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The surroundings are superb, the villagers are friendly and the village now has an isolated eco-lodge deep in the rainforests at the base of the Kanuku Mountains.
The Amerindian villagers of Nappi look to ecotourism as an alternative means of income © Courtesy of Wilderness Explorers
Nappi is a small but spread-out Amerindian village in the southern end of the North Rupununi Savannahs, 32km from Lethem. The Makushi village is built along the savannahs that run up against the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains. The surroundings are superb, the villagers are friendly and known throughout Guyana for their intricate balata crafts. Nappi was also known for being the location of Maipaima Eco-Lodge, but it has sadly fallen into disrepair and is not currently operational.
The community of Nappi has long depended on sustenance farming, fishing and hunting for their daily survival. In order to make money, many men leave the village to find work in mining or timber concessions in Guyana, or go to nearby Brazil in search of jobs. With the species-rich Kanuku Mountains at their doorstep, many villagers also depended on the (often illegal) wildlife trade as a source of income.
The expert huntsmen used their skills to capture a range of mammals and birds; the amount they sold them for was a tiny fraction of what the animals would receive at their destinations in North America, Europe or elsewhere. The wildlife trade is an old business in Guyana, but it is also not a sustainable one. Villagers are aware of this and are open to new ways to generate income from their surroundings. With the help of Foster Parrots Ltd, a US-based non-profit parrot rescue, adoption and sanctuary organisation, Nappi looked to ecotourism as an alternative means of income, opening Maipaima Eco-Lodge, with their help. Although the lodge is currently closed, there is hope that there may be more funding available to help get the lodge and Nappi back on the little-trodden tourist trail of this area.