Rainforest Experiences
Journey to Peru’s Amazon the ethical way: Q&A with travel blogger Hilton Davila

What's it like to explore the most biodiverse places on Earth, Manu rainforest, on a wildlife tour that supports conservation and community projects in the Amazon. Founder of Visit South America, Hilton Davila, shares his experience...

 

Hilton having fun in the jungle

 

1. What did you learn from your experience with Crees and journeying to the Manu Biosphere Reserve?

 

I learned that if you bring together a group of people for a greater good, amazing things happen.

 

All the guests staying in the Manu Learning Centre were very interested in the research, education, and support that was being given to the Amazon and local communities in the area.

 

If it wasn’t for the volunteers and great people of Crees putting in the effort and time to better develop new research and aid for the area, others would not be able to experience the Amazon the way we did.

 

I am deeply grateful for Crees being in Manu and being able to help the Biosphere Reserve, as well as the people that live in it.

2. How did this Amazon experience compare to others you've been on in South America?

 

This was actually my first trip to the Amazon, in any country in South America. I had always wanted to go and was humbled by the opportunity of being able to experience it with Crees.

 

Not only was I able to learn about the locals, but also about the different fauna and flora that inhabit the area.

 

All in all, it was a great experience and if I could do it again, I would definitely go with Crees.


3) Were you able to get involved with Crees scientific and research offering?

 

Joining the researchers on their field work was a highlight | Image © Hilton Davila

 

Definitely. One of the days I was able to join two volunteers on a butterfly survey.

 

The volunteers were attempting to record the amount of diversity that can be found in any given area, by collecting data on the types of butterflies that were caught in the sample net.

 

To get a good sample, the volunteers would use different types of stimulants to attract the butterflies, such as banana and fish. One would be placed high in the trees and another low to the ground to account for the different butterfly flying elevations and patterns.

 

Our first net had caught about 40 butterflies so one by one a volunteer would make notes and document the species. Lucky they had a species guides with hundreds of pictures of different butterfly species that we could reference – otherwise we would have been there for hours!

 

4) What was the Manu Learning Centre like?

 

Amazonian style lodges of the Manu Learning Centre | Image © Hilton Davila

 

The MLC was fantastic. I had imaged something different before arriving and it turns out I was completely off.

 

The centre was super clean, bigger than expected, and the beds were really comfortable.

 

The staff and volunteers were super friendly and always had a smile on their face.

 

You would not have guessed this, but from the hours of 6 to 9 there is Wi-Fi in the middle of the Amazon.

 

5. Most amazing fact you learnt while travelling with Crees?

 

It is extremely hard to spot jaguars, pumas, and bears in the Amazon.

 

I had told our guide that I was feeling lucky and our group was going to see one of these majestic creatures. He chuckled and told me that in all his time working in the jungle, he had never seen one.

 

The interesting fact he told me was that sometimes even villages of the area go a whole lifetime without seeing these elusive creatures.

 

6. If you could go back again, what more would you like to experience?

 

A curious Capuchin monkey comes to say hello | Image © Hilton Davila

 

If I could go back again, I would like to experience more wildlife. Although we had our fair share of sightings, it would have been great to see more monkeys, caiman, snakes, and whatever else lurks in the wild jungle.

7. Tell us about your background

 

I’m 25 years old, born and raised in Orange County, CA. My parents immigrated to the states from Peru when they were teenagers so growing up I always had a deep love for the Peruvian culture.

 

So much so that a few months ago, I decided to leave everything I loved and moved to Peru to follow my dream and start my own travel company.

 

8. What did you love most about your experience?

 

What I loved most about my experience in the Amazon is the feeling of being away from civilization.

 

The Manu Learning Centre is located in the middle of nowhere but still has the right commodities needed such as warm water, great food, and comfortable beds.

 

It was a very interesting feeling knowing that you could walk 10 feet out of the MLC and feel like you are deep in the Manu jungle.

The only way to reach the MLC lodges is by boat; feeling cut-off from the world is a liberating experience | Image © Hilton Davila

 

9. Where else in the world would you like to explore?

 

I would love to travel to South East Asia and do a multi-month tour through Vietnam, Loas, Thailand, Cambodia and any other neighbouring country I could get to. The culture and food look amazing!

10. If you could give one piece of advice to somebody looking to start a travel blog, what would it be?

 

My one advice to someone looking to start a travel blog is to write about things you love, whether that be reviewing high end hotels, adventure activities, art, or food.
Once you find something that you're really passionate about you won’t have to find the time to write about it. You’ll want to do it after every experience.

 

Thanks so much for visiting us Hilton, we loved showing you around Manu and sharing our passion for protecting the Amazon rainforest.

 

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