How to Book Your Amazon Rainforest Tour - Marasha Nature Reserve

Updated on March 13, 2018
chef-de-jour profile image

Andrew travels extensively, contributing articles to newspapers and online sites. Recent trips: Brazil, the Amazon, the Pantanal, Bulgaria.

Marasha rainforest lodge.
Marasha rainforest lodge.

Leticia and the Marasha Tour

Ever wondered what it's like to take a tour of the Amazon Rain Forest? Read on for advice, information and personal experiences of this, the planet's largest wooded wilderness.

Our trip began in Leticia, Colombia, a remote small town situated on the Amazon river. It's twin town of Tabatinga is in Brazil. The border is invisible, you simply cross from one to the other.

Surrounded by rainforest, Leticia is a bustling kind of frontier community and it's one of the best places from which to book an Amazon tour. You'll find several agencies in town, differing in price and quality, but we managed to secure two places on the Marasha tour via our hotel manager Alexandra.

Everything worked out beautifully for us and I recommend speaking to local people before you go - like Alexandra - who can guarantee you bona fide tour operators and guides. Some tourists do end up frustrated because they encounter rogue operators, so be especially careful before committing yourself.

Marasha Nature reserve is actually in Peru. If you look on the map you can see that three countries meet near Leticia, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, making this a very special spot.

This was our first ever trip to Amazonas so we were definitely greenhorns. That didn't matter one bit because the tour guides were generally excellent, stopping when we needed a break, helping out if we got stuck and regularly asking if everything was ok.

The whole experience was a joy. I'd go back tomorrow if you'd let me but I suspect that this Amazon tour of Marasha is a one off!!

Leticia has a small airport with regular flights to cities like Bogota in Colombia and Manaus in Brazil. You can also reach the town by taking a boat on the Amazon, upstream from Brazil or downstream from Peru. There are no roads from the outside world. I hope it stays like that for the foreseeable future.

There are several tour companies offering Amazon experiences, most based in Leticia. Here are four well established names:

Marasha Tour is perfect for those who prefer a gentle introduction to the Amazon. You can if you want pay a little extra and visit a native village deeper into the rainforest. Be prepared for it! You'll have to be physically fit, have plenty of mosquito repellent and if you do decide to go deeper and further, make double sure your guide is a good one.

Leticia, floating platform
Leticia, floating platform
On the motorboat ready to cross the Amazon.
On the motorboat ready to cross the Amazon.

Towards Marasha

We were met by one of the guides at this wooden platform. There are several floating on huge logs in a channel off the main river. It all looks very primitive, only a gangplank system allows you access, but it's all quite safe!

The tuki-tuki (little 3 wheeler taxi) dropped us off at the quayside in time to catch the motorboat. Despite the chaos as lots of different people went about their business - fishermen, traders, sellers, guides and local travelers - plus the odd tourist or two - we eventually settled into our seats ready for off.

Crossing the Amazon towards Marasha.
Crossing the Amazon towards Marasha.

More Amazon Tours

Tours vary considerably, from just a few hours to 7 days in special cases. Some take place closer to Leticia - Marasha for example - others are up to 60km away, at Zacamba, Tupana Aru,Yavari River and Heliconia.

The motorboat had 12 people in plus driver and assistant. After checking all was ok with the marine police we then headed at some speed across the great river towards the landing stage at Marasha in Peru.

I got a real sense of the width and power of the Amazon at this point. It flows slowly, currents constantly churning the surface. Because of the reddish soil of the land the water is a light brown colour but changes with the light. At times it seemed metallic blue, grey, pink.

I must admit I was a bit apprehensive at first because the boat was like a bus, dropping people off at different points on the river. I was relieved when we were told that yes, Marasha was the first stop. And we were both happy to see that Walter our local guide was there to meet us as planned.

