Arajuno River water monitoring begins

August 12th, 2009

Well,  the dust settles with the departure of 28 college students and staff from the University of Miami, Ohio, USA; the University of Barcelona, Spain; and the San Francisco University, Ecuador.  We had a very active couple of days taking samples and measurements from the Arajuno river and a few smaller tributaries within the AJL forest reserve boundaries.  We are now formulating plans to establish a permanent monitoring system of the quality and quantity of water streaming through the jungle past and through the AJL  reserve.  The other component of this project will, of course, be to develop more and better alternatives to the continued deforestation and degradation of the aquatic environment along the river while improving the quality of life for all its inhabitants both wild and human.  Photos will follow soon!Tom

AJL: Where Cultures Converge

August 11th, 2009

A few years ago a new tradition began: if a visitor to the Aranuno Jungle Lodge (AJL) hailed from a new country, his or her country’s flag was hung in the rafters of the main Lodge building. Today, more than 30 country flags flutter in the gentle breeze off the Rio Arajuno. From Australia to South Africa to China to France, guests have trekked to AJL from all corners of the world, making it a truly international destination where the various cultures of the world converge in one of the most biodiverse bands of rainforest. The values of preserving the rainforest and experiencing and helping indigenous cultures and endangered species continue to cross all boundaries. It reconfirms the ongoing commitment and work of both AJL and the Arajuno Foundation. If you have been a part of this experience, I encourage you to blog about it on the AJL blogspot.


Arajuno Foundation Education Coordinator Leads Team of U.S. Teachers to AJL

July 28th, 2009

melissa-021_resized.jpgLast month, Melissa Tukey (right in photo), the Arajuno Foundation Education Coordinator, led a group of U.S. teachers to the indigenous community of Santa Barbara. They worked with the Professor of the school in Santa Barbara (left in photo) to help teach classes. The group of teachers also donated a large amount of books (in Spanish) and school supplies, which were greatly appreciated by the school children. The foundation is proud of Melissa’s work in Ecuador, which has been ongoing for a number of years. (Double click on the photo if you wish to see a larger version.) John

AJL boundary lines continue to be defined with a permanent line of giant bamboo

July 28th, 2009

new-camera-photos-295_f9b17.jpgYesterday, with the help of a couple of British volunteers and a local native, we continued to plant the boundaries of our reserve with a giant bamboo every 10 meters.  The goal of this project is to clearly establish and permanently define our protected area boundaries to help prevent timber theft, illegal hunting and trespass.  We  now have about 80%  of the property boundary completely planted!  It is a lot of hard work, especially way back towards the upper end of the property where the terrain is very steep and slippery.  The bamboo are being propagated from our own plants down on the farm (see photo above; double click on the photo if you wish to see a larger version), established in our nursery, then packed up to where they are planted. Tom

Turtle rearing ponds in Mirador and Santa Barbara are completed!

July 26th, 2009

turtle-pond-mirador.jpgHey there!  Well, after a week of hard work with 18 young female volunteers all from the same high school in London,  England, first of what will hopefully be many community turtle rearing ponds are installed (double click on thumbnail to see larger photo). The turtles will be presented to the communities this coming week!  We hope this will instill a sense of ownership and stewardship for these baby Yellow Spotted Turtles so that the Indigenous folks and others that live along the Arajuno River will insure the success of this program with the ultimate goal of repopulating the Arajuno River with these wonderful creatures, eventually another protein source for the locals! Tom

New Wave of Arajuno Foundation Donations

July 24th, 2009

Hola! As president of the Arajuno Foundation, I’m happy to report that when the foundation received official approval from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity, a steady trickle of donations began. We hope this trickle becomes a wave. We, of course, appreciate any and all donations at any level. And, as you know, unlike many public charities, 100% of each donation goes directly into Arajuno Founation projects, because all administration costs are paid out-of-pocket by the founders and voting board members of the foundation. I hope all who have visited the Arajuno Jungle Lodge (AJL) and seen the foundation’s work up close and personal, will tell their family and friends about their experiences. And I hope all of those who have yet to visit AJL will have the opportunity to do so in the future. In the meantime: Saludos!

