If the mysterious allure of the Amazon has you captivated, then the idyllic town of Puerto Nariño is your perfect escape.

I enjoyed exploring this unique spot recently; here’s what you need to know before you embark on your own adventure.

So, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating charm of the Amazon.

Colombia Experts

Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Every year, I spend thousands of euros to find the best experiences and allow you to contact these agencies directly!

Want to plan your ideal Amazon Adventure? Here is what you MUST know.

Understanding Puerto Nariño

You’re probably wondering how to reach the heart of the Amazonia. Let me take you there!

#1 Where is Puerto Nariño

HD_Puerto Nariño_Amazon

Nestled on the banks of the mighty Amazon River, 80 km upstream from Leticia, the capital of the Amazonas department, lies Puerto Nariño.

A tranquil municipality home to 4,000 inhabitants, and if you count the surrounding areas, that number shoots up to 11,000.

#2 How to get to Puerto Narino

HD_Amazon Boat

Puerto Nariño demands no guide for your arrival.

After landing at the small Leticia airport, ensconced amidst the jungle, hop on a fast public boat to Puerto Nariño. Three companies operate daily services, ensuring you reach your destination within approximately 2 hours.

At a cost of around 38,000 cop (as of 08.2023), this journey is as affordable as it is scenic. However, bear in mind that the boat is the sole connectivity link between Leticia and Puerto Nariño, so it’s prudent to book your ticket a day in advance—you can ask your hotel or tour agency.

Boats depart thrice from both Leticia (7am, 10am, and 1.30pm) and Puerto Nariño (7am, 11am, and 3pm)—always double-check the schedule with your agency as they might vary.

Depending on your arrival time in Leticia, you’ll have to spend the night in town. I recommend a stay at 3F, a nice place run by a cool host, located just a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport and a 5-minute stroll from the city center.

#3 Navigating Puerto Nariño

Puerto Nariño stands out as a municipality devoid of motor vehicles. The lack of taxis or tuk-tuks means that you’ll be walking to get around. Fear not, though, as the town, with its quaint, pink-paved streets arranged in a practical square layout, is easy to navigate.

Book with locals
Tailor-made adventure in the Amazon with Ramiro

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and puts you in direct contact with them.

  • Ideal to understand and explore the Amazon world with a native.
  • Well-organized and tailored to all types of travelers.
See his profile Our Review
Book with local agencies we trust.
Unique stay
Stay In A Secret Ecolodge in The Amazon with Axel

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

  • All-included, with a private local guide and translator (if needed).
  • Secluded place on the Amazon river.
See his profile Our Review
Book with local agencies we trust.

What to do in Puerto Nariño

Now that you know how to get to Puerto Narino, you probably need to know what you can do there.

#4 A Peek Into the Local Life: Indigenous Communities Around Puerto Nariño

Soaking in the local culture is a must-do when you’re in Puerto Nariño.

This vibrant town is the hub for 22 indigenous Amazonian communities, including the Cocama, the Yagua, and the Ticuna. The experience is particularly enriching on Saturday mornings. That’s when students from these communities congregate in town for their studies and sports activities. It’s a fascinating spectacle of the town’s rich and diverse culture.

#5 Art Beyond Walls: Graffiti and Statues of Puerto Nariño

As you meander through Puerto Nariño, watch for the striking graffiti and statues. They are not just decorative elements but also narrate stories of the Amazonian legends and the town’s daily life.

On your stroll, you’ll discover large sculptures at the street crossroads, like the Matamata turtle or the Pink Dolphin Man, a mythical creature from Amazonian folklore. Many wooden houses also exhibit vibrant graffiti, offering a colorful depiction of the surrounding nature and local life scenes.

6# Exploring the Amazon: Hike Through the Amacayacu National Park

Amacayacu National Park

For those craving an immersive Amazon experience, Amacayacu National Park is your playground.

The visitor center in this National Park has been closed for some fifteen years, but it is still possible to visit it with a local guide by going to the Community of San Martin (2-3 hours’ walk).

You’ll embark on a jungle walk, navigating through the dense canopy. The towering Ceiba trees are a sight to behold, one of the Amazon rainforest’s tallest species. According to Ticuna legend, a centuries-old Ceiba tree was the origin of the Amazon River.

7# Tarapoto Lake: Dolphins Watching and Piranhas Fishing

The Amazon River and Lake Tarapoto, just upstream from Puerto Nariño (a 30-min boat trip on the Loretoyacu river), are home to gray dolphins and the famed pink dolphins. Secure a boat ride with a local guide for a chance to spot these friendly creatures. However, take note that the pink and grey dolphins migrate away from the lake during the low-water season from August to October.

As the day winds down, gear up for an exhilarating piranha fishing experience on the lake. Even if you’re a novice angler, piranhas are surprisingly easy to catch, thanks to their voracious appetite and razor-sharp teeth. But exercise caution while removing the hook. Better yet, let your guide handle it.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to savor the delicious taste of your catch—a crowning glory to your fishing expedition.

