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Secoya Territory

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Quito, Capital City of Ecuador
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At least 2 weeks prior...
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Council for Cultural & Biological Diversity
presents

July 21 - 31, 2017 (10 nights / 11 days)

August 5 - 18, 2017 (13 nights / 14 days)

Two grassroots, camping, wilderness,
profoundly joyous life experiences
for 16 travelers / journey

To receive a direct experience with Prehistoric Amazonian Medicine & her Indigenous Culture
For Personal, Community and Planetary Healing

To strengthen and renew the body,
mind and heart with endless possibilities
to change the outer world from within

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Come in solidarity
beholding the majesty of primary Rainforest
on the banks of the Aguarico River in the
Upper Ecuadorian Amazon
with elders and youth -
forest masters, traditional healers, visionaries, ethnobotanists, and tropical biologists.

We intend this event to be an unforgettable experience
with unforgettable people that in some way
will nourish, enrich and strengthen the root of your life.

For more information, please contact Dahlia Miller at:




A fundraiser to preserve rainforest
projects spearheaded by the
Council for Cultural and Biological Diversity
(4biodiversity.org)


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See Fotos En Route from the Andes to the Amazon

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THE SPIRIT OF THIS JOURNEY

Sentient Experientials' "Nature as Teacher and Timeless Wisdom for Self, Community and Planetary Healing" is an opportunity for the conscious traveler to experience the splendour of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest and meet some of her unpretentious forest-dwelling people.

This journey is designed for those who are genuinely concerned about the well-being of all species and who care for human communities, healing, and personal growth.

This event is a wilderness, grass-roots, intercultural experience coordinated, since 1995, by ethnobotanist Jonathon S. Miller Weisberger, whose work, with commitment and life-long dedication, is a collaboration of indigenous elders and youth. You will be in the company of forest masters, healers, visionaries, tropical biologists and ethnobotanists engaged in long term ground-level rainforest conservation projects and cultural heritage transmission among the generations.

The organizers of Sentient Experientials (SE) have a long-standing friendship based on dedicated years of work toward cultural and territorial autonomy with the Secoya Community, who live on the banks of the Aguarico River in the upper Amazon Province of Sucumbíos. We have been asked and invited by Secoya elders to host these journeys as a means of alternative economy for community members as well as a forum where an intercultural exchange can take place.

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STAFF

Your guide Jonathon with elders Rogelio and Tintin, and boat captain Miguel, on the Aguarico river, Secoya territory
Your guide Jonathon with elders Rogelio and Tintin, and boat captain Miguel, on the Aguarico river, Secoya territory

Jonathon S. Miller Weisberger is an Ethnobotanist, Conservation Biologist, Guide, Director of Fundación Osa / Council for Cultural & Biological Diversity. In Costa Rica, he is the founder and steward of Guaria de Osa Wilderness Centre & Ethnobotanical Gardens on the Osa Peninsula.

Jonathon is the author of Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science & Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon; published by North Atlantic Books in Berkeley, California. This is an epic GEM - visually a beautiful book to look at and an inspiration to read.

Since 1990 he has been actively involved in the Ecuadorian Amazon among five distinct Indigenous communities working on Rainforest Conservation and Cultural Heritage Projects with the Secoya, Kichua and Huaorani Peoples.

Born in Berkeley, California, he studied Deep Ecology with Bill Devall and Botany with Rudy Becking, legendary professors at Humboldt State University, who inspired him on the path of eco-centric awareness, environmental thinking and mindful action. Jonathon was one of the first guides to lead people in the 80's into Headwaters Forest in Northern California. Influencing further his intimate connection with Nature, Jonathon gives honorable gratitude to the Secoya, Kichua and Huaorani elders of Ecuador and to Australian Bill Mollison, father of Permaculture.

Jonathon's zest for life is contagious, his story telling is astonishing, and a hike with Jonathon cannot be missed! Ultimately, Jonathon's work is to support the re-awakening of humanity's harmonious relationship with Nature, a world-view of interconnectedness he considers to be the roots of a joyous life.

With Jonathon, as your guide and interpreter, a few other Indigenous leaders from other communities, and Secoya elders and youth, you will be introduced to an intercultural exchange with forest-dwellers of the Upper Napo Region of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

This includes:

  • an over-view of the area's bio-region;
  • an immersion into an Indigenous Paradigm where Nature is a Nurturing Teacher;
  • a direct experience with the important role plants play in life;
  • learning creative conservation strategies;
  • an empathetic re-enchantment with the complexities and undeniable importance of Rainforest survival with her Indigenous Gardeners for self, community, and planetary healing;
  • Sitting on large rocks along the river with the peacefulness of the forest washing all as probably will be seen in everyone's face.
  • while having a stellar experience!

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ENDORSEMENTS

"I directly experienced the spiritual depth, beauty and living presence of the rainforest-- the power and beauty of the earth, Pachamama, as a living being. I recommend this journey for all conscious individuals seeking to connect with their original nature-- exploring potential for greater healing and wholeness."
—   Vernice Solimar, Chair of Consciousness Studies, John F. Kennedy University, California

Secoya children in canoe

"Yo extiendo un saludo fraterno y en agradecimiento por el labor que vienes realizando con beneficio del pueblo Secoya."
"I extend a sisterly greeting and in gratitude for the good work Grup Osanimi does in benefit of the Secoya Nation."
—   Celinda Piaguaje, former President of OMSE, The Secoya Women's Organization of Ecuador

"I feel that with Jonathon not only did I gain access to a remarkable region of the world, I was also given insight and understanding."
—   Paul Theroux, author of the movie, The Mosquito Coast

"Con estas pocas palabras, quiero agradecer profundamente a Jonathon por la gran asistencia que él da al Pueblo Secoya."
"With these few words, I wish to infinitely thank Jonathon for the great assistance that he gives the Secoya People."
—   Angel Celestino Piaguaje, Secoya, educator and author of first Secoya curriculum

"The Sentient Experientials tour, while not the easiest thing I have ever done in my life, was an extremely meaningful experience for me. The journey was an extraordinary opportunity to visit an indigenous tribe in the deep Ecuadorian Amazon, learn about their spiritual traditions and plant medicines, and commune with the tribal elders and the shamans. It was also thought provoking and heart wrenching, as we were confronted, along the way, with the devastation caused by over-development and, above all, the pure exploitative greed of the oil companies. What made the trip particularly remarkable was the relationship of trust that the Sentient Experientials staff has formed with the Secoya Indians, with ethnobotanist Jonathon S. Miller Weisberger's leadership. That sense of trust radiated throughout the journey. I recommend this tour to anyone who wants to know what is really going on in the world today."
—   Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head / Chapter 22: "My Shamanic Vacation"

Secoya guest house

"Este trabajo viene de nuestro entendimiento que es nuestra oblicación actuar cuándo vemos que tenemos que actuar. Entonces cuándo tenemos amigos quien nos apoya, cómo Grupo Osanimi, nuestros sueños se realizan con más posibilidades"
"This work comes from our understanding that it is our obligation to act when we see we must. Then to have friends that can support us like Grupo Osanimi make it possible to fulfill these dreams."
—   Alfredo Payaguaje, Secoya ethnobotanist and co-author of El Bebedor de Yajé

