Inspired Interview with Otis Dobai where Eco Tourism meets Amazon Rainforest!

Updated: Oct 10




Ever think of taking a guided eco-tourism adventure vacation in the Amazon Rainforest? Yes, but not sure how to make it happen?


Well, do we have an interview for you! After many months of discussion I recently had the opportunity to interview Otis Dobai, owner of Boekme Adventures: a destination vacation located in the Amazon Rainforest!


When I first heard what Boekme Adventures was all about, I instantly knew it had to be a story worth sharing with the world. Purely because you don't come across incredible vacation ideas like this too often, and even less often do you get to meet the people who make it happen.


Otis Dobai is one such person.


So without further delay, and here exclusively for the first time, as part of our Inspired Life Series, is my interview with Otis Dobai and the truly inspired Boekme Adventures...


Otis far left at a recent event. And yes we ate ALL of that food, eventually.

1. Who is Otis Dobai? 


Otis: "I was born on Stoelmanseiland, an island in the middle of the Maroni River,

approximately 200 km inside the north-eastern corridor of the Amazon jungle, at the

boundary between French Guyana and Suriname.


At the age of 3 my parents moved to the capital city of Suriname, called Paramaribo. I went to high school in Suriname, but moved to the USA in my 20s to pursue advanced studies in Information Technology. Currently I run a software development consulting company in Vancouver, Canada."


Goran: Which is where Otis and I met, both consulting for an organization in downtown Vancouver! Since then we've become friends!





2. Why was Boekme Adventures started?


During a visit to the boundary region between French Guyana and Suriname in 2016, I

was heartbroken to discover that heavy gold mining activities conducted by foreigners

and supported by the local inhabitants were destroying the pristine Amazon jungle,

including its many creeks and rivers.


The locals condone the destructive gold mining activities because it creates employment opportunities where none otherwise exist in these remote areas. I realized sustainable eco-tourism could be developed, as an alternative industry to gold mining with local citizens becoming stewards of their own piece of paradise.


The local people could take pride in their work guiding eco-tourists around, and teaching them how to survive in the jungle. This realization inspired me to bring a few local French Guyanese and Surinamese partners together, in 2017 to create Boekme Jungle Adventures.

 

Goran: Well done Otis and team! Incorporating locals into the guided tour is encouraging news and I hope plays a part in the long term sustainability of this type of adventure and eco-tour travel.





3. What is Boekme Adventure Vacations All About? 


Boekme Adventures operates in areas of the north-eastern Amazon jungle.

Many people are unaware that this region is sparsely populated with Maroons (the

descendants of the people brought from Africa during the slave trade) and the Amer-

Indians who have been living for many hundreds of years on the banks of the rivers.


Boekme works with these people to help guide foreign eco-tourists through the jungle

and teach them how to survive in the primary jungle. These exciting adventures start with voyages in dugout canoes to bring tourists far up-river.


Participants then hike to remote locations in the jungle to experience the beauty and serenity of the jungle.

 

Boekme Adventures’ objective is to provide unparalleled journeys and experiences in

an environmentally and socially responsible fashion.


We are committed to environmental education, and provide sustainable employment to people in the local community.


"These are not luxury vacations. They are once-in-a-lifetime jungle adventures."

 

Boekme Adventures advocates:

Ecotourism development to help improve the lives of the local Maroons and Amer-Indian peoples

Preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the local Maroons and Amer-Indian peoples

Preservation and conservation of the beautiful Amazon jungle



The company supports local Maroons and Amer-Indian communities by:


o    Employing them as guides and paying them fair market rates for their services

o    Procuring produce from local small farmers

o    Encouraging eco-tourists to visit local communities, interact with the local residents and collect hand-made souvenirs

 


Source Wikipedia - local Maroons during 1950s

4. Where is it located, what are the logistics to get there?


Boekme Adventures main office and operations are in Suriname. Suriname is a small

country on the north-eastern coast of South America in the Amazonia region.


It is known for its Dutch colonial architecture and melting-pot culture. It is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and Brazil to the south.


At just under 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles), it is the smallest country in South America. Until recently, Suriname was known as Dutch Guyana, as it used to be part of the Dutch Kingdom.  


