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What to Expect and how to Prepare for the Colombian Amazon
On my recent trip to Colombia, after visiting Bogota and the coffee region, I set off for the Colombian Amazon. After a short flight to Leticia and a calm boat trip up the Amazon River for around 1.5 hours, I arrived at Calanoa Jungle Lodge. The lodge is committed to respecting the environment and supporting the people of the area and over 30 families support themselves from their work there. The local indigenous people convey such a calm and loving presence, which I believe comes from a deep connection with Mother Earth. An unforgettable experience was eating the delicious locally sourced foods with them around the stove where they were cooking with wood. It was great to see them work in such a harmonious way, in silence and perfectly orchestrated.
The Colombian Amazon is an amazing natural experience and if you love the jungle and embrace the frugal conditions that the area presents, you can have a very meaningful nature experience. Here is what you can experience and tips on how to get better prepared for your stay.
Calanoa Jungle Lodge Gallery
What to do and see:
- MONKEYS: There is great primate life in the area: pygmy marmosets, black-mantled tamarins, titi/squirrel monkeys, brown capuchin monkey, uakari and noctural monkeys - just to name a few out of the 41 total species found in the country!
- BIRDING: Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the most species.
- WALKING: There are very good walks - visit Maikuchiga Foundation and Monkey Sanctuary, which offers rehabilitation and rescue of confiscated primates (until recently the native people use to hunt them for food). Nocturnal walks are also among my favorites, especially to see frogs and giant tarantulas that you can only see in the Amazon.
- BOATING: A boat tour is an amazing way to spot wildlife and enjoy the silence of nature and the stress free jungle environment. Kayaking is also available to navigate the small canals and creeks, especially in Matamata.
- TOURS: Puerto Nariño is very interesting if you go with a resident guide who will take you to observe monkeys, birds and the Victoria Regias or Victoria Amazonica, a species of flowering plant that is the largest of the water lilies. Some leaves are up to 10 feet in diameter! They have a very primitive look and the flower is white the first night they are open and the second night they become pink.
- HAMMOCKS: Yes, hanging out in the hammock room is considered an activity! Chill out, sip a cocktail or read a book.
- STARGAZING - Because of the low light pollution, the Amazon is spectacular for watching the stars on clear nights, especially from the Calanoa dock!
How to prepare for the Amazon:
- Calanoa Jungle Lodge is one of the best accommodation available in the area and offers a true jungle experience. With no air conditioning, no ceiling fans, no hot water and no windows, just simple screened wooden cabanas, you'll really feel like you're sleeping in the open Amazon jungle! The cabanas are spacious and comfortable, yet austere. I was mostly concerned about bugs but was pleased that the cabins where pretty much bug free.
- You won't need any fancy hiking boots because they won't work, don't even try! Use the rubber boots Calanoa will lend you to do the walks and hikes, they work perfect for wet terrain. I actually brought my own pair of rubber boots because I use them a lot in Costa Rica. I decided to go on the safe side and carry them with me and I used them all over Colombia.
- There is no electricity in the cabins, only in the kitchen, which runs on solar panels. Make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp as the light on a phone is not enough.
- Unless you speak Spanish, an English speaking guide here is a must. Because of the lack of English speaking staff, it is better to have all the services arranged in advance and the company of a guide to take the hassle out of your travels.
You won't find luxury in the Colombian Amazon (although it is quite comfortable) but if you are open to everything you will be able to truly enjoy amazing hospitality from an outstanding, warmhearted staff. The monkeys will welcome you as well, playing in the trees overhead, as they did with me, and who knows, the Amazon might just steal your heart.
To learn more about trips to Colombia give me a call at 800-345-4453 or check out all of our Colombia blogs.