My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
The Colombian Amazon consists of the following departments:
- Amazon: Has a great variety of flora and fauna. The department is characterized by its cultural wealth, as indigenous communities such as the Ticunas, Huitotos and Yaguas live here. This department is the most popular for traveling to the Amazon and the capital, Leticia, is close to the Amazon River. This travel guide will be limited to this department.
- Caquetá: The capital is Florencia and the economic activity is mainly focused on livestock.
- Guainía: The capital is Inírida. The main activity of the city is tourism, some of the attractions are the Mavicure Mountains and the Laguna de las Brujas.
- Guaviare: The capital is San José de Guaviare. Mostly agriculture, the most important crops include cocoa, bananas, rice and corn.
- Putumayo: The capital is Mocoa and its plains are known for temperatures above 27 ° C.
- Vaupés: The capital is Mitú. The main activity is agriculture, tourism is growing.
- Meta: The capital is Villavicencio. The department owns livestock, agriculture and mining. Only a small part of the territory belongs to the Amazon, the rest is part of the Orinoco region.
The Amazon region is an ideal travel destination to move in the midst of nature and to get to know completely different cultures. The Amazon is also one of the most attractive travel destinations because it offers a wide variety of activities. You can go on ecological hikes, practice extreme sports, get to know the flora and fauna of the Amazon, familiarize yourself with the culture of the natives and enjoy the typical dishes and exotic fruits of the jungle.
What is the importance of the Amazon region?
The Amazon, also known as the “lung of the planet”, is the largest area in the country, accounting for around a third of the land area of Colombia, but is also the most sparsely populated. In addition, the Amazon region is home to a large variety of flora and fauna, which has always attracted the attention of scientists and nature lovers.
The many native plant species are used to produce food, medicines, and cosmetics. Unfortunately, this region is increasingly affected by deforestation, road construction, dams and changes in protected area legislation.
Interesting places in the Amazon
Leticia is the capital of the Amazon department and one of the most magical places in Colombia. The city is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. You can find indigenous communities there, such as the Uitotos, Tucanos, Ticunas, and Nukak.
The town was founded in 1867 and was formerly known as San Antonio and was part of Peru. However, in December of the same year, it was renamed Leticia, due to the engineer Manuel Charón, who chose this name in honor of his wife Leticia Smith. Finally, in 1930, thanks to the Salomón-Lozano Agreement, the city became Colombian territory.
Leticia is also a border town and borders Peru and Brazil. However, there are no border controls and Leticia goes seamlessly into the neighboring Brazilian city of Tabatinga.
Places to see and visit in Leticia
This is the main city park in the capital Leticia. Here you will find a large fountain, pedestrian paths, a children’s playground, and areas for football, volleyball and basketball. Inside there is also a lake with huge Amazonian plants.
Every afternoon around 5 p.m., hundreds of parrots come to the park to spend the night in the trees. The noise level is enormous and you should definitely experience it.
Museo Etnográfico del Hombre Amazónico
Carrera 11 # 9 – 43
In the museum, you can learn all about the history of the Amazon, the different ethnic groups that inhabited the Amazon and some of their customs. You can learn more about the exploitation of rubber that affected the indigenous population and how they were enslaved.
Parque Ecológico Mundo Amazónico
The Mundo Amazonico is an open-air museum near the capital and perfect for getting to know the basics of local culture as well as flora and fauna. When I visited, our guide was a young indigenous man who gave us a lot of information. I definitely recommend a visit.
Mundo Amazonico consists of the following activities:
- Aquarium: It is home to a wide variety of fish including piranhas, macana, carahuasu, and many others.
- Jungle Trail: This route is a hike through the Amazon rainforest. The duration of the tour is half an hour, but can also be up to 90 minutes.
- Botanical garden: the focus is on traditional plants from the Amazon. During the tour, you will get to know some medicinal plants such as coca, yagué, barbasco and many others. The tour lasts 45 minutes.
- Cultural Village: Here you can learn more about local cultures, how to shoot arrows and arrows and how to blow darts with blowpipes accurately into the target. Duration about 30 minutes.
