Leticia is located in the heart of the Colombian Amazon, the largest wet tropical forest in the world. Leticia Colombia is the capital city of Amazonia intersecting with Peru and Brazil along the Amazon River, the longest and widest river in the world.
Historically, Leticia was a Peruvian town used as a military base and an important river port. The legend says that the settlement was originally named by a soldier back in 1867 who fell in love with an Amerindian called Leticia.
The territory of Leticia was handed to the Colombians by treaty in 1924, although the two nations disputed ownership, the League of Nations awarded Leticia to Colombia in 1934.
Today, the capital of the department of Amazonas, and Colombia’s southernmost town, is known as “Tres Fronteras“, as it is the point where three countries (Colombia, Peru and Brazil) join together. The city is a popular tourist hub for adventure seekers, looking to explore the biodiversity, incredible wildlife and authentic cultural experiences in the lungs of the planet.
This travel guide to Leticia Colombia will help you organise your trip to the Gateway to the Amazon including how to get there, where to stay, best tours and itineraries. So, whether you are spending one day in Leticia or using the city as a springboard to the beating heart of the Amazon, this is the best trip planner to Leticia Colombia.
Travel Guide to Leticia Colombia
How to get to Letitia Colombia
So time to start working out the logistics of visiting the Amazon. There are a few ways to get to Leticia Colombia.
Bogota to Leticia Colombia
There is no way to access Leticia Colombia by land, it is not a safe passage through the jungle.
The most common way is to fly from Bogota to Alfredo Vasquez Cobo International Airport in Leticia. There are direct flights from Bogota to Leticia, mainly with Avianca and Latam, as well as from some other major cities in the country such as Medellin and Cartagena but may mean a layover.
If you are coming from another country, you may need to connect through Bogota. There are also a few international airlines that fly to Leticia, but they are more expensive.
Once you arrive at the airport in Leticia Colombia, you can take a taxi or a bus to your hotel or other accommodation.
Iquitos to Leticia by boat
There are regular boat trips from Santa Rosa in Iquitos, Peru to Leticia. The journey from Iquitos takes about 2 days on the slow boat and around 10 hours on the fast boat.
Manaus to Leticia by boat
The journey from Manaus, Brazil to Tabatinga on the slow boat takes about 2 days. If you want the much cheaper, scenic option, take the fast boat (freight), which takes up to 7 days. Once you reach Tabatinga, hop in a tuk-tuk across the border to Leticia.
Cross the land border from Brazil to Leticia
If you are coming from Brazil, you can also cross the border by land. There is a border crossing between Tabatinga Brazil, and Leticia Colombia.
How to get around Leticia
The city is small enough to walk around the main sights.
Tuk-tuks are the main mode of transport for tourists in Leticia including from the airport and over the border to Tabatinga Brazil. Tuk-tuks are cheaper than taxis, and way more fun!
The public bus travels along the main road in Leticia with various stop-offs starting/ending at Parque Orellana.
Where to stay in Leticia Colombia
The listed hotels in Letitia Colombia are personally experienced or top-rated, and all centrally located. There are lots of cool glamping and eco-lodge options but they are further away from the city centre which is fine if you intend to stay more than one night in Leticia.
Hotel Madreselva where I stayed is great value for money. It has a tropical courtyard with a terrace, and a wonderful breakfast, and my room was spacious and comfortable with an en-suite bathroom.
3F Hostel and Tours is a centrally-located guest house featuring single, family rooms and studio apartments.
Casa Amazilia is a sustainable guest house with an outdoor swimming pool, open-air bath and garden.
Hotel Amazon Bed & Breakfast has bungalows with spacious bungalows set around a courtyard, with the extra perks of a hot tub, and massage services.
How many days do you need in Leticia Colombia?
The answer to this depends on how long you have to spend in the Amazon and what kind of jungle escapade you want, or are comfortable with.