The Amazon near Leticia, Colombia.
The Amazon near Leticia, Colombia.
Rainforest shadows near Marasha.
Rainforest shadows near Marasha.
Swamps on the way to Marasha.
Swamps on the way to Marasha.

Amazon Monkeys

There are lots of different monkey species in the rainforest. Here are some of the more common ones:

Howler

Squirrel

Capuchin

Spider

Tamarin

Titi

As we walked further into the rainforest we could hear monkeys high in the canopy. Walter pointed them out to us as they headed off deeper into the green tops of trees. We saw shapes but couldn't properly identify them. They were making lots of noise, drowning out the constant calls of various birds.

He also told us that the swamp water either side of the track was the perfect habitat for anaconda snakes, the biggest snake on the planet when fully grown. Walter said this as a matter of fact, in his native Spanish (thankfully there was a Colombian in our small group who could translate the bits we didn't understand).

He'd tackled anaconda before, they were harmless according to him. If we were very lucky we might spot one.

3 squirrel monkeys.
3 squirrel monkeys.
Caiman, quite common in the Amazon basin. We saw several during our 3 day tour.
Caiman, quite common in the Amazon basin. We saw several during our 3 day tour. | Source
In the rainforest.
In the rainforest.

We passed massive ceiba trees stretching up and up. Their trunks have huge buttresses sliding down into the soil. If you knock on them they sound hollow, like a drum. We walked through mud, loads of warm soggy leaf mould out of which thin saplings grew. The future of the rainforest.

Walter was pointing things out as we progressed - this tree bark is used as a medicine, these leaves help with wounds, this tree is over 500 years old. He was very quick to spot creatures, showing us tiny frogs, caterpillars and millipedes.

There were leaf cutter ants crossing our path. A long line of jiggly bits of light green leaf was on the move! Over dead logs, slushy soil, up the trunk of a small tree - the leaf cutter ants were working hard, taking their spoil way up into the trees. Fantastic.

On Marasha lake at 5am.
On Marasha lake at 5am.
Toucan ready for breakfast.
Toucan ready for breakfast.

The Lake at Marasha


An hour later we reached the lake and the wooden lodge built next to it. We were hot and sweaty by now and a cold drink of lemonade was very welcome. Walter showed us our room for the night complete with bed and mosquito net, shower and toilet. It was going to be a comfortable stay - only a couple of small geckos to share our room with!

In the afternoon we went out with Walter in a small wooden boat to explore the magnificent lake. Yes, there were caiman around - alligators, and yes, the water was full of piranha fish and other bigger specimens. But none of us were overly concerned, we were all just so happy to be out in the rainforest, on a lake of pure unpolluted water.

Walter was giving us updates on birds, their calls, on aspects of the lake and the Amazon in general. It was obvious from his expression and knowledge that he had a deep feeling for this place. He was totally at home here. In fact he was asked if he'd ever been away from the lake and he said no, not really. Leticia was the only town he ever visited. And even that place was too much for him.

Marasha - The wooden lodge beside the lake
Marasha - The wooden lodge beside the lake
In front of a massive ceiba tree.
In front of a massive ceiba tree.
Large Amazon millipede.
Large Amazon millipede.

Marasha Tour - Facts and Figures

  • Cost for 2 people: 517,500 Colombian Pesos (COP) approx 267$ or 163£
  • Morning Taxi - Hotel to Boat
  • Boat to Marasha
  • Walk through rainforest, arrive lunch
  • Trip in rowboat around lake
  • Supper - locally caught fish, rice, Peruvian dishes
  • Caiman search at night on lake
  • Accommodation in wooden lodge 1 night
  • Early morning explore of lake
  • Breakfast
  • Fishing for piranha and other fish.
  • Walk back through rainforest
  • Transport back to hotel

Everything we did was overseen by Walter the local guide. I guess you can't have people wandering off by themselves in such a place. At the lodge there were support staff and others around which was reassuring.

  • From around 6pm a generator was used to provide electricity for lights and chargers and the like.
  • Mosquito nets were provided in each room.
  • Have plenty of insect repellent with you.


