“It Safeguards Our Identity”

Contrary to what one might think, ecotourism camps run by the Pemón people in Venezuela’s Kamarat Valley are preserving, not eroding, their unique culture and way of life.

For Victorino, president of the camp at Uruyén, “tourism helps the community [with jobs and income], and it also safeguards our identity as an indigenous community.”

Begun in 1984, these sites offer visitors a sample of everyday Pemón life, landscapes, food, ways of living, and culture. But more importantly, they’re a crucial pathway for Pemón survival, transcribing their reliance on agriculture and fishing into modern, sustainable practices and livelihoods.

Ecotourism is a vital lifeline, enabled by support from UNDP, which has helped the Pemón improve the camps’ physical infrastructure and agricultural activities.

“With the improvement of these services, the entire community has benefited,” Victorino said of these vital lifelines, which help some 6,000 Pemón. “Thanks to the support we have received, a lot has changed. We are reclaiming our land with these resources.”

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