Home to some of the last isolated indigenous communities of the Amazon, the Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador encompasses one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world. It stretches over nearly 3,800 square miles and is thought to contain as many insect species in a single hectare as are known in all of the U.S. and Canada combined. It also shelters more than 20 globally-threatened species, including the white-bellied spider monkey and the rare golden-mantled tamarin. Nestled inside the UNESCO-designated protected Biosphere Reserve is the Napo Wildlife Center, an ecotourism project that protects 82 square miles of its pristine rainforest. It was built by members of the Kichwa Añangu community on the banks of the Anangucocha Lake with the support of several organizations, and includes 16 cabins, a bar, a library, a restaurant and an observation tower. The Napo Wildlife Center is the only ecolodge located within the national park, which sits on the country’s main oil reserve: an estimated 800 million barrels.
James Beard Publication of the Year 2017