Short trip to Leticia, make Leticia your base
Some visitors to the Amazon will choose to base themselves in Leticia to explore the Colombian, Peruvian, and Brazilian sides of the Amazon on day tours, or multi-day trips to venture further down the river. Staying in Leticia Colombia is perfect for visitors that have a short schedule but want to get a taste of the Amazon River.
TOP TIP | Check your itinerary as some multi-day tours include Leticia and getting to Puerto Nariño which you can quite easily do yourself.
Longer Amazon trip, make Puerto Nariño your base
Puerto Nariño is the second municipality located 80km upriver from Leticia and takes about 2 hours on the fast boat (Rapidos). Puerto Nariño is more chilled than Leticia, with no vehicles. This is a great place to take tours up the Loretoyacu River to Lago Tarapoto on day trips, or immersive multi-day tours from Puerto Nariño including the Peruvian Amazon.
Best things to do in Letitia Colombia in a day
I was embarking on a 7-day guided tour up the Amazon so, for me, Leticia was a day to arrive on an early flight, explore the city and venture over to Brazil in a tuk-tuk. I was catching the 7 am boat the next day to Puerto Nariño to start my Amazon adventure.
If you are simply using the city as a stopgap until the fast boat leaves in the morning, here are the best things to do in Leticia in less than a day.
Take a photo by the Letitia city sign
The global trend of city signs to inspire civic pride and photo ops has made its way to the rainforest. What better way to say you have arrived in the Amazon than by taking a snap in front of the LETICIA letters?
Climb to the Church Tower in Leticia
The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace) is located on the edge of Parque Santander. The Catholic church, inaugurated in July 1936, was built with three naves, a large façade with arches, and a bell tower in its highest part.
In 2000, the parish was restored and painted giving it the glowing white appearance you see today. During the restoration, the tower was made into a viewing point for the tourists to enjoy the panoramic views over the city and the Amazon.
The viewing tower at the church in Leticia Colombia is free although a small donation would be expected.
Visit the Amazon Ethnographic Museum
El Museo Etnográfico in Leticia Colombia introduces visitors to the indigenous cultures and regional history of the Amazon basin in this brilliant, though small museum. The museum was founded in 1988 by the Banco de la República, the central bank of Colombia, whose mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the Amazon rainforest, its people, and their linguistic diversity.
Browse an invaluable collection from the Huitoto, Yukuna, and Ticuna ethnic groups, including ceremonial masks, tools, and weapons. The exhibition reveals, for example, the rite of passage of Ticunas and the ritual use of sacred plants of the Yukuna tribe.
Before you head further down the Amazon, visiting the Ethnographic Museum in Leticia will give you a fascinating insight into the richness of the indigenous culture and people you will meet.
Watch the action at the Port of Leticia (and the malecón)
Leticia Colombia is one of the major ports on the Amazon River and is the point where the fast boat leaves for Puerto Nariño.
The malecón turístico in Leticia has a boardwalk with a range of shops, street vendors, and restaurants. Great place for people-watching with a beer at night!
Both points are brimming with tour boats, fishing boats, and vibrant canoes, and have real buzz of activity in the daytime with the movement of produce, and the chaotic shouting amongst the throngs of locals and tourists.
Visit Brazil: Tabatinga Border Town
Get a tuk-tuk from Leticia Colombia across the border to Tabatinga Brazil without the need for a passport. The Leticia-Tabatinga border is an open border, there is only a sign to let you know when you are zooming past in your tuk-tuk.
Our tuk-tuk driver took us to the best viewpoint in Tabatinga. La Comara Show Club sits right on the Amazon with three countries in sight. It is well-known for being a lively spot at night with international rumba, salsa, merengue, bachata, Andean music, samba, and other tropical rhythms.
La Comara Show Club was more chilled in the daytime, as we devoured our huge portion of Peruvian ceviche, and supped on Brazilian Caipirinha cocktails and beers. I loved the charm of plastic chairs and tables by the dance floor, but if you fancy upscaling, try São Jorge or Restaurante As Tre Fronteiras.
