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Free Range Colombia – Day 17: Puerto Nariño

On Day 17, we took a trip to the small town of Puerto Nariño on the Amazon River. About one hour by powered canoe, it’s popular for a lack of streets, well-manicured walkways, a small museum and common services that can’t be found in the villages. However, we enjoyed the way our Lonely Planet guide spun the quaint, jungle town into an ecotourism destination. Let me translate from “American hippie” into “Amazonian Reality” in the parentheses… 

From The Lonely Planet guide:

The tiny Amazonian village of Puerto Nariño, 75km upriver from Leticia, is living proof that humans and nature can peacefully coexist (It has been this way for 3,000 years, but just now becoming a novelty for enlightened people who like oil refineries and copper mines). Puerto Nariño has elevated the concept of green living to an art form. (Yes, the jungle is pretty green) Motorized cars are banned – the only two vehicles here are an ambulance and a truck for collecting recycling. (Also, because there are no roads to Puerto Nariño and the town is less than a mile wide). The spotless town is laid out on a grid of landscaped, pedestrian-only sidewalks. Every morning, citizen brigades fan out to tidy up the town. (People do seem to pick up the litter, which is a novelty in Colombia)

The little town’s ambitious recycling and organic waste management programs would put most world cities to shame. Trash and recycling bins are located on practically every corner. (True!) Rainwater is collected in cisterns for washing and gardening. (Because there is no plumbing or water filtration system). Electricity comes from the town’s energy-efficient generator, but only runs until midnight. (Again, because it’s the jungle – there is no power going into the village.) Fall asleep to the sounds of jungle chit-chat and the pitter-patter of raindrops on tin roofs. It’s such an aberration from established human population patterns in the Amazon that’s it’s worth making the trip here simply to see the village itself.

The majority of Puerto Nariño’s residents are indigenous Tikuna, Cocoma and Yagua peoples. Their community experiment in ecological (read: jungle) living has led to an important source of income: ecotourism. This tranquil town is a great base from which to visit beautiful Lago Tarapoto and the Amazon in general. (True.)

There are a very large number of Amazonian tribes in the jungle with less electricity, less cars, less litter and more green, but I’ll let the author give Puerto Nariño its rightful claim to be beautiful, because it is: 

Photos of Puerto Nariño:

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Typical lunch of cucumber tomato salad, sweet fried potato balls, roasted chicken, coconut rice and chicken/fish or beef soup and one of 12,541 varieties of fruit juice.


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Low season for the canal into Puerto Narino


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Having traveled extensively in the past with an artist and educator schedule, I now spend my non-working hours calming a tired infant, searching for the best sazerac and getting the most out of our urban garden. As we inevitably write more about traveling with children, we'd love to read your comments about how you create the perfect comfort/adventure balancing act. Thanks for reading!

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