A Haven for Eco-Tourism; Monkey Island, La Isla De Los Monos

by Captain Bill

A Haven for Eco-Tourism; Monkey Island, La Isla De Los Monos

A guest post by Anna Lund

On Monkey Island, La Isla de Los Monos.

On Monkey Island, La Isla de Los Monos.

The pulsating jungle drips with wet sounds, drenching your ears, yielding to the forces of the jungle. Roars of monkeys, swishes of bird wings flapping, water clunking the boat dock, the crinkling of fried bananas… senses overload! Embrace the jungle with each breath of wet air. An inhale of this dense humid atmosphere should entail nutritional label of all the magical ingredients, invisible to the human eye, but felt deep inside; resonating a resin in the lungs to seep through the body lush energy. The trees gift oxygen, Amazon- “the lung of the planet”

Welcome to Monkey Island “La Isla De Los Monos”. Upon arrival, Rusa, a red howler monkey, will linger around your shoulders to greet the visitors with a warm grasp of monkey love. Rusa acts more like a sloth if you ask me, she always is lounging around.  With 7 different species of monkeys here there is a diverse group of personalities to each monkey. They are like children, constantly “monkeying around” playing with each other.

You will also be greeted by the great people living here who can explain the history of Monkey Island. A brief history of how the monkeys congregated here is because hunters shoot the mothers of these monkeys from treetops and eat them. The babies are to be sold at the Belen market either as a pet or food. But soon the city folk realize that these animals are high energy and are more pests than pets when kept confined in a home. Thus people donate monkeys to the island in hopes of them reuniting with their native habitat and fellow monkey friends. It is safe to say that this mission is accomplished here at Monkey Island.

The monkeys are very personable, but also wild. At night they sleep in treetops. In the daytime they have the options to socialize with humans, or forage for fruit in the jungle. They live an independent life here and have many options of fruit to choose from. It is important to provide a rich habitat for monkeys and the people living and working at the island. Thus, a goal that Gilberto (the owner of Monkey Island) has is to preserve and protect the native flora and fauna. This is where I come in-I am Anna Lund, a volunteer student also living at the island. I was intrigued from my first visit here last summer with the lush forest canopy at Monkey Island, and of course fell in love with the monkeys. I had the inner urge to return and do a project with some Amazon plants. There are so many options of plants here, with so many secret usages that I wanted to learn more about. So with the help of locals I acquired a little over 100 trees to plant at the island. some for lumber to use when cooking such as Marupa, huayruro, cedro, mahogany/caoba, tornillo, also medicinal properties for curing cancer, the common sore throat or cough (Ajos Acha), mosquito repellent (Yerba Luisa, which is a FANTASTIC plant to have around, also makes a great lemon tea), curing diarrhea (Oregano), pain in the stomach (Menta), tooth pain (flor amarillito), body pain (Patiquina), curing diabetes (Menta Brasilero), and even a plant to stop bad luck! (Mucura). These are just a few of the additions to the island. There are plentiful varieties of fruit trees here that visitors will enjoy a jungle walk to gather fruit to feed monkeys. This place is truly magical.

A usual day here starts very early, the jungle noises start to infiltrate into my dreams at about 4 am by the confused rooster that likes to start croaking early… then to wake up at 6 am to hear all the varieties of monkeys waking up. The babies are hungry and need to be fed milk so that is my first chore. Then to tranquilly rake leaves in the sandy soil like it is my very own Zen garden. Throughout the day tourists will arrive. We will chit chat about the island and hike around. Gathering fruit for juice and eating is like munching the veil off from the Garden of Eden or more so the “Garden of EATING!”. A pinnacle part of the day is to finally swim all the accumulated sweat off my body in the refreshing Amazon waters! Swimming is a must here.

Then resting time- The night usually simmers down pretty quickly here, as there is no electricity we entertain ourselves by mesmerizing candlelight talks of good humor and events of the day. Then off to bed by about 8 o clock to start another early fascinating day! What a laidback lifestyle; not to say that it isn’t hard work to maintain a living here… these people work very hard with everything they do.

The wonders of plants and the plentiful species of the Amazon jungle keep me coming back to learn more and more. Enhancing the diversity of plant life at Monkey Island has been a pleasure and getting to know this wonderful family of monkeys and people harmoniously intertwined, as one large welcoming group will be apparent with a visit to La Isla De Los Monos.

On La Isla de Los Monos, Monkey Island.

On La Isla de Los Monos, Monkey Island.

Gilberto was one of the first in this area to start a fair eco-tourist haven that protects the environment and does not harm animals by putting them on display in cages. This project started 10 years ago and with the help of people to support the island it will go on for many more. If you want to visit these great creatures, come visit Monkey Island!

A Haven for Eco-Tourism; Monkey Island, La Isla De Los Monos

I am Anna Lund a student at Pacific University in Oregon studying the environment and sustainability! Here I wrote an article about my internship at Monkey Island. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks.

Read other entertaining articles about Monkey Island, by Bill Grimes, and Our Visit to Monkey Island by Helen Hazelman.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon February 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I am a student from Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. We spent 3 weeks in the Amazon recently and it was amazing. Our dear friends at monkey island opened their home to us where we stayed for 3 amazing days, sleeping in hammacks. This is a truly amazing place. I am determined to return. You’ll never experience anything quite like the monkeys, epecially LOUIS! yay!!

2 Captain Bill February 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Hi Shannon, thanks for leaving the nice and informative comment. I’m glad your experience in the Amazon was a positive one and I agree with your conclusion about Monkey Island.
Best,
Bill

3 sovi March 28, 2010 at 2:36 am

how lucky we are if we have an opportunity to see some beautiful places in this world…

nice info..thank you

4 Petra Heng October 6, 2011 at 12:27 am

Hi All,
Such a beautiful essay)!
My husband Tom and I “Petra” spent a summer in Peru – one week we put in Amazon River and it surroundings. Monkey Island was one of the places which will always be remember.
thank to all who keep this Island alive – Monkey need us same as we need them!
Love Petra @ Tom

5 John April 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

We spent a week on a luxury boat travelling the Ucayali and Maranon and had a few days in Iquitos. Our trip to La Isla De Los Monos was a last minute, something to do on our last day, idea. It was probably the best day of our trip. We were greeted by Antony (a charismatic spider monkey) and then Gilberto (a charismatic human, who founded and runs the Island). He has a genuine love and enthusiasm for his work, taking in young orphaned and injured monkeys to be cared for and, hopefully, released into the wild. We loved the sad-looking red uakari and the titis, red howlers, monk sakis, scarlet macaw, amazon parrot and dog. Because it was flooded, we set out for a fantastic trip on dugouts to see the plants and monkeys around the refuge. A woolly climbed aboard for the journey (and our fruit). It was a remarkable day.
There is another Monkey Island near Iquitos whic I hear is less ecologically genuine. Please visit and support this Monkey Island.

6 Captain Bill April 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Hello John, How nice to learn how much you enjoyed your day with Dawn on the Amazon to Monkey Island. It is quite a charming destination and Gilberto does a nice job with the monkeys. Thank you. Bill

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