Taking a slow boat up the Amazon river from Leticia, Colombia to Iquitos, Peru

Puerto Nariño, Colombia

The Amazonas has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time. It has always been a place of mystery and magic to me. When I was a child my dad would speak about the Amazon and the river, about crocodiles, snakes, about the people who live there, and the place became one of magic and wonder to me. It became a place of my dreams, and somewhere I wanted to go.

As it happens, when I first asked A where she wanted to go on this journey her immediate reply was: ‘The Amazonas’. I don’t know why but I suppose the Amazon has that air of mystery about it that makes you want to go and see for yourself. So, we did.

We took a plane from Bogota to Leticia in the south of Colombia. Leticia is in the Amazonas, right on the shores of the Amazon river. I was anticipating the weather to be very hot and humid but actually it was not nearly as hot as I had thought. We have experienced much hotter weather on our trip so far and we all quite liked the way the air felt in Leticia. It was unmistakenly a jungle destination; the sounds of the jungle were close to us at all times, the air was hot and humid, and there were (almost) no cars in the streets, only tuk-tuks. It was magical.

climbing a lamp post in Leticia

We stayed at a cosy little guesthouse where we slept in hammocks on the veranda and showered under the open sky. We have become accustomed to sleeping in hammocks by now but the first few times we did it I did not sleep very well. A has no trouble sleeping in a hammock though. There was an air of friendliness and tranquility about the place that easily made it one of my favourite places we’ve stayed. And we met some very nice people.

Leticia is a beautiful town. We went on a guided tour. One of the few tours we’ve been on on this trip. Our guide, Britman, was from Peru and had his own little river boat. He was very passionate about his job and told us everything he knew about the Amazonas, the river, the plants, the animals, and the tribal peoples who live in the area.

From Leticia we took a slow boat, also called a banana boat up the Amazon river to Iquitos in Peru. The trip took less than 48 hours even though we were told it could take up to 4 days.

There isn’t much to do onboard a banana boat. We put up our hammocks and lay swinging back and forth in the warm Amazonian breeze. We looked at the river, the Amazon forest, tiny villages. We were lucky enough to see a few river dolphins, but other than that there isn’t much wild life to see when you’re on a slow boat.

A of course quickly made friends with a little Peruvian girl and they spent most of their waking hours playing.

A and her new friend

The meals were made and served in large portions by a talkative cook, who couldn’t for the life of her understand why we didn’t want to eat meat.

with our cook onboard the slow boat

I took up reading Sherlock Holmes and found out that I really enjoy the story. I’ve never read it before but lying in a hammock all day seemed like a good occasion to read a long book.

We all enjoyed the simple life onboard the boat. But we were happy to reach Iquitos. Not least because it made it possible for us to use toilets that weren’t outright health damaging.

We spent almost a week in Iquitos and from there took the 5 day boat to Pucallpa. But that’s a different story.


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