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Discover indian culture in the Colombian Amazon
Discover the lifestyle and culture of the indians of the Colombian Amazon.
A visit to the Colombian Amazon offers an experience a bit different from that of the other countries’ territory in Amazonia. The social, economic and political upheavals of the region have of course affected all countries in this remote part of the continent but none more so than Colombia. It’s taken a while for the area to settle down enough to be an attractive destination for foreign visitors, but now tourism is on the up.
Wildlife spotting here is a given: but a visit now is really rewarding for those looking to discover and understand the dynamics of life on the shores of the Amazon. Leticia, the gateway to Colombia’s Amazonas department, lies on the confluence of the frontiers of Brazil and Peru and is a lively enough port and trade centre with a mixed population but beyond the town’s limits the river banks are peppered with 22 indigenous communities from the Ticuna, Yagua and Cocana tribes, all self-governing and fiercely protective of their traditions. They are beginning to welcome visitors to their homes and makeshift craft shops and dining rooms, but effectively life goes on as before.
Visit Mocagua, where encouraged by artist Diego Samper who owns the lodge next door, the inhabitants have decorated their houses with larger than life portraits of the animals and birds of the region. Macedonia is a community well set up for mass tourism, with native dancing and brimful of stalls selling stuff – probably best avoided but you can call in at other friendly, unspoilt and authentic villages such as Palmeras and Santo Sofia, as well as San Antonio on the Peruvian side of the river, where the main grassy thoroughfare is an abandoned airstrip constructed by long-gone drug lords.
Attractive Puerto Nariño, 75km upriver, is a larger, flower-filled village famed for its eco-credentials, founded by Indians but now with a sizable mestizo population.