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Later this year I'm going to Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil where I'm planning to stay for few days with an indigenous community by the Urubu river. It's not really an organized tour, my friend who is in touch with the group know will contact me with them, I'll pay for some tours to the forest with their guide and spend few days with the community.

They obviously are well in touch with civilization, they are descendants of the Wapishana people, mainly populated in the Rainforest of Guyana but also dispersed in Roraima and Amazonas.

Is there anything I should be aware of when staying with them to not seem as an obnoxious tourist and make the visit more pleasant?

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    Now that's a travel question! – Hanky Panky Aug 22 '17 at 17:27
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    @Kuba What tribe will you be staying with? That can make a big difference. – user65735 Aug 29 '17 at 3:32
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    @suitvertices They are Wapishana, I added this info to the question. – Kuba Aug 30 '17 at 12:12
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    Somehow I would be surprised if they were india. Maybe you mean indigenous? – Itai Aug 31 '17 at 1:01
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I finally stayed in two different communities and talked to many other tourists I met in the Amazon. I think what's important to know before and during the stay is (very generalized of course):

  • leave small gifts, things that they can't get in the community, I was asked if I could give them (or send later) stuff like:
    • food (they mostly have very simple food, like fruits, rice and fish, my guide loved protein bars and sweets I had with me)
    • batteries
    • camping equipment: headlights, mosquito nets, lighters etc.
    • clothes
    • hygiene products
  • they never call themselves / don't like to be called indigenious, the ones I met identify just as Brazilians
  • having mentioned that, their behavior is different in many matters, for example, they don't hug / kiss when meeting a new person (I got some very weird looks when I instinctively tried to do it, being accustomed to Brazilian customs)
  • I met only one girl speaking English, and their Portuguese was difficult to understand for me sometimes (very weird accent and a many simplified words), but the communities receiving more tourists normally have someone speaking English and/or Spanish
  • if you're a vegetarian or have other diet restrictions, make sure to let them know before or bring your own food, pretty much all their diet is fish and chicken based
  • be careful with alcohol - they like to drink a lot, I was invited to one birthday party in the community, we drank a lot of cheap, homemade alcohol which made me really sick later... although I guess this one is more of common sense
  • all the "accommodation" was extremely simple, so if you need anything more than a hammock to sleep, bucket of water as a shower and a hole in the ground as a toilet, bring it with you

I know most of my points seem common sense, but I met some people complaining about or not prepared for them.

  • 1
    Kuba, it is fine to accept your own answer as answering your question. – CGCampbell Dec 5 '17 at 19:53
  • @CGCampbell ah true, forgot to click the button :) thanks – Kuba Dec 5 '17 at 19:54
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    Sounds like an amazing trip. Thanks for coming back to answer. – Zach Lipton Dec 5 '17 at 19:58
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Learn to like fish. They are modern today in most ways. Buy some hand made goods before leaving. Plywood shack to sleep in with roof. Many speak english.

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    "Many speak English" In Guyana perhaps, but Brazil, really? Even most urban Brazilians don't speak a word – Crazydre Sep 18 '17 at 18:39
  • It goes back to the 70s. When the first road was put in across the Amazon , American church's had a big move to covert the natives. So sent missionaries. As any thing that looked like a priest caught darts & arrows. Also Brazil's people were ok with them converting. As long as it was not to Chatholic at that time. Different heaven they could go to. So this is were many of them learned English along the road that was put in. Or when I was down there. Been a lot of years back. – J Bergen Nov 23 '17 at 3:33
  • I'm just coming back from there, one of them could indeed speak English (but she's an English teacher so I'm not sure that it 'counts' as a general rule) – Kuba Nov 23 '17 at 22:41
  • When I was in that area in the 70s. We put in the first road across there. American mision's moved in. Behind us. They learned English from them. Then after that American farmers invested there to raise soy beans. This is from were you start hearing them speak English. So I knew some there did & still do. The Chatholic church did not want them to go to Chatholic heaven at that time. But were fine with them going to Other church's heaven. How times have changed. – J Bergen Nov 24 '17 at 12:25

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