La Jangada hostel in the centre of the bustling Amazonian town of Leticia is conveniently located for restaurants and ATMs. It offers clean, reasonably-priced dorms and double rooms and has a cosy, house-like feel. The children enjoyed sharing their own upstairs double while we stayed in a downstairs double with electric fan and shower. Though there was no hot water, this didn’t matter as the temperature in Leticia was warm enough not to need it.
With a seating area in the reception and an outdoor dining area on the patio at the front of the hostel, there are plenty of opportunities to socialise with other guests and enjoy the excellent breakfast on offer. Local information about the Amazon is available, as well as organised excursions.
The Swiss owner, Hervé, is friendly and welcoming and has the distinction of having travelled 3,500km of Amazonian rivers in his bicycle-powered boat. You can read about his adventures here: http://www.hervepuravida.com.
All the staff were friendly and helpful, but for us the shining star was Nancy. Although I felt better in Leticia’s warm climate than I had in the cool altitudes of Bogotà, I still felt too ill to think properly. And Nancy organised us.
When we wanted to go to Puerto Nariño, two hours further along the Amazon, she offered to give me a lift to the docks on the back of her motorbike to book our places on the following morning’s rápido (rapid launch), the public transport between the two towns as there are no road connections.
I always loved motorbikes and owned a series of increasingly powerful machines in my youth. I made several trips across Europe on my Z750 and always intended to retrace Che Guevara’s epic motorcycle journey through South America ‘one day’.
But when chronic illness intervened, I found my balance affected and I was not confident about my ability to remain upright on the back of a motorcycle. Reluctant to admit this, I proffered my husband in my stead. ‘No,’ said Nancy. He doesn’t speak Spanish so he wouldn’t do. It had to be me.
I fetched our passports and hoped for the best as I mounted. Nancy proved a careful and competent rider and I was fine. In fact, the short walk from where she parked to the ticket sales office was more of a challenge than the motorcycle ride. Faced with a long queue which I would have struggled to stand in for any length of time, she went to the front and reserved our places on the 8am rápido for the following morning.
She sorted out what time we needed to have breakfast and how we liked our eggs and escorted us to the docks the following morning, making sure we arrived on time. Colombians know their identity numbers from their cédula ciudadano (identity card) off by heart, but I lacked the equivalent memorised information of our passport numbers.
I generally feel worse first thing in the morning and that day was no exception, it was as much as I could do to locate our passports and hand them to Nancy. She took control and ensured our names and numbers were entered on the rápido’s passenger list and we boarded the launch.
We would never have made the 8am if it hadn’t been for Nancy’s ‘above and beyond’ service.
I would recommend La Jangada as a great place to stay in Leticia, Colombia’s gateway to Amazon exploration.
Click here to read my blog post about Leticia.