The frontier town of Leticia, the capital of Amazonas department in Colombia, is located in the border area of Tres Fronteras where Colombia, Brazil, and Peru meet. This bustling, rustic, and steamy city, rising 96 metres above sea level, is one of the major ports along the Amazon River. The river is a murky brown and dotted with ramshackle wooden canoes piled high with bananas, vegetables, bags of rice, and many fish that their owners bring into Leticia to trade. The Amazon supplies many tropical fish for the worldwide aquarium industry, which is a vital income for many people who live along the river.
Leticia’s population consists of people from many different indigenous communities. In the 1950s, there was a big surge of Colombians from larger cities like Cali, Medellín, and Bogotá; those families are still living and working here today. In the 1970s, illegal cocaine trafficking became a new way to make quick money for some in Leticia, and it was reported that narcotics were bought and sold in broad daylight. Eventually the Colombian army moved in and drove out or arrested the drug dealers.
These days, Leticia is a major tourism point to access the Amazon jungle or river. It is accessible only by air, but there are good connections with Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city. Leaving Leticia by boat will take you up river to the Amacayacu National Natural Park, which is home to Victoria amazonica, the world’s largest water lil; further on is Lake Tarapoto, where river dolphins are found. In Leticia there are tours to the nearby jungle, or time can be spent wandering the local market, where curious souls may sample the Amazonian delicacy the mojojoy worm—or not. Whatever is decided, it is recommended to spend at least three days to view the many wonders of this spectacular part of the world.