Issue - October 2008

October 2008

What is ecotourism? Is this kind of tourism in Bolivia? Why? Who gets involved in ecotourism? How important is it to be responsible with nature and small communities? more...

October 2008


Tourists living in indigenous communities to help their culture to survive

Barbara Walter

The Bolivian non profit organization DELPIA ( Fundación para el Desarollo local de Pueblos Indígenas Amazónico-andinos) founded in 2006 is an initiative of young professionals who want to protect the culture and the territories of the Yuracaré and Trinitarians.

Their tourism program is based on a concept called Dual-Tourism, meaning that local people and tourists profit from the experience. It is a mixture between community and eco tourism. DELPIA claims its main goal is the independence of indigenous people regarding their territory, identity and their economic, political and social rights so that their culture can survive.

The Yuracaré and the Trinitarians live in the departments of Beni and Cochabamba. Not only do their numbers keep on decreasing but their territory also. The loss of territory is due to the coca cultivation as it destroys the rainforest which is essential for their survival as a food resource and a place to live.

DELPIA wants to offer the indigenous people another income besides the cultivation of coca and developed two different tourism programs in cooperation with the two ethnic groups.

The program “The indigenous world” offers a hike, including canoeing, through the indigenous’ territory lasting several days. Indigenous guides escort the tourists through their territories, give them survival tips and teach them about the importance of nature for their living. This program aims to make the tourists aware of the importance of nature as the source of life for the indigenous people. As the tours are lead by local guides, the indigenous people profit from the money the tourists pay.

DELPIA wants the indigenous people to administrate the gained money independently. One part is used to cover the needs of the tourists and the other part to finance improvements for the community or other projects.

The program “The indigenous life” is based on the idea to bring tourists into the communities and show them their life by letting them experience it themselves. No more than three tourists are assigned to one community. They participate in the daily activities like fishing, canoeing, cooking or hunting. The tourists have to be prepared to live in the same circumstances as everyone in the community, which means no sanitary services or electricity and sleeping in a hut.

According to the Dual Tourism concept the tourists should experience a completely different way of life which leads them to a better understanding of the indigenous culture and makes them aware how hard it is for these ethic groups to survive if their natural surrounding is destroyed.

As Katharina Nickoleit who took part in this program argues in her article, published in the German magazine “Spiegel”, it takes both sides a day to get used to each other. But after this, the indigenous people are more than happy to share their daily life with the tourists and learn more about their culture in return.

If you want to find out more about DELPIA, its work and their tourism programs, check their website:

La Ruta del Che
Ernesto “Che” Guevara is a controversial figure: for some a hero, for others a ruthless leader of tyranny. As a young medical student, he traveled through Latin America and was struck by the poverty he witnessed. Inspired to make changes, he dedicated the rest of his life to a revolution against capitalism and imperialism across the continent. In 1966 he founded the National Liberation Army in Bolivia, a group of guerillas committed to national revolution. But to the authorities, he was a threat. On October 9th 1967, after 11 months of evasion in the remote Santa Cruz region, he was finally captured...

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