Sani Lodge Pt.1 – The People

Posted on January 2, 2011 by Tim 3 Comments

Unfortunately, I have done a poor job in documenting many of these brief connections. For better or worse, most of these encounters only exist as memorable experiences, and in some cases, distant memories. For me, many of these encounters are deeply personal. So to the lack of ‘proper’ documentation I say only that you should head out and make your own connections. As I’ve spoken about in a few talks I’ve given, conservation is as much about the people as it is the land and animals we (the outsiders) want to protect. We can’t go running around making black-and-white decisions that directly affect other peoples lives unless we have a mutual understanding of each others lives, needs, goals, and compromises.

A worker removes an old palm thatch roof from one of the cabins for repair and replacement.

The new roof is nearly complete. Palm thatching is an amazingly effective and can last for 15 years.

To that end I’ve failed as a photographer. I will say I’m not a people shooter. I suppose I could if it intrigued me enough. After all it is not so different from my tetrapod models in a technical sense. However, I tend to not relate or connect as well with people when it comes to camera in hand. So when I do take people shots they turn out more like snapshots. That said I want to try to show some of the people that were part of my latest adventure. I spent 2 weeks at Sani Lodge, just off the Rio Napo in Ecuador. I’ll write more about the place in the next installment. For this series I want to begin with a nod to the people involved. The lodge is owned and operated by the Kichwa (Quechua) people of the Sani community. Members of the community have various roles in the building, maintenance, upkeep, and guest services of the lodge. For the most part tourists come in for an Amazon rainforest experience for a period of days. They are led by naturalist guides on hikes to a treetop canopy tower for bird watching, trails for mammals such as many monkey species, or various canoe trips around the cocha (lagoon) for caiman, more birds, or just stunning scenics. From a photographic standpoint, these shots aren’t special. The people are.

Luis is the bartender and shopkeep. He takes care of the ‘lounge’ and guests and is great at teaching Spanish.

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  • Rob Wilkinson says:

    Dear Tim,

    It was a great pleasure to meet you at Sani Lodge just before Christmas. And I have enjoyed browsing the images and words on your site, especially the sensitive comments about the team there.

    I wish you all good luck with your wildlife recording and conservation efforts. I mentioned my “London bestiary” and some of the reptiles that happen to make up some of that old city’s iconography. You can see the whole thing at this site:

    … along with my snaps from Sani and other places in Ecuador.

    All best wishes,


  • Cassandra says:

    Interesting perspective on the people of your destinations. I loved Jamaica and the dive experiences one could have, but my fondest memory was going to our bellman’s home deep in the high rainforest. Spending the day with Earl’s family and the local villagers meant more to me than any other trip taken. Thank you for bringing back that memory!

  • Stefan Fourier says:

    Hi Snakeman,
    we met in Sani Lodge together with Karin, Mikey and Marcie. I’m very impressed about your reports and the pictures in your website. Good luck!

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