5 days in the Amazon

Over 50 years ago, Easter 1963, I was 10 years old when my parents chose the Colombian port of Leticia as the destination of our holiday.
On one of his recent trips to Colombia, my father revisited the area, and since then, I just wanted to visit it again. The appeal of adventure that I have inherited, and the curiousity of being far from normal civilisation was quite appealing.
Leticia is the southernmost point of Colombia. In the 1930's the bottom triangle seen in the maps below was awarded to Colombia after a short war with Peru, thus granting the former with a port on the Amazon.
Three countries meet at that point, To the right is Brazil, and on the other side of the river, Peru
Colombian Map
The Amazon triangle, providing Colombia with a small area on the Amazon
Amazon Map
Map showing Leticia, Pto Nariño and Lake Tarapoto.
Click for larger view
I usually do not like to go on organised tours, but made an exception this time, specially since through Trip Advisor I found a small company run by a local that will only take a limited amount of people at one time. As it turned out, our group consisted of just the two of us, and were guided by the main guide, Sergio, and a local native Ticuna, Reilly, who was very happy to talk about his heritage and customs.

Day 1

Before the trip I scanned the pictures my mother took over 50 years ago and sent them to Sergio and after picking us up from the airport and treating us to a local lunch, Sergio took us on a tour of Leticia, that included many of the sites in the old black and white pictures, so we could see the changes.
Our Hotel then
Our Hotel, 'Victoria Regia' in 1963
A little neglected teacher's quarters now
Looks good now, but actually quite neglected and used as teacher's quarters
Also, part of that day's tour was a short drive to the Brazilian border where we got acquainted with different alcoholic local drinks:
  • Caipirinha: Brazil's national cocktail: Made out of sugarcane liqour, sugar and lime
  • Michelada: A beer with added lime juice and assorted sauces, spices and peppers served in a chilled salt-rimmed glass
At the border!
At the border. Welcome to Brazil!
Brazilian drinks
Caipirinha and Michelada on offer
Sylvia watches but I get to drink!
The highlight of the day was towards the late evening when over 6000 little parrots invade Plaza de Santander which is the main plaza of Leticia, getting ready to nest in its trees. The feeling is similar to watching Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" and the noise is quite deafening.

Day 2

We were picked up early in the morning to board the local 8AM waterbus, which would take us on a two hour ride to Puerto Nariño, nearly 84KM away from Leticia by boat. (75Km as the crow flies)
The waterbus had several stops on both sides of the Amazon: To the left, Peru, to the right, Colombia.
Puerto Nariño itself is not on the Amazon itself, but not far away from where the Loretoyacu tributary flows into it, with a beautiful mix of colours.
Leticia to Puerto Nariño
Leticia to Puerto Nariño
The waterbus
The waterbus
Sergio Rojas
Sergio Rojas, our guide
A short movie to give you an idea of our ride. A peruvian military boat crosses ours
Puerto Nariño is a small town (about 6000 residents) with no roads. The only vehicle there is a tractor that is used to collect the garbage.
We are greeted by our second guide, Reilly, who takes us to our primitive room and later picks us up to give us a tour of the town.
Over lunch he tells us about the three tribes that populate the area: ​Ticuna (his tribe) Yagua and Cocama. Although quite young, he had a stint as a leader of his tribe and hence also had contact with the other tribes and informed us of the differences in their customs. The tour of the town included a climb up a tower (Sylvia took the pictures, as I had an injured knee) from which she could see the village below, the black Loretoyacu river flowing into the brownish Amazon on the one side, and the vast jungle on the other.
Lookout Tower
The lookout tower
Puerto Nariño from above
Puerto Nariño from above.
At the back, the Loretoyacu river and behind it the Amazon.
We were given a refreshing drink and had a choice between two local fruits: Arazá and Copazú, and then taken to the shop of the local handcraft artist, where we got a lesson on how to make our own bracelet
Bracelet making
Sylvia busy at work!
The pretty finished product!
The finished product!
After a further tour of the town, where we admired a few interesting homes, we watched the local children play
Not having any vehicles around, they took advantage of the slopes going down to the river to slide on improvised 'sleighs' made of cardboard or pieces of wood.
Children having fun!
Lunch Time!
We watched our lunch being cooked: We admired the size of the gigantic Piracuru fish, and enjoyed a typical Colombian lunch of Fish, coconut rice, vegetables, fired banana and potatoes
Some of the fish of the Amazon
Some of the fish of the Amazon
Pirarucu in the kitchen
Pirarucu in the kitchen