Rainforest Expeditions S.A. (RFE) was in founded in 1992 by Eduardo Nycander and Kurt Holle with the purpose of “providing authentic educational experiences that support the conservation of the areas where they operate.”
The idea behind RFE's lodge, Posadas Amazonas, was to use land within a community managed reserve, which was previously hunted and logged to create a sustainable tourism operation which would generate employment for the El Infierno indigenous community as well as to show scientists, students, and tourists the amazing beauty and diversity of the Peruvian Amazon.
According to RFE’s managing director, Kurt Holle: “Rainforest Expeditions was born out of a conservation ethic. Posada Amazonas was a project directed towards generating sustainable development and conservation. Both the community and the company are aware that our clients come to see natural resources as much as cultural ones.
"Attractions such as the giant river otters, harpy eagles, and macaws are key. Charismatic fauna such as monkeys and caiman are important. Therefore we keep an eye not only on the impacts of tourism on these species, but on how we can work to assure their populations over the long term.”
Verde Ventures engaged in this project in 2003, providing an investment to improve RFE’s infrastructure and transportation. The company has been very successful, not only in the community engagement and conservation aspects, but also in demonstrating that conservation and tourism can be profitable.
As a result of this success in 2005, RFE decided to build a new lodge to sustainably increase its tourism capacity.
The community benefits can be felt throughout the El Infierno community, which owns one of RFE’s ecolodges, Posada Amazonas.
"For its ownership, the community receives 60 percent of the profit. The project is intricately related to job creation and training,” stated Kurt Holle. “At the heart of the project lies a 20-year association contract. As of 2004, 18 of 20 lodge positions were in the hands of community members and seven community bilingual guides were obtaining client satisfactions of 90 percent or above. The only two lodge positions that were not filled with community members were the bartender and souvenir shop manager and lodge manager.”
RFE currently protects 20,000 hectares of critical habitat adjacent to the Tambopata Reserve and employs about 50 people, of which 30 percent are women. The company has won several prizes, including the Conservation International Ecotourism Excellence Award, the Conde Nast Traveller Ecotourism Award for Tour Operators in the year 2000, and the UNDP's Equator Prize in 2002.