Sustainable Tourism In Quechua Lamista Communities – Province of Lamas

Not far from the small village of San Roque De Cumbaza.  45 minutes drive from the city of Tarapoto.   You can walk to indigenous villages with traditions connected to an archaic past.  The Quechua or (Kechwa) Lamista people maintain a culture, which creates and conserves the biodiversity and has for thousands of years.   We, of course, have a renewed interest in continuing to conserve it.   All of humanity benefits when biodiversity is secure and we are living sustainably.

Before modernity, indigenous people were the wealthiest on our planet.   The people had an abundance of; clean drinking water, fertile earth and forests to hunt in.   We are only now beginning to realize the value of creating a more simplistic lifestyle.

The issues facing the people in recent times are due to the infectious lure of an abundance without value.  A generation connected to the internet, television and a schooling system – that disconnects the people from their indigenous heritage, will weaken the value of these old ways and we must preserve it.

Petrona cooking soap from charcoal – as she makes a ceramic bowl.

How can indigenous knowledge be preserved?

Sustainable tourism can play a new role in protecting this knowledge.    Through visiting indigenous Kechwa Lamista communities we can learn about a pre-Inca cosmovision (worldview,)  through learning about myths and legends, stories of jungle spirits, guardians and creators.   We can learn to connect with nature in a different way and learn to understand it as a living consciousness to be respected.

We can dance all day in the celebration, we can learn artisan crafts – how to make simple bowls from the earth, weave baskets and chumbe belts and make paper from plants.   Which teach us about sustainable living and about an ancient world vision – in the symbols and patterns. We can connect to Amazonian medicinal plants.  Which heal illness our modern medicine can not.   Superfoods are becoming more widely known for their prevention of illness and are mostly grown in the Amazon – wild in the garden.

All of which is of great importance to preserve what is left of the biodiversity of our planet.

cultural trails| quechua lamista
Chumbe Weaving in the Quechua Lamista community of Chiricyacu.

Quechua Lamista cultural trails.

There are a few who have avoided outside influences and continue to live free of the modern-day lure.   Tourism that promotes indigenous pride, can help to support individuals who welcome tourism into their homes and villages.  The cultural exchange between the two worlds is of great importance for both parties.

There are so many indigenous villages to talk about.  Which I will explore further in this blog.  Here are some examples of the more accessible places to visit.


You can visit the town of Lamas which is a popular tourist destination.   A 20-minute drive from the city of Tarapoto.  You can buy local goods which are mostly hand weaved.  Although popular tourism provides for demand and performs for expectation.  You can see dancing on most days for your entertainment, please give the dancers money and join in.  It is always lovely to visit Waycu the people are so friendly and well worth the visit.  The history and Lamas itself is an interesting mix of European influence and indigenous culture.

Lamas tourism

The home of Petrona Quechua Lamista artisan San Roque De Cumbaza.

I have known Petrona for more than ten years and whenever I visit her home, we are always welcomed into the family.  It is amazing how after time the earth floor and caña-brava (a small type of bamboo) walls in her kitchen have become perfectly normal.   The kind Mula (horse/donkey) looks at us from the garden and the small baby chicks allow me to pick them up for a cuddle.   I always feel bemused to see how the door is perfectly hinged by an upside-down glass bottle.  We talk about our arthritis and natural remedies.  She tells me how hard it was to grind the already fired pots into a fine powder ready to mix with the clay.  Every chore in her life is physically hard.   The little money she makes from the budding students we bring to her house helps to ease her life.   Petrona is responsible for her two nephews and niece.  Her sister died when the children were still young.  Her strength and story Inspire me so much.  Maribel (eldest niece) has now married at the age of 16 and has just given birth to her baby.   She lives in a remote village a nine-hour walk from Petrona.

I plan to visit Maribel soon and take her students so that she can continue in her Petronas footsteps.  We can help to support her and the traditions passed on.

Petrona and Maribel teaching a mother and son how to make a ceramic bowl.

There are six Quechua Lamista villages to explore in the district of San Roque De Cumbaza.   Please follow this blog as we go searching off-track in the Amazon Rainforest, Peru.

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