BORDER CROSSING IN THE AMAZONS
October 30, 2019
MY EXPERIENCE CROSSING THE BORDER IN THE AMAZONS FROM COLOMBIA TO BRAZIL
I originally planned to go to Brasilia from Bogota by plane. However, flying direct would cost 430$. I discovered that I will save a lot of money by crossing the border in the Amazons. If I fly to Leticia,Colombia, then cross the border to Tabatinga (Brazilian border town), then I can take a flight to Brasilia that will only cost 200$ via Azul Airlines. Not bad right? You can also cross to the Peruvian part (Santa Rosa) by boat from Leticia.
This part of Colombia is only reachable by plane. There are no paved roads at all leading to it, and I only saw hundreds of miles of the vast Amazonian jungle on my 2-hour flight from Bogotá.
Anyways, when you arrive at the airport, you have to pay 35,000 COP tourist tax, and you also need to go to the hidden immigration office to have your passport stamped. After they stamped mine, I asked a tuk-tuk driver to bring me to the Policia Federal in Tabatinga to get my Brazil stamp. Guys! take note that for those who want to visit Brazil, you need an outbound ticket. They will not stamp your passport without it. There were 3 other tourists before me and the Policia Federal did not stamp because they did not have one. In my case, I bought a ticket via United airlines and canceled it immediately (full refund if canceled within 24hrs) and the officer accepted it.
What to do in Leticia/Tabatinga?
From Tabatinga you can take a 4-day amazon cruise to Manaus, the capital city of the Amazonas state in Brazil (you will sleep in hammocks though), or fly to other Brazilian cities. You can also tour the Amazons while you are there. Oh and one more thing, both towns do not have a border check. You can walk between them without any problem. Funny thing is, the moment you step in Tabatinga, everything turns to Portuguese! There is not much to do here, and most of the accommodations are in Leticia, so it is better to stay there.
If you decide to stay in Leticia, then I suggest you check Parque Santander from 17:00 to 18:00. Thousands of parakeets swarm the area during this hour. It was an incredible sight to see (they almost pooped on me twice though).
The next day, I asked the hostel caretaker to call a moto driver for me to go to Tabatinga Airport. It was a very small airport without wifi nor food stores. The police on duty made sure that I have a stamp from the Federal Office before he allowed me to check-in.
It was a long flight. I stopped first in Manaus for almost 10 hours, then to Sao Paolo Viracopos, before finally arriving at Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport in Brasilia. Now my adventure in Brazil truly begins!