The Exceptional Cofan Guides of Dureno
Situated in the far northeast corner of Ecuador, split by the winding Rio Aguarico River, is the village of Dureno. This Cofan village is divided into two distinct parts. The one part of Dureno is more developed and can be reached by road, whereas the other part of the village, which is across the river, can only be reached by boat or canoe and is far more traditional.
Members of the Cofan tribe are much sought-after jungle guides. Cofan guides take tourists into areas of the Amazon that are rich in natural beauty and wildlife and are seldom visited by outsiders. Ensuring that the environment is left undisturbed, the Cofan tribe makes use of the revenue generated by this eco-tourism to maintain its community and preserve their area of the rainforest. Many of these tours, which include the novelty of staying overnight in a Cofan hut, start in Tarapoa which has an airport to bring tourists into the area
The history of the Cofan tribe that inhabits the village of Dureno is not too clear, but it is thought that the Cofan culture started with the proto-Chibchan hunters who made their way down from the Colombian highlands that was situated near the present-day border between Colombia and Ecuador. The Cofans were warriors who were often pressed into battle with their enemies. They made a variety of weapons including hardwood swords, spears, slings, and bows and arrows to use in these battles. They were also traders who embarked on long, and generally dangerous, voyages down to the main Amazon in search of other traders to barter with. Their foremost items of trade were the weapons they manufactured, which they in turn traded for cloth, salt and beads. They developed a profound understanding of medicinal as well as poisonous plants that is still very evident today. They used their understanding of the stars to help them predict events, such as the annual floods, with great accuracy.
It is this deep understanding of nature that more than qualifies the Cofan guides of Dureno to take thrill-seeking tourists on the adventure of a lifetime through the jungle areas of Ecuador.