The community of Nappi in Region Nine and the management team of Maipaima Eco-lodge received a pleasant surprise earlier this month when they received a letter from TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, congratulating them on being awarded the “Recommended on TripAdvisor” endorsement and display sticker.
According to the letter, signed by Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business, travellers have been impressed by the business and service standards at Maipaima Eco-lodge and “it shows in their reviews.” Only 3+ rated properties receive this accolade, and it was awarded to the eco-lodge management in recognition of their impressive accomplishment.
The community of Nappi originated from the northern part of Brazil and settled in the forested foothills of the Kanuku Mountains during the 1800s. The community was named after Nabbi, the first person who settled there, who was from the Makushi tribe.
It was during this period that the Catholic Church came to the community and, with the priests’ influence and promises of providing people with zinc roofs if they came to live out in the open lands, the people of Nappi moved out into the savannah where they have continued to build a community with a strong sense of unity and purpose.
The eco-lodge, which was established Feb. 23, 2006 as a tourism project identified by the Nappi village community, was enacted through the village council with funding and support provided by Foster Parrots Foundation.
Named after the creek that runs next to the lodge buildings, Maipaima nestles in the foothills of the rainforest-covered Kanuku Mountains which are incredibly bio diverse and create a place for lots of nature sounds and plenty of sights on forest walks and at the lodge.
The mountains also mean that instead of wide voluminous brown water rivers, here the rivers are clear and more stream or creek-like, winding their way over and through the undulating terrain and narrow rocky riverbed channels.
Accommodation at Maipaima is in thatched benabs connected to each other and the communal dining and kitchen area by raised, railed wooden walkways which are bordered by flower bushes and fruit trees (when the papayas are flowering they combine the two), great for attracting humming birds and other prettily coloured creatures.
Each benab contains two en suite rooms which each sleep two people. Mosquito nets, clean linen and towels are provided and the beds and pillows are comfortable. Maipaima is dedicated to preserving the land and animals with the lowest impact on the environment as possible.
Management of the Eco-lodge is by appointees nominated through the village council and the same team have been responsible for the management and provision of services, since the lodge opened.
A hike up to Jordan Falls is an added attraction for those who like a more challenging trek, but the reward will be to visit a site where only a very limited number of people are known to have ever been there – currently less than 100.
British guests raved on TripAdvisor, “You start to hear the falls with about half a kilometre to go and when they finally open out in front of you…wow! It is a very special place to visit, and camping overnight there is a true, unique, wilderness experience. A reasonable level of fitness and stamina are advisable. The descent gives you a second chance to enjoy the undisturbed forest and its inhabitants in all of their tropical glory.”
According to one guest who stayed there in January 2012, “The forest there is among the most mystical and magical [I] have ever experienced, with impressive trees and lianas. And the wildlife is no less impressive. One can see the Harpy Eagle and many other species. A hike up the Kanukus to Jordan Falls with a camp-over is recommended. What a beautiful place to visit, and you can see White Bellbirds, Cock-of-the-Rock, and more. We also saw Capuchin Birds, White-faced Hawks, and so much more. You do not want to miss out on Maipaima.”
Lin Gillingham, a guest from Panama described her experience as: “Days [...]spent hiking in the forest with [the guides] Joe or Bear, armed with bows and arrows to fish in the streams for lunch [...] drinking from the water-vine, looking at the Harpy Eagle’s nest, bird watching, finding frogs and different plants. The lodge is situated in a great spot in the forest where Scarlet Macaws, toucans, parrots and a diverse amount of birds fly over. Howler monkeys, Black spider monkeys and Squirrel monkeys keep up a roar and crash through the tree tops”.
Guests from Derbyshire, United Kingdom, who visited the lodge in June 2010, were enchanted by the staff: “The natural richness of Maipaima makes it a real gem of a place to visit but the people of the Nappi community who run the lodge are the icing on the cake. Their humour is subtle (and ever present) but their skill and desire to look after you and make sure you have the best time possible is clear. They’re professional and proficient, friendly and fun to be with.”
Maipaima chef’s menus wow visitors
The attractions of Maipaima Eco-lodge include the traditional cuisine prepared from local ingredients by Chef Julita Fredricks. Julita was the winner of the individual category at the First Rupununi Christmas Fair, which allowed her to further refine her culinary skills by attending a workshop at the Carnegie School of Home Economics.
Visitors from France, the seat of gourmet cuisine in the world, shared their enthusiasm about the food at Maipaima on TripAdvisor, “The food was terrific, as mentioned by others. It was truly art on a plate, with lovely presentation and creative dishes. One night Julita made stuffed tomatoes flanked by spirals of plantain. The fresh-squeezed fruit juice was divine”.
Another guest marvelled: “The fresh food prepared by Julita and Isabella was superb. The best food we ate in Guyana.”
Toshao Guy Fredricks who, until recently, was the manager of the Maipaima Eco-lodge, and who continues to oversee the management, was delighted with the accolade from TripAdvisor.
“The community of Nappi and the management team are overjoyed at receiving the recognition,” said the Toshao. “We face many challenges, particularly to provide access to the lodge, but we feel that the type of guest who comes to Maipaima, will not be disappointed with the quality and the standard of service that we provide. We hope that this recognition will help our business grow and allow us to continue to improve the packages that we offer our guests.” (Behi Barzegar)