The Cofan are among the oldest surviving indigenous cultures in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This tribe lives in the forest where green sketches spring towards the blue sky. The Cofan lands are positioned in primary forest that is irrigated by wild and pristine rivers and surrounded by mystic swamplands where several thousand species of plants and animals live.
To the best of our knowledge, the Cofan culture has roots that trace back hunters who wandered down from the highland in the ancient times. The culture established their domains along several rivers in the area, eventually organizing themselves in independent villages, yet they remained united by the survival instinct of facing a common enemy.
The Cofan are warriors who mastered a variety of weapons including spears, carved wood daggers, bows and arrows that helped them win fierce battles against their enemies. They used the famous “trueque” or barter techniques every time they embarked on long and dangerous voyage down the Amazon. The victorious return was only possible when their search for food ended. Some of the most cherished items were salt, and sea shell beads, while their main items for trade appeared to be superior stones.
The community’s social structure was commanded by the Shaman, an older leader who has extensive knowledge of medicinal and poisonous plants, which may determine life or death in the Amazon. This tribe follows the stars, and predicted the arrival of floods with uncanny accuracy.
Nowadays, the Cofan of Zabalo have a conservation goal, which is to use wisely the products found in their environment. Conservation projects are the main source of economic activities, while hunting, fishing, and agriculture provide sufficient food for the daily needs of the village. Their identity grew along with their pride on their history and traditions and these traits can be seen easily in this community.