The entire Uakari Lodge structure floats peacefully on the Mamirauá Reserve Waters. How is that possible?
The impressive structure of Uakari Lodge
This week we posted on our social media pages a picture of the first image everyone has when comes visit Uakari Lodge. We are 100% sure all tourists who come do remember the moment we approach the lodge and see its structure floating peacefully on the Mamirauá Reserve waters, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
It can get even more impressive when we learn this entire region is part of the longest protected floodplain forest on Earth, and that the water levels change about 12 meters along the year – which means the lodge also floats up and down, along the year, together with the water.
And the first question most visitors ask when getting to the lodge is: how is that possible? How does this hotel with 10 rooms can get quietly floating all year long, for the past 20 years?
Uakari Lodge on sunset. In this picture we can see the cables that keep Uakari Lodge stable in the water.
Nearly 100% of the lodge floats on tree trunks of assacu (Hura crepitans L. Euphorbiaceae – or ‘sandbox tree’ in English). It can be found throughout the Amazon, in floodplain forests, on clay and wet lands, mostly bordering rivers. These trees can get up to 40 metres high and the drink can get uptown 2 metres in diameter. The trunk is very light, being easy to carve and for that reason commonly used for construction and handcrafted objects.
For the Uakari Lodge project the assacu (and all the other wood used in the construction) is acquired with the support of the Mamirauá Institute’s Community Forest Management Program, one of the many extension projects at the organisation. This programs’ objective is to implement a participatory sustainable forest management model at the Mamirauá Reserve, appropriate to the ecological, cultural and socioeconomic conditions of the reserve, improving the income generated through the commercialisation of wood from a forest management plan and contributing to the community organisation and environmental awareness of the local communities.
Uakari Lodge is permanently working with this program to sustainably purchase wood at the local communities, promoting the economic development at Mamirauá Reserve and developing the environmental awareness, specially among the younger generations – one of the many hidden benefits a visitor leaves behind when coming to the lodge. The assacu must be replaced from time to time (it lasts a long time, though! – up to 30 years) and that operation happens when Uakari Lodge is closed for maintenance.
One of the bungalows at Uakari Lodge (where rooms # 1 and 2 are located) were part of an experiment developed by Mamirauá Institute. They float on… foam! It has shown to be a great alternative to wood, being very stable on flotation and with great resistance to water and the vertical movement of the entire lodge along the year. As a fun fact: Márcio Ayres, the founder of Mamirauá Institute, always stayed at that bungalow when visiting Uakari Lodge.
The lodge is stable at the same spot – horizontally. Vertically, it moves 12 metres along the year, together with the water levels that change according to the floods in the Amazon.
And how does it stay at the same spot along the year?
Besides floating, the lodge needs some extra support to be fully stable at the same place along the year. All the structure is tied to trees in all directions of forest with underwater cables. Those cables get loose or tight accordion g to the level of the waters, so the lodge is at the same spot all the time. Also it has anchors for each floating structure to keep the movement less perceptible for the visitors.
When you come to the lodge do not miss the chance to interact with our infrastructure team, who can show you extra information, how the operation of cables work and the differences between the wood and foam as floating basis for the bungalows.
(Image credits: Adam Preiss, Gui Gomes, JP Borges Pedro, Gustavo Pinto)