Amazonas · Colombia · Gamboa · Leticia · Rain Forest · South America · Teaching English · Travel

The last of the Amazon

We spent the night at the lodge on the Gamboa.  It was so quiet and the stars were so very bright.  It was a beautiful, peaceful place to be.  We hung out in hammocks and then slept under our mosquito nets.

We woke up early to go see the sunrise over the Amazon river.  It was so beautiful.  We saw dolphins playing in the water and heard the birds waking to eat.  Again, the peace overwhelmed me.

sunrise amazon

We then ate breakfast and wandered around the lodge area.  I saw this amazing tree that was full of huge caterpillars and their cocoons.  The tree was amazing!!

catepiller tree

We went swimming in the river down from the lodge.  The water was black!! I was pretty scared and very nervous so stayed close to the banks!  The river bottom was squishy with mud and river grass.  It was a short swim – but I felt that I had to do it!!

Gamboa

We then got back in the boat to go to a drop off place up river where we were going to hike to an outpost on the native Ticuna lands called Piranha Lake.  This is a reserve on the private lands of the indigenous people and it is the only building for commercial use of it’s kind on this reserve.  We are excited to be staying there.  It is a three hour or so hike from the banks of the Amazon to the ‘lodge’.  It is sooooo hot and there are so many mosquitos on the way.  We have been told to be prepared with lots of bug spray and our long sleeved shirts and long pants.

We got there and we were so very miserable.  I was drenched in sweat and covered with mosquitos.  They kept buzzing in our ears reminding us that they were there waiting to bite us!  I have decided that I NEVER want to be an Amazon explorer – there is another career to mark off my list!

When we arrived at the building it was peaceful looking – It was open air as the Ticuna houses are.  There was a closed sleeping area with hammocks with mosquito nets.  There was a little building apart for using the toilet and a water tank for flushing.  The outside was gorgeous – there was a walkway to the lake.  It was one of the most beautiful places I have been.  We made it!

We spent the night there and went on a night walk where we saw scorpions and tarantulas and some night rodents.  We even got to see a snake!

Then we had the long walk back to the river drop off place and took the boat back to Santa Rosa and Leticia.

I had an amazing time and can’t wait to come back again.  As miserable as I was, I do want to return and see all of this again.  The peacefulness of the Amazon trumps the misery of the mosquitos and the heat!

I love this place!!!

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Amazonas · Bogota · Colombia · Gamboa · Leticia · Rain Forest · South America · Teaching English · Travel

The Amazon – Part 4

Our rain forest trip with Gamboa Tours – The fun begins!

We got up early to pack our small backpacks to travel with and leave the rest of our stuff at the hostel.  We needed to make sure we had long pants and long sleeved shirts to trek through the rain forest as the mosquitos were ferocious.  We had all been taking Thiamin for 3 weeks before as we had heard that it discourages mosquitos and we had all had our yellow fever vaccinations 10 days previously.  The company gave us big rubber boots to wear on the trek as there is supposed to be copious amounts of mud on the trails due to it being rainy season now.  We were to leave our hiking boots behind and take only what we could carry on our trek.

We went to the port of Tabatinga and got into our boat with our guide.  There were 8 of un in total.  One guy was with us for the day and a couple for one night.  It was us girls and two tourists from China for the three day tour.

IMG_2827     Inside boat

We took off for about two hours up the Amazon to the port of Benjamin Constant in Brazil.  This is a very important city from the past because of the rubber trade.  It is now in disrepair and possibly more ugly than Leticia.  We had a Brazilian Arepa there made with yuca brava, or Cassava.  It was delicious.

 

We then went up river about 20 minutes to a city called Islandia.  This is a city in Peru built on stilts because of the rising waters in rainy season.  The government had decided to build raised walkways between the houses so that the children could still attend school when the city was flooded.  It was an interesting city, but the walkway was concrete, so the heat rose from it and there were no trees, so we were hot and sweaty.  It was a sad, ugly city and it struck me as hilarious that they kept comparing it to Venice – it was absolutely nothing like!

IMG_2865

 

IMG_2879

We then went to Santa Rosa for lunch before heading up to the Gamboa River off the Amazon another hour or so down the river.  We had lunch at a delicious restaurant there.  It was probably my second favorite meal in the area.  The fish was absolutely amazing and the restaurant had a couple of parrots that hung out there.

We took off after lunch and headed up to our first site.  This is a lodge used by various groups to head further into the rain forest.  It has beds and mosquito nets and simple facilities and showers.  It is off the beaten path though and we passed pink dolphins and gray dolphins on our way as well as some indigenous houses with families out front doing laundry.  It was absolutely beautiful along the shore and so tranquil on the water.  I felt my cares float away the farther along we went.  I felt peace and awe fill me.  I was so happy!

We unpacked and explored the area.  We then went out for a trip in the canoe, had dinner, rested and went for a nighttime canoe ride to spot alligators and hear the nighttime sounds of the river.  It was like a symphony!  I was at peace.

Amazonas · Colombia · Gamboa · Leticia · South America · Teaching English · Travel

The Amazon – Part 3

 

Our friend came in to Leticia today and we went to pick her up and we all went to the immigration office at the airport to get our exit stamps from Colombia.  Our main reason for being in this area is to get our visas sorted, so this was necessary. The wait wasn’t long, but now we have 24 hours to get our entry stamp in Peru.  The nearest station is a short boat ride away to the island of Santa Rosa.

We dropped her stuff off at the Airbnb and went to the port to get a canoe to Santa Rosa where we wanted to get our entry stamp and have something to eat.  The food is supposed to be better in Santa Rosa according to what we have read.  We want to talk to her over lunch about the options for our rain forest trek as we need to get signed up soon so we can leave tomorrow.  We are so done with Leticia!

