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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Back from the Amazon!

Hello friends and family!
We are headed back to our Sacred Valley home of Urubamba which marks the end of our expedition phase. During this time students took the group on an amazing journey to the Amazon. We took an overnight bus to Puerto Maldonado on the 20th of November and headed down into the jungle where the heat and the humidity of the Amazon welcomed us in like a hug from an old, plump, Peruvian caserita after a long time away from her delicious meals. We met Chris from Fauna Forever and he immediately plunged us into his love for biology and all things Amazonian from the Madre de Dios department.
The students provided us with a nice complimentary experience with our first stop in BOCA Pariamanu where a local Amahuaca people took us in to their newly built lodge, an ecotourism project that they have going for a year-and-a-half now and which helps to sustain the community and their practices. Chris and the students planned to have us learn about basket weaving, the local flora and fauna of the area, go on a couple of hikes through the dense forest with canopy shading us far above our heads, we shot bow and arrows, and ate local dishes. We also learned about the stories of the locals and how they had settled on this beautiful spot by the river. The river that both gives them life as well as strife. We learned of how the community is using the resources at it’s disposal  to create acts of conservation and awareness in the visitors that come as well as the community itself. It was a lovely way of seeing Conflict and Cooperation in action the theme that has run through the duration of our program.
After a night’s rest in Puerto Maldonado on Sunday we headed back up the river to an Eco-lodge and reserve called Las Piedras Amazon Center or LPAC. There we worked with Melanie and Cory to learn about different conservation projects and research questions happening in order to bring more awareness to this area of the world that provides such amazing biodiversity but that is rapidly disappearing through illegal hunting, logging, mining, etc.
Students and instructors alike, at the end of our time in the Amazon, were awed by the experience. Many participants shared that it had always been a dream of theirs to know this part of the world and now not only have we gotten to know a little part of the Amazon but they are taking their knowledge back to their respective homes in order to continue the conservation movement in other parts of the globe.
Students have managed all aspects of our time together the last ten days and have done an amazing job. Now they are ready to give the reigns back to the instructors for a bit in order for our time during transference to sink in. The next five days will be a time of reflection and integration of what all we have learned and how we will carry it with us back home. For transference we will be just outside of Urubamba. Look forward to hearing more stories about our experience in the Amazon and last reflections of our incredible journey together.
Un caluroso abrazo!
The Instructor Team