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At the end of an as yet unbeaten track, San Josť de Payamino is a Kichwa community of around 300 people one hours drive from Loreto, or two hours from Coca. The people are just starting to diversify from mainly subsistence agriculture into tourism, giving backpackers a great opportunity to experience the Amazonian Kichwa lifestyle and explore the surrounding jungle and Payamino river.

There is no electricity or running water in the community so a relaxed and flexible approach will enhance your experience and any minor inconvenience will easily be compensated for by the warm hospitality of the Kichwa people and running river water to wash in! No english is spoken in the community.

The cost of entering the community is $10 per day (including accommodation – day trip only is $5). The admission cost goes into the community chest, half of which is spent on the school, health centre and other community services, and half of which is spent on
improving tourism facilities. Tours start from $40 a day and meals are $5 each. Send an email to Paul (see contact details) for exact pricing and for costs for multiple persons. Transport to and from the
village is additional.
Tours...
River journey
Take the community canoe upriver to do some wildlife spotting. There are Kingfishers and Oropendulos all along the river together with troupes of monkeys, occasional river otters and scores of butterfly species. There is a natural salt deposit a few hours upstream which is used by flocks of parrots each morning. A cave with resident bats, can also be visited. This trip is best when combined with an over night homestay.
Overnight homestay
Most families have a house in the community centre (the village of Payamino) and an outlying finca (or farmhouse) with a few hectares of land on which to grow food. Some families have chosen to put up backpackers in their finca, enabling you to share the Kitchwa lifestyle: drinking lots of chicha and chatting, sleeping on the floor of the wood and thatch house, and getting up at three in the morning to listen to Kitchwa pop music on the radio!
Jungle walks
Try a full day walk to a 30 metre waterfall, or a demanding trek up the local Armadillo Hill. Both walks give you the chance to get deep into the jungle, one being rewarded by a view and some petroglyphs, the other with a swim (although the Kitchwa say there are anacondas in the plunge pool so showering rather than swimming is recommended). Multi-day walks can also be arranged.
Other options
Other activities include medicinal plant tours, a trip to see the shaman, and making your own plant fibre bags and jewellery. If you are interested in doing volunteer work in Payamino send an email to Paul Bamford, the community development manager (address in contact details).
How to get there...
Contact Paul Bamford to arrange the trip and transport, although as there is no email or phone contact in the village, he will only receive messages every week or so when he is in Coca. (For this reason it is a good idea to arrange the trip as far in advance as possible.) Alternatively speak to Robert Vaca who owns Hostel San Fermin in Coca, on the intersection of Quito and Simon Bolivar streets.
Other Information...
Bring with you clothes and shoes you don't mind getting wet, a sleeping bag and mat, a spare set of dry clothes for the evening, toiletries and toilet-roll, a torch, insect repellent, sun cream and water bottle (filtered water is provided in the village). Other items which are handy if you have them include: rubber boots, mosquito net, snacks, candles, dry-bag and pens and pencils as gifts for the local children.




photos
Report & Photos by: Anthony Webb & Andrew Salisbury
Contact Info...
San Jose de Payamino
Provincia Orellana
n/a
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