In Saraguro Ecuador you will discover one of the most important Indigenous centers of Ecuador.
They still maintain their native roots through the Quichua language, traditional dress code, local construction and gastronomy.
Saraguro is a great place to learn more about the culture and natural environment of the Southern Andean Region of Ecuador.
The community has organized itself and is welcoming tourists. Together with the local travel company some amazing tours have been developed to offer you the best possible experience of this beautiful area in Ecuador.
Saraguro Ecuador and the surrounding villages offer you a great mixture of activities involving culture and nature.
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There are some amazing places to visit in the area. Have a look at the waterfalls near Saraguro, just an hour hike away.
Further away are some beautiful lakes of Condroshillu, unless you have a car, set up a tour with the local travel agency to get there.
All of the hotels and hostels are community-run. Just walk around town to see which hotel fits your needs and budget.
There are also ten different restaurants where you can try a local dish or have a quick lunch. The best ones are located on the main square. Meals go for about $2,00.
Home-stays can be arranged in several of the surrounding towns, offering you a great way to get to know the culture. Enjoy also camping, hiking, climbing and bike ridings.
The inhabitants of the Saraguro communities of Las Lagunas, Ilincho and Gunudel-Gulacpamba own communal land in a cloud forest area a few kilometers to the south of Saraguro Ecuador and along the Panamerican Highway.
In order to more effectively protect the forest and the endangered species associated with it, to provide a natural laboratory for study, to help raise the environmental consciousness of the people, and to encourage appropriate recreation for local people and ecotourism for outsiders, this land has recently been formally established as a nature reserve called the Bosque Natural Huashapamba.
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Enrobed in completely black attire with their flat-brimmed hard hats the men wear shorts accompanied by their saddle bags while the women wear pleated skirts and silver beaded necklaces with pins fastening their shawls and can be seen leading the cattle over the mountain ranges in the eastern pastures high above Amazon jungles.
Make sure you wrap up well as it is very cool in this area. The main Indian market day is on Sundays and worth visiting and while you're here take advantage of great birdwatching in the town as well as in the higher altitudes of the surrounding areas in Saraguro Ecuador.
The Saraguro Indians of Ecuador in the southern Loja Province have earned a degree of economic independence through cattle production.
Many Saraguros own large cattle ranches which sometimes puts them at odds with the rest of the Indian movement which is largely comprised of poor people chronically short of land.
This has led to contradictory approaches to land reform on the part of Ecuador's Indigenous populations, which underscores the complexity of ethnic movements in that country.
Numbering approximately around 30,000, the Saraguros are an ethnically distinctive native people of South America.
Their traditional homeland for the last few hundred years has been centered in the temperate mid-altitude (1800-2800 meters) Andean highlands of southern Ecuador.
Though they now form a single ethnic group, their ancestry is probably mixed.
Many claim that Saraguros are descended from mitimaes (populations transferred by the Incas) from southern Peru or Bolivia.
Archaeological and documentary evidence also indicate ancestry from Cañari and other highland Indian groups of what is now Ecuador.
Whatever their origins, Saraguro Indians have long controlled most of the land resources in their home territory.
Although in the earliest years of Spanish occupation, Saraguros are said to have ambushed and killed both Spaniards and Indian collaborators of the Spaniards, this action was not likely to have been sufficient to protect their land in the long run.
Rather, according to documentary evidence, this control was due largely to the importance of their forced labor service (mita) in managing an important tambo (way station, inn) from colonial times to the 1940s when the first motor road reached the area.
In legal documents Saraguros argued, apparently successfully, that in order to render tribute to the state and provide support for the tambo (food, shelter, guide service, pack and riding stock, forage), they must keep their lands.
In order to have enough land to support their market and subsistence needs, and to provide each child female as well as male with a good inheritance.
Many Saraguros began to extend their rural landholdings beyond the Saraguro Ecuador region, especially by colonizing the tropical rain forests of the valley of the Rio Yacuambi, in the upper Amazon basin about a hundred years ago.
This area was in the traditional territory of the Shuar (known to Saraguros and others as "Jivaros," and stereotyped by many of these others as savage headhunting denizens of remote jungles).
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