Travel expert, Izabela Zielinska tells us how to visit both the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon.
Who wouldn’t like to experience the natural beauty of the Amazon rainforest and explore one of the largest ecosystems on Earth full of thousands of plants, animals and wildlife. If you’re considering traveling to the Amazon and want a unique experience, make sure to visit both the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon, the perfect combination tour.
The Amazonia region covers 35% of Colombia’s territory. It’s home to 10 protected national parks and 70 indigenous groups, most of which are more than 5,000 years old (e.g Ticunas, Yagua, Yacuna). In some parts, the indigenous people gladly share their everyday activities and traditions with tourists by selling homemade foods and handicrafts.
Start your Colombian Amazon excursion in Leticia, just a 2 hour flight from Bogota. Leticia is the southernmost city in Colombia and sits on the bank of the Amazon River. Travel 11 KM out of Leticia and stay in a malocas, which is a traditional wooden house built in the trees. This is truly a unique opportunity. Imagine sleeping in the middle of the jungle, 12 meters above the ground, surrounded by total darkness and the sounds of the rainforest.
During the day visit Reserva Natural Tanimboca. This lodge offers many different activities such as canopy tours, kayaking excursions and even jungle night walks.
Puerto Narino is another town near Leticia with approximately 2,000 inhabitants. In order to get there you must take a 2 hour boat ride from the region’s capital. In this car free town you can fully relax and distance yourself from your fast paced everyday life. Here you can meet some of the indigenous people from the Ticuna or Yagua tribes. You can easily recognize Ticuna because they have painted their bodies black for purification rituals.
Colombian Amazon Excursions include but are not limited to kayaking, campy tours, jungle trekking, river fishing and much more.
Monkey Island Isla de los Micos – 35km from Leticia and home to over 5,000 monkeys, birds and reptiles.
Three Borders – Visit the place where three countries join: Colombia (Leticia), Peru (Santa Rosa) and Brazil (Tabatinga)
Puerto Narino Tarapoto lakes and Loretoyacu River – Take a boat trip here and see the giant water lilies Victoria Regia and the grey and pink dolphins.
Your Amazon excursion would not be complete without visiting the Peruvian Amazon. The Peruvian Amazon is one of the most diverse regions in the world. Discover the sounds of the Peruvian rainforest and compare them with the Colombian rainforest.
If you’d like to take a cruise down the Amazon, Iquitos is the place for you. There are a few cruise companies that offer regular departures for 3-4 day cruises from Leticia, Colombia to Iquitos, Peru. I recommend the Delfin Cruise, Aria Cruise or the Aqua Cruises. These are all small, luxurious boats with spectacular personalized service. Perfect for pairing luxury and adventure. The Cattleya Amazon Cruise is another option that takes you to the most remote region of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. There are lots of fun activities to do while on these cruises, including cooking classes and Spanish classes.
If you prefer staying in a lodge over a cruise, travel to Puerto Maldonado. Puerto Maldonado is just a 55 minute flight from Cusco. While there visit Tambopata National Reserve, home to diverse flora and fauna. There you are sure to see incredible wildlife. I recommend staying at the Reserva Amazonica lodge that overlooks the Madre de Dios forest. They also offers daily excursions which include jungle trekking, canopy tours and bird watching. Travel Tip! It is easier to spot wildlife in Puerto Maldonado because this is a mountainous region as opposed to Iquitos, which is a low ground jungle.
The Amazon rainforest is a special place. If you’re planning on traveling to South America, do not forget to include the Amazon. Perhaps the Poet and Naturalist, Diane Ackerman said it best:
“In the rainforest no niche lies unused. No emptiness goes unfilled. No gasp of sunlight goes untapped. In a million vest pockets, a million life forms quietly tick. no other place on earth feels so lush.”