If you’re planning to explore the Colombian Amazonas, base yourself in Leticia and Puerto Narino for the best Amazon tours. Organize your Amazon adventures at the spot with local guides to help the local economy and support the indigenous tribes of the Amazon. Added bonus: you’ll get the most authentic Amazon experience!

Independent Amazon Tour is Cheaper and More Fun!

We prefer to venture off-the-beaten-path and plan our tours independently: Colombian Amazon was no exception. Follow our steps: fly in the border town Leticia in the Colombian Amazon and take a public ferry with locals to a tiny Amazonian ecovillage called Puerto Narino. From there, it’s easy to organize all kind of Amazon tours directly with local guides.

You’ll score both much cheaper Amazon tours and more authentic experience by staying in an indigenous village instead of a jungle resort. In Puerto Narino, you can stay in a nice hotel but at the same time make friends with indigenous people in the riverfront and small village restaurants!

Why are the Amazon Tours in Colombia Better Than Amazon Tours in Brazil and Peru?

Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon suffers from mass tourism, while Colombian Amazonas remains much more authentic.

Why? If you’re on a vacation in Colombia, it’s much harder and also slightly more expensive to get to the Amazon than from Brazil or Peru. Whereas you can take a ferry from Manaus (Brazil) or Iquitos (Peru) to the Amazon, you need to fly through Bogota to Leticia from all Colombian destinations. So, adding Amazon tours to itinerary in Colombia is not as popular as in Brazil and Peru.

Book independent Amazon tours at the spot in Puerto Narino for off the beaten path Amazon experience
Book independent Amazon tours at the spot in Puerto Narino for off the beaten path Amazon experience

Can You Do Colombian Amazon Tours From Brazil or Peru?

Want to hear a secret? Surprisingly, if you’re on holiday in Brazil or Peru and want to tour the less-crowded Amazon behind the Colombian border, it’s super easy! The border towns of all three countries (Colombia, Peru, Brazil) are clustered together in an area called Tres Fronteras (Spanish for Three Frontiers). This means that you can easily walk from country to another – just like walking through suburbs.

How to Do Amazon Day Tours From Colombia to Brazil and Peru

It doesn’t really matter in which country you start your Amazon adventure, as crossing borders is easy. You can even do Amazon day trips in certain areas without any border formalities, visas or passport stamps (from Colombian side all the way to Brazilian town called Benjamin Constant, generally within 80 km radius from Leticia).

TIP: If you’re doing a multi-day Amazon tour, remember to get your exit stamp to avoid borders problems. Check also whether you need a visa to enter Brazil (some nationalities need it; not for a day tour in Tabatinga but for longer stays).

How Big is the Colombian Amazon a.k.a. the Amazonas?

The area surrounding the Amazon River and its tributaries in Colombia is called the Amazonas. It’s located in the southernmost department of Colombia, called Amazonia. With more than 400 000 square kilometers, Amazonia is the largest department of Colombia, covering a third of the whole country.

More than 100 000 square kilometers of the Amazonia is protected as forest reserves and national parks. The Colombian side of the Amazon has four national parks: Amacayacu, Cahuinari, Rio Puree, and Yagoje Apapori.

The Amazon proper forms the border between Colombia and Peru. Amazon also has many major tributaries in Colombia, which offer less-crowded day and overnight trips for than the Amazon proper.

The view to the Amazon from Puerto Narino's Mirador just before sunset
The view to the Amazon from Puerto Narino's Mirador just before sunset
A small local settlement by an Amazon tributary near Puerto Narino, Colombia
A small local settlement by an Amazon tributary near Puerto Narino, Colombia

Planning Amazon Tours: Step-By-Step Guide to the Colombian Amazonas

First, check out the flight schedule to the Amazon. If you’re staying in Colombia before your Amazon adventure, check the flights between Bogota and the only Colombian town with an airport in the Amazon, Leticia. If you’re coming from Brasil, check the flights or ferries into Tabatinga, the Brasilian counterpart of Leticia. From Peru, you should take a ferry from Iquitos to Isla Santa Rosa. If you’re coming from Colombia, flying in Leticia is the only option to get to the Amazonas.