"Nos place informarle que uno de los proyectos de aporte cultural es la construcción de un Jardín Etnobotánico, el cual albergará a especies vegetales de importancia ancestral para este pueblo, de cuya información se elaborarán documentos que puedan servir como una guía instructive para capacitar a las nuevas generaciones en la utilización de las plantas y preservar el conocimiento cultural de los Secoyas. Jonathon Miller es un técnico que pertence a nuestra institución el cual, para efectos de ejecución de este proyecto, actuará como coordinador, general asegurándose de esta manera el éxisto esperado."
"One of the projects of cultural support is the construction of the Secoya Ethnobotanical Garden which will harbor plant species of ancestral importance for this community, whose information will expand into documents which can serve as an instructive guide to provide the younger and future generations in the implementation of the plants and preservation of the cultural knowledge of the Secoya. Jonathon Miller is a technician associated with our institution who will put into effect this project and act as the main project coordinator to assure the expected success."
—   Econ. Luis Ortiz, ex-Director Executivo de UTEPA

"Needless to say, the trip was and continues to be memorable, life transforming and just plain incredible. I think about it all the time and it has hardly receded in my memory despite the return of the routines of work, driving, shopping, the same old grind. It's hard to put into words all that took place and, as you mentioned, we will be processing this for months. The most important thing for me though is that my heart has been truly opened and hungers for a return."
—   Barbara Nelson, psychologist

"The Secoya journey was an empowering experience, not only for myself as an advocate for tropical and temperate rainforest conservation. During these times of intensifying technological and developmental pressures in their territory, Jonathon's work is one of the only western influences in Secoya history which is firmly rooted in respect and honor for the Secoya's physical and cultural survival."
—   David Walsh, Ancient Forest International (AFI) and Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)

"The days I spent in the emerald green light of the rain-forest still shine in my consciousness and I can still hear the night song of the insects and monkeys chattering with each other... I hear the chanting shaman. I can close my eyes and again I am hanging in a hand-woven hammock, in the night, by the firelight, the shaman songs take off with my spirit for a journey... to the heart of nature and my own heart, to the wisdom of nature and my own wisdom. The time I spent with the Secoya People in the summer of 2000 still informs my daily life —   it has helped to make my spirit unselfish and open to the profundity of Nature and the wisdom of Indigenous People."
—   Sylvia Gibson, teacher

"My journey into the 'Oriente' was a lesson of both patience and knowledge. It broadened my perspective of the world in ways that no other could. Till this day I am baffled and intimidated by the pictures that remain in my heart and mind. Thank you."
—   Trent Mills, age 18

"If I were to rate this from 1 to 10, I'd give it an 11!"
—   Miles Feld, age 12

"I felt comfortable and safe in the forest. Completely at one with the spirit of the forest."
—   Emily Swetland, Canada

"The remarkable thing about the Sentient Experientials' staff is their connection with traditional native peoples, not by eco-tourist agreement but the time honored relationship of trust, friendship and open heart."
—   Peter Swetland, Canada

"My trust in humanity is now deeper."
—   Gloria Sanchez, social worker from Columbia, South America

"I felt there is no trip that would have given me as much intensity with the people and the intimacy of the forest. Images and conversations still swirl around my brain like the lianas around the trees. To be in the midst of distinct cultures with distinct languages in the Amazon was a dream."
—   Martin Clearfield, teacher

"You come away as a witness to your own self in a setting that nurtures your own transformation."
—   Dr. Tom Bronsky, emergency room doctor

"At the end of the noxious oil road, I stepped into a lush jungle paradise. A profound and symbolic moment which resonates within me always."
—   Russell C., archeologist and botanist

"One of the most magical experiences available."
—   Juan Williams Garcia, permaculturist and musician

"Since 2000, I think about Ecuador and the time I spent there almost every day, at least every week. It is one of the most important events in my life. It changed my soul radically forever. Giving me an enduring connection to Source. A knowing. A taste of reality in this topsy-turvey world. It is a blessing that I give thanks for constantly. Thank you for your purpose and wonderful self. Thank you for raising two great kids with their heads on straight. The world really needs it. For the magical abilities that manifest through you."
—   Morgan Gillio, massage therapist, Southern California

"Spending time in the rainforest with the Secoya People opened up my awareness to the world outside my selfish little world. Here Nature rules and you can feel the presence of something bigger than yourself. It humbled me, made my material wealth insignificant and challenged me to look hard at myself. The trip was superbly organized by Grupo Osanimi and Sentient Experientials staff who made it smooth sailing and fun. It went beyond my expectations. The rainforest, the gentle Secoyas who live in harmony with nature, the river and all the activities made it a beautiful and adventurous experience"
—   Cedar Louis, computer programmer from Madras, India

"I taught in medical school for 7 years and also pursued post-graduate medical residency and fellowship training. I have known hundreds of talented people. I recommend Jonathon without reservation. His true zest for life and appreciation for the subtle interconnections of all things within his world allow him to radiate a respect and understanding for not only the rainforest but also for all people. I think it is rare to find a young man who has the awareness, maturity, conviction and discipline to work so diligently and selflessly for issues that will ultimately affect the whole world."
—   Dr. Leo Figgs, eye physician and surgeon

"There in that enchanted forest I received all that I needed. My being has been cleansed and nourished by the milk of our Great Mother. Thank you Sentient Experientials."
—   Sonia Gaind, ethnomusicology at University of California, Berkeley

"On my trip to Secoya territory, I was able to learn from many great sources of knowledge and wisdom that will continue to reshape the way I see myself and my own culture for many years to come. I must recommend this trip to all seekers in life."
—   Michael McCamish, Ph.D. candidate, Social & Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies

"Go to the jungle and you will be surrounded by amazing people!"
—   Gina Giotta, student and seeker

"Medicinal plant gardens...Traditional lodges...An empowered women's organization...Profound personal healings...Cross cultural friendship and alliance where once there was only exploitation and mistrust...Beauty beyond description in the light of the forest and the eyes of the elders...Yes, this is deeply healing work, and yes, it is making a difference for all involved. Stop thinking. Find out."
—   Robert Weber, writer, musician, activist

"Sentient Experientials is where it's at! There's nothing else quite like it!"
—   Joshua Mitchnick, horticulturist and Hawaiian surfer

Endorsements for The Osa Foundation (Grupo Osanimi)

" Jonathon is an ethical and reliable friend of the Secoya People and his work with them ranks as very important. His knowledge of the forest and his relationship with indigenous communities is almost like that of a native."
—   Patricia Bastida, owner and manager of EtnoTur, Ecuador

"Jonathon's collaboration as an ethnobotanist fulfills important contributions in collecting medicinal plants and fruit seeds of the area and contributing to the National Herbarium of Ecuador from areas not visited, such as Napo-Galeras, slopes of Cerro de La Plata Mountain Range, and the Headwaters of the Shiripuno River. His seriousness, delivery, and professional talent are a valuable assistance in complementing our objectives."
—   Dr. David Neill, Curator of the Museo de Cienca Nacionales Herbarium, Ecuador

