by the community, who love to share the wonders of the rainforest, showing us around by canoe and on foot through the forest.
When the waters are high (March – September) you can paddle through the flooded forest, an absolutely magical experience; when the waters are low (October – February), you can relax on beautiful sandy beaches. The rainforest may change with the seasons, but in Xixuau it is always beautiful and full of life.
Accommodation is in round wooden malocas: palm-thatched huts built in the style of the neighbouring Waimiri- Atroari indigenous people. The food is wholesome, including delicious fresh fish, line-caught by local fishermen.
The area is home to giant river otters, armadillos, capuchin and spider monkeys, marmosets, tree frogs, tapirs, turtles, sloths, stunning butterflies and much more. A host of beautiful bird species make the reserve a bird watcher’s paradise, including toucans, herons, macaws, eagles, parakeets and woodpeckers. The rivers teem with fish, from rainbow bass and surubim, to aruana and pacu. Pink river dolphins often accompany the canoe trips, while howler monkeys make the forest roar above us. Wildlife can also be found right inside the community itself – like the giant caiman that love the scraps from the Xixuau kitchens!
Our guide taught us about the river-dwelling ‘ribeirinho’ people of Xixuau, experts in rubber-tapping, the brazil-nut harvest, animal tracking and indigenous crafts.
Visiting Xixuau made us know the Amazon rainforest and its beauty through the experience of its inhabitants, their traditions and their history.
Ecotourism as a low-impact, sustainable economic activity is particularly well suited for the Amazon because it combines environmental preservation with the socioeconomic needs of the local populations. For many impoverished forest and riverside communities ecological tourism is beginning to provide a viable income alternative to common predatory practices such as illegal mining, logging, and poaching.
Ecotourism also brings other benefits to remote Amazon communities, such as improvements in health, education, technical assistance and training, as well as community participation in the decision-making process.
The responsible choice in favor of ecotourism is a unique opportunity to contribute to the preservation of the region’s habitat. It is also a great way to visit the rain forest and experience the local culture and way of life. For more details, I suggest to contact directly firstname.lastname@example.org.