IT'S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD
Join Global Heroes and Jeff Fuchs on a transformative journey into the Amazon rainforest. Discover a sustainable eco-tourism destination and witness life-changing community work. Embrace life's simple pleasures, surrounded by one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. It's a beautiful world; let's explore it together.
Global Heroes introduces
“It’s a Beautiful World”
on Amazon Prime, Cottage Life TV, CityTV, and Pix11 channels.
By Raye Mocioiu
Award-winning Canadian explorer and author Jeff Fuchs was made for adventure.
Growing up, Fuchs spent his time between Canada and Switzerland, where he developed a love of mountains and climbing. As a child, his father inspired him to be inquisitive, always searching for the stories and histories behind everything that crossed his path. His grandmother echoed that sentiment, encouraging his adventurous nature and teaching him that getting lost did not have to be bad—it could also be a way to learn.
Known for his extensive travels to remote and isolated regions of the world, Fuchs’ love for people is what drives his adventurous spirit, honouring those who share their wisdom and experiences with him. In all of his expeditions, Fuchs holds that the art of listening is an essential skill; the great stories of life are found through simple conversations. Wherever his travels take him, he keeps a simple mandate in mind: always giving more than he takes and never taking more than he needs.
When you’ve seen as much of the world as Fuchs has, you tend to notice patterns, positive and negative, that hold true both in bustling cities and remote pockets of the globe. A natural nomad, Fuchs credits his skepticism both to his grandmother and to a learned wariness from two decades of travelling through mountainous terrain.
Fuchs spent 10 years living in the Chinese province of Yunnan, studying the origins of tea on a mission to become the first westerner to trek the entire Yunnan–Tibet Ancient Tea Horse Road, an ancient six-thousand-kilometre trade route. On this journey, Fuchs discovered that his best tool was his willingness to adapt to new settings, environments, and cultures, all requiring openmindedness, intention, and a thirst for knowledge.
Keeping his age-old mantra in mind, Fuchs is now taking on a new adventure: a journey into the Amazon as the host of Global Heroes: It’s a Beautiful World.
It’s a Beautiful World delves into solution stories, like Medical Ministry International’s (MMI) work, which brings healthcare services to developing nations, increasing access to quality care. MMI allows isolated communities to fight against extreme poverty, creating lasting change through compassionate, holistic care. Bringing healthcare to these regions enables them to continue living simply and remotely, the way they have for generations.
Leanne Ferris, Executive Director of MMI, and Juan Alan Muñoz, International Partners Director, come from family legacies of advocacy and faith, which they honour and uphold through their work with MMI. Fuchs shared that their dedication and passion shone through on every step of the journey.
“Leanne is wise to the fact that in order for good things to happen, it is often necessary to fade a bit into the background to encourage others,” Fuchs explained. “Not one to ever step in and take credit, she consistently pointed the light upon those on the ground. Juan Alan has a kind energy, a sense of humour, and the ability to unleash it when least expected.”
Fuchs approached with cynicism but found that time after time, the on-the-ground work he witnessed emphasized the idea that “regardless of motive, a good deed is a good deed.”
The work of MMI is about bringing care and love to areas that need it most, to care enough to come when others cannot. Fuchs witnessed the impact of their work firsthand in the small, remote village of Puerto Alegre, where he watched Juan Alan’s son Pepe save the life of a mother whose recent birth left her health in a precarious state. Her children watched anxiously, knowing that without MMI, they would be facing the loss of their mother—a tragedy that would impact not just their family but the community as a whole.
Fuchs was struck by the simplicity and sincerity of their actions and how much of an impact they had on the communities they cared for.
“MMI made an impression because they didn’t make anything about themselves,” he said. “They showed up, listened to what was needed, provided treatment, and gave context to what they were doing. They brought ‘doers’ who were relentlessly committed.”
Historically, the Amazon has been seen as a hotspot for thrill-seekers—the chance to get up close and personal with Amazonian wildlife is one of the main reasons people visit the region—but the region’s travel landscape has been on the mend in recent years. One of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and home to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon’s ecosystem supports nearly a third of the world’s terrestrial species. It stands to reason that a place with so much natural beauty would prioritize conservation.
The rising interest in sustainable tourism has shifted the travel landscape, spotlighting tourist experiences that put the environment first. Rich in natural and cultural wealth, the Amazon has become a hub for eco-tourism, recognizing that it’s possible to prioritize sustainability while delivering inspiring and beautiful tourist experiences.
One such experience is the Calanoa Jungle Lodge, a jewel of a hotel deep in the heart of the Amazon. Created and operated by Diego and Marlene Samper, the hotel is a laboratory for a sustainable Amazon settlement. Designed and built by locals, with locals in mind, Calanoa is a community endeavour that continuously puts the community first. Calanoa also champions sustainability: every part of the lodge comes from the jungle, from the materials used in building the structure to the replanting of the trees and palms used for the future maintenance of the buildings, and even the roofs, woven from palms.
Fuchs shared that one of his most memorable experiences was walking through the Calanoa Natural Reserve with Melisiades, the resident medicine man. The silence of the jungle was only broken by Melisiades’ quiet understanding of its surroundings. Fuchs felt that Melisiades knew all the answers to every question and allowed the jungle and its sensory impacts to introduce themselves without the need for words. While the world is full of beautiful places, the people who care for them, like Melisiades and the Sampers, are often the ones who make them so awe-inspiring.
This sentiment continued at the Maikuchiga Sanctuary—also known as the Monkey Sanctuary—where Fuchs met Julian Barajas, a Colombian-born Canadian on a mission to educate travellers and local communities about conservation and sustainability.
“Barajas was as eloquent a spokesperson and defender of the wild as one could wish for,” Fuchs said, recalling the almost unrealistically beautiful monkeys that swung from the trees and landed on his shoulders, their movements unpredictable, exciting, and natural.
Barajas explained that the Maikuchiga Sanctuary, founded by conservationist and primatologist Dr. Sara Bennett, was created when the local Mocagua community realized they were negatively impacting the local wildlife.
“The sanctuary’s purpose has always been to take animals, primarily monkeys, and give them a space where they can get better,” he said. “They can prepare themselves to leave, go back into the forest. They’ve also realized the message that I try to teach to all my guests: What you’re willing to spend money on as a tourist will affect how people will interact with their own environment. Here, the monkeys may not come down tomorrow. They might stay up in the trees, and nobody will force them to come down.”
It’s a testament to the respect for nature that is so prominent in this region—and rightfully so, as wildlife and biodiversity abound in every direction.
“So much of what is simple intuitive thinking on the part of locals is necessary for the rest of the world to adopt,” Fuchs said of the shift to conservation-focused tourism in the region.
“The Amazon and its life cannot forget the darkness that pervades its history, but as they move into the future, we see that there is goodness too,” he continued. “Actions—however subtle—can be something positive. On our Colombian journey, it was a case of witnessing deeds rather than words, revealing some of the understated people who simply do for others, and to encourage people to revel in the small contributions that one can make, however that manifests.”
Simple acts of kindness and generosity can profoundly impact those around us and the world. Fuchs said his grandmother had it right when she taught him, “sometimes you simply have to do something.”
Join Jeff Fuchs as he journeys into the heart of the Amazon with the inspiring and unique individuals who are making a difference in the most remote regions of the jungle.
Watch the premiere of Global Heroes: It’s a Beautiful World on Cottage Life TV on Saturday, April 1st, at 11 a.m. and Sunday, April 2nd, at 10 a.m.
Photo and video © Global Heroes | Sergio D. Spadavecchia