How Many Days You Need in Leticia

Plan on spending at least two nights in Leticia before taking multiday Amazon tour, and preferably one day after your Amazon adventure. That way you can leave your heavy luggage to your hotel or hostel and take just a day backpack to the jungle trip. Many hotels also lend rubber boots so that you don’t need to buy or carry your own.

Beware Fake Amazon Tours in Leticia

One tip and word of warning for booking Amazon tours in Leticia: streets are full of opportunistic “guides” selling false tours. If you decide to skip Puerto Narino and make Leticia your base in the Amazon, we recommend booking the day trips through your accommodation or at least getting their approval for your chosen tour company or guide.

Take enough time to find an ethical, environmentally friendly, and safe tour operator. We can recommend booking Amazon day tours through the charming Amazon B&B Hotel, where we stayed.

Why We Chose Independent Amazon Trip to Puerto Narino

After chatting with several tour companies, checking their backgrounds and reviews from TripAdvisor, we decided to take an independent ferry trip to Puerto Narino and take Amazon day tours while staying in Puerto Narino. It’s a way cheaper option to explore the rainforest than Amazon tour packages and gives you the freedom to choose your guides in person.

We also found out that there were more than a handful of shady players doing tours in Colombian, Brazilian, and Peruvian Amazon, including guides who mistreat animals for the sake of a show for the tourists. Also, many jungle lodges seemed a rip off in terms of price and quality. Most rainforest lodges within one-day boat trip from Leticia (or Tabatinga or Isla Santa Rosa) are extremely basic and in a pretty rundown condition.

Book a fishing tour with the local fishermen in Puerto Narino, Colombia
Book a fishing tour with the local fishermen in Puerto Narino, Colombia
Plan the best Amazon tours in the Colombian Amazonas: Stay in Puerto Narino and Leticia
Plan the best Amazon tours in the Colombian Amazonas: Stay in Puerto Narino and Leticia

Organize Amazon Tours from Leticia 

It’s easy to arrange Amazon hikes and boat trips at the spot in Leticia, and the town has some quirky sights to keep you entertained. To get orientated, stay at least a couple of nights in Leticia eating your way through the Amazonian cuisine and taking day tours to the Amazon.

From Leticia, you can visit nearby natural reserves either on day trips or multi-day rainforest expeditions. You can also go kayaking or birding, and visit indigenous communities. Check out our article about all the fun things to do in Leticia – including different day trips to the surrounding Amazon! You might end up staying longer than you planned!

Book Your Independent Amazon Tours in Puerto Narino

I should add an exclamation mark in the title: we highly recommend that you book Amazon tours directly with local fishermen in Puerto Narino. We contacted several tour companies while planning our Amazonas adventures, but all of them fell short somehow – and the others hooked you up with the same local fishermen.

When you settle the price straight with the locals, it’s cheaper for you and the money goes straight to the pockets of your guide. All our indigenous guides were amazing: although they spoke Spanish and maybe a couple of words English, we understood each other well enough.

Best Tours in Colombian Amazon (From Leticia & Puerto Narino) 

We’ll list below examples of the most exciting tours in the Colombian Amazon to give you inspiration. Check out our things to do in Leticia article for full details!

  • Short Amazon day hikes and night walks in Tanimboca Nature Reserve, Chacara da Coruja Reserve, and Reserva Natural Omagua
  • Tarapoto Lake tour with pink and gray dolphins and walking trees (from Leticia or Puerto Narino)
  • Monkey Island Tour (Isla de Los Micos)
  • Zip-line and canopy tour in Reserva Natural Tanimboca
  • Boat and fishing tours in Marasha Nature Reserve (Peru)
  • Amazon night safaris (by boat or boat trips with short walks)
  • Rio Yavari Amazon safari (day trip or overnight tour)
  • Sacambu Lake dolphin tours
  • Canopy tour in Omagua Reserve
  • Kayak tours in Yahuarcaca Lakes
  • Birding tours in the Amazon proper and its tributaries
  • See the waterlilies in Victoria Regia Nature Reserve
  • Visit the indigenous tribes and villages of the Amazon
  • Jungle Survival Tours
Entrance to Tarapoto Lake near Puerto Narino, Colombia
Entrance to Tarapoto Lake near Puerto Narino, Colombia
Spotting pink and gray dolphins in the Colombian Amazon
Spotting pink and gray dolphins in the Colombian Amazon

Best Amazon Tours From Manaus, Brazil

I know, I’ve been hyping the Amazon tours from the Colombian side during the whole article. If your journey takes you to Manaus, you can, of course, book interesting Amazon tours starting from Manaus. The key for Brazilian Amazon tours is to have enough time to get out of the beaten path.

