The Amazon region of Colombia covers an area of over 400,000sq km, a little over a third of the national territory. Amazonia contributes greatly to Colombia’s phenomenal biodiversity statistics and cultural heritage. This vast forested basin starts a little to the south of the River Guaviare (which divides the region from the Llanos to the north) and stretches to the Putumayo River in the south and the Atabapo and Orinoco rivers to the west. The southernmost tip of Colombian Amazonia is the Trapezium where, along its southern edge, the mighty Amazon River itself flows before entering Brazil.
The town of Leticia is located at the tip of the trapezium, on the banks of the Amazon where Brazil, Peru and Colombia meet. At just over two hours by plane from Bogota, Leticia offers an excellent opportunity to reach the region in a relatively short amount of time. Nature reserves abound with canopy towers and tree-top walkways offering amazing views over the canopy where much of the wildlife lives. In Leticia you can observe thousands of parrots of many different species flying into the main square, Santander Park, to roost for the night.
Towards the west of Leticia the real Amazon adventure begins. Various settlements of Ticuna, Cocama and Yagua indigenous peoples dominate the river banks and provide an insight into a way of life that has lasted for 10,000 years. The Mocagua community lives next to one of Amazonia’s best national parks, Amacayacu, where they are trying to retain essential knowledge of their culture, ably assisted by local lodge foundations. One such, Maikuchiga, (“the monkey’s story” in Ticuna), nurses captive primates back to life in the jungle. Further upriver on the banks of the Loretoyaco River lies the Ticuna town of Puerto Nariño, with no cars and surrounded by the impenetrable green of the Amazon.
Also in Puerto Nariño, the Natutama Foundation’s museum shows the Ticuna’s deities and worldview, allowing insight into the underwater world of the varzea forest where, when the rivers burst their banks and flood the jungle, water levels can rise over five metres. Wildlife here is abundant. Pink and grey river dolphins are a common sight both in the giant oxbow lake and the RAMSAR wetlands site of Lake Tarapoto. In the Amazon River itself, various large raptors and many species of parrot abound. There are around 10 species of primate in the area, five of which occur with some frequency including the diminutive pygmy marmoset.