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

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