There’s no words to describe how vast the Amazon rainforest really is. The green carpet just continued below us in perpetuam.
After our rainy flight from Bogotá, the Amazon river finally appeared in the green.
And the river is enormous. At some points it’s over 10 km wide. During dry season!
We landed in Leticia, the Colombian capital of its Amazonas region and walked around a bit while waiting for the boat departure to our next destination.
The gorgeously pink library had a small and unimpressive exhibition of indigenous historical items but also a very informative exhibition outdoors about the history of the Amazon region and what has happened to its native inhabitants and settlers throughout the years.
But the most important thing with Leticia, is that it offers the transit to more interesting sites in the Amazon rainforest.
A couple of hours further up stream, and we’d reach our goal. The Amazon river is opaque from sand, sediment and what comes from the rainforest. The current is really strong. You will want to use the life jacket that is offered on the boat.
Our goal was the relaxed and safe village of Puerto Nariño. And actually a little further than that. We still had another 10 minutes’ boat ride to Hostal del Águila. If you call in advance, the hostel picks you up for free in Puerto Nariño.
The welcoming committee of Hostal del Águila. We negotiated the price to 15.000 pesos (4.50€) per person in a 5-beds dorm in the blue-painted cabins.
The place is so relaxed. It’s slightly higher than the surroundings and the guests assemble in the afternoon to enjoy the sunset over the lake. Lake in this case means a meander of the Amazon river with only one entry.
There’s no need to pay for a visit to the monkey island when you stay at a hostel with skull monkeys everywhere. We were trying so hard to close the doors quickly so they wouldn’t get into the kitchen and still we found them eating bananas, cookies, bread and about anything they could grab.
What I like about Puerto Nariño and Hostal Alto del águila, is that you’re much freer than if you stay at the reserves where certain food is served at certain time. In Puerto Nariño, you can go to the store, and at the hostel you cook what you feel like, and what your budget allows. You’ll save a lot of money this way. Also, the hostel is overlooking a lovely lake where dolphins are spotted everyday.
I guess it’s pretty obvious that I love monkeys.
I know you shouldn’t feed animals in the rain forest, but I was given a piece of bread by the hostel manager and told to stand still on the grass and say “croocroo”. I felt so ridiculous with the sunset watchers staring at me.
It was worth the embarrassment, though, when these giants landed on my arm.
Shortly after arriving, we went out on the lakes with Luis, a guide from the hostel.
Lake Tarapoto adds to Lake Titicaca as the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.
Imagining the 13 m of dark, dense water below us. And the piranhas…
But the water felt softer than any other water I’ve swum in.
The entry of darkness was only the beginning of our excursion.
Luis dropped us off in a canoa with indigenous Gabriel. One of the most impacting and obviously undocumented moments was when we waited in the canoa, while Gabriel ran up the hill to fetch something, we found ourselves in the middle of the evening bath of indigenous women of all ages by the shore. It was almost dark and we’d only see their silhouettes and hear their laughters and soft chattering.
We took off into narrow and shallow streams and the only light came from our flashlights. Grabriel told us to look for orange gleaming spots in the dark. Caiman eyes. Then he easily picked up caimans of different sizes from the water.
I got to hold one that was a meter long as well but I liked this 1 year old better. From what I’ve been told, the indigenous small-scale caiman excursions have a minimal impact on the wildlife, so we felt confident that we didn’t cause too much harm.
Then Gabriel let them swim away happily.
Next day meant more boat excursions.
It was the dolphin spotting day. We weren’t terribly lucky, but we saw some grey dolphins and the back of one or two pink dolphins. They are just impossible to photograph. Perhaps it’s just as well, because they aren’t as pretty as you may think. Google it and you’ll see, but even most google pictures are montages.
Without mosquito repellent you’re dead here. But with a strong repellent bought in Bogotá we managed pretty well.
We left the boat and walked to these giant trees.
The next day when searching for shelter from the pouring rain on our way to the gigant lotus leaves Victoria Regia, we met the saddest little orphan I’ve ever seen. This one month old howler monkey had lost her mother and moved in voluntarily at this farm.
She’d go from “dance with me” one minute to wrapping up in your arms crying and shivering the next. And then back to dancing again.
Back at the hostel for our last afternoon, I thought I’d have a calm moment in the hammock since it was raining heavier than any rain ever experienced. But there’s never a calm moment where there are skull monkeys around.
Eventually we had to take the boat back to Leticia. There wasn’t too much to do, but we checked out the city park. Stupidly, I didn’t think of bringing my passport so we couldn’t cross the border to Brazil.
But we did more things during our stay in Amazonas. From Leticia by bus along the only road there is, we travelled for 40 minutes to Tanimboca and slept in a tree house. More about that here…