- Amazon Natural Products: The opportunity to learn more about plants and fruits that are used in sustainable production processes, such as Amazon tea, copoazú, and aguaje. This tour lasts 30 minutes.
Plaza de Mercado
Visiting Leticia’s market is a must. Try the traditional cassava bread, which is made from cassava flour, is crispy and thin, and dates back to pre-Hispanic times. Or you can also get to know the tangy taste of tucupi, a fermented sauce made from cassava and made according to a recipe that has been handed down for generations.
For fruit lovers, there are some exotic fruits such as azaí, an important food in the diet of the Amazon people, which dates back to pre-Columbian times. The copoazú is a fruit and has a sweet and sour taste and is used to make liqueurs, drinks, jellies and sweets, but is also a natural product that moisturizes the skin, smooths out wrinkles and is great for hair care.
How to get to Leticia
Flights from Bogota take around two hours. You can also arrive by ship from Manaus in Brazil or Iquitos in Peru.
Puerto Nariño, also known as the manger of Colombia, is the second most important municipality in the department of Amazonas. It has approximately 6,800 inhabitants and is located on the banks of the Loretoyacu River. Ecotourism, fishing and agriculture are the main livelihood activities for its inhabitants. Most of Puerto Nariño’s population is made up of Ticuna and Yagua communities.
Motorized transport is not allowed in this place, in order to keep the area free of contamination. In fact, it was recognized as the first sustainable destination in Colombia by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.
Places to see and visit in Puerto Narino
The Naipata Tower is a lookout point in the upper part of the town of Puerto Nariño. From here you have a wonderful view of the landscapes of the region, the Loretoyacu River, the Amazon, and Lake Correo. The meaning of “Naipata” fits this place perfectly as it means “treehouse”. Entry to the tower costs 4,000 COP.
The non-profit organization focuses on education, research, and the protection of flora and fauna as well as the indigenous communities. The museum and interpretation center “Un Mundo Bajo el Agua” explains the importance of environmental protection. Various aquatic species can be seen in the museum.
How to get to Puerto Nariño
From Leticia, the boat trip takes between two and three hours. You should find out about the departure times on site or visit the village on an organized tour.
Parque Nacional Natural Amacayacu
This is one of the most desirable tourist destinations because of the variety of activities it offers.
What to see and do in Amacayacu Park?
This park is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the Amazon. Here you can find a variety of animal species such as the jaguar, the manatee, the small lion tamarin and a wide variety of fish and birds. One can also maintain contact with indigenous communities such as the Ticuna and their Resguardos such as San Martin de Amacayacu and Mocagua.
For plant lovers, there are various tree species in this place such as the red cedar, the caucho, the Capirona, the Ceiba, and many others.
- Miquiando Path: It belongs to the Resguardo Indígena de Mocagua and focuses on primates. It is an aid station that takes in animals from illegal trade. Some of the primate species that you may encounter include howler monkeys, lion monkeys, flying monkeys, and night monkeys.
- Craft workshops: There are workshops on ceramics, body painting, necklaces, backpacks, and wood carving.
- Cultural demonstrations: Native songs, dances, typical games and natural remedies will be shown.
- Overnight in the jungle: On site you can spend the night in hammocks and learn some traditional survival techniques.
- Jungle tours: Tours by canoe are offered by day and by night. You can see dolphins and other water dwellers. Land excursions include birds, insects, and some mammals. Finally, the park offers a tour called the Path to the Chagras, where you can learn about the crops grown by the indigenous communities.
How to get to Amacayacu Park
The park is located around 70 kilometers from Leticia. The journey takes place by boat.
Reserva Natural Victoria Regia
The Victoria Regia or Victoria Amazonica is one of the world’s largest water lilies (aquatic plants that grow in lakes, streams and swamps). In this reserve, you can observe it and learn a little about it, besides getting to know some plants, trees and animal species.
Places to visit and things to do in the Victoria Regia Reserve
A visit to this reserve is a great way to get to know the aquatic plant known as Victoria Amazonica. It is a plant with large oval or round leaves that floats on the water. Amazingly, these leaves can hold up to 40 kg on their surface.