We went down to the port of Leticia and people were immediately asking us if we were going to Santa Rosa, Peru.  It costs 3,000 COP ($1) to get there and same to come back.  The boat takes you over, when you arrive, lots of moto-taxis (Tuk Tuks) are waiting to charge you to take you to the immigration office there for 3,000 sols per person.  This is big business in the area.

Port Leticia

It was easy to get our entry stamp in Peru, but hard to find a restaurant, so we got the canoe back to Leticia to try to find the restaurant we had gone to yesterday and had grilled pirarucu. It is called Eco hotel El Refugio and it was delicious and not too expensive!   Unfortunately it was closed.

ecohotel

We then found a great, inexpensive restaurant that served amazing fish!  The lunch was delicious and as we were paying we saw a fishbowl of Mojoy worms for sale.

mojoy worms

Apparently  they are very good and nutritious for people – like vitamins.  We decided to forgo them today!  We talked about our options for our trip and decided on the three day trip with the tour company, Gamboa.

We went to the hostel, signed up and paid.  Our adventures start tomorrow!!

 

Amazonas · Colombia · Gamboa · Leticia · South America · Tabatinga · Teaching English · Travel

The Amazon – Part 2

We woke really early in the morning after a difficult night of sleep.  The light came through the curtains really early.  I had been used to sleeping in the city with the cars driving past all night and drunk people walking by laughing and singing.  Here in Leticia, there were roosters crowing at all hours, and the birds woke early in the morning singing and flying around, it would be a beautiful thing to wake to if one was not so tired!

We had a tin roof and there were iguanas scratching on the roof as they clambered about.  We were up by 4:30, it was like there was no way to get back to sleep!  There was one bird that kept knocking at our window in a seemingly desperate way to get us to wake up!

We decided to explore Leticia and Tabatinga as we had the day pretty much free waiting for our friend.  We left the house to search for breakfast in the area.   We had assumed wrongly that the area would be a cheap place to eat as we were in the middle of no-where, though as soon as people saw that we were foreigners, they upped the charges adding the usual ‘gringo tax’.  We were charged way too much for ‘huevos pericos’ and juice.  It left us feeling cross and edgy.  We were tired, the city is dirty AND we were paying double what we would be paying back home!

Then it began raining around noon, so we hired a Tuk Tuk to take us around the area while we sat in the buggy and were tourists. We wanted to see things, and the only thing we really had to do was get information on trips into the rain forest so that we would be ready to tell our friend what the options were and could sign up as soon as possible.  There is really nothing to do in Leticia but sign up for trips.  So we played tourist!  The area was pretty much as dirty as we thought, but we got to see the Amazon river as the Tuk Tuk took us into Tabatinga!

map entre

There are a lot of agencies in Leticia for tourists to explore the Amazon. We really liked the tours from Gamboa Hostel and Hippilandia Hostel the best.  We were all three on a major budget, so were leaning toward the Gamboa tour as it was cheaper,  though the Hippilandia tours sound the best. Listening to the guides tell us about the adventures we were going to be having was so exciting.  I can’t wait to go explore!!!

Amazonas · Colombia · El Cielo · Leticia · South America · Tabatinga · Teaching English · Travel

The Amazon Part 1

When deciding where to go when I left the country because my work visa expired and I had to be out of Colombia by the 31st of November and come back in on a tourist visa I was torn between going to the Amazon or Bolivia.  I had grown up in Bolivia and in the Amazonas of Venezuela, so wanted to experience at least one of the places again.  Venezuela is too uncertain right now and Bolivia can be hard to travel in.

A lot of my friends are from the US and there is a visa that they need to get to travel to Bolivia as well, so I decided to fly to Leticia and then wander into Peru and Brasil.  It was all the rain forest so I figured that my experience would be very similar to that which I had growing up in Venezuela. A couple of my friends were also interested in going to the Amazonas region, so off we went.

The area we were going to was called ‘Tres Fronteras’.  It is made up of the bottom tip of Colombia and a small section of Peru and Brasil.  The cities of Leticia, Tabatinga, and Santa Rosa meet on the Amazon river and people can wander freely between the three countries.  It is the person’s responsibility to go to the immigration office of the country they need to for the proper exit and entry stamps before traveling further in the country of choice.

map area 3 fronteras

I flew into Leticia on the 28th of November and met up with my friend who had flown in that morning.  We had decided to stay at an airbnb for the first two nights, then meet up with another friend who was also coming down and then we would head off into the jungle on a three day adventure.

LEticia

It was hot – oh so very hot!  The air was sticky and thick – as soon as I got off the plane I was enveloped in the oppressive heat! I was exited to see all the signs in the airport about it being so clean, but as I left the airport, I realized that the signs were merely hopeful – the place was covered with litter.  There was trash thrown everywhere.  It was depressing to see that the Amazon, the lung of the earth was buried in trash.

I got a cab to the airbnb, dropped my things off and my friend and I set about exploring.  We walked into Tabatinga, Brasil to look around and just revel about being in another country.

TabatingaTabatinga1

We walked and walked – it was amazing how quickly the language changed just being on the other side of the border.  The money was immediately different as well.  The places accepted pesos, but we got reales back in change.

We walked back into Leticia, had an amazing dinner at a little restaurant called ‘El Cielo’. The food was amazing.  We had this pirarucu fish pizza that was absolutely delicious.  I have not been a fan of Colombian food, but I can see now that I could be!  The service was great and the ambience was refreshing.

El Cielo 1

El Cielo

Back to the Airbnb and to bed!