Capybara, the world's largest rodent.
Capybara, the world's largest rodent.

These capybara lived close to the lodge. We saw them each day. They're very docile animals and love to swim around in rivers and lakes looking for food to eat. At night they retreat to their homes which is good sense when there are caiman and anaconda living in your neighbourhood.

With beautiful expressions they're like a cross between a dog, a tailess beaver and a coypu. Sorry if I've insulted you, biggest rodent in the world!

Marasha green parrot.
Marasha green parrot.
Giant Victoria amazonica water lily.
Giant Victoria amazonica water lily.

Giant water lily - Victoria amazonica

This amazing plant thrives only in certain parts of south America and particularly enjoys the Amazon river basin. The lake at Marasha had its fair share. They bring a cool, peaceful aura to the water as well as being handy platforms for butterflies and insects. Certain water birds use them as stepping stones.

The Victoria amazonica has a remarkable lifestyle, producing one white flower at a time which opens on the first evening to attract insects. At this point in time the flower is female and gives off a sweet, fruity scent.

Round Up of Amazon Marasha Tour

For me this was an experience of a lifetime. Every aspect of the tour held excitement and interest, from initial taxi ride to the 5am meeting with a 3m trapped caiman. Don't worry, it was caught in a fisherman's net and was released by our guide, Walter.

In between I caught piranha, held a giant millipede, knocked on a ceiba tree, watched wild monkeys caper through the canopy, ate fresh fish, listened to a choir of tiny frogs, talked to a capybara, had breakfast with a toucan, heard the muchilero bird, saw a multitude of stars at midnight......the list goes on.

And the tour was excellent value when you consider we had a night's stay and all the food we needed. If you're ever in Leticia you'll want to get into the rainforest proper no doubt. This tour offers you that chance without you taking too much risk, without you having to empty your wallet.

I still can't quite believe it was me walking through that Amazon rainforest.

A
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Amazon Jungle Trips, Leticia, Peru

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The Amazon - Your Kind of Holiday?

Being in a rainforest isn't everyone's idea of a perfect holiday. Given a choice after reading this hub would you go?

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All images by chef-de-jour unless stated otherwise.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Andrew Spacey

    Comments

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    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      2 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Appreciate the visit, thank you.

    • profile image

      AmazonasColombia 

      2 months ago

      Thank you Andrew Spacey for this great article!. I only can agreed with you Amazing Amazon Rainforest. Great suggestion on Marashas place. This is one of the beautiful place at visit one or 2-nights package and Hotel Amazon Bed and Breakfast is a one of the best option to book all your trips around Leticia and Amazon Region.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Yes, thank you, the Amazon is packed full of spectacular life!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      , you got beautiful pictures on your trip, amazing

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for the visit Akriti. You would love the Amazon and Brazil. So many creatures, so much untouched land and lots of conservation work to do!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 

      3 years ago from Shimla, India

      Very informative post. I'd really like to visit this place :)

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you Kristen, appreciate your visit. The whole Amazon experience was awesome and inspiring.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Andrew, sounds like a fun trip through the Amazon rainforest. Your travelogue and photos were fantastic. Voted up!

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you Chitrangada. The UK has some wonderful natural places but experiencing the Amazon was overwhelming - exotic and exciting! I really appreciate your visit.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for the visit and comment VioletteRose. The Amazon is just awesome and mind boggling - so many creatures, so much life!

    • VioletteRose profile image

      VioletteRose 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      That must have been a wonderful trip! Great information and images, thanks for sharing :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Amazing pictures and wonderful hub!

      I would love to see these places full of natural beauty. Thanks for the tour!

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Anita, the Amazon is simply awesome, the way of life such a contrast to what I'm used to here in the UK. I can well imagine the wonder in people's minds when they first heard of The Lost World, so vividly captured by Conan Doyle. Thank you for dropping by and pointing out the capsule fault.