We paid $25,000 COP and our tuk-tuk driver was happy to have a couple of beers with us and take us back to Santander Park.
Watch the parakeets’ performance in Parque Santander
Witnessing the parakeets roost in Parque Santander, Leticia is a truly magical experience. Every evening, at around 5 pm, thousands of parakeets descend on the city to roost for the night. The parakeets come from all over the Amazon rainforest, and they gather in large flocks in the trees near Santander Park.
The ritual of roosting ‘pericos’ (parakeet in Spanish) has been occurring for over a decade. They are bright green and yellow, but as the night falls, the swooping birds look black, almost like bats. The squawking noise of the parakeets is intense as they fly overhead. Not an activity for anyone with ornithophobia!
Day trips from Leticia Colombia
If you’re staying longer and looking to plan a 2 or 3 day itinerary in Leticia Colombia, here are some ideas to help you with your research. Enjoy these wonderful day trips from Leticia Colombia!
Learn in Mundo Amazónico Ecological Park
The Mundo Amazónico Ecological Park is a family-owned environmental education allowing visitors to see Amazonian plants, and learn about their traditional and medicinal uses, Amazon’s biodiversity, ecology and agritourism. There are optional tours for birdwatching or night jungle walking.
Parque Ecológico Mundo Amazônico is located 9km from Leticia, and is accessible by taxi, tuk-tuk, and public bus which drops you 700 metres to the park gate.
Be adventurous (or sleep) in Reserva Omagua
Reserva Omagua is a great way to get your adrenaline fix in the jungle. Zipline the 35-metre forest’s canopy, wander along the hanging bridges, embrace the climbing nets, and rappelling. Local guides will take you on hiking expeditions, and night walks spotting wild animals, and you can even sleep in a treehouse for the immersive jungle experience.
Reserva Omagua is located 9km from Leticia, accessible by taxi or tuk-tuk.
Visit Victoria Regia Nature Reserve
El Jardin de la Victoria Regia is a 3-hectare nature reserve that was named after the Victoria amazonica (Victoria Regia), the second largest lily in the world after the boliviana. Watch in amazement from bridges at the sheer size of these massive water lilies floating on the surface of the water, as well as insects, birds, butterflies and much more.
Victoria Regia Nature Reserve is located 8km from Leticia and takes 15-30 minutes by boat.
Visit Marasha Nature Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon
Explore the Amazon beyond Colombia with a day trip to the Peruvian Marasha Nature Reserve from Leticia. A tour will include hiking through nature trails, fishing for piranhas, and kayaking on Lake Marasha whilst observing flora, fauna, and Hoatzín species of primitive birds.
Marasha Nature Reserve is a full-day trip and takes 45 minutes to reach by boat from Leticia.
FAQs for visiting Letitia
What is the best time to visit Letitia Colombia?
The best time to visit Leticia Colombia is during the dry season (June to October). During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from 27 to 32 degrees Celsius. The rain is also less frequent during this time of year, making it a good time for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and fishing.
If you are looking to see the Amazon rainforest in its full glory, then the wet season (November to May), is the time to visit. During this time, the rainforest is lush and green, and the animals are more active. However, the weather is also more humid and rainy, so be prepared for wet and muddy conditions.
I travelled to Leticia in April towards the end of the wet season, and the weather was fabulous. It was more noticeable further down the Amazon where the boat was the mode of transport where people would normally walk. The sun was shining during the day, with only one night of heavy rain.
What language do they speak in Letitia?
Spanish is spoken in Leticia Colombia, however, if you cross the border to Tabatinga Brazil, Portuguese is their mother tongue.
Is Letitia Colombia safe?
Leticia Colombia is generally a pretty safe city and is a popular tourist hub for the Amazon. There is a strong military, police, and security presence in Leticia, and did not feel unsafe whilst visiting the city.
It goes without saying that you should not go off wandering in the jungle without a local guide, and observe the same protection against petty theft as you would elsewhere.
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