"The rainforest conservation work of Sparrow and his Indigenous colleagues ranks among the most respectful, creative and promising ventures underway on behalf of earth and ancient earth ways. This is truly deep ecology in action - a privilege to behold."
—   Joanna Macy, Buddhist scholar and living systems educator, author, and co-founder of The Council of All Beings (CAB), a training in movements for peace, justice and ecology

"Grupo Osanimi is doing courageous and innovative work. By seeking out ways to assist cultural transmission while organizing to protect Ecuador's forests, they are working to preserve ancient botanical wisdom, not on some dusty bookshelf, but in the hearts of indigenous youths and in the forest itself. This is a bold and crucial step in these times."
—   Dr. Robert Hass, poet, United States Poet Laureate, 1996-1997

"Jonathon Sparrow Miller-Weisberger and his colleagues are doing important work for the preservation of tropical ecosystems, and the indigenous gnosis of the forest inhabitants. They are literally rediscovering the "roots" of humanity's million-year old symbiosis with the plant kindom. Their work is ethical, motivated, and deserves support. In this era of shrinking ecosystems, disappearing species, and cultural dissolution the work of Jonathon and his organization is of incalculable value for every species, and for all species who share this fragile planet."
—   Dennis McKenna, ethnopharmacologist and author of The Invisible Landscape and more

"This is important work, needs to be supported and is making a real difference."
—   Terence McKenna, ethnobotanist & author of Food of the Gods & more

"Jonathon Sparrow and the rainforest workers in Ecuador are doing invaluable work. Not only with the Huaorani Indians but with many tribal groups. These young people are conscientiously recording botanical medicinals and new species of rainforest plants and bringing hope to Indigenous People. We all have pride in their efforts and support them in their endeavors."
—   Bill Mollison, originator of Permaculture, author, biologist, farmer, teacher and Australia's Man of the Year.

"I support this work and urge you to do the same."
—   Dr. Haines Ely, dermatologist and dermatopathologist

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LOCATION

The region has an incredibly high biological diversity, harboring over 300 tree species per hectare, and a combined average of nearly 1600 species of flowering plants. Biological inventories have shown Ecuador to have nearly one half of South America's bird species. Over 500 species of birds are found in our area, including Macaws, Amazon parrots and Oropendulas (a bird which impeccably imitates the calls of other birds). The area is also home to many species of monkeys including Howlers, Wholly, Capuchins, Squirrel Monkeys, Pygmy Marmosets, and Tamarin Monkeys. Many species of mammals can be found in the area, including giant armadillo, giant anteater, sloth, ocelot, puma and jaguar, Coati mundis, kinkajou, tamandua, peccary and agouti. Over 700 species of butterflies have been identified in the greater area. Anaconda, caimans, or river turtles may also be seen sunning up-river on the banks. If one is a keen, patient and lucky observer, all kinds of wildlife may be seen. However, we make no promises because wildlife has a unique way of being invisible.

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THE SECOYA PEOPLE

The Secoyas are an ethnic minority, autochthons of the Upper Napo Region of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, numbering approximately 350 people in Ecuador and 500 in Perú. Their language belongs to the Western Tukanoan linguistic group and their name, Secoya, means "People from the Multi-Colored River." They are an original people of the Amazon, whose culture and ancestral homelands are now imperiled due to imposed political discrepancies, industrial civilization and the encroachment of colonization. Despite the struggle in which they find themselves, the Secoyas have a strong sense of engagement with their history of the past and present, and maintain their rich oral tradition. They are true masters and mistresses of the forest.

The Secoyas, who traditionally live amidst 100,000 acres of whitewater "varsea" and blackwater "igapó" rainforest ecosystems, in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon in the Province of Sucumbíos, have for thousands of years nurtured a deep relationship with the forest and its myriad varieties of plants, insects, and animals. They have relied upon subsistence agriculture and the bounty of the forest to provide for their family needs. Secoya traditional elders and healers use over 350 species of medicinal plants, regarded as sacred family treasures.

We have known and interacted with the Secoyas for many years. We are considered personal friends. During this event, our teachers and guides who will facilitate healing, story telling and dream interpretation are representatives from the community spanning at least 3 generations. Participants will be in the company of forest masters/mistresses with knowledge of extensive plant lore embodying ageless traditions, experience and wisdom.

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INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE

International Arrival Date into Quito, Ecuador

~ at least 2 days prior to your journey's date ~

Journey #1: July 19
Journey #2: August 3

International Departure Date from Quito, Ecuador

~ at least 1 day after your journey's date ~

Journey #1: August 1 (or later)
Journey #2: August 19 (or later

Your Passport: Must be valid for at least 7 months after you leave Ecuador.

Quito, capital city of Ecuador, at 9,600 feet / 2000 meters, above sea level
in the Andean Mountains, is the second highest city in the world, also famous
for being on the equator, known in Spanish as "La Mitad del Mundo."

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INVESTMENT

Please contact us for the investment exchange for this journey.

E-mail: / Tel: (510) 235-4313 (in California)

Space is limited to 16 travelers in good health who can take long deep forest hikes and live for several days in a traditional, indigenous, grass-roots life-style; i.e. without the modern conveniences and values of the techno- world. Physically, this is not an arduous journey.

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INVESTMENT DOES NOT INCLUDE

Please Note: Because Sentient Experientials channels funds toward ground-level rainforest conservation and cultural heritage projects via Grupo Osanimi / The Osa Foundation as well as, create an economic opportunity for the indigenous staff, guides and workers involved in the event, we are obliged to keep expenses low and maximize each dollar. Therefore, investment does not include:

  • Airfare to and from Ecuador
  • All Quito expenses: hotel, meals, and taxis
  • Mandatory health-evacuation insurance
  • Ecuadorian exit airport tax
  • We suggest you bring trail mix, dried fruits and nuts for wilderness camping
  • We suggest each traveler bring US dollars in cash to pay for the following expenses for Day 1, 2, & 10:
    • about $500 - to cover your meals, beverages and hotels at Papallacta Hot Springs and the town of Shushufindi (to and from the jungle); and entrance fees
    • although optional yet greatly appreciated: about $100 tips ($10/day) gratuity for guides, community helpers, cooks, porters

      Please give your monetary acknowledgment to Jonathon, your guide, who will disperse your gift to all those whose efforts put this shape-shifting, auspicious celebration together for you in the jungle ... and beyond.
    • about $500 if you'd like to buy a strong, lace-like Secoya hammock, hand-made by the elders. These hammocks take at least a month to create; they hold 2-3 people and last forever

      Please Note: Wear a money belt under your shirt or blouse.
      Please do not wear it around your neck.

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INVESTMENT INCLUDES

To benefit The Osa Foundation's
Rainforest Conservation and Cultural Heritage Projects
in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Andes ~ www.4biodiversity.org ~

Investment also includes land and river transportation • guides • translators • porter service • meals, ceremonies, and the itinerary of activities.

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ITINERARY

Please note: Sentient Experientials reserves the right to change the itinerary due to unforeseen circumstance. If this should happen, please trust whatever changes are made will not affect the quality of your experience.

