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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

Co-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 8 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 master's in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden in 2012.

She i
s a mama to Baby Caleb. 

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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.


Jonathan Diaz

Vegetalista - Curandero  - Medicine Team

Jonathan Diaz was born in Pucallpa to Shipibo and Bora parents. Jonathan came to curanderismo from his mother and aunt, learning to cure with prayer as a child. This type of folk curanderismo is called "versero",  and is practiced in mestizo indigenous communities throughout Peru, although now is not so common. Later he learned the traditional icaro healing practiced by shipibos in his community. He is a gifted and sought out healer by his community.


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. 

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Luis Alejandro Zambrano

Public Relations/  Development

Ale is a Limeño, and long term ally of Novalis. His background in communications, marketing and public relations, especially with large organizations in Lima make him vital for forming new relationships within the giving-sector in Peru. 

He is passionate about travel all over Peru, and is moved by the Amazon - and finding ways to support conservation.

The Machiguenga



Weaver - Medicine Team



Land Steward - Medicine Team


Maura & Merino

Medicine Team & Artesenias



Land Steward - Brazil Nut Harvester



Weaver - Land Steward - Chef

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