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A typical day in Arútam begins at sunrise in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest's animals are most active. Wherever the destination, our excursions proceed slowly in order to appreciate the fascinating details that our guides point out around you.
For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset.
Anyone who has ever planned to visit the rainforest has at least once asked: “What animals will I see there?” There is an incredibly high diversity of species found in the Amazon, and we are sure that you will have the opportunity to see many fascinating creatures here. However, the wild is unpredictable and no two visits are ever the same!
Tamarin monkeys are seen quite frequently. And besides monkeys, there may be as many as 60 other species of mammals within our reserve (not including up to 50 species of bats)! So keep your eyes open, and maybe you'll spot an anteater, a 3-toed sloth, or even an ocelot as you explore their natural habitat.
As for reptiles, make sure to take advantage of our night activities to look for the residents. A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along our trails, if you move quietly and keep your eyes peeled. Several different boas, vine snakes and even the boa constrictor have been seen during our excursions.
There are a few poisonous snakes as well, but not to worry – they try to stay out of peoples' way and no one has ever been bitten here. Frogs, on the other hand, are much more common to see, from bulgy-eyed tree frogs to camouflaged leaf frogs to tiny colorful poison-dart frogs.
And then, of course, there are birds. In only 3 or 4 days, it is not uncommon for even the most casual birder to see over 150 species here. With only minimal effort you can expect to see dozens of colorful parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, hawks and oropendulas, and of course there are plenty of elusive ones.
The Arútam Rainforest Reserve
The Arútam Rainforest Reserve and the Shuar culture are the two main attractions for the visitors. The reserve was created in 1999 by the villagers of the Shuar community Arútam in order to conserve their forest, its wildlife and start working with tourists.
The Arútam Rainforest Reserve covers 2625 acres of pristine Amazon rainforest. The reserve is located at the base of the Andean Mountains, between 600-1000 meters above sea level. The reserve lies within one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and has an overwhelming variety of flora and fauna (see also Arutam Rainforest Reserve).
The flora is extremely varied, with everything from Podocarpus to mahogany, palms, bromeliads and an overwhelming variety of orchids. The fauna is just as varied, including the large species such as: Pumas, howler monkeys, peccaries, deer, ocelots, sloths and anteaters, and the reserve offers an endless opportunity of wildlife watching, bird watching and breathtaking scenery.
In the Shuar language, Arútam means God or divine force. According to Shuar legends, Arútam lives in the waterfalls and provides visions and power in order to become good hunter, warriors and workers to those that visit the waterfalls after long fasting and ingestion of the hallucinogenic plant natém.
When visiting Arútam, tourists normally setup a program that consists of visiting some of the activities and attractions below, depending on the length of their stay.
The Pastaza River
The Pastaza River is a large river and one of the main tributaries to what becomes the Amazon River in Peru and Brazil. The Pastaza River is an interesting riverine habitat for birds and mammals and holds some amazing scenery. Tourists often take the day long hike to the river in order to swim, watch the forest and birds or to fish.
The forest of Arútam is home to some of the highest species diversity of birds in the world and a birdwatchers paradise. On the trails of the reserve you can enjoy toucans, parrots, parakeets, tanagers, cotingas, woodpeckers, eagles, hummingbirds and a lots of others beautiful birds – or possibly find a new species.
Near the Pastaza River, a lake was formed around two decades ago, when the Pastaza River broke through the banks and cut of a large section of the river. Such lakes are important and interesting habitat for fish, birds and wildlife – and according to legends, a great anaconda!
There are various small and large waterfalls in the forest reserve. As well as creating beautiful scenery and a nice cool dip, they are sacred to the Shuar people. It is believed that the entrance to the God Arútam’s world is located where the water hits the rocks and that this is where you can meet Arútam, when he want to communicate with humans.
The community Arútam and neighboring communities
Arútam is a small Shuar community with approximately 40 inhabitants, living as an extended family. The villagers live a traditional live and are engaged in subsistence farming of especially yucca, cooking bananas, papa china and camote. Villagers are very keen to tell visitors about their culture and traditions. Visitors who stay longer will also have the opportunity to visit other communities. Currently we are working with three other communities called Musap, Chinimp Tuna and Irshim.
Traditional gardens and farming systems
The Shuar women are skilled farmers and the Shuar grow an incredible diversity of crops. Many of the crops grown by the Shuar have a very important role in diet as well as culture. By visiting the gardens with one of the women, you can get an insight into the practice, traditions and legends connected to the farming.
Make crafts and arts with the Women group KuriNua
The community Arútam is home to a women group of around 20 women from various communities. The women often engage in the elaboration of crafts. In case of heacy rains or in the afternoon, tourists can try to make the own crafts and see how the professional women work. Besides the crafts, KuriNua has starts small development projects, such as raising small livestock as chickens or fish and gives micro-credits to their members and other women in need.
Shuar culture, legends, dances and traditional food
While staying in the community and during the trips, you get an excellent chance to observe and ask questions about Shuar culture. The guides will also tell you about the traditional beliefs and legends as well as demonstrate dances at night. As part of the trip you will also be offered some of the typical Shuar food - especially the basic diet chicha or nijiamanch as it is called in Shuar.
Scenery and lookout points
Due to the varying altitude and nearby presence of the Andean Mountains, the reserve has many excellent lookout points where you can see for miles and get a good view of the forest. On clear days the majestic and snow caped volcanoes Sangay and El Altar stands in beautiful contrast to the hot and humid jungle.