Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Another Thing to Pack

As I get ready to leave I've found that one of the best and worst parts of starting you own business is buying things. On the down side it gets very expensive very quickly but on the upside there are some pretty interesting products out there to buy. Of course as an ecotourism company most of the products that have caught my attention relate directly to the outdoors and camping but a few find uses in other situations as well.  The following are the coolest of the many outdoor products that I have had the fortune of finding and buying. Unfortunately almost all my stuff is packed away so a couple these images were combed off the net.

Nothing revolutionary here, just simply neat. Yes I am a child and you can add your ridicule to that of my friends but I don’t care.  I have always loved Nalgene bottles because they provide an ecofriendly way to keep yourself hydrated and they are ridiculously resilient. Add the fact that things that glow always attract attention and you have a winning way to quench your thirst.

Despite being able to sleep anywhere and everywhere I still prefer my nights to be as comfortable as possible.  Unfortunately taking my double bed out into the bush is a little impractical and I am not a fan of hammocks.  So I was quite happy to find that there are some excellent air mattresses on the market.  This is a very light weight air mattress that folds up very small, the main selling point for me though was how it inflates.  Most light air mattresses require you to get blue in the face blowing it up, but this one has the pump built inside which means you can be sleeping comfortably within a few minutes without too much effort.

Following the trend in simple camping accessories these are a must if you plan to be anywhere damp.  Nothing new in camping tech I would only say that they are a lot more accessible and come in a larger variety of sizes, shapes and brands than they used to. The seal line backpacks are designed similarly to most dry bags but don’t seal as well as most dry bags. This means you can’t submerge them for too long but they will keep your stuff totally dry in even the biggest downpour. They are probably the most comfortable way to carry around stuff you want to keep dry as I can attest to after many a day riding around Toronto in the rain. 


The most expensive item on the list, but by no means a wasted investment.  You can buy some really cheap binoculars out there but most times in the field they are no help or actually make it harder to look at wildlife.  Some of the lower priced quality binoculars are a huge step up but usually are fairly chunky and not as resilient. Water proof, excellent image quality and good range, in my opinion this set of binoculars are the best value pair on the market.
                1   Steripen Sidewinder

By far the most popular gizmo among my friends and easily my first choice, this thing couldn’t be much better.  Steripen has long been known for making quality water purification systems but this time they have outdone themselves. By combining their UV sterilizing light with a rig that allows you to power it mechanically they have created a purifier that gives you clean water anywhere any time without batteries. Aside from having an excellent core concept it’s all the little things that make it great.  It can detect if there is water in the bottle so you aren’t unnecessarily using the UV light, it lets you know when you have finished purifying the water and the crank handle stores away into the body of the purifier for a smaller profile when not in use.

You may have noticed that almost all of these products have to do with water in some capacity but that’s to be expected considering my destination.  Know of some other cool outdoor items? Let me know in the comments.

-Intrepid Explorer


Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Glamor of Starting Your Own Buisness

Any electric engineers in the audience?
So you want to start your own business? not wealthy? and you have student loans to pay? Well do we have the life for you! There is no way to approach a new business without spending a considerable amount of money. As much as I have tried to keep costs low there are a ton of expenses small and large that come with this type of project.  As a result I've had to make a few changes in my life while still here in Toronto.  The biggest has been giving up my apartment. The possibility of saving a few hundred dollars in rent money overrode any considerations to my personal comfort.   So bring on the couch surfing! or should I say floor surfing, few people have a couch big enough for me to sleep on.  

For the first little while it went well but after a couple of weeks I started to miss having my own place. Even on those nights where you manage to have the room to yourself you are always aware that this is not your room.  While bouncing from friend to friend has not turned out to be the funnest way to spend a month and a half its a small sacrifice to make. But not every moment has been bad, an epic sandwich can go a long way to lift sagging spirits. Friends also have done there part and I want to thank all of them that have made this transition easier. Beyond keeping me from sleeping under a bridge they have been sounding boards for ideas, given me suggestions for my website, and helped out in a hundred other little ways. Soon I will be on to my next and final piece of floor which is a welcome thought. But there is no familiar bed on the horizon for me so I guess its a good thing I learned a longtime a go to make any place my home.

-Intrepid Explorer

Saturday, 28 May 2011

It all starts somewhere

I can`t explain why I have always been so fascinated by nature. Like many boys I chased frogs, collected bugs and generally enjoyed any activity that ended with me covered in dirt.  But I would venture to say my interest went beyond that of many my age.  Nature shows successfully competed with morning cartoons, campgrounds where the preferred choice over hotel rooms and zookeeper, intrepid explorer and paleontologist topped my future career goals. So it may not be surprising that when I found a hard covered book simply titled Rainforests I had to have it. Maybe only 40 pages long, that book was read and reread until it literally fell apart. As much as I enjoyed reading the pages it was the images that truly captured my attention. Few things sparked my imagination like the photos of frogs, flowers, rivers and of course dense forests.  Soon enough my fantasy vacation spots switched from Disneyworld to Borneo, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon. Ill admit it I was, and still am, a nature nerd.

As the years passed my desire to visit these natural gems didn’t go away. Before going to University I took my first visit to the Amazon which only peeked my interest and curiousity. After finishing my degree in zoology at the University of Toronto I was compelled to pursue an idea that came to me after my first visit.  I wanted to share what I had seen with other people but do it better.  As much as I enjoyed my initial trip there were a number of things that I thought I could do better. First was the knowledge base, many guides were either ignorant or misinformed about much of what was around them.  Second was the concern for the environment, few if any tours showed a real interest in conserving or protecting the forests and wildlife.  So after graduating I again set out to the Amazonian Rainforest, this time with a clear cut goal. To find a location that would allow me to show people the true beauty of Amazon in a way that both educated visitors and protected this spectacular ecosystem.

Despite having a clear idea as to what I wanted to do it was not easy making progress.  At the outset I had no contacts, no idea where I could set up and a hazy memory of exactly where and what I had done during my first trip.  So I decided my best option was to volunteer, to see how other companies functioned, to make contacts and to gained experience.  This turned out to be a good strategy, I got to see how different operators worked from the level of guides all the way to administration. However despite gaining a lot of knowledge and experience I still had the problem of finding the right site.  During a stint volunteering at the National Park Amacayacu I was taken to the indigenous community of San Martin.  Almost immediately I recognized the potential this community had for providing a unique experience.  So I decided to stay with them and after many discussions and a few arguments with members of the community and their leaders we agreed to work together.

The community primarily is made up of individuals from the Ticuna tribe and so I thought it would be appropriate to name the company using their language.  One of the animals that has always fascinated me is the boa and so the name was quickly decided on. Yoi: meaning large boa in the Ticuna language.  I didn’t have too much time to stay with them before I had to return to Toronto but I took advantage of the little that I had.  

I’ve been back in Toronto a few months now rapping up my life here and preparing to move indefinitely to the Amazon. I am both excited and terrified.  My things are packed, my business cards are printed, the website  is almost done.  Only 2 weeks left before I’m on a flight to Colombia, after which the true odyssey will begin.

While the website is wrapping up check out our facebook page.

-Intrepid Explorer