You can also take a walk through the jungle where you will observe different species of animals such as macaws and monkeys.
How to get to the Victoria Regia Reserve
The Victoria Regia Nature Reserve is around 8 kilometers from Leticia and can be reached by boat.
Monkey Island is a very controversial tourist destination. The monkeys there were abandoned by humans on the island and are being used for purely tourist entertainment. There is also the risk of contracting diseases through direct contact with the primates. We recommend not to visit Monkey Island, although as you can see I was there and had no idea about all of this, shame on me!
It is the ideal place to enjoy a moment of calm while watching the famous pink dolphin.
Things to see and do at Lake Tarapoto
Lake Tarapoto is best known for spotting pink dolphins. This place is their natural habitat. You can also see other species such as the black caiman, the matamata turtle, and the legendary pirarucu, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.
Discover the legend of the pink dolphin
In Amazon mythology, this species is also known as “El Galán” because it is said that in ancient times a friendly warrior was doomed to live in the Amazon and used to wear an elegant white suit and straw hat.
During full moon nights, he goes to the villages on the river bank, where he usually drinks and dances with the women of these places in order to conquer them and to walk with them on the river bank and take them with him until he returns to his original shape as a dolphin. The next day these women cannot remember anything, but they know immediately that they are pregnant.
How to get to Lake Tarapoto
Leticia is around 80 kilometers away. Puerto Nariño is just 7.5 km away, it is an easier trip.
Three borders tour
There are different tours in which you can visit all three countries, Colombia, Brazil and Peru in one day.
What activities does a tour include?
The tours start in Leticia, from where you can take a boat to the borderland of Peru and have the opportunity to taste exotic fruits such as chontaduro, bananas, and caimarona grapes. Upon arrival in Peru, visit the city of Islandia, also known as the “Venice of the Amazon”. When the water level rises (between June and October) the canals are flooded and you feel like you’re in Venice. There you can also try one of the typical Peruvian drinks such as Inca Cola or Cusqueña beer.
Then visit the Benjamin Constant community in Brazil, where you can find a beautiful church and a local market. Finally, you go along the Amazon to Leticia. The return journey usually takes place in the late afternoon. If you are lucky you can enjoy a wonderful sunset on the way to the port of Leticia.
Macedonia Indigenous community
Allow some time to visit Macedonia. There you can find the Tikuna, Yagua, and Cocama communities and get to know them.
Places to visit and things to do in the Community of Macedonia
Here you can meet Ticuna, Yagua, Cocama and Mestizo Indians who like to explain their customs, dances and works of art carved from reddish bloodwood.
On the walls of the native reserve, you can find painted animals from the Amazon, such as cotton-top tamarins, jaguars, pelicans, dolphins, and many more. This area of the community looks like an open-air museum. The main source of income for the Macedonian indigenous people is handicrafts and ecotourism.
How do you reach the indigenous community of Macedonia?
Macedonia is around 57 kilometers from Leticia, on the Amazon river left bank.
Tanimboca is a protected forest area.
Things to see and do in the Tanimboca Reserve
Eco-tourism activities such as hiking, kayaking, zip-lining, canopy, and fishing are offered. A wide variety of plants such as bromeliads, heliconias, orchids and the chambira can be seen on the trails as you cross the Yaguarka stream.
Primates are also found, such as night monkeys, the Lesson’s saddle-back tamarin, the monk saki and the tufted capuchin. There are mammals like the guar, bats, and armadillos. You can see amphibians like frogs and lizards. It is a paradise where you can find a great variety of flora and fauna in one place.
Another attraction of the reserve is the Serpentarium, where you can hear lectures about different species of snakes and also have the opportunity to see the black caiman. Some of the species on display are common lancehead, tree boas, rainbow boas, and others.
You can spend the night here in Malokas, which look like treehouses (more details in the “Where to stay” section), or go on night hikes and boat trips.
How to get to the Tanimboca Reserve
The Tanimboca Reserve is 11 kilometers from Leticia, the boat trip takes about 25 minutes.
