The canton of Guamote is located 50 km south of Riobamba, along the road to Alausi and Cuenca. The region is mountainous (between 2,600 and 4,500 meters above sea level) with a lot of erosion caused by deforestation. 90% of the population is indigenous: they are Quichua descendants of the Puruha tribe. The rest is white and mestizo. In recent years, many mestizos living in the village of Guamote have emigrated to the United States and Europe. Many indigenous people who lived in the surrounding mountains have now taken up residence in the village. The main activity is agriculture (potatoes, beans, barley).
The Thursday market, one of the most important indigenous markets in the country, is the main draw in this area: it is a true indigenous market (don’t forget the animal market) that attracts the entire local population every week.
Guamote is the ideal place to make contact with the local Indian population in a pleasant and safe way. This is possible thanks to the development organization Inti Sisa, which runs a small guesthouse to support its projects. Flemish and Dutch volunteers work together with local guides to set up excursions in the area: you can participate in the normal tourist activities, but you can also visit the local Indian projects. That makes a visit to Guamote definitely worthwhile.
Recently, the Flemish Tom has also become active as a guide in the area: he lives in an indigenous village not from Guamote and, together with a number of indigenous guides, offers excursions throughout the area between Riobamba and Cuenca. He specialized in trekking and bicycle tours with a lot of attention for the exuberant nature and the indigenous population.
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