Amazon Travel Guide
About the Amazon
Colombia is unquestionably one of the most varied and beautiful countries in the world. From its harsh but beautiful deserts, Andean cloud forests, stunning snow-capped peaks, golden sun-drenched Caribbean coast, rich and rugged pacific coast and great plains to the rich diverse rainforest stretching right down to the Amazon River.
The Amazon River finds its way over 6,900 kilometers from the glaciers of Mismi, Peru to Brazil, through the Amazon jungle into the Atlantic Ocean and is considered the lifeline of the rainforest.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, representing 54% of the total rainforests on Earth. Producing about 20% of all the oxygen in the world, it is considered the lung of the planet.
Around 215 tribes, speaking 170 different languages, live within the Amazon rainforest. They are the primary sources of knowledge regarding the indigenous plants and their natural and medicinal properties, most of which have not been studied scientifically.
About Leticia – the capital of the Amazonas province of Colombia
Leticia was founded on the 25th April 1867 by the Peruvian captain Benigno Bustamante, then governor of the Peruvian department of Loreto. They called the town “San Antonia”, after a cross they found with those words inscribed. Legend has it that a Colombian soldier who fell in love with an Amerindian woman named Leticia decided to name it later after her. However, Peruvian records show, that on the 15th December 1867, the settlement was renamed to Leticia by a Peruvian engineer called Manuel Charon, who named the port in honour of a young female of Iquitos (Peru) called Leticia Smith.
Leticia borders with Tabatinga, Brazil and Isla Santa Rosa, Peru and makes a great base for exploring the mystic and majestic Amazon jungle.
Travelling to Leticia
How to travel to Leticia?
You can fly to Leticia´s airport, Aeropuerto Internacional Alfredo Vásquez Cobo from Bogota. You will have to pay a COP 31,000 tourist tax upon arrival.
You can fly from Manaus to Tabatinga International Airport, the neighbouring village.
There is also the possibility to take a 7-9 day boat trip up the Amazon River from Manaus to Tabatinga. The boat only leaves on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and costs 450 reals.
You can move freely from Tabatinga to Leticia, however, you will need to get your Brazil exit stamp and your Colombia entry stamp if you wish to continue your travels in Colombia.
You can reach Leticia from Iquitos, Peru, by taking a boat to the neighbouring village of Isla Santa Rosa, which takes around 10 hours.
You can move freely from Isla Santa Rosa to Leticia, however, you will need to get your Peruvian exit stamp and your Colombia entry stamp if you wish to continue your travels in Colombia
When to travel to the Amazon?
The Amazon only has two season the “High Water Season” and “Low Water Season”. During the High Water Season, which lasts from around February until late June, you can navigate through the Flooded Forest and visit different areas in a canoe or kayak. The Low Water Season lasts from late June until January and is great for activities such as trekking and piranha fishing.
Every season shows a different side of the Amazon and is therefore worth visiting any time of the year.
Top Hotels & Hostels in Leticia
A modern and comfortable hotel located in Leticia downtown, five minutes walk to the Santander Park (the parrots park)
One of the first hotels in Leticia, located in downtown across the street of Parque Orellana and a five minutes walk away from the Santander Park
The Amazon B&B
A modern eco-hotel, two blocks away from the Santander Park
La Casa del Kurupira is located in Leticia downtown ten minutes away from the Santander Park
La Jangada Hospedaje is located ten minutes away from the Santander Park
Hostel Pirañita is located in Leticia downtown 15 minutes away from the Santander Park
Hostel Casa de las Palmas is the only hostel with a swimming pool located downtown ten minutes away from the Santander Park
Top Restaurants & Bars in Leticia
The Amazon is the only place where you can have breakfast in Colombia, lunch in Peru and dinner in Brazil.
- Tierras Amazónicas (Leticia) This restaurant is a great place to try the typical dishes of the tri-border Amazon region. Peruvian, Brazilian and Colombian culinary flavours are combined without forgetting the essence of traditional indigenous tastes. Any Amazonian experience has to include Mojojoi, fried piranha, pararasca (steamed fish wrapped in banana leaves), chicharrón de pirarucu (prehistoric fish that can measure up to 3 meters long and weigh more than 200 kilos) combined with a chaufa rice and a sip of the traditional drink of the Colombian Amazon, chuchuwaza, which has great healing powers.
