Adventure in the Amazon

Reporting from the heart of the jungle

In 2018 our friends at Fundación Entrópika called SeñorLópez so we could give them a hand designing the branding for a community-based tourism project in the Colombian Amazon, and of course, we jumped right in! We were thrilled to share our experience, heart and talent at the service of communities that were about to undertake a new challenge: changing their way of life from an extractive economy to a natural conservation one. For this project we decided to donate our work and that way contribute to the development of the communities and the conservation of their territories.

We knew it was key to listen to the communities, to let them guide us and, above all, to understand how they wanted to communicate their project. Therefore, we traveled to the Amazon’s heart to develope co-creation sessions, work on the structure of the brand architecture and define the DNA of the main brand, in order to share their tourism projects.

We got down to work and put together an interdisciplinary team: designers, photographers and sociologists. This is fundamental in co-creation processes, as it allows different points of view to significantly enrich the outcome of the process. SeñorLópez boarded the plane with the excitement of arriving at a new destination, getting to know a different landscape and being enriched on a multi-cultural level.

As our plane was arriving in Leticia, we were moved by the Amazon’s greatnest, its amazing rainforest filling all the windows. A vast green carpet stretched out, a dense and rich jungle that seemed infinite. This lead us to a reflexion, as we understood why some people think that cutting down some parts of the forest will not do any harm, as it seems impossible to destroy it all. As the plane approached closer to Leticia, patches of logged jungle became visible, and it was clear that the richness of this green carpet can quickly run out.

We were very fortunate to stay at the Amacayacu National Natural Park research station. In order to get there, we first had to embark on a boat trip and went on to meet the communities that would participate in the strategic brand co-creation workshop at the end of the week. What a thrill!

We arrived at Leticia’s river port and saw the great Amazon River for the first time. When we started sailing at 7:40 in the morning, we felt like we were in another world. It is true that we had heard that it is the widest river in the world, but seeing it with our own eyes was something else. It looked like the sea! Before leaving, we passed a gas station that was on the water.

After about an hour and a half of sailing, we arrived at a small outlet of the Amazon River, we were about to enter the community of Chinería. Now we had to slow down, we couldn’t see the water because it was all covered with lime green aquatic plants. It seemed like a dream. The boat was making its way and the plants were rearranging themselves, erasing our passage through the green mantle in which we were sailing. From side to side we could see trees and some birds flying as we passed by. Among the lime green of the leaves on the water, some purple-petaled flowers started to emerge.

Meeting the indigenous communities

When we arrived in Chinería we met with 8 members of the community tourism project. We had the opportunity to share with them, meet them and explain about the workshop we would have at the end of the week. Juan Barnales, Wilson Paima and Juan Linares; members of the project, took us to see the tourist attractions. We had the mission to take pictures and videos with our drone, while other members of SeñorLópez took pictures with their photographic equipment. Our goal was to be able to collect as much audiovisual material as possible to create the project’s communication pieces.

First we decided to take pictures of the community and its people. Before turning on the drone, the grown ups called their kids so they could see the device and the shots we were taking. They were very excited and clustered around the screen, we lowered it as low as we could, so that everyone could see it. There were so many children that one of the moms laughed saying “they were going to drown the pilot”. To finish the shots with our curious companions, we all lay down on the ground of the community soccer field and waved as the drone left.

We then headed out to the tourist trails and got off the boat to hike. As we went deeper into the jungle, we accumulated a personal cloud of mosquitoes (and bites). We walked a lot in the middle of incredible landscapes, looking for a lake where the community of Chinería wanted to set up a camp for adventurous tourists. The jungle was full of sounds, cicadas, birds, leaves moving overhead and our footsteps on the dry leaves covering the ground, it seemed like a soundtrack. There were huge trees, thick, skinny, with thorns, smooth. In the middle of the jungle, among nature, it seems that nothing else is needed. One is happy in the midst of the peace one breathes. We arrived at the oxbow lake and took some pictures. It was a really impressive and beautiful place, like a good painting that you save in your memory.

Vista Alegre

After getting to know the places near Chinería, we left for the second community that would participate in the project: Vista Alegre. We sailed for a couple of hours on the Amazon River and upon arrival we were fortunate to have lunch at Doña Neiva’s home, member of the tourist association. After lunch we took a short tour through the community and had a meeting where they explained their project idea, then we shared with them what we would be doing at the weekend workshop. As it was already getting dark, we decided to go to Vista Alegre to take pictures the next day, as this community was closer to the place where we would be staying. We said our goodbyes and left for the research station of Amacayacu NP. There used to be a tourist sector in this National Park, but in 2012 it was flooded and abandoned. They are now working to reopen their facilities.

The next day we returned to Vista Alegre with all our equipment so we could walk the tourist trails and take the pictures and videos we needed. Enoc and Anibal; members of the tourism project, were our hosts and guided us through amazing places to explore the Amazon. First we entered an outlet of the Amazon River where we could hear the jungle and the weather was cool because it was still early in the morning. We entered a little further through a brook and were able to see some spectacular birds. Then Aníbal and Enoc told us there were monkeys, so they turned off the engine and we looked for them. They were friar monkeys, also called squirrel monkeys, and they were jumping and eating among the trees.

When we resume the tour, we reach a point where we got off the boat to walk through the jungle (it is and always will be amazing to walk in the Amazon jungle). Aníbal and Enoc were exceptional guides and very good talkers. We were guided to find different animals, we even got into a huge log the bats used as a cave.

At SeñorLópez we had lived an unforgettable experience. We were now ready to hold the community workshop the next day and hear the perspectives of each of the members of the tourism projects.

Brand co-creation workshop

The day we held the workshop it was very gratifying to see the participation of the communities of Chinería and Vista Alegre. Among themselves, they decided to divide into groups and in turn into subgroups of women and men, so that everyone could express themselves calmly.

Our team members were divided into each of the groups in order to make the activities easier we had as a tool to obtain information that would later allow us to carry out the strategic planning of the branding we were depeloving. The goal was always to listen to how they wanted to present themselves, how they wanted to be perceived and what they wanted to share with travelers. It was developed around the fact of how conserving nature allows communities and their environments to have greater well-being. During the workshop we were able to learn about their perspectives, ideas, dreams and plans. After this, we all had lunch together and did another tour through the community. We took pictures and flew the drone again, and this time, as in Chinería, the children came out excitedly to join us.

After spending incredible days in the Amazon rainforest we arrived in Bogota full of inspiration and desire to work on the project. The adventure of visiting the Amazon stayed forever in SeñorLópez‘s heart. Working on projects that seek the welfare of communities was unforgettable. It is very gratifying to see that the design work we can do is relevant, transcendent and can lead us to connect with other realities meeting incredible people in the process. Four years later, the tourism project is still working, and it is getting stronger and stronger with time.

If you want to know more about the outcomes of this project, the creation of the name and visual system, you can click here. To visit Innative’s website, click here.