Where to stay in the Amazon
There are a number of hotels in Leticia. I definitely recommend a room with air conditioning for an overnight stay in the city.
There are also various offers in the Amazon around Leticia.
Waira Suites Hotel
The Waira Suites Hotel is a 4-star hotel in the center of Leticia. It is characterized by its modern equipment and its spacious, immaculate rooms. You have access to services such as air conditioning and WiFi in the common areas, swimming pool, restaurant and airport transfer on request.
Calanoa Jungle Lodge
The Calanoa Jungle Lodge is located between Amacayacu Park and Mocagua Island. This lodge has a sustainable architecture using local materials and resources. The Calanoa Lodge is certainly one of the most exclusive offers.
Hotel Reserva Natural Tanimboca
Located 11 km from Leticia, this quaint hotel offers accommodation in wooden huts, also known as malokas. The reserve pays great attention to biosecurity protocols and has professionals in hygiene, disinfection of the rooms and table utensils.
Decameron Decalodge Ticuna
Decameron has 28 standard rooms with a terrace overlooking the swimming pool. You can choose between rooms for up to 4 people with king-size or two half-double beds.
La Ceiba Amazonas
La Ceiba is in the middle of nature. There are double rooms, quadruple rooms, and cabins with private bathrooms.
Hotel Amazon Bed & Breakfast
The hotel is located in the heart of Leticia. You can rent an entire bungalow for yourself or stay in a room.
The hotel is located in Leticia. It is characterized by attractive, rustic architecture. Guests can stay in standard malokas or bungalows (for 2 people) and family bungalows (for 6 people).
Where to eat in the Amazon
One of the most common dishes is fried fish, accompanied by cassava and fried plantains. However, there are a variety of local dishes to try such as filled gamitana (a type of fish), pirarucu, mojojoy (a larva), copoazu cream (an exotic dessert), and arazá, a local fruit.
Below, there is a selection of good standard Amazonas restaurants.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/Tierras-Amazonicas
Adress: Calle 8 # 7-50, Barrio Centro, Leticia
This is one of the most famous restaurants in the Amazon department. Here you can find a variety of dishes with fish such as pirarucu and piranha.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/mundoamazonico/
Adress: km7 in Parque Ecológico Mundo Amazónico
In the ecological park, where travelers can undertake various ecotourism activities, gastronomic experiences are also offered. You can get to know the flavors of local cuisine such as Patarashca, a fish from the Amazon region that is wrapped in banana or bijao leaves. It is usually cooked over charcoal and accompanies dishes with yucca, aji tucupi, rice, salad and juice made from the most delicious fruits of the Amazon.
El Santo Angel
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/ELSANTOANGELd/
Adresse: Cra 11 # 11-119, Leticia
This restaurant serves healthy and light dishes such as waffles, wraps, crepes, salads and sandwiches. But you can also order beef, chicken or fish dishes.
Soziale Medien: https://www.facebook.com/RestauranteTikuna/
Adress: Calle 8 # 6-85, Leticia
This restaurant is a great way to try Amazon fast food, their specialty is artisanal burgers.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/amazonpuntolounge/
Adress: Calle 5 # 4-70, Leticia
An interesting eatery that specializes in charcoal grill dishes.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/restaurantetucupi/
Adress: Calle 8 # 5-64, Leticia
An interesting restaurant because it is inspired by the ancestors. The best part is that you can taste the typical dishes of the region while learning the secrets of jungle gastronomy.
- Anniversary of Leticia: On April 25th, the residents of Leticia celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Amazonian capital. At this event, there are comparsas, guest artists, dances, autochthonous music, gastronomic competitions, and military parades.
- Fish market: it is celebrated on the Malecon of Leticia, where fishermen gather to display different species such as gamitana, tarpon, pirarucu, and many others. It is also an opportunity for fish farmers to learn and practice new fishing techniques.
- Fiesta Sampedrina: cultural representations of different colonies of the country in the capital of Amazonia. Some of the participants are the paisas, huilenses, costeños, and llaneros who come together to show their traditions. This event includes the election of the Bambuco queen and the parade of floats.
