The Cofan Tribe: Modern Rainforest Protectors

The Cofan tribe fought for years against invaders and oil companies to protect the land where they lived, and they are known today as protectors of the rainforest. They were initially warriors, craftsmen and traders living between the Guamués and the Aguaricó River, in Ecuador and close to Colombia's border.

In recent years, their environment has been polluted and destroyed, and they were forced to seek refuge in deeper parts of the forest reduced to two small areas and two reserves.

Today, there are less than a thousand Cofán remaining in Ecuador.

Zabalo community

Zabalo community

Cofan Survival Fund

However, their culture and ancestral language, A'ingae, resist and remain strong. The Cofan have even partnered with other indigenous communities to launch a powerful initiative to develop their solutions to the water and health crisis affecting their territory.

Today, the tribe represents the last remnants of one of the most knowledgeable and rich cultures that ever emerged from the Amazon basin. Let's discover together something more about their current way of life and what to experience in our travels.

Pack your suitcase and visit Zabalo village!

Meet the Cofan and explore the nature of their territories with us!

Cofan Man

Cofan Man

Cofan Survival Fund

You will start from Zabalo village and the amazing surrounding forest exploring waterways, streams, and lagoons floating in traditional canoes to move in this high biodiversity environment: over 3000 woody plants, over 300 species per hectare!

Zabalo river: the first Quite Park in the world.


Do you know that Zabalo River has been named the world's first Quiet Park in 2019? Nature's voice is the only soundtrack that marks this forest's days along the Zabalo River, where silence has been protected as a natural resource. There are no transport routes here-neither residential nor commercial developments. You can't even hear a plane passing overhead. Cofan were the first defenders of the World's First Certified Quiet Park, extending over one million acres and it's part of their territories. Quiet Parks International, an agency dedicated to spreading peace worldwide, now hopes that many other parks will follow the example of the Zabalo, banning noise pollution and protecting silence.

A taste of Zabalo river here

Sleep in Zabalo river camp.

In this unique experience, you will have the opportunity to camp and sleep in Zabalo incredible park, in one of the campsites specially prepared for you! You'll be able to go out and explore this wonderland with Cofan guides that will guide you in discovering some secrets of nature and Cofan culture. You'll get the chance to catch piranha and other game fish … and, if lucky, taste some of them during one of the local meals. Ready for this experience in close contact with nature? Run to pack your bags!

How Cofan live today.

Cofan Survival Fund

In recent years, over losing their land, Cofan has to deal with toxic spills and contaminated water. The stress caused by this situation forced many to abandon their original settlements and adopt a modernized way of life. For example, many Cofan embraces education for their children and creates alliances with outside organizations, such as the Chicago Field Museum and various USA foundations. Some of the new generations send their children to private schools in Quito and universities in the US. The Cofan territory has zero deforestation and zero damage done to the land. They are working on carbon credit plans to allow wealthy nations to pay the Cofan to protect the rainforest.

Cofan ecotourism and conservation.

The Cofán began the first community-based ecotourism project in the rainforests of Northern Ecuador back in 1978: ecotourism may offer a sustainable development option for indigenous communities based on the natural environment supply to the visitors. The communal profits are used to finance the legalization of lands and the local organization. The development of local skills through ecotourism allows community members to expand their activities in collaboration with tourism operators. More than this, more significant financial resources will enable the community to improve the management and monitoring of the communal forests and educate young people to become the future leaders of the community in a long term process and vision.

Cofán Survival Fund.

One example of a Cofan dedicated Fund is the CFS. Founded in 1999, the Fundación Sobrevivencia Cofán is an organization with Cofán leadership dedicated to the survival of the Cofán indigenous culture and its Amazonian rainforest environment. The Fund focuses on finding practical, on-the-ground solutions that contribute to the Cofán Nation's survival and is committed to biodiversity conservation and research, protecting ancestral territory together with their natural resources and educating the community's youngest generation.

Cofan Survival has received grants from both government and private sources for activities directed to the conservation of ancestral territories in northeastern Ecuador and developing strategies to allow Cofán people to maintain cultural and economic stability working in synergy with the government and other associations.

Nomadic Tribe Team