Peruvians from all classes and walks of life still believe in the power of brujos (witchdoctors), shamanes (shamans) and curanderos (curers) to resolve myriad problems: sickness, broken hearts, business ventures, bad luck, and spiritual threats.
The Matses Reserve covers an area of 4,206 km² (420,735 hectares) in Peru's Loreto province, and forms part of a cross-border biological corridor with the Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru and the Serra do Divisor, Alto Jurua and Alto Tarauaca reserves in Brazil.
One of the stated objectives of the Reserve is to allow the indigenous people - the Matses - to continue to live in their traditional manner, adapted to the jungle environment they have called home for centuries and exploiting its resources in a sustainable manner.
If visiting an Amazon lodge downstream from Iquitos, chances are that you will get the chance to visit the Yagua village of Nuevo Peru. This is a tourism experience, undoubtedly, but offers a starting point to understand a little more about one of Amazonia’s larger indigenous groups.
The largest indigenous group in Peru's Amazon is the Ashaninka (also known as the Campa or Kampa, but this is considered pejorative). Demographic estimates put their numbers at roughly 55,000, living in 200 scattered and mainly remote communities in the Departments of Junin, Pasco, Huanuco and Ucayali. A smaller number live across the border in the Brazilian state of Acre.
Their history since the Spanish Conquest has largely been one of intrusion and resistance.