The magic forest of the Amazon in Colombia
Very excited and curious, I traveled from Bogotá directly towards the Amazon, an interesting world isolated from the rest of Colombia. The only option to get there was by plane (my ticket price was 437.040 cop); after a two hours flight I arrived in Leticia, the Colombian capital of the Amazon.
It was the driest time of year: November. Depending on the season you visit the amazon, you can make completely different experiences: The wet season (January to June) and dry season (July to December). In my case the waterlevel of the rivers was very low and the boat traffic smoothly. The ideal preparation to learn useful things about this interesting triangle of Colombia, Peru and Brazil, was my first visit to the park ’Mundo Amazonico’. Here they explained (also in English) their know-how about the unique flora and fauna of the tropical rainforest, and particularly I learned how to deal with our mother nature in a proper and respectful way. I took a bus and I got out at kilometer 7.7, direction of Hitoma, just 15 minutes from Letica (price a ticket was 1.600 cop/pp, park entrance 30.000 cop/pp).
The climate was very humid which made activities like hiking very exhausting. Because of that I moved mainly by ’motocarro’ through the city (motorcycle you can sit in with 2 to 3 persons in an extra cabine). To me personally Letitia did not seem so beautiful, so I quickly started organzing my trip to the jungle. From Leticia I walked to Brazil (Tabatinga), which sounds like a hell of a trip. But actually it´s just across the street and it makes a time difference af one hour. A visit to Peru is only possible by crossing the Amazon with a boat; today the Peruvian side of the river overtook the Colombian side as far as drug production is concerned.
In the jungle itself, I enjoyed the fullest unique experiences like swimming in the Amazon between the pink freshwater dolphins in the ’Correo’ and ’Tarapoto’ lakes and fishing on piranha’s. I was speechless when I saw those long straight giant trees, called ’Lupuna’ which can grow to the extraordinary height of 70 metres and a width of 10 meters (33ft) when it gets the time to grow. The ’Lupuna’ spirit is a protector of the rainforest. It has the thick trunk bellies in the middle, which gives foundation to myths and superstitions. The mother or tree spirit lives inside the belly bulging. Walking around those trees was like a hike on himself; the locals communicate via those trees by hitting a piece of wood on the trunk of those giant trees what causes an incredibly loud noise.
From one platform to another I was flying between trees in the middle of the jungle on a height of 35m. I slept one night in a Maloca, a traditional wooden open house with a huge roof for the whole family. I was interesting to learn about the ritual preparation of ’Mambe’, the traditional use of cocaleaves. I even tried it myself by putting some cocaleave pouder in my cheek and then waited untill the pouder formed a ball and yes - a little energy boost came up.
Strikingly the prices are generally higher in the Amazon than anywhere else in Colombia (except some places at the Pacific are more expensive) due to high petrol prices. Even a kg sugar costs 2.500 cop and a galon of gasoline 10.000 cop. (In Barranquilla you pay between 7.000 and 8.000 for a galon). This region seems to be like an island because it is only reachable by plane or boat and everything needs more organization. Also, I was wrong trying to plan my trip in advance at home, because it is hard to get any idea of how the jungle works (which makes it even more unique). Everything that goes by boat depends on the season to move faster or slower and is associated with fixed departure times. I got the advice always to book a boat ticket a day in advance. The prices in general are higher, nevertheless the experience you get, makes your trip unforgetable and it´s defenitely worth the money.
I traveled to the Nature Reserve Tupana Arüü, located 65 km from Leticia, on the right bank of the Amazon River. Entering the Rio Parana was a very unique experience as well (1hr from Leticia). After arriving at the riverbank, I hiked for a small hour, passing local villages and stayed in very nice cabañas. In my two nighthikes (one in Tapana Arüü, the other in the forest close to Leticia, at km 11) in the jungle I saw many crazy and interesting animals (which I forgot the names of) who were very active during the night. A tarantula walked over my hand but I had the most fear when I was eye to eye with a scorpion. The guides started screaming very loud, fast and commanding: "Go go go ... walk further!". Then I realized how dangerous a scorpion can be. Eeek. The sky at night with its thousands of stars was magical! Be prepared when you turn off your torch at night in the jungle. There´s something out there..... :)
I was a very unique and rewarding experience to get to know the people of San Martin de Amacayacu. This pure and typical village is perfect to learn about the community cultures and daily life of the native Tikuna indigenous people (boat = 1.5hr from Leticia, ticket = 24.000 cop/pp, the boat leaves from Leticia to Bocana Amacayacu (is not Parque Amacayacu!) at 8am, 10am of 2pm). From the Nature Reserve Tupana Arüü it was 3hrs with the slow boat to St.Martin.
Puerto Nariño, between 2 hours and 2 hours and a half with the boat from Leticia (ticket = 29.000 cop/pp ), was a very peaceful small village direct next to the Amazon river without any cars. I climbed in a tower so I could make beautiful pictures. I relaxed big time here.
A visit to this extraordinary nature made me several times very quiet from amazement; I found it an unforgettable experience. This special world is a must in all terms: Unusual flora and fauna to see and learn about traditional cultures and traditions. I enjoyed the tranquility and the outdoor life, sometimes I could not believe the beauty that mother nature had to offer.
1: For tourists there is a special environmental tax by arriving in Leticia. Price is 18.500 cop/pp @ airport.
2: There are ATM’s in Leticia.
3: Vaccination against yellow fever is obligated. Bring along your vaccination documents. I didn’t need to show my certificate but anyhow bring it with just in case.
4: A stay of 5 days is a minimum!
5: Tabatinga = Brasil (check in advance if you need a visa), get a stamp @airport or policia federal near the hospital in Tabatinga when you go & come back into the country.
6: Colombia Fácil recommend to book a tour with these touroperators.
7: Recommendation on accommodation by Colombia Fácil: Casa Gregorio or Omshanty.