Dean Jacobs with a monkey on his shoulder in the Achuar jungle of the Amazon rainforest
Dean Jacobs with his Achuar friends in the Amazon rainforest.

Since 2001 Dean Jacobs has traversed across the globe exploring over 50 countries on a low budget adventure, propelled by a desire to understand the world we share. We at Mountainsmith have been inspired by Dean and are pleased to take the time to share his mission. Not only does he leave a positive impact on the people he visits, he brings the experience back to share with schoolchildren in the States. Creating an appreciation in future generations  for the great outdoors is a high priority for our brand, and we have Dean to thank for doing his part.  The latest from Dean in his words… 

With every passing minute, we left behind the noise of the so-called developed world as our plane flew deep into the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador.

The loud sound of the plane engine began to fade as I pressed my face against the plastic window to get a better view of the endless rainforest below. The unceasing green was occasionally separated, only briefly, by a brown river winding its way toward the mother of all rivers – the Amazon.

Dean Jacobs with children of the Achuar Nation
Dean delivers textbooks to the children of the Achuar nation.

There is no place like the Amazon Rainforest in the world. Thirty percent of all the living species in the world are said to call it home. Most of those have yet to be documented.

I was on my way to visit a couple of indigenous villages from the Achuar nation of Ecuador. They are a proud and distinct people who have lived in harmony with the rainforest long before the Spanish ever arrived.

My mission this day was to deliver three duffle bags stuffed with school supplies to remote village schools. There is no store down the river for the Achuar people who are dedicated to educating and empowering their children to be good stewards of the rainforest. Their lives are a balancing act between two worlds – a sustainable existence in the rainforest and the consuming demands from the so-called developed world for the natural resources that surround them.

butterfly on the Mountainsmith Approach backpack
Dean’s favorite pack, the Approach.

The Achuar are a dream culture. In the darkness of the early morning, the Achuar wake at 4 a.m. to interpret their dreams to gain insight on the actions to take for the day and the future. About 15 years ago, a dream appeared to the Achuar to reach out to the west, to the very people they considered being a threat to their way of life. The intention was to build a bridge between these two worlds to help preserve the rainforest and the world.

Their dreams have now reached me.

My first visit to the Achuar was as a guest of a tour. A friendship was formed on that trip, a new relationship was created and together we connect the young people from two worlds. I bring school supplies from the donations of school children and others in the United States. The Achuar welcome me back as their “yatzoro” or brother. They, in turn, walk me through the rainforest and share their knowledge and wisdom for me to take back to the schools in the United States and beyond.

Dean Jacobs holds the hand of a little boy from the Achuar nation and carries his Mountainsmith Approach 35 backpack
Dean provides a necessary yet gentle connection to the developed world for the Achuar people.

Soon our plane dropped from the sky and landed onto a remote red dirt airstrip carved from the green sea of plant life that covers everything in every direction.

People with smiling faces wave; some are familiar from previous visits and others are new as they prepare to help me unload my cargo from the plane.

They show me where to set up my campsite. I unroll my Mountainsmith tent, set it up to be my home for the next several days and begin my part of fulfilling the dream.

More from Dean: Website / facebook / twitter / YouTube / LinkedIn

The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 tent in the jungle of the Amazon Rainforest with the Achuar people.
Dean’s home away from home in the Achuar Nation, the Morrison 2 tent.



  1. Inspiring story!! What a beautiful idea…for the Achuar to reach out to consumer-oriented society, to preserve and protect both their own ways and the place on earth that they call home. I’m sure there is so much they can share, especially with kids since kids often understand the intangibles better than the rest of us 🙂 I hope they achieve success beyond what they can imagine…
    Best of luck and deep thanks to Dean and Mountainsmith for recognizing the opportunity and reaching out in return. Please let know how the story develops!

  2. Dean is an amazing individual. He connected with the Achuar Nation and excites schoolchildren in the USA about the people, the Amazon rainforest, and the fragile ecosystem. One man’s dreams may change many individuals in the next generation, not only bringing awareness to the Amazon rainforest but to ecosystems worldwide. His enthusiasm is contagious! Thank you for sharing your travels with so many of us.

  3. The Achuar’s dream and connecting to, of all people in the western world, Dean, is absolutely no coincidence. There could not have been a better human being to start building that bridge than Dean. Dean has not just started a fire in the children’s hearts, he continues to fan those flames, spreading like wildfire. I enjoy, so much, the photographs and writings Dean shares (especially of the children, their faces are lit with excitement of learning and seeing…pictures really are worth a thousand words). I feel every child (and adult) could benefit greatly from hearing Dean speak. Dean, thank you for helping build bridges and fan flames around this world; you really are a one of a kind, magnificent person.

  4. When the Achuar dreamed of this bridge connecting them to the west, never could they have envisioned Dean Jacobs. Not only does he enrich the lives of their children, but returns home to spread the beauty and wisdom of other cultures many would never have the opportunity to know. As an educator, I have witnessed my students leave his presentations feeling empowered and limitless. As a parent, I have had the pleasure od hearing my daughter express how this “cool” guy came to school. Her eyes sparkled with delight and excitement after absorbing an afternoon of his tales of exploration and beautiful photographs.
    Anyone, in any part of the world, should be happy to call Dean “yatzoro”. He journeys across many bridges to help connect the world and make it a better place.

