Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 3

Free Range Colombia – Day 16: A SuperMoon

I am not much of a wild animal person and I am not much of a water person. On Day 3 of our stay in the Amazon, I reminded myself that not every single moment of a trip needs to be my favorite, nor does it need to be easy. Such are the days, as it turns out, that are some of the most memorable.

The Amazon River Village of Mocagua

Calanoa is located near Mocagua, a small village of predominately Ticuna people. To get to the monkey rescue foundation on the other side of Mocagua, we walked through the village from Calanoa, and admired their houses. Diego and his wife are project-minded folks, and they organized the paint for the village’s murals, inspiring Mocaguan artists to band together and create beauty. Living in Chicago, we have come to appreciate the glory of public art. The colors in Mocagua are even more vivid than those under the L, but then again, so is everything in the Amazon.

Mocagua Houses Colombia Amazon

Mocagua Houses Colombia Amazon 2
Mocagua Houses Colombia Amazon 3

Mocagua Houses Colombia Amazon 1

Get That Monkey off Your Back!

The monkeys. These guys are part of a rescue and protection project called Fundación Maikuchiga, founded by an American woman who went down to the Amazon to study trees and got a little side-tracked. Those monkeys were excited to have visitors, and their playfulness delighted most. I watched, was jumped on, got nervous, and slipped down the stairs to admire butterflies and woodpeckers. “Why so nervous,” John asked me. Maybe I had hit the end of my this-is-new-and-I’m-totally-cool-with-feeling-uncomfortable rope. It’s a long rope, in my defense, but we’d been traveling in Colombia for 15 days, and I was in the Amazon with monkeys on my head. I wish I had seen this video ahead of time to prep me.

Colombia Amazon Maikuchiga Monkey Rescue 2

Black Spider Monkey – Cuteness Rating: 4 (out of 10) / Aggravation Rating: 9.5 (out of 10)

Colombia Amazon Maikuchiga Monkey Rescue 1

Colombia Amazon Maikuchiga Monkey Rescue

The River Is Temporary

The water. That afternoon, Diego suggested we all hop across the river in a canoe to the sand bar/island that appeared this year. In case you doubt the power of the Amazon River, know that at least 2 kilometers worth of sand moved over the course of last rainy season to essentially give Calanoa, Mocagua and everything in between its own beach-front property. We wandered around and watched a make-shift soccer match, and most of us got in the river for an afternoon dip. I put my feet in for good measure. John assured me it had to be less polluted than the Mississippi due to the sheer volume of water the Amazon holds, which did not comfort me. I did, however, do some killer cartwheels.

Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 5

Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 4

Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 3

Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 2

Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 1

A SuperMoon

The ending. That night, the clouds parted perfectly to an open sky and a total Supermoon  eclipse. At its darkest, we walked down to the observatory and looked up at the Milky Way. If the vastness of our surroundings hadn’t made us feel small enough, the sky, suffering from zero light pollution, finished it off.

Murals, Monkeys, Temporary Island, Sand, Wading, Moon, No Moon, Stars.
Joys, Challenges, Marvels.
Day 16.


More Photos:


The Spider Monkey attacks Diego



Baby Red Howling Monkey – Cuteness Rating: 8 / Aggravation Rating: 1.5



Squirrel Monkey – Cuteness Rating: 9.5 / Aggravation Rating 8.5



Black Spider Monkey (Post-Lunch) – Cuteness Rating: 7.5 / Aggravation Rating: 2



Monk Saki Monkey – Cuteness Rating: 7.5 / Aggravation Rating: 1



Learning to weave baskets in Mocagua


Colombia Amazon River Jungle Lodge 2

Amazon River Sandbar Soccer League



An evening swim – Piranhas don’t actually attack people



Sunset #3




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Elise is a native St. Louisan turned Chicagoan working as a teaching artist and singer. Ever since she first traveled throughout Europe on tour with a children's choir, she's been a happy traveler, having learned to trust her travel instincts and the value of a big, fat smile.
2 replies
  1. John Armstrong
    John Armstrong says:


    Thanks for the kind words.

    We stayed on the river, not in a deep jungle lodge. The river is very easy to navigate. Unless you’ve been there before, the deep jungle requires a lodge with a guide.

    For a river village experience, a tour group is useful if you need a pre-planned itinerary. The locals seem to treat everyone nicely. If you speak Spanish a little and have some idea of what you want to do, the solo freedom and personal attention is special in smaller, less Touristy groups or on your own.

    We reserved our lodgings beforehand on the river at Amazaona Calanoa, where the owner has a relationship with the neighboring villages and speaks English. It’s very pricey for Colombia – about $225/night/couple, but it’s all inclusive with food/activities and Diego Samper, the owner, made the trip unforgettable because of his personal involvement with the communities. It’s a tiny, comfortable, authentic ecolodge that we can’t recommend enough.

    Let us know if we can formally help arrange a sample itinerary.

    In any case, it was the highlight of our 3-week trip and something that may change your life!

    Cheers, John

  2. Ian
    Ian says:

    Great Blog! Later this month I’m going to be taking a trip to the Colombian Amazon as well. Did you access the forest via a tour group? If so (and you would recommend them), what were they called? Where did you stay while in the jungle?

    Thank you!

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