Vaupés / Mitu
- Rio Vaupes
- Rio Apaporis - Jirijirimo
The department Vaupes lies just to the north of the department the Amazon on the border of Brazil. In this area of the Amazon rainforest you can find dense virgin jungle and some of the most traditional Indian tribes of the Colombian Amazon. Mitu is the capital of the Vaupes department and actually the only city in the Vaupes department. There are over 26 ethnic groups in the department and the most you can also find in Mitu. The most well known ethnic groups are the Tucano, Guanano, Cubeo, Desano, Cabiyary, Barasano and Macuna. Most Indian communities in Vaupes have had none or little contact with tourists and a stay in one of their communities is an unforgettable experience. It is the perfect way to get to know and understand the culture of the Vaupes Indians and to get in contact with these fascinating people.
In this region we offer various expeditions. The less complicated tours go over the Vaupes River. Upstream in the direction of the rapids of Yurupary or downstream in the direction of Yavareté, a village at the border of Colombia with Brazil. Rivers that are also excellent for expeditions are the Papuri and the Piraparaná (Pira) River. To get to these rivers you need to fly by Cessna from Mitu or you need to walk through the jungle for several days. A tour over the Papuri River is perfectly to combine with the Vaupes River in an expedition of around 10 days.
Other destinations that we are offering in this part of the Amazon are the mythical waterfalls of the Jirijirimo on the Apoporis river, El Tunel de Apaporis and Cerro Morroco. These three destinations are good to combine in one program. Further upstream of the Apaporis river we can go through 'La Playa' all the way to La Pedrera to fly toLeticia, and from there to Bogota. From the Apaporis River upstream over the 'Caño Cananari' we encounter other destinations like Cerro Guacamaya and Cerro del Sol.
Most of these tours we offer as an expedition and not as a package. That means that the participants need to get ready for an adventure, due to the tourism infrastructure in that area it is not possible yet to offer fixed programs. Here we describe three programs that we have offered before and that have a minimal of tourism infrastructure to organize the tour. The first tour is an expedition over the Vaupes River to the Indian community Taina and Cerro Tipiaca. The second is a program to the waterfalls of Jirijirimo. And the third is a combination of Caño Cananarí and the Raudal of Yuruparí. These are very special unforgettable trips that you will remember the rest of your life.
We have chosen here for expeditions of 8 day for two reasons. The first is due to logistics, because there are only 3 flights per week to Mitu from Bogota. The second reason is because of the costs, a tour to Vaupes is over all expensive due to the fact that it is a very remote and non frequently visited area and that makes it pricey to get there. To choose for a relatively long program you can enjoy the tour to the fullest and because the costs are minimal when you get to the destination it makes sense to stay a bit longer. Of course it is possible to organize a shorter program but we do recommend a minimum of 5 days and 4 nights for an expedition to Vaupes. This also goes for the other 3 programs in the Vaupes department.
Packing list for Vaupes:
- Good shoes to walk on and an extra pair of shoes or sandals (for some expeditions boots)
- Clothes for a warm and humid climate
- Clothes with long sleeves and pants with long trousers for the evenings and nights
- Swim suit and towel
- Raincoat and plastic bags to keep you luggage dry
- Hat or cap to protect yourself against the sun
- Flash light
- Sun block and mosquito repellent
- Sun glasses
- Personal first aid kit
- Backpack for luggage and a small backpack for day tours
- Drinking bottle for water
- Plastic bags to keep clothes dry
- Tent or hammock
- Sheet or thin sleeping bag for in the hammock
When visiting Indian communities that are not or hardly visited we always find ourselves in a dilemma, how amazing it is to be one of the first to get to know a community and culture like this but you also want that your visit has very low impact. Besides ecotourism we are also practicing so called etno-tourism. As DE UNA Colombia we try to minimize the impact of our visit as much as possible. Respect for their culture and traditions when visiting them is very important. We are welcomed in their community, eat their food and sleep in their malokas. When deciding where to sleep we always try to sleep at communities that are a bit used to tourists. Small, very traditional communities we visit but try to avoid sleeping there.
To visit the area you are obligated to have a yellow fever vaccination and be able to proof this upon arrival in Mitu, so bring your vaccination carnet. There is little tourism infrastructure available, we will sleep in hammock or tents and eat what we receive in the Indian communities added with some products brought by the organization of the expedition.
On some places it is prohibited to make picture´s. Especially when you want to make pictures of people, religious places and/or of malokas it is necessary to ask for permission beforehand. If you receive a negative answer this needs to be respected.
To get to certain places we need to fly in cessna planes for 3 to 5 people, have to use cano´s over rivers and streams and need to walk/trek through the jungle. Some destinations can only be visited by sleeping in the jungle as well.
If we stay with the Indian communities it is common to leave some useful things behind as a thank you. Some things that are necessary in those communities: salt, big batteries for flashlights, fishing line, fishhooks, lead to fish with, clothes and school materials for the children like pens, pencils, notebooks. Before the start of the expedition we usually decide that everyone in the group brings something.