Journey 1 : July 21 - 31, 2017 (10 nights / 11 days)

July 21: Arrival into Quito, Andean Capital of Ecuador on the Equator

July 22: Day Tour in Quito (optional)

July 23: travel begins from Quito to the Jungle lowlands

  • From the Andes to the Amazon by land
  • Quito to Papallacta Hot Springs (about 2 hours)
  • to Lago Agrio or Shushufindi (to be decided)

About 9 a.m., after breakfast we leave Quito on a chartered bus that has reclining seats so one can nap. The bus ride takes us through the Andes Mountains were we view the breathtaking scenery as we ascend a 14,000 foot high mountain pass, then begin our descent down the Andean slopes to the Amazon basin, through steep valleys covered in cloud forest, past waterfalls, fast flowing rivers, and gorges.

About 11 a.m. we stop in an Andean polylepsis forest. These trees are in the rose family, indigenous to the Andes Mountains, with thick, paper-like bark. We then head on for a light lunch followed by an entire afternoon in Papallacta Hot Springs. The river there is very beautiful and there is much to explore. If the mist that engulfs this region most of the year lifts, we will be granted a view of 19,500 ft. Mount Antisana. This gorgeous snow-capped volcano, home to condors and the Andean Spectacled Bear, is blanketed in cloud forest to just below its snowline - a breathtaking sight while we relax in the springs.

After three hours of soaking in the hot baths, we'll have our lunch, then continue to Lago Agrio or Shushufindi where we sleep in a comfortable hotel.

July 24:

  • Road trip to Papallacta to Lago Agrio or Shusufindi (about 3 hours)
  • to Chiritza to begin the river trip on the Aguarico River (about 3 hours down-river)
  • to Secoya

After breakfast in either Lago Agrio or Shushufindi - classic wild - west / petrol towns - we'll pick up some last-minute necessities for the journey. Our road trip continues for about 3 hours to Chiritza, stopping to buy some coconuts at a local farm.

The river trip begins at Chiritza, a small settlement of 5 - 7 houses on the bank of the Aguarico River located at the end of the road. Our Secoya friends will meet us at Chiritza with their dugout canoes. Downriver from here lies the tremendous vast un-roaded wilderness of the Amazon, Ecuador's Amazonian Province of Sucumbios.

We travel 3 hours down-river to our destination - between the two Secoya Communities of San Pablo and Seguaya in Secoya Territory.

On the way down-river we stop to visit San Pablo, a Secoya village where we pick up several elders who will accompany us during our intercultural visit. We arrive at the lodge by early afternoon. We set up our sleeping arrangements, swim, and have dinner.

July 25 - 30:

During these days we have ample time for all kinds of activities: meet the forest and the Secoyas, each other, and acquaint ourselves in our new 'home.' Each day will be unique.

July 31: Departure from Amazon to Quito

  • From Secoya to Papallacta Hot Springs to Quito
  • Anticipated arrival time into Quito may be around 8 pm.

After breakfast, we depart Secoya going upriver to Chiritza where we board our bus to travel up the Andean Mountains towards Papallacta. If time permits, we make a visit to an oil well site. As we wind up from the lowlands to the pre-mountain and then the Andean Mountain regions we experience the vegetation and climatic transitions.

Journey 2 : August 5 - 18, 2017 (13 nights / 14 days)

Aug. 5 - 8: the same as Journey 1 above

Aug. 9 - 15: stop over to visit Siecopai Community en route to Lagarto Cocha, ancestral homelands

Aug. 16: departure from Lagarto Cocha with a stopover to say 'hi and bye' to the Siecopai Community

Aug. 18: departure from Amazon to Quito

  • From Secoya to Papallacta Hot Springs to Quito
  • Anticipated arrival time into Quito may be around 8 pm.

See below for Lagarto Cocha Information

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LAGARTO COCHA

A Magical Intense Amazonian Wilderness Region to Siekopai's Ancestral Homelands on the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border

By: Jonathon Miller W.

Lagarto Cocha or "Pe'e-qe-ya" - as the area is known by its ancestral Siekopai, is a vast and extensive wilderness region in Ecuador's Northernmost Amazonian Province of Sucumbíos - a unique wilderness region.

Located on the border between Ecuador and Perú, situated within the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the greater Lagarto Cocha bioregion and watershed cover over 30,000 hectares and include a wide variety, of ƒƒnearly intact, tropical lowland Amazonian ecosystem types. These include, Igapó (or Black Water Lake) and Varsea (or White Water). These are free flowing river systems, with firm soil, primary tropical moist forest, found along riparian flats as well as interior rolling hill country.

The annual precipitation is less than 3 meters of rainfall per year allowing for an evergreen forest and extremely lush vegetation while at the same time excellent weather, clear blue skies with fantastic cloud formations, sudden, yet short rainfalls, followed by rainbows and fantastic sunrises and sunsets. The ecosystem types found at Lagarto Cocha have unique and different forest characteristics as well as flora and fauna.

The area is so unique, in and of themselves, that the myth that lowland Amazonía is one continual homogenous forest type is here definitely shattered.

One may walk from the hill country to the Igapó Lakes and find a completely different forest type. All this can be observed by a visiting traveler and with a well-trained guide to experience a wide and vast array of tropical nature to explore.

The biological diversity of Lagarto Cocha, like any other tropical wilderness area, is very high and diverse. There are over one hundred species of birds in the area, and more than 150 species of trees per hectare, including a vast array of mammals as well.

Some of the most notable mammal species found are the Amazonian Pink River Dolphins - often seen in the river; Chestnut Fronted Macaws – often seen in large groups; the endangered Wooly Monkeys; Caimans; and turtles of various kinds.

Birdlife abounds, commonly seen are
Woodpeckers,
Kingfishers,
Amazon Parrots,
Honeycreepers,
colorful Tanagers,
parakeets and toucans and various species of larger raptors;
Jaguars inhabit the region as well as the giant armadillo.

Large primary forest trees are common:
the Strangler Fig – Ficus sp.;
the Milk Trees - Couma macrocarpa;
"Soho" or Incense Trees Hymenea sp.

Many species of Amazonian Palms such as the
"Hunguragua" or "Gonza" Palms - Jessenia bataua;
Huigonza - Oenocarpus,
the Drooping Palm or "Imipue" - Euterpe;
and Morete or "Ne'e" - Mauritia flexuosa.
Most commonly seen in the lake regions are the Ocobetó or Jessenia jauarai Palms.

One of the most notable tree species in the region are the Macrolobium sp. known by the Siekopai as the "Hato" Trees. These trees are found growing literally right out of the water.

Lagarto Cocha is declared a non-tangible zone to oil exploration by the Ecuadorian Government - in a major worldwide and national struggle to protect Ecuador's most remote and wild regions from oil development.

Lagato Cocha is a treasure of nature and indeed one of the wildest places left in continental Ecuador. It is our sincere intentions that it always remains this way.

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ACTIVITIES (in abc order)

Notes:

  • All of the activities are optional because we understand to do less is sometimes to do more.
  • Come, be present and attentive, explore the forest and mingle.

