Urarina

URARINA

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Woman-with-monkey
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Boy-with-monkey

Travel via Boat into the remote part of the Peruvian Amazon to visit the Urarina/Shimaku Indians. The Urarina people live in the Chambira River basin and because of their remoteness, have been able to maintain their culture for over 100 years. Their lives revolve around family, fishing, hunting, and working in their small gardens called chacras.

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We will travel in our specialized boat along several rivers with beautiful views of the jungle and surprises around every turn. The river Cruise journey will be filled with images of blue Morpho butterflies, birds, river dolphins, and possibly, monkeys.

Meet these people and learn about their lives.  Our Boating Trips and Cruises are the most popular in Peru.

They live in a rainforest that is still mostly virgin and the only logging is of select trees cut by hand with no machinery involved. Their main source of carbohydrates are rice, plantains, and yuca. Their main source of protein is meat: monkey, paca and peccary… hunted by blowgun or shotgun. Their favorite drink is masato, made of fermented yuca.

The women still dress in the traditional manner of their ancestors, but the men now wear short sleeve shirts and pants/shorts that they obtain from lumber traders that visit the region. The traders will only pay them for the trees they sell off their land in goods such as clothing, soap, kerosene, shotgun shells, etc. The Urarina have little use for money.

We will stop at various villages where we will visit and learn about the villager’s way of life, boat into the jungle to see their gardens, and learn about the plants they use for medicinal purposes. In the early afternoon, relax with a cup of coffee while we trade with them for their crafts.

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The Urarina: A Brief History

Their first contact with the outside world was in 1651 with Jesuit missionaries. They were almost wiped out by the rubber barons. There were less than 300 Urarina at the end of the 19th century. They live isolated in the the Chambria basin of Peru. Population is around 2000.The Urarina are semi-nomadic and survive by slash and burn farming/hunting (blowguns/shotguns/traps). They live in long houses off the ground in which several families may live. They only marry within the tribe and have not practiced the stealing of women from other tribes. Less than 1% have been outside the basin.Woman are the producers of trade goods–Kachiwangos (woven palm sleeping mat) Shiras (palm bag) and Hammocks (palm). They cook, take care of the children, haul water, work in the shacras (garden) and make the masato which is a staple. They dress the same way they did over 75 years ago with a red top/black bottom skirt and a layer of beaded necklaces. They don’t comb their hair and when they have their first menstruation, their hair is cut off to show passage into womanhood.

Men hunt/fish and work in the gardens. Only men can be a shaman and present the ayahuasca. Their dress is the same as their grandfathers, which is a shirt with a collar (traded by wood buyers) and shorts or pants. Sandals are optional. They have received little attention from the outside world (wood traders/chonta traders). Less than 40% can read or write. They have a life style that is comfortable which has remained unchanged for many years.