A lot of the territory in the Pastaza Province is hard to see. After all, when there are no roads and the only way to travel is by airplane or by boat, access is limited.

Our knowledge of Pastaza is limited to a single trip where we drove to the small community of Shell, boarded a small prop-plane and flew out in the community of the Huaorani, landing on a small airstrip cut into the jungle, then took a motorized canoe further up-river to finally arrive at the Haouarani Lodge. It was a good trip, one where I learned a ton about the Huaorani culture.

I would like to tell you to go and visit but the lodge has closed since our visit a couple of years ago. The Pastaza Province is the most recent location for oil exploration and the money that comes along with oil was too much to ignore for the local community. This is a debate that Ecuadorians have again and again – when tourism doesn’t bring in enough money to help support a local community, is it worth taking funds from large corporations looking to drill for oil? With oil also come roads which can make entering and leaving these lands easier. Those roads, and the drilling, also make a huge environmental impact.

I am grateful we were able to visit this unique destination. I often wonder what has happened to the wonderful people I met on that day. Maybe one day we will all be able to visit again… after the oil companies have had their turn.

Click on any photo to open a slideshow with further descriptions of each photo.

Ecuador Por Mis Ojos

Last year, the Instituto Geografico Militar of Ecuador and I released a book of photography, Ecuador Por Mis Ojos. This post shares photos from that book.

If you would like to see other photos from the book, please check out: