Guided Tours

The real jungle begins well off the Amazon proper, along its small tributaries. The deeper you go, the more chance you have to observe wildlife in relatively undamaged habitats and to visit indigenous settlements. This involves time and money, but can be immensely rewarding. A three- to four-day tour is perhaps the best way to balance the cost of the trip with the insight it will give you into the workings of the jungle, but it's also important to mention that expectations must be managed. Significant wildlife spotting is exceedingly rare in the Amazon: the animals are hidden in the canopy, and encroachment by tourism and local customs and industry has driven populations of various species to frighteningly low numbers. You have a reasonable chance of spotting macaws, monkeys and pink or gray dolphins in addition to numerous birds and the occasional odd fauna, but keep in mind that the jungle is more about the sights, sounds and allure of one of the world's most fascinating and mysterious places than a safari on water.

Several companies organize multiday tours of the small nature reserves along the Río Yavarí on the Brazil–Peru border. Always agree on price, activities and duration before embarking on your trip. Avoid any unsolicited tour guides who approach you in the airport or streets. One good measure of an agency's professionalism is whether it's a member of Fonturama, a local tourism association that promotes responsible, legal and sustainable tourism. Fonturama can help you find a tour operator if you haven't booked one before your arrival.

For bigger trips into the jungle, infrastructure is vital, so agencies that run their own reserves have big advantages over those that can do only day trips or overnight stays in local villages.

Sleeping

Leticia is awash with hotels and hostels, though quality is extremely variable and prices can skyrocket during high season, especially around Christmas and Easter, when Colombians flock to explore the jungle. Note that many hotels are located on the airport road outside of town. While this makes them far less convenient for meals, they are essentially in the jungle canopy if you'd rather avoid the noise and traffic of downtown.

Eating

There are a number of good restaurants in Leticia, although they mostly open only in the evenings. Leticia's specialty is fish, including the delicious gamitana and pirarucu, which is best avoided out of season as locals ignore bans on catching this species when it's spawning. Prices can be higher than in 'mainland' Colombia, but many restaurants serve cheap set meals.

Drinking & Nightlife

Leticia comes to life after sunset at 6pm. As the humidity and temperature drop (somewhat!), locals often find themselves sitting in the streets and the entire town takes on a fun and bawdy air. That bawdiness isn't always good, though – drugs and prostitution are ubiquitous in the town and make it ill-advised to stray too far from the center after dark.

Orientation

Leticia is on the banks of the Amazon on the Colombia–Brazil border. Just across the frontier sits Tabatinga, a Brazilian town much the same size as Leticia, with its own airport and port that is the main gateway for boats downstream to Manaus. Visitors can freely move between the two cities as well as the Brazilian city of Benjamin Constant, 25km downstream, and the Peruvian island of Santa Rosa opposite Leticia/Tabatinga. Travelers wishing to venture further into either country must meet immigration requirements.