Above: Participants in the first annual Village Earth Peru study tour visiting the National Intercultural University of the Amazon to meet with indigenous leaders.
This June 2008 Village Earth offered a 9-day “study tour” to the Peruvian Amazon. The tour visited two Shipibo communities in the Ucayali region with whom Village Earth has a close working relationship. Participants received big welcomes from both communities which included traditional music and dance. The study tour visited reforestation projects, met with local indigenous leaders to learn about the reality of the region, and attended artisan exhibitions of traditional local crafts. Participants were also taken on jungle hikes where indigenous guides shared their knowledge of the forest, and even a jungle cruise where they were taught to fish for piranha and shoot a bow and arrow. This tour employed many local guides in each activity so that participants could learn directly from local people themselves. Participants even had the option to partake in special healing ceremonies with Shipibo shamans.
The purpose of this study tour was to explore and test the potential for community-owned and directed tourism that is not only fun for the tourists but also educational. Shipibo guides educated the participants about both their current and historical reality and the ways they are trying to transform their lives for the future and protect their forest livelihoods.
We made every effort, during the 9-day tour, to ensure that as much money as possible from the tour went directly to Shipibo communities, we hired all local guides, and participants stayed with local families or in communal tourist lodgings built by the community. Plus, the participants purchased many crafts directly from indigenous artisans. The participants got access to Shipibo communities and activities that few people have the privilege to experience. In all it was a great success and we look forward to hosting another tour next year.
If you have a group that is interested in organizing a similar tour you can contact Kristina Pearson at +1-970-491-5754 or [email protected]
Above: Sunrise over Yarinacocha Lake in the Peruvian Amazon.