Sprinkled throughout our stay, we offer:

  • Arts and Crafts with the Secoyas. For example, gathering materials in the forest to make traditional-style crowns, pottery and baskets
  • Bead-making with the Secoya women, men, and children. Please bring a variety of colorful glass, small beads, needles and nylon threads
  • Befriend rainforest medicinal plants, such as Uña de Gato, Sangre de Drago, Chuchuguasu and others
  • Bird - Watching: Some 400-500 bird species may be present, although comprehensive inventories have not yet been compiled
  • Canoe excursions on the Aguarico River
  • Chi Gong-Taoist breath tonic and light Tai-chi and Yoga body stretches to increase our personal stamina throughout the tropical day - with Jonathon
  • Climb very tall old trees
  • Come together with distinguished elders and shamans
  • Conversations (with translations) with the elders on their mythology and their world-view - a paradigm representing cultural heroism, and mythic achievement
  • Cultural all night ceremonies guided by the elders
  • Direct experience learning from the plants themselves
  • Dream interpretation and copal incense purification smudging
  • Engage in healing ceremonies for replenishment and well being
  • Experience a wilderness adventure off the 'beaten path'
  • Experience a traditional plant diet for wisdom and strength
  • Forest hikes into the Amazon Rainforest to learn about the local flora and fauna and marvel at the magnificence of the primary forest
  • Hammock 'meditations' / siestas (an ancient stress remedy)
  • Identify plants and monkeys, toucans, and other wildlife
  • Learn the nature of forest ecology and tropical nature
  • Listen to Amazonian legends and ancient myths from the Secoya elders around their cosmology, mythology story-telling, and worldview counting on its Origin mythology
  • Plant collecting for local Secoya Ethnobotanical Gardens and to learn Ethnobotanical Field Techniques
  • Pleasure yourself with lots of laughter
  • River swimming & bathing
  • Secoya-style face and body painting with natural traditional pigments
  • Sunset canoeing and midnight river outings, hopefully, to spot caimans napping on the river banks
  • Sunrise Renewals (3) beginning 3:00 in the morning
    Note: The wellness & vitality enhancing effects of sunrise renewals balance the body's pH and are crucial to any healing or detoxification program & for preventing disease. In today's modern society, most people are acidic as a result of diet, sedentary (or overactive) lifestyles, stress, pollution, and the accumulation of chemical and heavy metal toxins.
  • Shamanic Traditional Healing Meditations (3)
    This time-tested millenary tradition from the Secoya People of the Amazon, for personal and planetary re-birth, uses well-prepared, highly refined plant medicine to promote spiritual & physical renewal, allowing one to move closer to spiritual understanding, personal growth, vitality, wellness and renewal, in quantum leaps! Read: Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon.
  • Sunrise drinking with Yoco (sapindaceae, Paullinia yoco), a vine containing caffeine which the Secoyas rasp and drink at sunrise to begin a day's work.
  • Paullinia yoco, Richard Evans Schultes et Killip, Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 10 (1942): taruco yoco (Witoto); totao yoco, po yoco, yoco cú (Kofán) yoco, yoco blanco, cananaguche yoco, huarmi yoco, tigre yoco, verde yoco, yajé; yoco, yoco yajé, yoco colorado, yoco de brajo, yoco negro (Columbia). Scultes in The Healing Forest writes (pgs. 407 - 409):

    "In the westernmost Amazonia of Columbia, Ecuador, and northern Perú, many of the tribes employ yoco as a daily stimulant and occasionally as a febrifuge. The plant - an extensive liana - is apparently never cultivated, probably because of its slow growth.

    Although not a food, it is one of the most important plants in the diets of the Indians. Every Indian household keeps a supply of yoco stems, and few natives ever make a trip of more than a day through the forests without carrying two or three pieces. Because of the great demand for yoco, the liana is becoming hard to find near Indian settlements. Its scarcity is one of the causes of occasional abandonment of excellent sites by an entire group of Indians.

    In the tribes using yoco - Kofáns, Sionas, Inganos, Koreguajes, Secoyas and probably others - the bark is rasped into [only] cold water and kneaded to prepare a very bitter drink. It is normally taken in the very early morning before any food is ingested. The stimulant effects are felt within 15 to 20 minutes. It is the only stimulant plant of the Secoyas and Sionas."

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THEMES

This journey offers an introduction to an Indigenous worldview of culture, spirituality and rainforest ecology, including the plight of the rainforest and the Secoya, and other indigenous people(s). We will dialogue on the effects of colonialism on landscape and mindscape, our notions of the rainforest and indigenous cultures, the exploitation of forest resources, and the effects of deforestation. Issues will also include: embodied ecological awareness, social justice and social responsibility, representation of the other, and the insights and contributions of shamanism and indigenous wisdom towards sustainable survival and meaningful living in our contemporary world.

Nature as Teacher and Traditional Wisdom

  • Nature as Teacher, Deep Ecology and the Indigenous Self: how Nature itself can be our greatest teacher; cultural and biological diversity of the tropical rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon with an overview of the area's bio-regionalism, traditions and worldview.
  • Spiritual development: the relationships between people, the natural world, and divine universal realms.
  • The role of several plants: exploring and learning how traditional wisdom is becoming increasingly pertinent for the unraveling of the secrets necessary to harmoniously navigate through these tumultuous times.
  • Mythology, cultural heroism and mythic achievement: myths are condensed information packages that reveal great lessons, unfolding secrets connected to fundamental principles pertaining to our daily lives.
  • Introduction to the useful and medicinal plants of the region that surround teeming the jungle lodge.

Rainforest Conservation Strategies

  • Territorial and cultural autonomy: demarcation and recuperation of ancestral homelands and de-colonization of landscape and mindscape.
  • The New Ethnobotany seeks new methods for cultural transmission: basic ethnobotany field techniques, ethics and skills; how ethnobotany can serve as an effective tool for rainforest and cultural conservation; how this new ethnobotany can create meaningful forums and opportunities for conscious individuals to journey among Indigenous peoples and allow for deep truths to be learned.
  • How Sentient Experientials serves as a rainforest and cultural heritage conservation tool and how participants can get involved.

The Plight

  • Colonization and its many social, mental and ecological implications; the collision of the ancient world with the modern; the inside story of the petroleum invasion and its ecological and social consequences; the situation that Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon currently face, including territorial and cultural erosion; and the causes and consequences of deforestation.

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HOW to PAY?

To Reserve Your Dates

Write your check payable to: SENTIENT EXPERIENTIALS

In the memo of your check please write: the dates of your visit and, if applicable, name of your retreat

Mail your fees to:

Sentient Experientials
c/o Dahlia Miller
PO Box 1004
El Cerrito, CA 94530

For United States payment: please use personal check, money order, or cashiers check and mail your fees Certified Priority Mail (which requires Dahlia Miller to sign for it).

International payments via bank wires: please ask Dahlia at

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CONTACT PERSON

For availability and reservation,
please contact
Dahlia Esther Miller
Tel: (510) 235-4313
Email

Thank you for networking this Event!

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TRAVEL INSURANCE

Due to going deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon, we recommend each traveler purchase travel insurance with medical/evacuation. If your health insurance does not cover this we suggest the following inexpensive options. Your travel agent can sell you travel / medical / evacuation insurance when you buy your ticket. Ask your travel agent about Travel Guard or DAN. For more information refer to the following websites: Travel Guard www.travelguard.com or DAN (Divers Alert Network) www.diversalertnetwork.org. You don't need to be a SCUBA diver to purchase DAN.

