Yasuni: nature and ancestral culture


In the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve the inhabitants live in harmony with nature. Yasuni translates to ‘sacred land’ and the indigenous tribes that live in this part of Amazonia, treat it as sacred, because it sustains them, which is as true today as it was for their ancestors in the mists of the past. Ecuadorian Amazonia is the home to the Kichwa, part of the indigenous population that inhabits the whole of the Amazon Basin. They get their name from the dialect of the language which is the root of all the indigenous tongues in that part of Amazonia. Once, they were part of the Inca Empire, but the arrival of the Spanish changed all that.

Kichwa-Communication-Media

They believe in a ‘Mother Earth’ and see themselves as a part of nature, not outside of it or dominant over it, instead they live alongside it. Also, they believe that no one can own the land, only use it for their immediate needs and sparingly. Of course, this clashes with European beliefs and in Ecuador, the same as all over the Amazonian Basin, this has led to catastrophic results for the people of the rainforest. Fortunately, the Kichwa have organized and fought back. Today, they and other groups have found a way to guard their ancestral homeland and become part of the modern world, they are the owners and operators of sustainable tourism projects.

Amazonian-Basin

These initiatives, allow them to live a life like their ancestors and maintain both their traditions and beliefs. The Kichwa have very strong connections with nature that outsiders find hard to understand. They believe that everything has a soul, even plants and animals. All that lives or grows in the rainforest are their brothers and sisters. Each have a soul, which is called an ‘anima’. As subsistence farmers, they are spiritually very close to the varied plant life. This is because of the plants links with health and medicine, which are also spiritual connections to mother earth.

kichwa-woman

These fascinating world views or spiritual awareness are better explained by the shamans or the wise women of the tribe. In this magical culture you will have ample opportunity to hear and better understand these beliefs from a people that has lived in harmony with nature for time out of mind. The Kichwa people renew their spiritual bond with the life around them by daily rituals, storytelling and song. This is the way they pass on knowledge and experience from one generation to the next.

Kichwa-people

Luckily, for the Kichwa, international tourism has become a blessing in disguise. It has revived a way of life that was being eroded and strengthened the call for greater conservationism. Many now work in different tourist projects along the Napo river and maintain a more traditional lifestyle, in harmony with nature, than those that have moved to the towns. Don’t miss the chance to see amazing wildlife, but also learn how the people of the forest have lived there.

Miguel Andy is General Manager of Napo Wildlife Center. Napo Wildlife Center is an eco-lodge offering unforgettable experiences in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, inside Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, which is managed by the Añangu kichwa aboriginal community.

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Comments (8)

  1. Darius says:

    It has always been one of my ambitions to get to Amazonia. It would be brilliant to see up close how the Yasuni live their traditional life making the most of their natural environment.

  2. Steve Nicholson says:

    It is this sort of story that gets A Luxury Travel Blog it’s Number One ranking in the Blog League Tables.

    Luxury is not just about the Egyptian Cotton Thread count, the vintage wines on offer and having an infinity pool. Luxury is the ability to see all of the world in its diversity and to gain an understanding of tribes such as The Yasuni and their very distinctive world view.

    • Carolyn says:

      I very much agree with this. It worries me when people spend their holidays at somewhere like a spa with their eyes shut escaping from the world. Far better to travel with your eyes wide open.

  3. Steven Ham says:

    There is a lot that can be learnt from tribes such as the Yasuni. They know their environment in great detail. While a modern pharmaceuticals company will spend millions creating a drug these tribes are often able to find a plant or tree bark which does the job at no cost. It is vital that we do not allow this knowledge to be lost.

  4. Julie says:

    It’s almost surreal to imagine the difference in lifestyle for the tribes in Amazonia compared to our 21st Century western living. It’s fascinating, and they’re certainly ahead of us in general in appreciating and respecting mother earth. It’s tragic though that others seek to claim the land and, more than likely, destroy it, so it’s testament to their strength that they’ve fought back and protect their homeland. It would be interesting to know what the health stats are for the Kichwa, both mentally and physically. Their focus on nature and the totally different lifestyle I think would make a huge difference; I think the western world could certainly learn a lot from them. It’s also good to hear that tourism has actually been beneficial for the culture and conversation as all too often tourism seems to have detrimental effects. What a wonderful place, I’d certainly love to visit!

  5. Maureen says:

    Wonderful to learn about cultures like these and especially so when people such as the Kichwa, who view themselves as part of nature, are open to us Westerners and other travellers and are willing to share their knowledge and spiritual beliefs. We can gain so much from their ideals.

  6. Alex F says:

    I guess there is a lot to learn from these Yasuni tribe culture. Being in a city, we are in this concrete jungle without knowing most of the cultures out there in the world.

    Thanks for bringing this out.

  7. Winston O. says:

    Indigenous people always treat their land with utmost sacredness. It is where they practice their rituals, celebrate their culture and develop their heritage. People who live in these lands have traditions that are very much leaning towards nature. Aside from that, they have their own way of telling stories and writing style. It is truly amazing that even though many nations support modernization and are on their way to developing more industries, there are still places like these with people who choose to live in simplicity. They’re truly children of the Earth. I hope I can visit this place and learn more about their culture.

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