Why to go now: Deep in the jungle at the headwaters of the Amazon lives one of the most isolated ethnic groups in the world. The Huaorani, an indigenous people who've only been in contact with the so-called civilized world since the mid-twentieth century, harvest jungle fruits and hunt in much the same way as they presumably have for thousands of years. And they do it through virgin forest. Unfortunately, oil interests in the region have put their way of life, and the pristine environment, at risk. The government of Ecuador originally asked that the international community raise funds to offset potential oil revenues – an effort to justify keeping oil development out of the Amazon that was considered tantamount to blackmail. Nevertheless, development is coming and it's coming fast – bad news for both the Huaorani and the myriad birds and animals that call the region home.
How to get there: Visit the Huaorani Ecolodge in Yasuni National Park. The lodge is managed by members of the tribe and serves as a tool for conservation to fight extractive activities in their ancestral lands.