This story aired last night on Channel 7’s Sunday Night program. I am in total awe of this young lady’s bravery. What happened to her was horrible but she somehow found the courage to go back and testify against the kidnapers. Fiona and her friends were eco-tourists in Ecuador and it could have happened to anyone, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can read the whole story and watch the video of the segment. You can also read the story of her traveling companion Katie Cox.
Since their ordeal, the FCO has updated its advice to inform travellers that there is a 20km exclusion zone in place along the entire northern-border with Colombia, which is under army control.
It states: ‘Guerrilla groups, narcotraffickers and criminal gangs are active in these areas and there is a risk of kidnapping and a high risk of crime.’
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve has one of the highest concentrations of flora and fauna in the world and is famed for its biodiversity.
The park grew in popularity in the 1990s and there are still eco lodges based around Laguna Grande, offering tours to visit rivers, lagoons and floated forests.
This doesn’t mean that all eco-tourism in Ecuador is unsafe, many thousands of people travel there safely each year. I do think it’s worth a reminder to check the local conditions before you visit an area and if you are going somewhere remote, use an established tour operator. It’s really a shame that this is happening in these areas which are rich in wildlife. The locals who are trying to earn a living from eco-tourism are losing out because of these guerilla groups. I hope they can restore peace and safety to this otherwise beautiful area.