Picture by @santiagosierrasoler

“We are living in what is probably the most exciting time for human history. I believe the world is waking up to deeper understandings on how we can evolve and live more connected and at peace with nature. At the same time the stakes have never been higher, the risks are immense and the challenges seem impossible. That is exactly why we need to make it fun and exciting, that way we can implement new habits and truly take action.
My work is highly personal, every project is a creative challenge to ignite relevant conversations.”

– Santiago Sierra Soler



THE WAKING APE is an all-original-content platform whose main focus is to tell the extraordinary stories of brave innovators and idealists who dedicate their lives to the conservation of nature, wildlife, and ancient indigenous traditions.

The independent creative collective was founded by photographer and filmmaker Santiago Sierra Soler and Vito Basso in 2019. Their sole mission is highlighting and promoting the emerging consciousness movement through storytelling, social media, and communication.

They aim to create a community that leads by example. Both as an offline and online community, they can bring people together who share the passion for creating a conscious change in the world.


Picture by @santiagosierrasoler


The Waking Ape features remarkable stories of brave individuals who dedicate their lives to conserving wildlife, nature, and indigenous traditions.

These video and photo interviews aim to inspire and create awareness about the environment, conscious culture, and lifestyle. My personal favourites are An Introduction To KAMBO and Dear Wise Earth. Find more journal entries and interviews here.


Taken from the DEAR WISE EARTH article. Rita Von Hildebrand & Siddhartha Photographed by Santiago Sierra Soler.


Below you will find a short interview with one of the founders, Santiago Sierra Soler:


How did you meet Vito and why did you two decide to create this project together?

I came across Vito’s Instagram a while back while I was on a reflective trip in Bali. His profile spoke to me because he highlighted issues such as plastic consumption. I thought it was interesting and important that someone could use their social to talk about these issues. I had previously considered doing a project specifically about animals and conservation.

When I arrived in New York, my casting director randomly emailed me asking if I wanted to meet Vito. Synchronicity! He came to the studio, and it was an instant bond. He was moving to LA that week, and I happened to have an upcoming photography job there, so we met up there and started formulating what eventually became the Waking Ape. Dicaprio was an inspiration at the time since he used his influence to create awareness about other people’s projects. Social media is an excellent tool for us to either create or, on the opposite spectrum, become zombies that are content without their freedom.

Two months later, Vito asked me if I knew Leno Sierra (she appears in the first episode of Zululand) since she’s Mexican and has the same last name. Leno had a severe accident, and while in the hospital, she promised herself that she would fulfill her passion for working and saving animals if she got healthy. She moved to Africa after she had recovered and was the one to invite us to Zululand to experience the conservation projects firsthand.


Leno Sierra. Picture by @santiagosierrasoler


What is your favourite type of content?

Anything that talks about how we used to see the world before, from when we were hunter-gatherers and living from the earth. Back then, we knew everything was connected and was spirit, and we didn’t question that. I feel like our generation is going back to the beginning of humanity and understanding that everything is energy. For me, finding those connections and making ancient ways of thinking relevant is the most interesting aspect. That, of course, also has to do with taking care of nature and the environment because it is part of us.


Picture by @santiagosierrasoler


What was your greatest takeaway from your trip in Zululand? 

The biggest takeaway was the learning aspect. Before starting the trip, we approached it from the most humble place. Our stance was that we knew nothing but were very curious and hungry to learn. That was our north-pointing arrow. Returning to the US, we felt we had gained so much knowledge about conservation that we previously did not have.

I also understood the importance of creating initiatives or creating awareness surrounding initiatives that already exist so that you can support the ones that speak to you.


Santiago Sierra Soler and Vito Basso


What are your future plans for “The Waking Ape?” 

One of the greatest goals of the Waking Ape is to create a community of like-minded people that want to engage with reality in a different frequency. The best part of this project has been that you don’t start your friendships from zero when you meet people who are into the same things. It is almost like you have reconnected from a past life.

The dream is to make a school eventually. I imagine a physical property here in Mexico where we can invite guests to host talks and workshops about crucial topics such as consciousness, environment, conservation, etc. Then, hopefully, the people that join us will apply these philosophies into their everyday lives.



Recently, Santiago and Vito launched the first episode of Zululand. The project took them on an adventure to Africa where they learnt about the importance of conservation.



The first episode below is a beautifully shot 20 minute short film about Santiago and Vito´s adventure in Zululand, Africa. They take you on a journey through the incredible landscape and introduce many important stories ranging from consciously setting wildfires to regulate the ecosystem to pangolin (the world’s most trafficked animal) conservation.



Follow the @thewakingape.