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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Oxbow - Yarinacocha, Central Peruvian Jungle

Along the shore of the Oxbow
Shipibo dance during worship at an evangelical church
Majas - in the little zoo along the Oxbow
Fun at the zoo
Airport promotion of shamanism
One of our favorite things to do when we visit Yarinacocha in the central jungle of Peru is take a boat out on the Oxbow. Yarinacocha was formed as the Ucayali River shifted its path as it winds its way north towards the Amazon River. As we fly over the jungle in a small Cessna we have the opportunity to see numerous oxbow formations. It's not all that uncommon. The shores of Yarinacocha is populated by the Shipibo people. Their jungle fishing and yucca cultivating traditions have given way today to the production of artisan work which the women sell on the streets of Pucallpa and Yarinacocha daily. Some have developed tourism centering around their shamans and the use of plants grown in the jungle that produce hallucinations. Tourist come from many places to "find themselves". They pay a pretty penny to spend a couple of weeks "drinking the kool-aid" (so to speak), hallucinating, being incredibly sick to their stomachs and then having a shaman interpret their hallucinations so that they can determine where the spirits are guiding them in life. In our quest to help the people develop tourism we've steered clear of this particular activity and have focused more on geocaching associated with eco-tourism. Thankfully there is a large population of Shipibo who call the shamanism tourism industry a deception; completely rejecting it. They tell me that in their past only the shamans took the these drugs and that it was never considered a source of economic income until it recently became popular with gullible tourist. Sad! If you come to Yarinacocha be sure to rent a boat in the small port and take a trip up the banks of the Oxbow Lake. You'll see lots of fauna and some wildlife (birds, sloths, fresh water dolphins, etc.) along the way. One of our favorite stops is at the privately-owned zoo that is only accessible by boat. It's a small time operation but worth the time. The boat ride and the zoo trip are inexpensive. If you rent the boat you can direct the operator to take you to visit The Oxbow (GC3A7G1). The cache is just a short walk from the bank of the lake in small little public park-like area. Be sure to check out the other caches in Yarinacocha and Pucallpa while there. I hope you enjoy your visit to Yarincocha.
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