The banks of the Tambopata River were originally inhabited by the Ese Eja, one of the original matriarchal tribes of southern Peru and northern Bolivia.

With their deep knowledge of the forest and its interconnecting waterways, they used  agro-forestry and fishing to sustain their villages. Like all indigenous peoples, they saw themselves as custodians of Nature.

Ese Eja, means The True People

Image courtesy ResearchGate.net

Quechua peoples from the mountains, arrived in the early 20th Century, hoping to make a better life in the warmer climes of Tambopata and Madre de Dios.

Among them was Don Santiago, who cleared part of Sipapu to make way for a citrus plantation. Some of the trees he planted bear fruit today. 

He went on to the found the settlement known today as Infierno. Inhabited by the descendants of the Ese Eja, the name of the town suggests bitter memories.


Tambopatá was zoned in the 1990s under the policies of President Fujimori, and areas of forest were leased to famers on  condition they developed it.

That meant the forest had to be cut back and crops planted or cattle grazed, which remains the default land use for local landowners today.

Zoning did however preserve large areas of primary forest, introducing bylaws governing areas of secondary forest and agriculture.


Situated in the Tambopataá National Reserce Buffer Zone, Sipapu includes primary and secondary forest and agricultural areas.

It has many important trees, banana and citrus plantations, and a few cacao and avocado trees.