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Canopy Tower: Part 2 – how did we build THAT THERE?

November 10, 2017


Canopy Tower – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

Canopy Tower – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

We have the tallest Canopy Tower of the Amazon Rainforest. And as most of you would guess, building such a tall tower in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, hours away from the nearest city, provided a steady flow of headaches.

Everything started in the early 1990s, when the founder and owner of Tambo Blanquillo, Luis Felipe Raffo, had a vision. He wanted to build the best Canopy Tower the Amazon had ever seen. In order to do that, he carefully scouted all possible locations, and decided to construct it on a Kapok Tree besides Camungo Oxbow Lake. Now, this provided a series of challenges.

One, the tower needed to be built in such a way that it didn’t harm the tree, as that Kapok tree is the biggest tree in the area outside the Manu National Park, with an estimated age of 400-500 years old.

Two, this location is several kilometers away from the river, and it is inaccessible by any other means of transportation.

Three, the tree is going to keep growing -a couple centimeters every year- after the tower and the staircase are built, how do we solve for that?
And all of this is without counting the logistical nightmare of the getting all the construction crew and equipment into the area.

The process of how the Tower was built back in 1999. Photos: Luis Felipe Raffo

The process of how the Tower was built back in 1999. Photos: Luis Felipe Raffo

In order to solve the first problem, a special foundation was built, in a very careful way, in order not to damage the roots. As you can see on the second and third picture from the collage posted above. The platform leans on the Tree, but the metal staircase doesn’t even touch it, as its full weight is supported by the metal and concrete foundation.

The second problem provided a sweatier solution. Given the remoteness of the location, and the position of Luis Felipe to not use any heavy machinery in the area, a 4km trail was built from the tree to the river, were the preassembled pieces were shipped to. Later, those pieces were carried by hand or wheelbarrow to the location. Hundreds of back and forth trips were made, but in the end, the final product was definitely worth it.

Canopy Tower with tourists – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

Canopy Tower with tourists – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

To allow the tree to keep growing, we have to replace the staircase every 10 years or so, adding a few extra steps we do so. It’s an expensive and painful process, but it is the least we can do out of respect for the area.

This attraction is unique in Manu and unmatched in terms of build-quality, eco-friendliness, and views, anywhere in the Amazon. No visit to Manu National Park would be complete without witnessing the sunset from our Tower.

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