    • Anita Saran profile image

      Anita Saran 

      4 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Wow! I would certainly want to visit the Amazon. Lucky you. Strange - I was just listening to Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Lost World' dramatised series. Set in the Amazon. By the way - take a look at your ebay capsule which does not show a book.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for the visit and comment Marie. Being in the Amazon was just wonderful and overwhelming. The capybara are sometimes treated as pets because of their friendly natures. They're great swimmers too!

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 

      4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      This seems like an amazing trip. I think that the capybara are cute and seem like pets who are waiting for some treats.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for sharing the tour and leaving such a generous comment, much appreciated. We didn't to get see an anaconda in the wild - but I was content knowing there were some close by, safely out of the way, in the dark swampy water!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Except for the snakes, you have made this trip sound so incredibly exciting. Your photos are also very beautiful. Thank you for the vicarious experience of traveling through this amazing rainforest. The video is also very compelling.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for the visit Alicia. This was a one off wonder trip or us - we had time, some money and a dream to fulfill so we did it!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This must have been an amazing trip! What a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for sharing the very interesting photos and description.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      I appreciate your visit, thank you. You don't like creepy crawlies? Good job I didn't mention the spiders and bugs then! Plenty of them out there but most are harmless.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      A pleasure Suzette, thank you for the visit. I don't think I'll be venturing out that far again!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I must admit that i would never go, but i admire your courage. I am terrified of crawling things. The pictures are spectacular. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed your trip through the rainforest.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      4 years ago from Taos, NM

      What an amazing trip you had. Your photos are beautiful. I would love to see the Amazon, but I could do without seeing any anaconda snakes. Gives me goosebumps just thinking of them. This must have been the trip of a lifetime for you. I was amazed by the photo of the brown water of the river. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful trip with us.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you Audrey. I'm still trying to sort out all the images in my head, wanting to create some poems, waiting for inspiration!

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you Paula, I appreciate the comment. The Amazon is awesome. If one day the opportunity comes knocking for you, say yes!

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Yes, it was very special to be in the rainforest, another dream come true for me. If you ever get the chance you must take it! Thank you for the tweet, pin and share, I appreciate that.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      You are very welcome. Thank you for dropping in and leaving a comment.

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Phyllis thank you for the visit. This was a one off trip for us and I'm thrilled to have got through it still in one piece! What a wonderful experience. Interesting that you wrote a hub about the rainforests, I'll be reading it soon,

    • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for taking the tour and leaving a comment! Yes, those capybara are pretty common in the Amazon but oh so charming. I'm glad you enjoyed finding out about them.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thoroughly enjoyed taking this trip, vicariously, with you. Thank you for writing about it and sharing your photographs. I've never heard of a capybara until now, or that there were rodents bigger than some rats I've seen pictures of, which looked nearly that large! Wow. Thanks for teaching me something new today.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      My gosh ! This is a fantastic hub. What an amazing experience for you to explore the Amazon like that - I am envious, but glad you got the chance to do that. I would definitely go on a tour as you did if given the chance. I watched every second of your video. So much beauty and intrigue in the Amazon. I recently wrote a hub on rainforests, so really enjoyed reading this hub. Thank you. UP,A,B,I and H+

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 

      4 years ago from Earth

      You're so fortunate to spend a few days in the Amazon! Thanks so much for sharing your story and pics.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Thank you for taking us along on your amazing Amazon Rainforest tour! I don't know why, but I never thought that such a tour is in existence, but so fascinating to read about it. Your photos are spectacular!

      Voted up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Andrew. What a fascinating trip. I would love to venture into the Amazon someday. Really enjoyed this hub.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      What an incredible experience. Your pictures are awe inspiring too. I don't know if I will ever get to do anything like this, so it is nice to be able to live through your experience. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      This must have been fascinating. How lucky you are and thank you so much for sharing this trip with us!!

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