In honor of International Women’s Day, Aracari is celebrating women who dedicate their lives to leading responsible businesses connected to tourism in Perú. Here, you’ll meet Lissy Urtaega of Delfin Amazon Cruises.
Lissy Urteaga is the creative force behind Delfin Amazon Cruises. Delfin Amazon Cruise has three luxury vessels (with 22, 14, and 4 cabins) that cruise upriver to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Delfin is the only Relais & Chateaux river cruise company in South America.
“I have the privilege to cruise through the mightiest of the rivers in the world, the Amazon River,” Lissy shares. “Given the destination is so unique and pristine, our vessels thrive smoothly with the environment. They are river vessels that can only cruise in these waters, all 3 of them are locally made and in perfect harmony with the ecosystem, covered with local woods from sustainable forests, palm fibers, and an Amazon ambiance all around.”
Lissy runs Delfin with her husband Aldo Macchiavello, a former investment banker. For her, cruising through the most important river basin in the world is a gift that connects her to nature. “To feel immersed in the vastness of the forest surrounded by wildlife of every kind is humbling and exhilarating,” she says. “To meet its local people and learn its dynamic is an experience that will be cherished in your heart and mind forever.” Their contribution to female entrepreneurship and creativity does not end with Delfin. Their two daughters, Chiara and Giuliana are the founders and force behind Escudo, one of the most successful social fashion brands in Peru.
Celebrating Perú’s Diverse Ecosystem
Perú is known as an Andean country, but what people don’t always know is that it has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world – spanning from flat lands, highlands, deserts, mountains, and rainforest. Very few people know that Perú is 60% Amazon basin and is the place where the Amazon River, the life force of this fantastic ecosystem, starts. The Amazon is one of the last frontiers in Perú. Cruising is the only way to learn about this fantastic and dynamic area of the world.
On sustainability, Lissy muses, “we care very much about how local people benefit with the guests’ visits. How not to become paternalistic, but to use our interactions to raise their self-esteem, making them feel proud of the place they have been born in and the magic they have in their hands. How they can count on us giving them work and an income that will help their families and daily needs….As far as infrastructure, we have invested in creating vessels that are above industry standards when it comes to waste…no footprint behind.”
Building A Better Future
When Delfin Amazon Cruises first arrived in the area 13 years ago, they found that locals were hunting illegally to sell animals in order to provide for their families. To combat this, Delfin developed arts and crafts markets to be run by local women in the area, and as a result, almost all communities nearby now run their own markets. This initiative has had a great impact on their families and the local ecosystem. Now the local women’s husbands are the ones recollecting natural fibers, seeds, and natural dyes from the jungle for the ladies to make handcrafts. With this different way of supporting their families, they’re able to let the wildlife thrive untouched.
“For me, luxury is having the privilege of traveling to places where just a few have the chance to go, of being surrounded by overwhelming nature and to have it all just for yourself,” Lissy says. “Waking up to a private symphony of birds, is saying goodbye to a fantastic day of discovery, and listening to nature’s night music, so loud and strong that you can only silence yourself in humbleness and grace.”