The Asháninkas are the indigenous people of the central rainforest. Their native land spans from San Ramon, where the start of the Amazon rainforest clings to the edge of the Andes, eastward to Brasil. Here though, they make up the minority of the population (20-30%) because people from the sierra descended on towns like La Merced to flee terrorism in the 80’s and early 90’s and because numerous colonialists from various parts of Peru arrived to exploit the rainforest.
The Asháninka number about 50,000 and although many now make a living from tourism, traditionally they would live by hunting and fishing. Life has changed drastically for them in the past few hundred years, mostly for the worse, as they have had to contended with Maoist Guerrillas, drug traffickers, loggers and oil companies – and effective slavery and extermination by all of the above at some point.
Yet they remain an extremely friendly and outgoing people – Asháninka means “brother to all”.
On our first day we went to visit a small Asháninka village. The people live in thatched-roof houses in trees or suspended above the ground. The small village we visited is half devoted to the tourist industry and half a place to live and grow crops.
The photos we took are attached to this entry.