A trip without cruising the Amazon river or stepping inside the Amazon rainforest is like a trip to London without visiting the Big Ben or the Tower Bridge. Leticia which is in the heart of the Amazonian forest provide easy access to the rainforest, and though on this day trip it wasn’t deep inside the jungle, it’s still part of the Amazon rainforest 😉.
The next day after our Amazon river trip, our guide of the day, Luis came and met us at the hotel. He led us to the main road and hailed a tuk-tuk for our ride to the San Sebastian, where we met up with José.
Before we began our walk into the jungle, José gave us a shot of ‘protection drink’. It contains several roots mixed with rum, and the colour looks slightly darker than Coke.
Sweet and delicious, that’s how I describe the taste of this traditional medicine. It has a strong after taste, and I could feel the alcohol burning in my stomach. Dan had asked Mike to get him some to take back, and because I liked it, I also bought one bottle to bring home. It costs 15,000COP for one bottle of 360ml.
Luis informed us that he’s from the Cocama tribe, and he even taught us some sentences from his native language. However, I’ve forgotten all and only remember ‘good morning’, which sounded like ‘Eenakaruka’.
The walk through the forest was fun and relaxing. We stopped whenever we came across with plants or trees that were interesting, and Luis would let us know its name and usage. We saw many of the medicinal plants, but one of them that caught my interest was the cure for snake bite. It was easier to remember due to its unique details.
Some trees and plants were similar to what we could find in Malaysia such as the Ficus species of tree @ Pokok Ara / Nunuk, Ceiba Pentandra @ Pokok Kapok and others that I couldn’t remember the name.
The interesting tree we encountered here was the Maquira Coriacea or Capinuri, which has a phallus-like stem and said that this male tree is used for ritual and also to heal cough and even as an anti-inflammatory.
Mata-mata, not sure if I spelt it right, was another tree that’s useful for the indigenous people. There’re two types – black and white, and the black one was more durable, and they use it to make boats, canoes, and houses. We also saw plenty of flowers that fell on the ground that looked like a mop. It had a unique smell that reminded me of blue cheese! Even Mike agreed with me 😜.
We didn’t see any reptiles or animal during our walk except for some birds. These Hoacin birds were making a loud noise which was how it got our attention at first. Thankfully, I brought my long zoom lens because there were perching on a tree branch that’s quite far away.
During our morning walk, we saw several kids playing on the river, and when they saw me taking pictures, they were excited. Several of them somersaulted into the water, laughing and then quickly ran away.
I also spotted a machete embedded high up in a tree trunk, and Luis told us it must have been carried away by the strong current during the rainy season. He explained to us that the area that we’re currently on would be submerged in water. I didn’t believe him at first, not until after we reached the lake Yahuarcaca, that’s when I saw the proof of how high the water rose during the rainy season.
In the afternoon, we headed back to where we first started. Not long after we arrived, José’s wife presented us with a homecooked meal. It was the best meal we ever had in Leticia. We also loved the freshly made star fruit juice (Carambola). The tree, with its abundant riped fruits, was just outside of José’s house.
After lunch, we have a new member joining our trip. His name if I not mistaken was Ferdinho, a young man from Bogota. The three of us, together with Luis, headed back inside the jungle, walking towards the lake. Earlier on, we’ve visited this lake but didn’t go near it.
Halfway during our walk, another guide also joined us, but I couldn’t remember his name. Before we get to the most anticipated activity – Piranha fishing, Luis took us across the lake, and we walked for several minutes before reaching the giant Painü tree, one of the must-visit tree here. Ferdinho took the chance and climbed up the tree and pose for a picture.
We fished in the middle of the lake, and because we didn’t have enough fishing rods, we took turn to fish. I didn’t mind it because that’s when I got the chance to admire the beauty of nature surrounding us.
The water was calm and only occasionally disturbed by birds that dove into the lake looking for a snack. The blue sky was adorned with some clouds, and the rainbow bridge that appeared made the place look magical. The trees that surrounded the lake all had some watermarking on them, and it made me realise how tall the water rose during the rainy season.
The fishing rod that we used was made of a sturdy stick that tied up with a fishing line, and we used fish meat to bait the Piranha. Luis taught us how to fish the dreaded Piranha, which was an unusual way of fishing. While we usually do not disturb the water for we would scare off the fish, but for Piranha, we have to shook the water with the fishing rod to attract their attention.
We caught some Piranhas, but they weren’t big, so we have to release it back. Luis told us that if we wanted to catch bigger fish, we have to go upstream closer to Brazil. We brought swimsuit too but changed our mind to swim with Piranhas as the water wasn’t crystal clear but murky. We did see the others swam in the lake tho.
It was almost sunset when we finally stopped our fishing activity. This time, we walk a different path which was on the other side of the lake. We rushed to catch the sunset but were a few minutes late.
The walk back was easy; we walked past houses and school on a paved pathway accompanied by street lights. However, after the civilisation ended, the rest of the journey was with moonlight and unpaved road.
When we arrived at Leticia town, we stopped for one last drink with Luis and Ferdinho at Santander park. Ferdinho even treated us the drinks. We bid our farewell to Luis and tipped him for his excellent work. Even today, Mike is still in touch with him. Overall, the 10 hours trip was fun and informative, and we walked about 16km more or less on that day!
Those who’re interested with the activity can contact Painü Asociación intercomunitaria de Turismo at Whatsapp: 312 4159739 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Date: 16th October 2019