8# Uncover the Jungle’s Night Secrets

Overnight in the jungle food Tom Amazon
My parents and I slept in the jungle with Ramiro’s agency

Venture into the heart of the Amazonian jungle after sunset, where you’ll trace the steps of your guide and encounter a fantastical world of bioluminescent mushrooms and nocturnal creatures like spiders and spasms. A night hike is an unforgettable adventure that reveals the Amazon’s hidden nocturnal marvels.

These hikes last around 2-3 hours.

To take the adventure a step further, you can also decide to sleep in the jungle with your guide. The program includes a wood-fired dinner and a night in a hammock, lulled by the eerie sounds of the Amazon.

9# Dive into the Amazon’s Ecosystem at Fundacion Natütama

Natukama - Puerto Nariño - Amazon (1)

Seek a deeper understanding of the Amazon River and its indigenous culture at the Natütama Foundation (here). This conservation-focused establishment offers a fascinating glimpse into the river’s wildlife and local traditions.

With its striking wooden sculptures of underwater fauna and insightful explanations from the guide, you’ll gain an appreciation for the river’s annual high and low water cycles.

You’ll also be privy to the legends and spiritual beliefs of the Ticuna people, including the captivating tale of the pink dolphin man, famed for seducing the most beautiful girls in the villages.

The foundation has a second room immersed in darkness, replicating the nocturnal environment on the Amazon river shores during low-water periods.

10# Experience Authentic Indigenous Culture

By hopping on a small boat from Puerto Narino, you can visit smaller, native communities like Mocagua (30 min away, preserving wildlife), Tarapoto (30 min away, great views), or San Martin (50 min away, focus on keeping their Tikuna culture alive).

Here, guided by locals, you’ll gain insights into the indigenous customs and hear captivating legends passed down through generations.

11# Meet Playful Monkeys at Cabaña de Aguila

Mokey_Puerto Nariño_Amazon

The Cabaña de Aguila, a mere twenty-minute walk from Puerto Narino, offers guaranteed sightings of Saimari monkeys without venturing deep into the Amazon jungle.

But remember, these adorable creatures are early sleepers, hitting the sack around 4.30 pm after a burst of evening excitement.

In any case, it’s best to return to Puerto Narino before the sun goes down (aggressive dogs at night).

12# Local Agencies: Your Gateway to Adventure

San martin indigenous - Amazon

Puerto Narino is home to several local agencies that can help plan your day trips.

Conexión Amazonas stands out for its commitment to promoting indigenous tourism, enabling the local community to run the tours themselves. Despite basic accommodation and the occasional unexpected hiccup, their small group sizes, reasonable prices, and enthusiastic guides make them a solid choice for backpackers.

13# Ascend the Mirador for Breathtaking Views

Mirador Puerto Nariño - Amazon (1)

For a panoramic view of the river, village, and surrounding forest, scale the lookout tower that looms above Puerto Narino. Great option for sunset.

The entrance is spectacular – a giant jaguar’s gaping maw.

The cost? Just 5000 cop per person.

14# Cool Down with Amazonian Ice Cream

Ice cream - Puerto Nariño - Amazon

Beat the heat with a delectable artisanal ice cream made from exotic Amazonian fruits.

The oldest ice cream shop in Puerto Narino, Helados Naipata (here), is a crowd favorite for its flavorful offerings and a guarantee of clean, drinkable water.

The Camu-Camu and Araza flavors are my favorite.

15# Unwind with Local Brews and Music

Amazon People

After a day of exploration, unwind on the terrace of a riverside bar along the main street. Listen to South American music, sometimes accompanied by a live dancer, while savoring a local beer. If hunger strikes, the small market downstairs serves up hearty bowls of soup.

Where To Stay In Puerto Nariño

Dreaming about where to nestle down after a day exploring the magic of Puerto Nariño? Let’s dive into a collection of comfy nooks and crannies, perfect for travelers.

#16 Charming Local Hotels in Puerto Nariño

Let’s see the cool hotels in town.

Refugio Maiku Puerto Narino:

Hotel Refugio Maiku Puerto Nariño
Credit: Hotel Refugio Maiku | See more pictures

This hotel is a secret gem, where the Amazon’s lush greenery meets cozy comfort. Just a stone’s throw from the port, it offers a lovely view and clean, functional rooms. Perfect for lovebirds looking for a quiet retreat. Your on-site guide is also there to help plan adventures. Starting at USD 40/night, breakfast included, this cozy haven offers excellent value.

Maloka Napu

Hotel Maloka Napü Puerto Pariño Amazon (1)
Credit: Maloka Napü | See more pictures

It’s a home away from home, nestled in a blooming garden. This hotel offers a variety of room options, including mixed dormitories, ideal for the sociable traveler. The hosts make fantastic guides, ensuring you enjoy your stay. Starting at USD 32/night, including a filling breakfast and shared bathroom, Maloka Napu guarantees a restful stay.