If you’re lucky to have one week for the Amazon tours and would like to sleep in a hammock learning some valuable jungle skills, consider this 6-Day Amazon Jungle Survival Experience starting and ending in Manaus. This tour ventures deep in the rainforest, unlike many others, showing you the real treats of the Amazon.

If you have 2 to 4 days for the Amazon tour from Manaus, check out these affordable tour packages in Anaconda Lodge, which take you off the beaten path but offer basic facilities in the jungle.

If you’re looking for an Amazon day tour from Manaus, check out this boat tour.

How to Choose Ethical Amazon Tours 

Unfortunately, many Amazon tours include unethical animal interactions, for example capturing alligators or caimans for the fun of tourists. Please read the tour description online before booking or ask enough questions from the tour company to make sure that the guides won’t harass wildlife.

Take a sunset tour in the Colombian Amazonas to meet local families and fishermen
Take a sunset tour in the Colombian Amazonas to meet local families and fishermen

What to Pack for Amazon Tours & What to Wear

Here’s a list of essentials for your Amazonas adventure:

  • lightweight clothes for the hot and sticky weather: preferably t-shirts, tops, shorts/skirt, and long-sleeve shirts and convertibles or lightweight long pants for covering up for bugs, snakes, and other creatures
  • waterproof hiking shoes or even rubber boots (you can find the latter in Leticia: the jungle is muddy)
  • raincoat or another kind of rain cover, we also had waterproof pants
  • long socks (for avoiding bugs and leeches)
  • bug repellent (you can find it in Leticia)
  • sunscreen
  • day backpack for day trips and hikes
  • torch

Where to Stay in Leticia, Colombia

We loved our stay in Amazon B&B, which is constantly listed as the best hotel in Leticia. Their rooms offer affordable yet chic accommodation. Bungalows with own verandas and hammocks are the most luxurious option. Breakfast is great, and the leafy garden soothes your senses in the middle of this mildly chaotic jungle town of Leticia.

Where to Stay in Puerto Narino, Colombia

We stayed in lovely Wayra Selva, which was recommended for us by our Colombian friends. It’s hands down the best hotel in town and still super affordable. We loved the view from our own little terrace. The room was clean and location excellent.

Wayra Selva is the best hotel in Puerto Narino, Colombian Amazonas
Wayra Selva is the best hotel in Puerto Narino, Colombian Amazonas
Amazonas B&B is the best place to stay in Leticia
Amazonas B&B is the best place to stay in Leticia

Where to Eat in Leticia & Puerto Narino

Eating out is also an exciting activity in the Amazon! In Leticia, we loved to dine at El Santo Angel’s terrace in the center, sampling casabes (local pizzas) and fresh fish. Tierras Amazonicas has rave reviews, but for us, El Santo Angel was the clear winner.

Restaurants in Puerto Narino are traditional and modest, but food can still be delicious. Try Las Margaritas by the football field (it’s where most tourists go) and the grill restaurant by the riverfront: we preferred eating with the locals in the latter. Also, the street food stalls in Puerto Narino offer tasty snacks. 

How to Get to Leticia & Puerto Narino, Colombia

If you’re coming from the rest of Colombia, the only way to get to Leticia, the capital of the Colombian Amazon, is by plane. Check our tips for finding cheap internal flights in Colombia.

All Amazon tours include boat transfers from Leticia. If you’re planning an independent Amazon tour and visiting Puerto Narino ecovillage, take a public boat from Leticia to Puerto Narino (2 hours). Book your tickets the day before to secure seats.

Have you been in the Colombian Amazon? Did you plan your Amazon visit independently? If you took guided Amazon tours, which were your favorites?

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Plan the best Amazon tours in Colombian Amazonas: Stay in Leticia and Puerto Narino and book independent boat tours to the Amazon! #Amazon #rainforest #Colombia #SouthAmerica