On its Atlantic coast is the capital, Paramaribo, where palm gardens grow near Fort Zeelandia, a 17th-century trading post. Paramaribo is also home to Saint Peter and Paul Basilica, a towering wooden cathedral consecrated in 1885.

 



How to get to Suriname:


To get to Suriname simply book a flight from your city to  Paramaribo (PBM):


There are direct flights from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Suriname with a duration under 9 hours. Direct flights are also available from Miami, Florida to Suriname with a duration under 6 hours.   From the Caribbean there are short daily flights from Aruba, Curacao, and Trinidad to Suriname.

 

Once you are in Suriname, the Boekme Adventures crew will welcome you at the

airport and guide you to your hotel.



You will spend 1 day in the capital city, Paramaribo, relaxing before your expedition the following day.


Bright and early we will travel by bus to a small city called Albina, located on the left bank of the Maroni or Marowijne river, which is the boundary river between French Guyana and Suriname.


We will then journey by motorized dugout canoes to the Boekme Adventures’ base camp.


Several sightseeing stops are made along the way to base camp including:

  • Apatou, a French village on the right banks of the Marowijne river

  • Langa Tabiki, a large island community in the middle of the Marowijne river

  • Ampoma, an island in the middle of the Marowijne river

 

We will arrive at basecamp in the early evening and adventure seekers can relax,

shower, eat, and sleep in hammocks. In the morning we will have breakfast and an

orientation session.

  


5. How long do you recommend people come and stay for? 


There are many exotic adventures to experience with Boekme Adventures including:


• Voyages through hundreds of rapids and waterfalls

• Visiting the various Maroons and Amer-Indians tribes who live along the rivers

• Jungle survival experiences

• Bow and Arrow hunting

• Customized tours

 

To fully enjoy the beauty of the Amazon jungle, we recommend tourists to stay at

least 8 days.



6. Why are you so passionate about this project? 


My passion for this project stems from the fact that I want to see the development of

eco-tourism in order to slow down and ultimately stop the gradual destruction of the

Amazon jungle.


Once eco-tourism catches on, the local Maroons and Amer-Indians will not allow gold miners on their territory, which only leads to destruction of the jungle and pollution of the water.

 

Goran: A very worthy and noble cause. And definitely one heck of an adventure. It would be interesting to learn more on the Maroons and Amer-Indians before heading out on a. trip like this. In terms of cultures and customs.



7.  What is a crazy story or adventure that took place on a previous trip with guests?


 On a recent river voyage the 20 meters long motorized dugout canoe was traversing a

series a thundering rapids stern-first and descending backwards.


The boat pilot was concentrating on avoiding fully and half submerged rocks and while doing that the front half of the long boat passed under the branch of a large tree, which was protruding about 15 meters over the river. An iguana, relaxing on the branch felt seriously disturbed and confused, and accidentally jumped into the boat.

In a split second, before anybody could react, one of the tourists who was afraid of

the harmless iguana, jumped overboard and clung to the edge of the boat. In

retrospect, there was no need to get wet; the green reptile quickly climbed out of

boat and swam away.


Goran: In full disclosure I probably would have jumped off the boat too...




8. Who should not inquire about this vacation? And for those interested, where can they get more details? 


Boekme Adventures’ trips are mostly for:

  •  Adventurous individuals who have an interest in the rugged outdoors and nature at its purest

  • Those who do not mind getting wet and dirty

  • Individuals who enjoy jungle trekking and camping on river beaches and river banks

  • Those who want to experience living with the bare minimum in the jungle, but still comfortable enough to enjoy it

  • Those who want to experience sleeping overnight in hammocks, in jungle huts deep inside the Amazon jungle


Our trips usually consist of 10 or more individuals.


We encourage participants to join our trips in pairs or small groups so they can enjoy the experience with familiar faces. However, Boekme Adventures also invites individuals who enjoy traveling alone to join the trips. You will make friends for life during these thrilling adventures.


For more information, contact us at info@boekme.com. Visit our website at www.boekme.com. You may also contact us on www.facebook.com/boekme.



Goran: Many thanks to Otis for answering our questions. Are you all visualizing yourself travelling down the Amazon river and trying this incredible eco-adventure vacation?


Thanks again for reading, and until next time, stay inspired.


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