A cluster of eco-lodges in the North Rupununi of Guyana have been consciously developing themselves over the years into an innovative and eco-friendly experiential tourism model that provides opportunities for men and women from 16 Amerindian communities. These eco-lodges are Rewa, Surama, and Karanambu.
One of the challenges they have been seeking to address is the lack of opportunities for viable and legal livelihoods, particularly for men, within the interior of Guyana. The area has seen a trend of men migrating out of their communities, whether temporarily or permanently, which is highly disruptive to their families and communities.
This cluster created the concept of a single Rupununi experience for travelers that would be underpinned by the specialty offerings of the lodges, and in that way offer increased opportunities for men to earn income and stay at home.
Professional anglers are invited to venture inland for supervised catching and releasing of Arapaima, which is the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world. The Arapaima is a protected species and over the past two years, with the support of the Guyanese Government, the three eco-lodges have been testing the sustainable tourism model and demonstrating that Arapaima can be worth more if left alive than if poached. No Arapaima have been lost through the “Catch and Release Sport Fishing”. Other available activities include bird-watching, nature photography, hikes, river rides, and interaction with community members.
As well as tackling the issue of men migrating, these lodges are also focused on social development, women empowerment, and environmental protection. For example, to protect their Arapaima stocks and the wider eco-system they have been scientifically developing enforceable biodiversity protection mechanisms.
In July of 2013, Compete Caribbean approved funding to support these lodges to develop on their own terms. Over the next two years, Compete Caribbean will be working with this cluster to support them in developing and promoting their tourism offerings.