We arrived at the port in Tabatinga in the morning, said goodbye to the crew and company from the last 7 days, while they reminded us to go to the immigration office to stamp our passport.
Towns of Tabatinga and Leticia are built together and there is no border control between them. Or actually almost no border at all. Only a board reminds us of it, and show that it is the border with Peru as well, even though the real 3-border point is located in the Amazon. Despite no border control, Brazil and Colombia keep there quite a big army.
We did our homework and knew that we don’t necessarily need stamps because we don’t wanna travel further into Colombia than Leticia. At least this time! Once we would like to see Iquitos among other places. “Try to minimize the amount of times you go through immigration: i.e. if entering the region from one country and leaving from another, just get one exit and one entry stamp – even if you visit all three towns in this area. Anything more seems to annoy the immigration officers. “ (based on Wikitravel) so we decided better not to go to collect stamps from all the 3 countries as we will be going back to Brazil after a few days.
After we left the boat many taxis offered a ride, but we had time and wanted to see bit more of the city. Another advantage of travel only with small backpacks, it was much easier to walk around even around midday with all our staffs.
Tabatinga looked much smaller and poorer than Leticia. The accommodation prices were higher and the places didn’t look so good from the outside either. Not to mention the roads. Most of them were very muddy, except the main street which had asphalt.
We walked to Colombia to find the hostel we were planning to stay in. We have booked it in advance and the place seemed like a good decision. And positive surprise: the receptionist was fluent in English!!!! We didn’t have to use our limited dictionary-mixed-with-French vocabulary. The room was clean and we even had a fan! What a luxury!
Most of the tourists visit tribes or go to excursions, cruises, and trips to the rainforest, but we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on those. Besides we did the same activities close to Manaus. I got some contacts to some tribes to visit without paying to expensive tourist agencies, but two weeks were not enough to learn enough Portuguese/Spanish, so we kept that option for a later visit.
Santa Rosa, Peru
We had a lot of time look around the town, check the market stalls in Leticia, the port with the boats to Santa Rosa (Peru). You can just pay a boat to cross to Peru from the boats near the market place. This time of the year there is not so much to do in Peru, as the water level was still extremely high.
Leticia and the parakeets – a must to watch
So let’s get back to Leticia, Colombia.
The main attraction of the city are the parakeets. Actually, we just heard about it there. The main reason we visited the towns besides the Brazilian Amazon boat ride ends here was the three-point border. But there is always something more!
Every evening at sunset thousands of parakeets fly to the town to the parks to find a safe sleeping place. We thought it is worth to take a look, so we gathered in the park with other tourist and were waiting. We could see few hundred birds flying when the sun was going down. I thought that’s it, kind of good marketing to say thousands.. but about ten minutes later a LOT more flew! It was amazing to see as they were circling around and sit on the trees above us. It was very cool (and LOUD)! They circled around us and then landed on the still empty branches. We went out next evening too despite the fact that everything in the park was covered with bird poop… Luckily we avoided to have it on our clothes, but not everyone was so lucky.
The town became lively during the nights, we have even seen a school orchestra performance on the streets. We stayed 3 days in Leticia and then walked back to Brazil…only to Tabatinga, so wasn’t as big achievement as it sounds first. The bigger one was to find the airport in Tabatinga, after the military base and in a middle of a huge construction. When the construction will be finished, Tabatinga will have a really big airport for a settlement of this size. But for now, we used tiny place arranged in the middle of the construction site. Time to fly to Belém!