  5. Dean can really paint a picture with his words.
    But even better yet it is when you are around him that you really see how he brings the smiles and stories out of those he is around.
    Keep on writing Dean we need to see more through your eyes!

  6. Connecting people and especially children to the environment is a worthy life goal that Dean Jacobs does better than most. This article on his efforts with the Achuar is just one incredible example. Here in Wayne, Nebraska, we were lucky to have Dean speak to our elementary school. Many students were moved by his stories, and their talk of the Amazon, the Achuar, and more continued long after he left (and it’s still going on!). Keep up your work Dean. We all need you.

  7. WOW……how cool to read about Dean and his trip this year to visit the Achuars.

    I had no idea Mountainsmith was involved, and kudos to you for your stewardship of connecting people and helping humanity.

    I clicked on your link as I’m looking for some camping gear. And what do you know…..a store carrying your products, named Great Outdoor Provisions in Raleigh, is about 1 mile from me! I can tell ya this, I’ve followed Dean’s travels since he started and being that you are involved, I assure you I’m going to buy your brand when I purchase.

    Back to Dean’s trip… marvelous that he helps connect children and adults around the world in sharing their hopes and dreams. You go Dean…….you’re the best!

  8. If anyone can build a bridge between two worlds to help preserve humanity, it is Dean Jacobs. I continue to be truly inspired and amazed by the great work Dean is doing to make our world a better place for all inhabitants. Every time I try to think of something to write about his awesome adventures, I get to a point where there are no more words…………………….where the beauty of one’s character, compassion and contribution to this world are best absorbed by just reading of Dean’s adventures and smiling……………..with great pride knowing there are some great people in this world. Dean is certainly one of them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do for the children and every one you touch with your generosity and kindness.

  9. This is an awesome story and really showcases what Dean is striving to do in the Achuar Nation. He is passionate about this and works hard many months out of the year to let the world know how much good they can provide when they give of their money and supplies. Thanks for all you do.

  10. Dean beautifully captures the spirit of the Achuar. Their partnership with the outside world began with their dream-inspired connection to a group of people that became the Pachamama Alliance, with whom they still closely partner today. From the insight of the Achuar grew the mission of Pachamama “To empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world” As a result, more than 4000 facilitators in 70 countries have been trained to carry the Achuar story and to help the modern world learn how to live in greater harmony with the natural world and each other. And, volunteers like me also take people into the Achuar territory to experience the lives of these custodians of the rainforest.

  11. Dear Mr. Jacobs,
    we looked at the part of your website that you were talking about how you were talking school supplies to the schools. I liked the pictures you had on your website. I learned that you like to go on adventures and helping kids with their learning. What is your favorite season in the Amazon and if you like it there more than Fremont or Nebraska.
    Thank You
    Your friend, Emily

  12. Dear, Mr.Jacobs
    Hi its Tiffany from Mr.Moores. we looked at the Amazon rain forest. i think the most coolest thing about the Amazon rain forest is that there are only little spec seas that live there not huge animals. the one thing i connect with was when you said that the peoples pets where monkeys, i always dreamed of having a pet monkey so i think it would be cool living there just to have a pet monkey. is it easy specking there language?
    Your friend,

  13. Dear Dean Jacobs, thank you for skyping our team. We learned a lot. I liked the part when you said that a baby monkey climbed on your head. How was it in the Amazon Rainforest? Is it really different from Fremont? I bet it is really different because its tropical and they don’t have any roads so its harder to travel. Hope to see you at my school soon!

  14. A wonderful highlight of the exploration and education Dean brings to those who cannot experience such things first hand. Giving and kind, he exemplifies goodness and the possibilities of humanity. Thank you for showcasing and supporting a wonderful story about connections across cultures and the benefit of nature!

  15. Dear Dean,
    It is amazing to me how you find these adventures in life. It is so rich to read about what you are up to next. This Amazon Adventure touches me for many reason but mostly because you are bridging two such diverse cultures of young people; the Ashuar and American. Thank you for doing so much to educate the next generation to accept and appreciate all the wonderful differences in our shared home, this planet Earth.
    PS and your images are stunning! So glad you have good gear to pack it into unlikely places!!!

  16. Dean Jacobs is a college friend who is still inspiring a lot of students with his charismatic personality, impeccable storytelling abilities and passion for all people across the globe. His photography draws you into the lives of the people and the places he has captured, feeling like you are there with him. He inspires youth and adults, from all backgrounds and educational levels.

    While finishing his exploration of the Mississippi River this summer, he took time to inspire some students at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi. Each student took the time to write Dean personally about how his visit inspired them. I was delighted to know that the fire I saw in the students eyes after Dean’s presentation still glows and yearns to be inspired by people like Dean. One student said he was impressed by Dean’s humbleness and joy in discovering the ordinary people of the world, as well as his definition of success. Dean’s definition of success isn’t the typical money and employment or power status, and this college student was impressed and apparently moved by Dean.

    If you have the opportunity to hear or see Dean’s presentations, don’t hesitate! I was overjoyed to see the Honors College professor equally or more inspired by Dean after listening to Dean’s presentation!

  17. I also enjoy following Dean around the globe on his adventures. I especially love that he’s both always teaching and always learning!

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