- Festival of Brotherhood in the Amazon: This event aims to promote and maintain relations between the neighboring countries (Peru, Brazil, and Colombia). During the celebrations, there are arts and crafts exhibitions, sporting events, and tastings of typical dishes from each country.
- International Jungle Triathlon: It is an event where different people take part in a competition that takes place through the jungle and the rivers of the Amazon. The route starts in Peru, then runs through Colombia and ends in Brazil. The competition includes 2,500 meters of swimming, 40 kilometers of cycling and 10 kilometers of running. As an observer, you can support the participants or even participate.
- Pirarucú de Oro Festival: Musical encounters, an exhibition of traditions and customs of the ethnic groups from Colombia, Peru and Brazil.
- New Years Dolls Parade: it is celebrated in the streets of Leticia, where you can see dolls representing characters popular in the country during the year, such as politicians, singers, and even beauty queens. If you want to take part in this event, be prepared to be showered with lots of flour and water on the streets of the Amazon capital, as this is how the locals welcome the New Year.
- Festival Autóctono de Danza, Murga y Cuento: This festival aims to cultivate and preserve Amazonian traditions through stories, dance, song and Murga, a Spanish carnival music. During the festival, there are also various typical games such as the traditional trompo (spinning top), target shooting with blowgun, and archery.
Nightlife in the Amazon
You can have a relaxed beer in Leticia in the evening, but there is no nightlife like in the country’s metropolises.
Transportation in the Amazon
There are taxis, motorcycle taxis and buses in Leticia, although you can visit several places on foot thanks to the proximity. In Puerto Nariño, as mentioned, you can only tour on foot.
The boat, motorboat and canoe are the most common modes of transport in the Amazon, especially to travel between nature reserves, islands and indigenous people’s homes. For sightseeing tours into the jungle, the boats usually leave from the port on the Amazon, which is about 12 minutes by car from Leticia.
Best time to visit the Amazon
You can visit the Amazon at any time of the year because the climate is always the same and the temperature fluctuates between 21.5 °C and 30.2 °C (70 °F to 86 °F). However, there is a rainy season from December to May and the dry or low water season from June to November.
During the high water season, activities such as kayaking, sport fishing and spotting the pink dolphin in Lake Tarapoto can be enjoyed.
In the rainy season, you can take a few tours by canoe or boat and watch the treetops of the flooded forests, while in the dry season you have to do the tours on foot.
Some recommendations for traveling in the Amazon
- When visiting indigenous communities, it is important to always show them respect. If you want to take photos or film, you should ask beforehand.
- In some places, it is not allowed to use certain types of repellants (mosquito repellants), such as aerosol repellants, as these contaminate the environment and affect the species occurring there. You can use natural mosquito repellent.
- Get vaccinated against yellow fever before traveling.
- The climate is hot and humid and it rains now and then. You should equip yourself accordingly.
- Remember, food always attracts animals.
- Please do not leave any rubbish.
- Support the local communities by buying their handicrafts or booking guided walking tours with them.
What should you bring with you for your trip to the Amazon?
- The best protection against mosquitoes and the sun is long clothes and a hat.
- Good shoes, rubber boots are a good option in the rainy season.
- Mosquito and sun protection.
- Torch for night activities.
- Small and preferably waterproof backpack.
What I like and dislike about the Amazon
For me, my trips to the Amazon region have always been magical and I recommend everyone to visit this area at least once in their life. It is an incomparable and unforgettable experience.
Colombia Travel Guides
Below you will find the finest selection of travel guides around Colombia. Feel free to check them out.
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogota Travel Guide
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Travel Guide
- Cartagena Travel Guide
- La Guajira Travel Guide
- Llanos Travel Guide
- Providencia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Travel Guide
- Amazonas Travel Guide
- Choco Travel Guide
- Santander Travel Guide
- Boyaca Travel Guide
- Villa de Leyva Travel Guide
- San Andres Island Travel Guide
- Tayrona Park Travel Guide
- Palomino Travel Guide
- Heritage Towns Colombia Travel Guide
- Chicamocha Canyon Travel Guide
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