We are not your normal nature tour company. Our President and Founder, Douglas Trent, started Focus Tours in 1981 as Brazil’s first professional nature tour company. With his life goals of getting people out of poverty and preserving nature, he saw this as a way to raise fund for projects to accomplish these goals.
From 1981 to 2013, Douglas guided tours nine months of each year, first in Brazil and then including Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and a few African countries. With the success of the Jaguar Ecological Reserve community ecotourism program on the Transpantaneira (now sustaining over 50 local families) he was able to get corporate funding for larger programs, specifically the Pantanal Wildlife Program, Bichos do Pantanal, with funding from Petrobras. With Forbes magazine recognizing Douglas as Brazil’s Birdman, he continues to guide bird watching and nature tours.
Today, Douglas guides all our tours, which are small group, high quality excursions in the Pantanal, the Amazon and other destinations on request. We limit our tours to four participants in a boat, so all can sit in the front seats, and we carry a gas grill for remote lunches. We include all meals and all drinks, with a sunset Happy Hour observed in stunning places. We have access to remote areas in the Pantanal that we visit in a 4X4 double cab pickup and limit our tours to just 3 participants with Douglas driving and guiding. We continue to operate tours for a number of foreign nature tour companies, and they set the group side.
Check out the videos and other news coverage we have received as well as the interview with Douglas by Dr. Jon Coulis. Get in touch with us if you want a high-quality nature tour in the areas we offer, and other places we used to visit regularly.
The Focus Conservation Fund
Around 1990, Trent, with his partner, Johanne Devlin, founded the ONG Focus Conservation Fund in Santa Fé, New Mexico, with the objective of enabling the implementation of sustainable tourism in the Pantanal region, in Brazil.
“The Jaguar Ecological Reserve undertaking, which I supported in the 1990’s, by means of the Focus Conservation Fund, is currently one of the most successful community ecotourism programs worldwide”, states Trent. “The economic potential of ecotourism is undeniable. Now, all we need is private and public initiatives to develop it”, he concludes.
Partnership with Instituto Sustentar de Responsabilidade Socioambiental
In 2007, FCF President Douglas Trent and his Brazilian partner, Jussara Utsch, started the Brazilian NGO, Instituto Sustentar. This organization has been a leading voice for sustainability in Brazil, having created SUSTENTAR – International Forum on Sustainable Development, now in its 12th version. A number of other programs have included a series of courses on Nature that Douglas directed. In 2013, the first version of the Pantanal Wildlife Program started in Cáceres, MT, the Pantanal, with funding from Petrobras/Petrobras Socioambiental. This program features the three pillars of sustainability: wildlife and ecological research, connection to nature environmental education, and community-based economic development.
By forming partnerships with UNEMAT (state university), IFMT (national university), the Cáceres city government, the state and national governments, the University of Kansas, University of Radboud Nijegem, other NGOs working in the region, associations of local fisherman, artisans, hotels and boat-hotels, and others, we received a mission from the stakeholders to develop community-based ecotourism.
This program ran in the first phase, from 2013 to 2015. Results obtained include 14 published research papers, 5 masters and doctorate thesis, and over 44,000 children and young adults got into the field with binoculars donated by the Focus Conservation Fund. We were able to create a new nature destination and trained over 50 nature tour guides. We were able to raise awareness of the region with its tremendous wildlife populations, and had press coverage in over 34 countries in 12 different languages. Some of this can be seen elsewhere in this site, and also visit www.bichosdopantanal.org.
This program was renewed in 2018 and is currently taking place not only in Cáceres, but also in the county to the north, Porto Estrela. We have now given our environmental education classes and field experience to over 100,000 children and adults. Our press coverage continues as well, and some can be seen on this site.