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WHAT to PACK

Documents

  • 2 color photocopies of the photo/info page in your passport
  • Health insurance-evacuation policy number
  • Bring only US Dollars in cash or traveler's checks
  • Traveler's checks recognized only in Quito
  • Bring at least US$700 cash (in small bills of: $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s) for expenses in the jungle (tips, arts & crafts, Siecopai hammocks)
  • Plastic cards can be used in Quito and in Papallacta Hot Springs
  • En route to the jungle and in Siecopai Territory, only cash is acceptable

About Siecopai Hammocks: These are the traditional hammocks of the Siecopai People that take about a month to weave; handmade by the elders of the community, large enough for 2 - 3 people; splendidly comfortable; long lasting! In purchasing their hammocks, keeps the tradition of hammock-making alive.

Note: Postal money orders or personal checks are not valid in Ecuador

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A REQUEST

If you have shopping to do via Amazon, then please be so kind to consider this:
  • Amazon has a program called Amazon Smile, through which Amazon donates one half of 1% of all your purchases to our non-profit rainforest conservation & marine turtle rescue projects.
  • To enable this donation, begin your shopping through the URL smile.amazon.com (instead of the usual www.amazon.com) and choose Living Bridges Inc from Aptos, CA as your nonprofit. That's it! Living Bridges, will now receive 0.5% of all your Amazon purchases as a donation from Amazon Smile.

We thank you so very much if you would consider,
when purchasing throughout the year(s) all your shopping via Amazon,
to be earmarked by way of Amazon Smile / Living Bridges Inc.

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What to bring for your jungle "bedroom"

  • A tropical tent is the best option
  • Sleeping pad (Thermarest pads are great and portable).
  • A lightweight sleeping bag suitable for the tropics; or a lightweight blanket and a sheet; or a sleeping bag liner
  • A camping/travel pillow (optional)

Accommodations

  • We have been invited to stay at the homestead of grandfather don Basilio Payaguaje.
  • Accommodations are rustic with no beds.
  • Don Basilio has a huge house and two cabins where your tent or mosquito net will be set up.
  • There is a running clear stream nearby for bathing.

For campers

  • Some of you may enjoy camping on the outskirt of the garden for more privacy, where you'll be closer to the plants and near the rainforest. If you have a tent, it should have a ground floor and roof tarp.
  • If you don't have a tent, know we will help you set up your camp so please bring two tarps for your ground floor: 4 feet x 7 feet; and for your roof: 2 feet x 16 feet

For in-the-house or cabin

  • Tarps are not needed if you choose to stay indoors.

Note: Whether you accommodate yourself in the big house or cabin or camp outside, your experience will be epic and your sleep sublime!

Ceremonies will be held at grandfather don Cesareo Piaguaje's lodge, about 20 min. upriver boat ride, at the new ceremonial lodge we recently built.

Onward to Lagarto Cocha is entirely a wilderness camping experiential.

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For All Guests

Hammock: a requirement for ceremonies

If you have a hammock or if you want to buy a hammock made by the Siecopai Community, then purchase, at a hardware store or a camping store

  • 2 simple carabiners and
  • 30 feet of 6 mm wide strap (called webbing)
  • Tell the salesperson the webbing and the carabiners are to hang a hammock in the Amazon forest

Secoya hammocks can be purchased for ($250 - $600). Cotton hammocks are cheaper. The chambira jungle palm fiber ones take up to 6 months to weave and although more costly, they are incredible, last a life time, endure all climates, and can sleep at least 2 - 3 human bodies comfortably!

Hammocks can be purchased for about $25 at the arts & crafts store in Quito.

Mosquito Net: you can buy this in Ecuador for about $25 or bring your own. Make sure they are the tiniest-sized netting to keep out the small no-see-ums bugs that appear at sunrise and sunset during the new and full moon.

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Friendly Reminders

  • Pressured by the World Bank, Ecuador changed the country's historical Sucre to US dollars which dispirited Ecuadorians; therefore, please bring only US dollars for tips and buying arts & crafts from the Siecopai
  • When purchasing your international flight ticket 1) be aware that cheap flights do not give you generous luggage allowances and charge for extra bags; 2) also cheap tickets are offered by airlines that may delay your arrival and your luggage; 3) check to see that there is no embargo on weight allowances on the date you are flying to Ecuador
  • Lightweight fabrics wash and dry easier in the rainforest
  • No camouflage (military) patterns
  • Clothing for chilly nights and daytime tropical jungle heat
  • Because the body gets cold during the evening ceremonies, wear comfortable light clothes for special cultural events
  • Want to unload some of your luggage before returning to Quito? Please talk with Jonathon about the best way to recycle / donate those belongings to the Community

QUITO, CAPITAL CITY OF ECUADOR

About Quito, the capital city of Ecuador

Quito is 9,600 feet resting on the Equator, at the Andean foothills, an ancient Incan city, known for its colonial buildings dating back more than 500 years. Solera House is located in the colonial section of Quito. Because Quito is so high, the sun rises at 6 am and sets at 6 pm every day of the year. You'll need layers of clothes for when the sun is out, it is hot, and, later in the afternoon and when the sun goes down, it is quite chilly. So layer up with long sleeves and pants. Wear your most comfortable walking shoes for your time in Quito.

Important: walk very slow your first 3 days in Quito, otherwise, you will get high altitude sickness which requires lots of rest to recover. At any health food store, buy Coca Tea bags - great for energy and for high altitude maintenance.

Tour of Quito July 19: Shortly after breakfast, meet at Solera House. Please pay the tour guide directly.

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JUNGLE RAINFOREST CLOTHES

  • Bathing suit (respecting cultural sensitivities, no skinny dipping, please)
  • Footwear options:
    • Lightweight quick dry walking shoes or hiking boots
    • Knee-high rubber boots can be bought for under about $20 for size 11 (43 European size) or smaller; if you wear size 12+ (44 European size) - please bring your own as these sizes are hard to found in Ecuador
  • Sandals or flip-flops are great for walking around camp
  • Pants: 2 pairs; long, loose, fast-drying, light-weight; rayon/cotton
  • Rain Poncho: lightweight
  • Umbrella: to cover your pack (albeit optional, an umbrella comes in handy)
  • Shirts: 1 long sleeve; lightweight, cotton/rayon
  • Shorts: 3 pairs; quick-dry, light-weight
  • Sleepwear: lightweight, thermal, flannel, long johns, or sweats for cool jungle evenings
  • Socks: at least 2 / day; fast drying. One traveler wrote: "we walked in a lot of rivers and streams, so when we get back to camp, it's good to have something dry to change into." Soccer socks are great for the rubber boots for rainforest hikes and these can be bought in Ecuador.
  • T-Shirts and/or tank tops: 3 to 5; lightweight
  • Sun/Rain hat: lightweight, foldable; visor, baseball cap or straw hat.

