Friday, 27 February 2009

Bogota, Leticia and the boat journey to Manaus

Fortunately the next day in Bogota was much brighter and although it was still not as hot as the Caribbean it was about perfect for city walking! We started with a visit to the Police museum which might sound an odd choice but it´s actually really interesting and you get a free, private guided tour from one of the young men doing their national service. The museum includes a big section on the life of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel all the way up to his eventual capture and fairly brutal death (and weirdly includes his cousin´s Harley Davidson!). We then visited the Botero museum that features lots of paintings by the Colombian artist (and a few others by Monet, Gaugin and Dali). The next morning we took a cable car ride to the top of Cerro Montserrat, a big hill behind that city that has amazing views over the whole of Bogota. In the afternoon we visited the gold museum which was huge (and full of gold, surprisingly....).
The following day and it was time to jump back on a plane (oh the luxury of being able to travel long distances in short times) down to the Amazon part of Colombia to a town called Leticia. The area is known as the triple frontier as it´s where Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet. You can easily walk from Leticia into the neighbouring Brazilian town of Tabatinga without any immigration hassle (unless you plan to travel further into either country). And you can hope on a boat over the other side of the Amazon river to the Island of Santa Rosa which belongs to Peru. We arrived happy to back in the sweltering heat and immediately got down to arranging a jungle tour for the next day. We opted for the slightly more luxurious jungle lodge option over the hardcore trekking and camping in the jungle option, this is a honeymoon after all. Our hostel owner presented us with these fat maggot-like creatures for our first breakfast, we politely declined.....
And so after a earlyish night (including a short stroll into Brazil!) we were up early the next day and down to the port in Tabatinga to meet our boatman, Costa. He took us up river for about an hour and a half over to the Peruvian side where we met our guide Roberto in a really small riverside village called Porto Alegre. After some dolphin spotting he took us briefly back to his village so we could see the local school (no jobs for Jo though unfortunately...).
After this we transferred boats and got into a proper canoe (only oars, no outboard, damn!) and started to paddle through a little inlet off the Amazon. It was hot work but totally amazing as we realised we were now experiencing the jungle proper, and to really hammer the point home it wasn´t long until we spotted our first tarantula sitting on a leaf about 2 feet from our boat! Eventually (after about an hours rowing and tarantula dodging) we emerged out onto the Lake Marasha, home to the Reserva Marasha and our lovely jungle lodge.
After hopping ashore, checking out our cute little room and dropping off our bags, we were back onto the lake for a proper tour around the perimeter. The guide had packed four bananas and we initially thought it was a little snack for us, but we paddled to the other side of the lake, nosed the boat into a hedge and the guide asked us to hold the bananas out in front of us and preceded to whistle. In a matter of seconds, loads of small Titi monkeys were climbing all over us tucking into the bananas! (Not sure on the ethics of feeding the ´wild´animals in reserve but it was still good fun! We did turn down the chance of paying to hold a jaguar the following day!) Once they´d demolished our offerings they were soon back off into the trees leaving us to a relaxing afternoon on the water.

The following day we went on a 4 hour walk into the jungle, which as it´s coming to a high water season, meant even our wellies were pretty useless as we went nervously wading waist deep in water! Unfortunately we didn´t see too much in the way of wildlife (or maybe that can be counted as fortunate given the venomous nature of alot of the creatures in the jungle!) although there were plenty of mosquito´s managing to bite us through our clothing! After arriving back at the lodge and applying plenty of bite cream we were back out on the lake for a fruitless but very relaxing fishing session.
That evening after dinner we went out onto the lake to try and spot some cayman. We think we just about saw one beady red eye from a distance!

The next morning we had a bit of a relax sitting by the lake and decided to have another crack at fishing, but alas it was another fruitless venture! By afternoon it was time to leave and to give us another type of experience, the heavens decided to open, reminding us that we were definitely in a rainforest.
The next day we flew around Leticia and Tabatinga on the back of motorbikes or mototaxis (a cheap but risky way of getting around) sorting out money changing and passport stamping. We then packed up and went down to the port in Tabatinga to board our riverboat that would be our home for the next 4 days and 3 nights on the journey to Manaus. We strung up our hammocks, and proceeded to have a very chilled out few days admiring the scenery. The food was actually pretty good and there was also a bar onboard so all was well!
We arrived in Manaus on the Friday morning and were pleased that we had a flight out of there that same evening as the city is not particularly attractive.

We´re now in Salvador ready to put some more beach miles on the clock!

Hope you´re all okay.

Lots of love.

Al and Jo xxx


David said...

hey, Great reading your blog, I am planning a trip all over southamerica starting november. I am interested in taking the boat from leticia, or tabatinga to manaos. can you provide me some information regarding this, is it hard to find a boat? do you have to book in advance or arrange something in advance? any information is greatly appreciated please email me to

ahmed said...

I have visited this site and got lots of information than other site visited before a month.

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