Secret Gem: 3 Days in the Colombian Amazonas
Arts & Culture
It often comes as a surprise to many that Colombia shares the Amazonas with its neighboring countries, Brazil and Peru. This magical rainforest is located in the southernmost region of the country, offering a splendid destination to admire exotic plant and animal life that will captivate even the most discerning eyes. The jungle has its own unique charm, which is even better when you can fully immerse yourself in its marvels, away from the hustle of crowded tourism. And if you share my passion for food, you'll absolutely relish the experience of tasting the exotic fruits that are exclusive to this region and found nowhere else!
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Day 1: Leticia
Arrive in Leticia on a morning flight, the southernmost city in Colombia (you can fly in from Bogota), where you will have pre-arranged transportation waiting for you at the port to take you to the hotel by boat; the journey will take around one hour and a half.
Upon reaching the hotel, the staff will greet you, who will help you in taking your luggage to your villa, allowing you to relax for a while.
For your first day in the heat of the jungle, I'd suggest you take it slow. Read a book in your hammock overlooking the Amazonas River, go for a walk around the hotel to enjoy the amazing vegetation that surrounds you and greet the monkeys that might peek to catch a glimpse of you.
Around 7pm, your dinner will be served at the communal table, where you'll have the chance to savor traditional Amazonian dishes. My favorite dish was Patarasca (fresh Dorado fish and vegetables wrapped in plantain leaves and grilled to perfection) along with some Copoazú juice.
Day 2: Amazon jungle
It is a habit for the Amazonian people to rise with the sun, so I suggest you have an early start to the day. You can do some yoga in the hotel’s shala overlooking the Amazonas River, which allows you to connect with the jungle's vibrant energy. Afterwards, indulge in a breakfast experience that offers the opportunity to sample Amazonian bread (made from copoazú and açaí), along with a variety of exotic fruit juices (such as arazá and corozo). You'll also have the chance to enjoy farm-raised eggs and an array of other delicacies.
Afterward, embark on a jungle hike guided by indigenous guides who have in-depth knowledge of nature's hidden treasures. They will introduce you to the jungle's flora diversity and explain their practical applications. Along your journey, you'll come upon the 'Ceiba,' the biggest tree in tropical America, capable of reaching heights between 20 to 40 meters.
Returning to the hotel will be a boat ride along the Amazonas River, which promises an even more awe-inspiring experience. This time, you'll perceive the river with a newfound perspective, having been enriched with the indigenous narratives that unveil its magical essence.
Back at the hotel, enjoy your lunch, and if you're fortunate, you'll be able to enjoy the "Ceviche de Patilla" (Watermelon Ceviche) appetizer, along with a bowl of homemade hummus, crispy garbanzos and grilled Dorado fish.
During the afternoon, take some time to relax and engage in a Cestería' workshop (basketry), led by a kind indigenous woman. It's truly remarkable when hotels collaborate with local communities, as this fosters a meaningful exchange of knowledge that holds significant value.
After a while, it will be dinner time, marking not the conclusion of the day, but rather the prelude to a nighttime boat excursion beneath the stars. During this journey, you'll seek out alligators while marveling at the most captivating night sky you've ever encountered. Prepare yourself for a serene rowing experience on a small boat! This experience will allow you to fully embrace the river's charm. However, if the idea is too daunting for you, it might be possible to request a motorized boat instead.
Day 3: Mocagua community
Wake up in the sun, read a book on the balcony overlooking the river, enjoy breakfast, and prepare yourself for a visit to the Mocagua community, which is a mere 20-minute walk from Calanoa Lodge. Here, you will witness the lifestyle of this community firsthand: the stunningly adorned houses with bird, flower and tree murals; and the crafts they create with wood carving, basketry among other techniques. Additionally, you'll be able to hear stories about their traditions, the evolution of their way of life, and the traditions they opt to preserve.
Right after you conclude this visit, don’t leave the community. If you love food and relish cultural exploration, what better way to learn about the Amazonian culture than through their culinary world? I recommend partaking in a cooking lesson offered at one of the community's restaurants. While these establishments boast a rustic charm, the knowledge and insight you'll gain from these remarkable chefs will be invaluable.
Upon completing your lunch, complemented by a refreshing açaí juice, you can take a boat ride to go watch the pink dolphins in their natural habitat, the only one in the world (provided that the season and weather permit).
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Bogota, the Colombian City People Should Talk About.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colombia.