Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

In Memoriam Peter Jenson

Peter Jenson founded the first of the Explorama Lodges in the Peruvian Amazon in 1964.

From the beginning protecting the rain forest and the well being of local people were intimately intertwined with the operation of the Lodge.

I first heard about Peter and Explorama in 1981 from Richard Ryel, founder of International Expeditions.

So even before I met Peter, I felt that in some small way I was following in his footsteps.

After we met, became friends and spent time together I realized what a rare and special privilege following in Peter Jenson’s footsteps was.

Before he was done Peter had started 3 lodges, a field station and a “camp,” employing over 200 people. He has been instrumental in protecting 250,000 acres of rain forest.

What made Peter so special to me was not just what he accomplished, but how he accomplished it—with humor and flare.

Peter died Saturday at his home in Ceiba Tops on the Amazon.

Now that he is gone, I would like to postpone following in his footsteps for as long as possible.

Peter would understand

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Comments and Replies

  • At January 08, 2011
    11:48:19 am
    jorge said:

    I truky admired him.
    he will be with us always,
    jorge m vargas, ex explorama tour guide,

    • At January 08, 2011
      11:46:51 am
      jorge said:

      i do truly admired him. he had changed my life,
      jorge vargas, ex tour guide for explorama tours. i now live here in the States and would be going back to Explorama

      • At August 15, 2010
        6:36:34 pm
        Alan said:

        I am now sitting in the bar at Explorama Ceiba Tops hotel(drinking a Pisco Sour) where I met Peter Jenson December 2009 and talked to him for 1/2 hour before I had to leave for Iquitos. He was sick at the time, and he looked it, and at lunch I was suddenly hit with the notion that this was a great man and that I had to talk to him.

        A few days ago, when I arrived at Explorama for my second visit, I asked about him and found out he had died a couple months earlier. I also found out how much the people who worked with him loved and missed him.
        Beyond that, those who come here and boat around between the lodges can see his legacy of saving the rain forest and helping the people, especially doing so much to at least preserve some of the native Yagua Tribal culture. As his friend, Dr. Linnear Smith told me, you can boat between Explorama lodge and Napo and see that the only Primary Rainforests in the area are like islands-the rest is destroyed, probably forever.

        I will say it again-Peter Jenson was a great man.

        • At August 12, 2010
          6:10:21 am
          Tim said:

          Greetings, I met Peter and worked for free board for Explorama in the 1970s. I had many adventures both through work and during time off. One standout was that I arranged 1 day to be dropped off between Iquitos and Yanamono. I wished to walk an indian trail between the Amazon and the Napo. I recall it was all very wild and I had to reach the shore by walking through swamps; [fearful of sting rays]. The trail itself was very isolated and I met and talked with 2 indians on my way to the Napo [who were amazed that I was alone, unarmed and without food or water. On the return walk I met no one, but I was a little late arriving back at the pickup point and the driver of the pickup boat [I think he was only 14 years of age and I recall he always frowned]! At any rate, he did not wait [even though I saw him him from high ground a few miles away at a rare break in jungle foliage. So I stood up throughout the night without a light or human being or any sign of any form of civilisation and took a lot of hits from mosqitoes and chigas!
          While on work time we used to go on boat trips up the Napo and across to the Manati [green waters] on the southern side of the Amazon. At one time we nearly capsized on the Napo during a squal, but Don Victor [who actually built the lodge and lived at Yanamono], was very experienced and knew how to survive the crisis [which was a very near to a complete and utter disaster]. I recall many trips in open canoes with Don Victor and he was always ducking up quebradas to the point that I used to rib him about having many novias everywhere.
          In those days Peter used to live in Iquitos [I cannot remember if it was Sgt. Lores or Morana]. I personally found him very amicable and I am saddened by his death! My only criticism of him was that he employed a non Peruvian predator of young boys and he often did so by means of offering work to the victim’s father]. However in some defence of Peter, I recall he had a bad back, and he genuinely required assistance in the office in Iquitos. He certainly had a passion for the people and the jungle including the contents thereof. I thank him for the opportunity to live and socialise with all the characters and employees of those times and to share their culture and language!

          • At August 04, 2010
            7:50:49 pm
            Tony Luscombe said:

            I met Peter in Iquitos in 1974 and his work was already well known then. Also observed his achievements during the annual International Expeditions workshops. He was one of those rare people who liked to give back to the country he adopted as his own. His death is a great loss for Peru.

            • At August 04, 2010
              2:54:57 pm
              Damian Furlong said:

              Hello Pam,
              So sorry for your loss as I think you know I met Peter in 2005 on a trip with my late father Derrick, to Ceiba tops, what a great adventure it was going there, and a wonderful and most memorable time was had by myself and my father we both had a couple of Pisco sours with Peter while watching the evenings entertainment, I enjoyed the conversation which took place between my father and Peter talking about old times in Peru. His achievements deserve the highest accolades!

              • At June 29, 2010
                8:09:38 am
                Rose, USA said:

                Peter Jensen sounds amazing. My condolences for your loss.
                When a huge tree in your front yard topples, it leaves a hole that can not be filled. Losing a friend is painful. You can feel their presence, their spirit, but you can not see them. Spirits have always been aligned with nature.
                Peter Jensen’s spirit is free and is a floating in the misty canopy.

                • At June 23, 2010
                  2:15:14 pm
                  Pam Bocur said:

                  Thank you, Michael, and that’s my favorite photo of Peter. It has looked over me as I type at my computer for many years. There is actually a funny story behind the photo. We were trying to get a photo for I think it was Outside Magazine but now don’t remember. At that time (to be honest at most times) we just went out and took the photos ourselves. Finding a professional photographer in Iquitos who would go out to the lodges for a couple of days was just too much. So, we went to each of the lodges with a bunch of different shirts, red, orange, blue; ones that stand out in a photo, and a bunch of rolls of film since you never knew how the photos would come out.
                  At ExplorNapo Peter decided that it would be nice to have an animate something with him in the photo. He tried the trumpeter bird that was a resident of the camp. As I started to take photos, the trumpeter went berserk and started scratching while Peter tried to hold it so I could snap the photos. Well, you can just imagine the expressions on his face in those photos. The t-shirt was shreds and he was bleeding from scratches all over the place. Next we tried the orange BOSS t-shirt, a gift from someone, with the coffee cup and if you look closely, a band-aid on his left middle finger. And that’s the Peter I hold in my heart, cup of coffee in his hand, pen clipped at his neck, Timex watch on his wrist that he changed the battery once a year whether it needed it or not, a huge smile on his face and always the boss, just by being there. I cannot express how very much I miss him. Many thanks again for your tribute. Pam