Nearly 20 years ago, access to Brazil’s tallest mountain was prohibited. Currently, a new project could show how ecotourism can protect the Amazon rainforest from potential environmental threats.

José Mario Pereira Goes, the leader of AYRCA, the Yanomami group set up to supervise the ecotourism project, claims that these mountains are sacred and the home of spirits, both good and bad. Because there were so many people who visited the summit in 2003—some of whom left rubbish behind—the Brazilian government decided to forbid entry. As a result, for some hikers, this signals the conclusion of a nearly 20-year wait. Under the new visitation plan, the Yanomami will be able to generate income from tourism, giving them the means to stave off both insider and outsider miners who would persuade them to engage in destructive but lucrative gold mining. If it is successful, it will support local economies and maybe serve as a model for how well-managed ecotourism can help protect the Amazon from outside forces trying to exploit the land.

Young Yanomami men continue to find mining to be a lucrative industry, but there is optimism that the Yaripo project will help the village turn a corner. Pereira believes that this initiative is significant. Visitors from Brazil and other countries are welcome. They are completing the project of their dreams.