- Restaurante 3 fronteras (Tabatinga, Brazil) This restaurant has an extensive menu with a variety of typical Brazilian cuisine as well as a wide selection of typical Amazonian dishes. We recommend the “Parrillada de la Casa”, composed of several types of meat, fish, sausages grilled with regional spices. Also do not miss the opportunity to enjoy a delicious traditional Brazilian Caipirinha.
- Brisas del Amazonas (Island of Santa Rosa, Peru) This restaurant located in the heart of the island of Santa Rosa and has a spectacularly extensive menu of Peruvian dishes. The most recommended dishes are: Mixed ceviche, Papa a la huancaina, Pork jerky with Tacacho and Lomo saltado as well as the renowned Pisco.
- El Primitivo Restaurant This is a brand new restaurant offering fusion cuisine incorporating typical ingredients from the three bordering countries.
- MOSS Bar MOSS Bar is a modern bar located across the street of the Santander Park. It is a great place to have a drink while watching the parrots’ arrival.
Top things to do in Leticia
Leticia is a great base for exploring the Amazon jungle on one of our tours, but there are few activities worth considering within the boundaries of the village.
The Santander Park or better known as the parrot park by the locals is Leticia’s central square and displays civic art and sculptures. Just before sunset the small screeching parrots, locally known as piguichos, arrive – a unique experience.
The Ethnographic Museum of the Banco Republico shows hundreds of objects from three of the more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region to date, namely the Uitoto, Yukunas and Ticunas. The objects are presented in both Spanish and English, and the admission to the museum is free.
The Comara de Tabatinga in the Brazilian neighbouring village offers great views of the Amazon River, the three borders (Colombia, Peru and Brazil) and, weather permitting, magnificent sunsets. We recommend visiting on Sundays to get the real experience and enjoy the Brazilian-style party. Try the Brazilian Caipirinha while you are there to get that real “Brazil-feel”.
The “Friendship Square” is located about 5 minutes from the centre of Leticia on the border street that divides Brazil from Colombia.
The Orellana Park is the place where cultural events are held, such as the Amazon Confraternity and the International Festival of Popular Amazonian Music “Pirarucu de Oro”.
Events & Festivities in Leticia
Leticia is also a wonderful place to experience cultural festivities and events.
- Amazonian Fish Fair
Date: Easter Week
Leticia celebrates this fair in Easter Week, in the Tourist Malecón. Fish farmers from the Peruvian, Brazilian and Colombian Amazonian region display and sell many different types of fish typical to the region. Villagers not only sell their produce, but share their knowledge about the management and reproduction of edible and ornamental fish. The exhibitors are located in spaces where they offer additional services, such as fish filing. Year after year, the fish farmers of Colombia and Brazil come together sharing a common objective: to improve the technical capacity of production, stockpiling and commercialization of fish produced in the region. Through the direct sale of fish, producers are able to increase their income while offering a high quality product.
- Leticia’s Foundation Day
Date: 25th April
Leticia celebrates its birthday on the 25th April. Traditional, religious, cultural and sports activities are organized in honour of the foundation day.
- The Amazon Confraternity
Date: 15th – 20th July
This annual meeting ratifies the union of peoples, where borders do not matter. The festivities last for five day and are filled with art, ethno culture, traditions, customs, sport and gastronomy showcase the diversity and similarity of the Amazonian countries: Colombia, Brazil and Peru. In the last few nights, each country has a day available to exhibit its folklore.
- International Festival of Popular Amazonian Music “Pirarucu de Oro”
Date: End of November
This 3 day festival at the end of November has established itself as a space where the different musical manifestations and traditions of the Amazonian culture converge. Artists, composers, authors, and performers of the different rhythms of the Amazon come together. It was created in 1987 and bears the name of the renowned fish of the Amazon River and its tributaries.