Wikungo Hotel

Wikungo Hotel - Puerto Nariño Amazon
Credit: Wikungo Hotel | See more pictures

The new kid on the block, Wikungo Hotel, offers a range of pristine, well-equipped rooms. Some even come with balconies, perfect for sunset viewing. They offer family rooms for those traveling with kiddos. On-site dining is a bonus, meaning you won’t have to wander far for a tasty meal. Prices start at USD 49/night, breakfast included.

#17 In the Heart of Nature

You can also decide to get away from the city to enjoy the Amazon nature even more.

Cabañas Alto del Aguila

Hotel Cabañas alto del aguila - Puerto Nariño - Amazon
Credit: Cabañas alto del aguila

A 20-minute walk from this beautiful village lands you in this nature lover’s paradise. A menagerie of friendly animals and basic rooms make this spot ideal for couples seeking simplicity. The welcoming hosts also offer various experiences to enhance your stay. Starting at USD 19/night, it’s a budget-friendly option.

Eware Refugio Amazonico

Hotel Eware Refugio Amazonic - Puerto Nariño - Amazon (2) (1)
See more pictures

This tranquil hotel sits overlooking the Amazon River, accessible only by a brief boat ride from Puerto Narino (free transport provided). With a sprawling wooded park, a swimming pool, and a mirador, it’s the perfect base for adventurous backpackers. They also serve stellar Caipirinhas, which you can enjoy wherever you please. Prices start at USD 21/night, including breakfast and shared bathroom facilities.

My Tips For Visiting Puerto Nariño

Komara sunset brazil Amazon

This is the kind of information I would have loved to know before coming to Puerto Nariño.

#18 No ATM in Puerto Narino

Regarding financial planning, remember that Puerto Nariño is a cash-only town. ATMs are not available, so make a pit stop in Leticia, Bogota, or Medellin to stock up on cash.

#19 Puerto Nariño is super safe

You may be wondering about safety. Relax! Puerto Nariño is as safe as a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. Feel free to explore the town to your heart’s content, without fear.

#20 Disconnect to Connect

Embrace your inner digital detox guru in Puerto Nariño. Internet connectivity is more of a myth than a reality here, with blackouts lasting for days.

Consider it a blessing in disguise, and take this opportunity to immerse yourself in the surroundings undisturbed.

#21 Phone signal

Regarding telecommunication, CLARO is the only operator that provides service in Puerto Nariño. You can get a local SIM card in town if needed.

#22 Powering Down

Electricity, like a capricious diva, makes its appearances and disappearances at will in certain parts of Puerto Nariño. Be prepared for regular power cuts during certain hours.

#23 Water, Water Everywhere but…

Despite being surrounded by the mighty Amazon River, the water in Puerto Nariño is not potable. However, you can fill your water bottle for free near the town’s police station, but be quick. The tanks empty out faster than a cake at a birthday party.

#24 What’s the weather in Puerto Nariño

The Amazon is hot, humid, and buzzing with mosquitoes, especially during the high-water season from December to May.

Pack long-sleeved clothing, a hat, and sunscreen to beat the heat, and don’t forget the mosquito repellent to keep the bugs at bay.

Aim for early-morning or late-night excursions to avoid the worst of the heat.

With humidity levels reaching 92%, rain is a common guest in Puerto Nariño, especially from November to April. Don’t forget to pack your rain jacket.

Also, the jungle paths and Amazon River banks can get muddy, especially in the rainy season. Some tours provide boots, but it’s always a good idea to carry your own.

#25 Animal watching

The Amazon is teeming with wildlife, but spotting them can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

If you own a pair of binoculars, bring them along; they can be your best friend in spotting elusive birds and sloths.

#26 Health Check

While it’s not enforced, the yellow fever vaccine is recommended for travel to Amazonia. Don’t forget your yellow booklet certifying vaccination, and make sure to plan this at least 10 days before your departure date.

You can also decide to eat Malaria pills like M&M’s. We decided not to because of the side effects.

#27 Indigenous Interaction

The indigenous people of Amazonia may appear shy at first glance. Respect their discretion and personal space, but don’t hesitate to converse. They have a great sense of humor and love a friendly chat.

Bottom Line: Puerto Nariño

Sunset Puerto Nariño Ramiro Lilia

Puerto Nariño is a hidden gem that offers an immersive Amazonian experience. It’s an excellent choice if you want to explore at your own pace rather than being tied to a several-day tour.

If you’re up for an adventure, Puerto Nariño is well worth the trip.

Book with locals
Tailor-made adventure in the Amazon with Ramiro

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and puts you in direct contact with them.

  • Ideal to understand and explore the Amazon world with a native.
  • Well-organized and tailored to all types of travelers.
See his profile Our Review
Book with local agencies we trust.
Unique stay
Stay In A Secret Ecolodge in The Amazon with Axel

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

  • All-included, with a private local guide and translator (if needed).
  • Secluded place on the Amazon river.
See his profile Our Review
Book with local agencies we trust.

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