About Panama Hats: the famous Panama Hats are made in Ecuador and are traditionally made to be a sunhat - foldable, lightweight, and waterproof. In the 1880's the Panama Canal was being constructed by the French offering employment ... the word spread to Ecuador where working class indigenous men came on foot to Panama wearing their Panama Hats. In 1904 Teddy Roosevelt came to visit the Canal wearing a Panama Hat ... and voilà ... the popularity of the Panama Hat, although made in Ecuador, became known world-wide as a classic sombrero! Then film stars and the Mafiosos began to wear them. Note: There are many qualities & prices of the Panama Hats. According to popular lore, a "superfino" Panama Hat can hold water and, when rolled up, pass through a wedding ring. Although the Panama Hat continues to provide a livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians, fewer than a dozen weavers capable of making the finest "Montecristi superfinos" remain. Production in Ecuador is dwindling, due to economic problems in Ecuador and competition from Chinese hat producers.

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ITEMS

Important Note: Practice good ecology by leaving no trace behind.

In other words: because there is no recycling in the jungle nor does Quito have an effective recycling system, please pack everything recyclable to bring back to your home; i.e empty plastics, dead batteries, tin foil, etc.

  • Backpack or Duffle Bag
  • Biodegradable toiletries: bath soap, natural toothpaste, dental floss, sanitary needs (washable sponges or washable pads are sold at health food stores), sunscreen, sunblock, natural shampoo and conditioner. We recommend Dr. Bronner's liquid all-purpose soap for everything-- teeth, body, hair, and clothes!
  • Binoculars - waterproof
  • Book : Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science & Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger - read: www.rainforestmedicine.net
  • Bug Repellent: some suggestions:
    • Calamine anti-itch lotion
    • Natural citronella-based products (soaps & candles) and pure citronella oil works great to dab on wrists and ankles
    • Lemon Eucalpytus Oil is approved by CDC (Center for Disease Control) as an alternative for DEET
    • All mosquito repellents applied to skin and clothing are effective at repelling chiggers
    • Small jar of Vick's Menthol Vapor Rub and Calamine Lotion to rub around your ankles to control itching from possible chigger bites
    • SKIN-SO-SOFT by Avon; there are two options that effectively repel mosquitoes, sandflies, no-see-ums, especially during the wet season; both are PABA-free, DEET-free; and have SPF 30: 1) Bug Guard Plus, Gentle Breeze Lotion and 2) Bug Guard Plus, Cool 'N Fabulous Lotion
    • PERMETHRIN, purchased in any wilderness supply store, or can order on line; spray all over your clothes, including underwear; last for 6 washings; cost about $16
    • A suggestion: to not eat bananas or other sweet foods may diminish the attraction of bugs to your otherwise sweet skin
    • Vitamin B1 mg has the reputation of repelling mosquitoes; if you are susceptible to be bitten, it is suggested to take B1 and B100 mg
  • Chapstick: because Quito is 9,600 ft in the Andes, lips tend to dry quickly
  • Daypack
  • Dictionary/phrase book: bilingual (Spanish - your language)
  • First Aid Kit: Although the staff brings one along, best to bring your own; include a natural source for upset stomach, for example, papaya enzymes to chew
  • Flashlight and Headlamp with extra batteries (Energizer headlamps are inexpensive and work great). Best Choice: if your flashlight has a red light this would be the one to bring. If not, when you turn on your flashlight during the ceremony, cover the bright light with your shirt (or something) so as not to disturb the others during their journey
  • Hammock: see above
  • Journal and writing tool(s); art paper & drawing tools
  • Mess Kit (a camping set of plate, bowl, cup, and utensils)
  • Mosquito Nets: see above
  • Rainwear: a lightweight poncho
  • Sleeping Bag: see above
  • Stuff sacks to pack your personal items
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels: 2 - 3 small, medium, and large - quick dry
  • Umbrella: small and foldable; useful for sun and rain on the river trips
  • Water Bottle
  • Water purification tablets or water filter
  • Ziplock bags: a variety of sizes to protect, just about everything from moisture

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OPTIONAL ITEMS

(suggestions, leaving no 'stone' unturned)

  • Aromatic essential oils
  • Bandannas or handkerchiefs (to replace paper tissues)
  • Binoculars - waterproof
  • Camera
  • Camp Chair (or a 'ThermaRest' attachment to your sleeping pad)
  • Gomasio: a combination of sesame seeds and sea salt; effectively picks up one's energy during the heat of the day; can be purchased at a health food store or made at home (recipes online)
  • Do you have high metabolism? If so, bring Trail mix, energy bars, dried fruit & nuts & pack super well in ziplock bags
  • Incense and/or White Sage smudge sticks to burn around the camp
  • Magnifying Glass: to amplify intricate details seen on hikes
  • Map of the South American Star Sky chart: contact Audubon Society for their "Field Guide to the Sky"
  • Musical Instruments: portable; for example, mouth harp, flutes, digeridoo, guitar, etc
  • Pocket Knife: can be purchased in Quito
  • Pillow
  • Sewing Kit
  • Tape-recorder: pocket size with extra batteries, and blank tape cassettes
  • Telescope: portable and small
  • Thermos
  • Twine: one roll
  • Tree Climbing gear: arborist rope, 200 ft, 10 mm thick, harness, webbing and carabiners

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GIFTS

Suggestions for our Secoya hosts and elders

  • American Spirit: bulk; the red organic pouch with extra rolling papers
  • Bandanas: brightly colored
  • Beads: The Secoya (Siekopai) love to bead
    - Bring glass beads (small and medium size beads); beading needles nylon thread, bring primary, pastel and neon bright colors
  • Cigarette Lighters: 3 - 4, even if you don't smoke because they make good gifts; can e bought in Ecuador
  • Clothesline (a static nylon line) or P-chord: 20 ft.
  • Flashlights / head lamps (A good buy are the Energizer brand)
  • For the Secoya children: something to play with or be challenged by.
    Basic suggestions: marbles; jacks; watercolor sets & pads of paper; pencils with erasers & pencil sharpeners; colored pencils and pads of paper, balls; Spanish books; Bilingual Spanish-English books; etc.
  • Pocketknife
  • Tunic cloth: soft brightly colored cloth (15 feet per tunic); a staff person will help you find these at the cloth store in Ecuador and at the Siecopai community, a tunic will be made for you to use during ceremonies; buying extra cloth also makes for a lovely gift

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2 WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Take Daily - at least 2 weeks before departure

Important: For your benefit, no matter how "seasoned" a traveler you are, we recommend that you prepare for this journey.

Past participants report the following have been very beneficial to take:

  • Nutri-biotic Grape Fruit Seed Capsules (not the tablets nor the liquid form) is designed to enhance your immune system; it contains Artemisia, an anti-malarial ingredient; available at most health food stores; please read instructions. Or, to order, contact Nutribiotic Company (707) 263-0411 to find out what location close to your home you can purchase. The Canadian broker is EcoTrend Products, Tel. (604) 876-0466.
  • Vitamin B1 - For people who attract insects take Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - 100mg plus B Complex - 100mg
  • Acidophilus capsules - helps to digest new foods
  • Vitamin C - about 1,000 - 2,000 mg. Daily
  • Goldenseal - a bitter herb that protects the body in new environments

VACCINATIONS

Please Note:

  • The transition to the jungle environment is not easy or immediate, even if you may be a well-seasoned traveler. We recommend that you prepare yourself ahead of time and bring some simple western and/or traditional remedies to assist your body in this change.
  • Very Important: You should be above average shape due to the altitude and strenuous hikes schedules during the Secoya Journey.
  • The suggested vaccinations (malaria has no vaccine) won't have any effect on the medicine, according to a doctor we have consulted.
  • Carry your vaccination certificates with their respective dates of inoculation along with your other travel documents.
  • You may want to consult a travel doctor from your country before your travels to Ecuador.

Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ecuador, so Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends the yellow fever vaccine for travelers 9 months of age or older to these areas.

Country entry requirement: The government of Ecuador requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (this does not include the US)

For complete list, see Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission

For more information on recommendations and requirements, see yellow fever recommendations and requirements for Ecuador. Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans.

Important: when you are at customs at the airport, and they ask you where you will be traveling, best to say your travel plans aren't solidified yet

Malaria

The risk of getting malaria is very low in the area we will be staying. Although mosquitoes are not that common at our destination, bring a good and environmentally - safe mosquito repellent.

If you want to sleep outside of your tent, you can buy mosquito netting in Ecuador. If you are especially sensitive to mosquitoes, consider wearing light long-sleeve clothing.

Alternative Malaria Prophylactics

Past Participants have told us they found complimentary remedies to Larium, such as, Lomatium, Olive Leaf Extract Avlocor, Paludrine.

One recent participant recommends eating local honey ('local' meaning within a mile from your home) for health maintenance.

Another suggestion is a homeopathic malaria prophylactic, in pill or liquid form, which you can order from BOIRON, Tel. (800) 876-0066.

Allopathic Prophylactic

Larium

  • mefloquine, 250 mg - is also a preventive.
  • One pill is taken one week before departure into the rainforest, then one pill for each week in the rainforest, and four pills for four following weeks.
  • Drink with a full glass of water and food.
  • Six Larium pills for 12 days in the jungle is sufficient. However, please consult your physician for proper dosage and indications.

IMPORTANT: Larium is not advised for anyone with a history of mental health problems. For updated information on tropical diseases, contact The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. Telephone: (404) 332-4555

A Note on the Local Micro-organisms

We guarantee quality food and juices in the spirit of health, hygiene and sanitary service throughout the journey. Nevertheless, it is important to be always prepared for any unforeseen occurrence, especially for those who have never traveled to South America. Although the region we will be visiting has a low disease occurrence, by just traveling into a new environment, we will expose ourselves to new micro-organisms. For those participants who eat healthy foods on a daily basis, your body will act differently in the Amazon in contrast to how it works at home. However, on our past journeys we are proud to say that we have had no major illness and only minor and temporary discomforts.

Although we have a first aid kit for the group with homeopathic remedies and some allopathic first aid, the following is a suggestion of additional items that may be useful for you to consider bringing. These can be purchased at most health foods stores around the world and/or at a wilderness camping store.

FIRST AID SUGGESTIONS

  • Aloe Vera Gel - for sensitive skin; good to rub on after a sunny day
  • Aconite - a homeopathic remedy - excellent for onset of any physical upset; internal tablets
  • Arnica - a homeopathic remedy - for bruises, sprains, reduces swelling; internal tablets and/or external ointment
  • Band-aids and moleskins
  • Blue Green Algae - as a nutritional supplement
  • Calendula - a homeopathic remedy - ointment for minor wounds and mosquito bites
  • Cranberry capsules - for kidney maintenance
  • Echinachea - Goldenseal tincture or gelatin capsules - excellent for general immune system and or infections
  • General Vitamins with minerals as a dietary, daily supplement
  • Milk Thistle capsules - for liver maintenance
  • Mosquito Repellents
    • "Jungle Juice" or any natural alternative
    • Avon Skin-So-Soft is an effective 'folk medicine' for repelling mosquitoes
    • Calamine anti-itch lotion in addition to Mosquito repellant.
  • Personal medications, if any
  • Rescue Remedy - a Bach Flower remedy; internal
  • Tea Tree Oil - a natural topical antiseptic
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E - for internal or external use for your skin

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DISCLAIMER

Guests will undertake full responsibility for all that is experience because essentially your sojourn at Guaria deOsa, albeit an enriching adventure, is a personal experience.

Sentient Experientials wishes to reserve the right to change the itinerary if by chance there may arise unforeseen circumstances, such as raw weather or sea conditions or other physical or material logistics that may surprisingly arise. This also includes last minute cancellations by guest teachers. Please trust that whatever changes are made, these will not affect the quality of the experience.

Our fees are subject to change due to the Ecuadorian currency is now in US Dollars.

Although we do our best to 'keep on schedule' we understand that there is more than one notion of 'time' that does not always coincide with the western notion of linear time. We like to call it "jungle/beach time." Therefore, we ask you to please be open and flexible to appreciate the multiple realities of what might be considered 'the norm.'

We hope all travelers walk the talk to 'embrace the unexpected' and 'release expectations' - wherein lies great benefits.

For the 'seasoned traveler' – or otherwise – please come with a 'beginners' mind.'

All guests are financially accountable for breaking or loosing any items or belongings that belong to the Sentient Experientials' staff or the people we visit. If such an occasion should arise, we ask for reimbursement at the current cost in Ecuador of the particular item that needs to be replaced.

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SUGGESTED READING LIST

New title published by North Atlantic Press, September 17, 2013
Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science & Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Sparrow Miller Weisberger, Ethnobotanist, founder and steward of Guaria de Osa, director of CCBD (Council for Cultural & Biological Diversity)

Breaking Open the Head by Daniel Pinchbeck
Chapter 22: My Shamanic Vacation

Deep Ecology for the 21st Century by George Sessions

El Bebedor de Yajé by Alfredo Payaguaje, Secoya Territory

Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline
by Richard Evans Schultes and Siri von Reis

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals by Louise H. Emmons

One River by Wade Davis

Requiem por los Espejos y los Tigres: Una Aproximación a la Literatura y Lengua Secoyas por Alfredo Payaguaje and Jonathon Miller Weisberger

Romancing the Beloved: A Sacred Sexual Adventure into Love; Her Story
by Joan Heartfield - Chapter 2 Eco Emissaries

Running the Amazon by Joe Kane

Salud y Vida: Familiaricémonos con Nuestra Cultura. Una Guia de Revalorización Cultural para los Jóvenes Siecopai Sobre la Herencia Ethnobotanica del Pueblo Secoya por Jonathon Miller-Weisberger, 1999

Savages by Joe Kane

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy by Mercea Eliade

Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing by Michael Taussig

The Cosmic Serpent, DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram

The Three Halves of Ino Moxo, Teachings of the Wizard of the Upper Amazon by César Calvo, translated from original Spanish by Kenneth A. Symington

The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems by Fritjof Capra

The Yajé Letters by Allan Ginsberg and William Burroughs

Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America by Adrian Forsyth and Kenneth Miyata

Useful Plants of the Siona and Secoya Indians of Eastern Ecuador by William Vickers and W.T. Plowman

World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy

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rainforest - paradise beaches - bird watching - scuba diving - surfing - ethno botanical gardens - yoga
massage - trekking - chi gong - meditation - tai chi - rainforest projects - original architecture