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One of the most important parts of your Amazon Rainforest experience will be the quality of your personal guide. Amazonia Expeditions has the highest credentialed and most professional staff in the Amazon, and regularly updates their knowledge with special training seminars. All of our guides are certified in wilderness first aid, which is an achievement that is unique to Amazonia Expeditions.
In addition, while other lodges in the upper Amazon basin only offer their guides 90 day contracts to avoid paying them workers benefits, a practice that leads to high turnover, Amazonia Expeditions invests in offering full time positions to our guides and other staff. Not only offering out employees good salaries, we invest in retirement pensions, full family health care insurance, annual paid 30 days of vacation and long term employment with continuing training and educational development.
Most of our guides have been with us for years, and have really gotten to know the ecosystems of the Tahuayo River basin. The morale is high as the staff of Amazonia appreciate the benefits of their employment.
Amazonia Expeditions was the first tourism company in Iquitos to provide equal opportunity to both men and women in training and employment (we were told by other tour operators in the early 1980’s that it was a “crazy idea that would never be accepted by Peruvian men”). The high morale and dedicated work ethic that people note among our staff is a result of the owners’ commitment to have a respectful, pleasant, professional and productive working environment for the staff. We do not tolerate any ill treatment among the staff based on gender, age, experience (in most tourism companies more experienced staff haze newcomers), position (staff who clean toilets, wash dishes and clean sheets are just as important for a pleasant tourist experience as guides and managers), strength, education, skin color (in much of Peru light skinned Peruvians enjoy privileges over dark skinned Peruvians), sexual preference, ethnicity (in much of Peru having Amerindian facial features or surnames is a basis for discrimination), or religious preference (we have Evangelical Christians, Catholics, believers in jungle mother spirits and atheists working respectfully together). New staff members are quickly taught the company’s ethic of treating everyone with respect.
Nelly Priscilla Pinedo Alvarado grew up in various remote jungle villages as her mother was a teacher who moved around from one remote village to another. This gave Nelly a broader understanding of native cultures of the Amazon. As a young adult Nelly graduated from SENATI Institute with a degree in English and later worked as a translator for Doctors without Borders and then as a guide in another jungle lodge. She started with Amazonia as a trainee in 2011 and was promoted to head guide in 2012. Nelly has field research experience assisting with Rose Hores’ study of uakari monkeys. When not guiding she assists Dolly in her work for Angels of the Amazon www.angelsoftheamazon.com. In her third year as head guide Nelly has never had less than a 5 star review.
Alfredo Dosantos Santillán graduated from the National University (UNAP) with a degree in biological sciences in 2002. He then did research for the Wildlife Conservation Society, with 7 scientific papers published and attending many scientific conventions. As our Facebook friends know, he is also a talented nature photographer. Alfredo came to work for Amazonia Expeditions in 2009 as site manager of our scientific program. He also guides our university groups and research expedition groups, trains our student interns and subject to availability, guides individuals who have an interest in science or nature photography. Alfredo also is group leader and photographer of our foreign trip program, leading groups on safari in Africa, Asia and to other sites in South America, such as Galapagos and Patagonia.
Edson Galan was born in Iquitos and went to study English in the Instituto Peruano Norteamericano in Lima. He has worked for Amazonia Expeditions for over ten years and during this time studied to become an expert in his passion of birding. He is assisted by a vast collection of bird vocalization recordings. Edson is our special guide for birders, although his gentle and humorous ways make him fun for family guiding as well.
Manuel Huayllahua was born in Chino Village and studied at Los Andes Peruvian University. He has worked for several years with Amazonia and has two years field experience as a field assistant to primatologist Rose Hores as well as several summers as field assistant researching saki monkeys for primatologist Janice Chism. Manuel may be our best wildlife tracker and is skilled at wilderness camping and jungle survival training
Adrian Gomez Villacorta comes from a small village on the Marañon River. His grandparents taught him skills to work and hunt in the jungle. After completing high school in Iquitos he studied English at SENATI Language Centre. He started as an intern then assistant guide with Amazonia, being promoted to head guide in 2014.
Weninger Pinedo Flores was born in Diamante Village, located far up the Rio Blanco, a tributary of the Tahuayo River. He went to high school in Iquitos and then to the National University in Iquitos (UNAP). Weninger came to work with Amazonia in 2000 and became a head guide in 2005. He is the most accomplished arborist on staff, capable of free climbing any tree in the forest and has the responsibility of maintaining our canopy platforms and ziplines. Weninger has assisted in extensive research work with Amherst College research associate Bart Bouricius and University of Nevada ethnologist Barbara Land. He is often assigned to guests with an interest in trees, culture, or wilderness camping
Avi Taricuarima, more commonly known as Celeste, is of native Cocama ancestry. She studied at the Superior Education Institute El Milagro in Iquitos city. As part of her training as a guide Celeste worked as field research assistant to Fredrik Tegner in his study of poison dart frogs and to for Ludvig Orsen in his study of harlequin toads. She has a special fondness for herpetology.
Andy Bicerra graduated with a degree in Biology from the National University. He has investigated aspects of wildlife ecology for FUNDAMAZONIA (Fundación Latinoamericana para el Trópico Amazónico), the Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society and has conducted conservation education workshops in several native villages before coming to work for Amazonia in 2015.
Javier Anibal Alván Arévalo has worked at the lodges for 10 years, starting as a young teenager as an assistant in building repair, then moving up to motorboat pilot, then camping assistant and assistant guide, and after passing his guide exams with high grades was promoted to head guide in 2014.
Rafael Campos Sinti grew up on the Tahuayo River in Esperanza Village. He learned about the jungle from his grandparents. As a young man he studied English in Iquitos at the American Computer Institute. After graduating Rafael began working as a guide for other jungle lodges before finally winning an apprenticeship with Amazonia Expeditions and finally getting promoted to full guide in 2015.