The Xina Bena Festival

By | Category: Travel destinations
Brazilian indigenous people

meeting a man who few westerners will have met before

We have heard a lot about Brazil this summer, a lot about football and a lot about the shanties of Rio. What we have heard less of is the indigenous peoples. One such is the Kaxinawá who inhabit an area in the west of the country in the Amazonian rainforest which abuts the border with Peru.

As you might imagine, getting to this part of Brazil isn’t highlighted in most of the tour operator brochures you’ll find so visitors tend to be intrepid backpackers, curious explorers and those who manage to find a tour operator that does provide an opportunity for you to get there.

Early in September they celebrate Xina Bena, which is a sort of cultural and folk festival where art, singing, dancing, traditional body painting mingle with feasting. The Kaxinawá are a tribe of 5550 people who pride themselves on their strong cultural identity, while maintaining contact with the “white people” who they first encountered in the late nineteenth century. Still much of their culture is secretive such as their knowledge of language, painting, art and traditional medicine. Children learn to speak Portuguese when they are about 11 years old and the official language spoken between the Kaxinawá is hãtxa kui.

One such tour operator providing an opportunity to visit this part of Brazil once you get to the country is Bespoke Brazil but even they only arranged one tour this year. Due to the remote area in which the Kaxinawá live a light aircraft flight is required to reach the small town of Jordão from where you can board boats to reach the tribal villages. With them, you will sleep in stay in the local homes of the Kaxinawá in hammocks so this certainly couldn’t be classes as a luxury holiday. But you will be able to say that you will have been to a destination that your neighbours won’t know or have heard of!

For more about Brazil, click here.

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