A small team of individuals working professionally in very diverse themes related to ecological sustainability, animal welfare, permaculture, natural resource management, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, natural building, design, healing arts, cultural preservation, and education.

Meet The Team

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Juan Zuniga

Founder - Director - Linguist - Medicine Team


Juan was born and raised in Cuzco, Peru of ancestral Incan lineage. He studied Linguistics at PUCP (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru) specializing in Quechua. He has been active in the region of Madre de Dios since 2001 and has extensive experience in working with local communities both in the Andes and the Amazonas for over 18 years. 


Juan has designed formal bi-lingual education programs for Quechua, Yine, and Ese Eja nations, community intermediation, nutritional information modules, and natural construction. 

His goal is to develop a way to live in harmony with the natural and ancestral traditions within the forests that he now calls home.


Cassandra Caroline

Co-founder - Strategic Sustainability Planning - Ethnobotanist - Advisor - Logistics

Cassandra is our main logistics coordinator, helping you to have a joyful, comfortable and safe stay. She has been living with Novalis for the last 6 years, and knows many of the plants and animals onsite intimately. She is one of the best to get in touch with about conservation efforts as she has been a driving force in our conservation efforts, particularly in the protection of an additional 1100 hectares through local partnerships. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria in Canada. Her focus was on environmental restoration of degraded ecosystems, ethnobotany, and political ecology. She completed her Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden in 2012.


Her masters thesis was focused on Danish Social Enterprises and their use of business as a way to create positive social and ecological benefits in their communities. These focuses on ecology, sustainability and socioeconomics have been driving forces in Cassandra's work, volunteer and research experience. 

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Loyver Yui

Vegetalista - Musician - Medicine Team

Loyver is Shipibo from the Alto Ucayali community of San Francisco and learned to work with rainforest plant medicines under the tutelage of his mother, who learned with her grandfather, father and father-in-law. Loyver's mother recounted her many experiences of medicine and ceremony to her young son. Loyver holds the tradition of Icaros (medicine songs), overseeing ceremonies and is a visionary painter.


Yuri Lopez

Land Caretaker & Builder - Guide - Musician - Medicine Team

Yuri is a local Kichwa member and resident of four years from the neighboring community of Puerto Arturo. He is our master tree climber, highly skilled builder, and carries knowledge of the regional plant medicines passed down from his grandfather. He is a year round resident of the Novalis community and works alongside us integrating his ancestral tradition and occidental philosophies/approaches in relating with the plants of the rainforest. He has a passion for guitar playing and is a skilled artisan. 


Farhana Sarguro

Digital Marketing - Retreat Manager - Herbalista

Farhana Sarguro is a new part of our team at Novalis. Before undergoing her Studies in Communications and Digital Marketing in service to the NGO sector, she worked with children and animals in Spain. Farhana then discovered and initiated her decolonial path as a bridge or connector focused on ancestral healing.


She believes in uniting cultures for allyship in evolving and strengthening the connection between women, nature and spirituality for the success of generations to come. Farhana is Taino (Caribbean)-Indian-Spanish-South African and brings the best of her Mother and Grandmothers with her where ever she goes. Expect some laughter and movement or guidance for ongoing support.



Weaver - Medicine Team



Land Steward - Medicine Team


Maura & Merino

Medicine Team & Artesenias

The Machiguenga