AF now a 501(c)(3)!

July 23rd, 2009

Friends of AJL: It’s taken us over a year and a half, but now, thanks to the long-suffering efforts of our accountant, Rob Crowder, the Arajuno Foundation is now officially a non-profit public charity. That’s right, your donations are now tax-deductible. On another front, thanks to 20 volunteers plus 2 energetic communities, Santa Barbara & Mirador, we will complete the 2 new turtle-rearing ponds ahead of schedule. We will also have time to begin planting Giant Bamboo along the eroded banks of the Arajuno river in front of both communities. Santa Barbara has also finished its new dining hall in time for the event.Looks Great!  Plus Santa Barbara will receive $300 from lunches sold to the group.   Do you have any idea how much money $300 is to a community such as Santa Barbra?  A LOT!

News from the Jungle

September 5th, 2008

Dear Friends and supporters of Arajuno Jungle Lodge and the Arajuno Foundation:
With the end of the rainy season at hand, I can finally update the blog. 2008 appears to be another record year for us. So far, in 2008 we have:

  • expanded the aquatic species reintroduction project, our two newest fish ponds are now functioning and we have constructed a new pond strictly for the turtles.
  • combined forces with Peace Corps/Ecuador to execute a five-day traditional ceramics training workshop for 20 native Quichua women from six local communities.
  • provided a local indigenous community with a complete kitchen along with training in food preparation, customer service, and hygiene. This community is now ready to receive tourists and feed them as an additional income source.

These are the sort of projects that are closest to my heart, and where the “rubber hits the road”. But we’ve also made real progress in some areas that aren’t as “colorful” or maybe as interesting, but are every bit as important. We making progress on the legal and governing side of the Arajuno Foundation. We have our board of trustees in place now and are awaiting IRS approval of our 501 (c)(3) status.

If you would like more details on all that’s going on at the lodge, download our latest newsletter. Send me your email address and I’ll add your name to the list so you can get the next newletter as soon as I send it out.

I also want you to meet our new adopted daughter, Mona;


Mona is a young wooley monkey who was orphaned when her mother was killed by hunters. Mona’s job here at the lodge to be an ambassador for the Amazon Jungle and for all the endangered species hunted and killed by humans. She is, by far, the Queen and Star of the show at Arajuno Jungle Lodge. She sends her love to all who have taken the time and effort to visit and play with her!

Stay in touch. Keep us in your thoughts;

Tom Larson

To Doug Henderson and the Ecuador Photo Safari Gang

December 5th, 2007

Dear members of the Douglas Henderson Ecuador Photo Safari.  Just wanted to post a message to you all saying what a pleasure it was to have you at Arajuno Jungle Lodge.  Your energy and enthusiasm and willingness to help the natives of the Rio Arajuno is highly appreciated.  I look forward to next years expedition for both new and previous members of the group.  In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and my Christmas fill your hearts and homes with the love and joy that we all can share whereever we are in the world… Peace On Earth!


Blog space, jungle time

October 12th, 2007

Dear readers,

As you know, blogs are a way to keep current of events.  At Arajuno Jungle Lodge, we are hoping to have Internet service sometime soon.  There are several new Cellphone towers up in the area, but no equipment has been installed to make them work.  So, I o for any delays in answering to comments at the AJL blog site.  As most of you know, I attempt to get out of the jungle at least twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Fridays to answer any and all mail, pick up more beer and ice and food.  So, this will be a sort of slow blogging process until we have access to Internet at AJL.  That will be the big news from AJL  Then I will only have to come out of the jungle when I run out of beer and ice.  Ice lasts usually 4 days for me, so I figure I can limit my entrance to the town of Tena to once a week by then!  In any case, thanks to Doug Henderson who has put this blog site on my web.  We are ready and waiting for his photography group to arrive in a couple of weeks.  Until then, I look forward to hearing from you and will begin to update everyone as to the progress of our conservation work and the ecotourism business at AJL.