Sunday, March 13, 2011

Colombian Amazon village bans prying tourists

Terra Daily via AFP: Just off the Amazon River, lies the village of Nazareth. But don't think about dropping by. Tired of being a curiosity to the outside world, the indigenous people have banned tourists.Thousands of adventurous, backpacking tourists flock to southern Colombia every year, drawn by eco-tourism and the hope of interacting with the peoples who live and commune with the Amazon jungle following age-old traditions.

The Colombian Amazon, a peninsula sandwiched between Brazil and Peru, is famed for its spectacular flora and fauna, some of the most varied on the planet. Last year 35,000 tourists poured into the region to swing with the monkeys, swim with the famed pink dolphins that frolic in the Amazon waters or to fish for piranhas.

But here in Nazareth, guards armed with their traditional sticks stand ready to deter unwelcome visitors. And the very few who are invited to visit with the community of about 800 residents must register with the guards and show an ID. The village, reached by a 20-minute boatride from the nearest town of Leticia, has been off-limits to visitors for the past two years.

…Nazareth's actions reveal a split among the indigenous communities that live along the river about what role tourism should play in the region's development. With the rise of eco-tourism, the Amazon has seen a flood of travelers arriving to experience the world's most biologically diverse region.

The Amazon River about95 km upstream of Tabatinga/Leticia (Frontier Colombia-Peru. A satellite image from NASA

No comments: