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April 29, 2024, we wrapped up the project, Digital Transformation Of Indigenous-Led Ecotourism And Conservation.

Puerto Lara, Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares are ready to receive you! 

A project of the  Wounaan Bird Count, in 2021 it began supporting the three communities to meet market demand through ecotour development, digital ecotourism marketing and financial inclusion. Native Future was one of three organizational partners in the project. The three-year, $1 million project was partially funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and other project partners. Native Future provided $68,000 in counterpart funding and more than $80,000 of in-kind resources. A $38,000 grant that we received from Stichting Otterfonds  was vital to  our support of this project. 

By January 2023, Puerto Lara had made repairs to their 1km Golden Manakin Trail, and installed signs and benches along it. The ecotourism providers of the community – guides, cooks, hospitality workers – had received a series of trainings in COVID-19 sensitive tourism and customer service. Also, Puerto Lara re- initiated their ecotourism committee which had been established in 2019. The ecotourism committee continued working with the digital marketing component of the project.

The communities of Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares were new to ecotourism. August 2022 – October 2023, the communities engaged in a series of assessments, planning workshops and local congresses to come to agreement on the management of ecotourism and ecotours in and between their communities. The internal rules - reglas internas - were adopted by each community  by November, 2023. 

The Otterfonds grant was instrumental to the development of two guided tours  in Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares. Trained bird guides from Rio Hondo take visitors by boat along the Ringed Kingfisher aquatic trail, through a spectacular mangrove estuary at the mouth of the communities’ eponymous rivers. (Pictured.) Wounaan developed a trailhead sign at the Rio Hondo port and digital guide of biocultural interpretive materials; outfitted the boat with safety equipment, and licensed six bird guides as boat captains and assistants, three from each community.

Wounaan bird guides of Rio Platanares lead visitors along the second route, the 3km Crested Eagle Trail.  through beautiful intact tropical forest and to two overlooks. The grant helped cover the costs of improvements to the trail, such as bridges, handrails,  benches, three trail signs and the digital biocultural interpretive materials. 

To support community cultural revitalization objectives, the project supported Wounaan to develop biocultural interpretive materials and products in three languages: English, Spanish and their native language, Wounaan Meu. Books, signs, digital guides, Wounaan artisanry and cuisine, all present to the visitor, and community members, the cultural significance of the natural world around them. 

The participating communities see ecotourism as an opportunity to protect their territories and keep their traditions alive. Proceeds from the ecotours go directly to the communities, and support their territorial monitoring.  Reserve your experience in a Wounaan community at:



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