During our trip to the Colombian Amazon, we stayed at Casa Gregorio. A hotel located in the remote indigenous village of San Martin de Amacayacu, within the Tikuna community in the middle of the rainforest. An unforgettable adventure, where we learned about the culture and way of life of the Tikuna and from where we discovered the Amazon in Colombia. A perfect place to experience life in the Amazon for a few days. In this article you will read all about the indigenous community of Tikuna, why Casa Gregorio is such a special place to stay, how to arrange your trip, what the costs are and much more.
Casa Gregorio | A native Amazon fairy tale
There was once a Dutch biologist, Heike, who ended up in the indigenous community of Tikuna, 17 years ago, for her scientific research. In the middle of the Colombian Amazon rainforest. She fell in love with Jose, a boy from the Tikuna tribe. The love turned out to be mutual. Now they have lived happily together for a long time in San Martin de Amacayacu.
The end of the world
When we finally arrived in the village after a long journey, I seriously wondered why Floortje Dessing has not been here yet for the program “Floortje to the end of the world”. Heike has lived in the Amazon for about 15 years. Admirable I think. Now, of course, I live in Colombia myself, but Sopó and Bogotá are quite different from a village in the middle of the jungle. Just doing some shopping is out of the question from San Martin de Amacayacu. Not to mention the electricity, what is only available between 5PM and 10PM. And then Internet, what is practically absent. Lovely to be in such a beautiful place for 5 days, away from the busy world.
A hotel in the middle of the Amazon
Casa Gregorio is a hotel deep in the Colombian Amazon. For the adventurous traveler, people who want to stay close to nature and discover the real Colombia. If you like that thought, this is your place. Jose and Heike are not only a beautiful couple, but also incredibly nice people who want to pass on to you the culture and way of life of the Tikuna tribe, and the beauty of the Amazon. An extraordinary experience I can tell you, so far from life as we know it.
The indigenous community of San Martin de Amacayacu
San Martin de Amacayacu is an indigenous community located in the rainforest of Amacayacu National Park. In the far south of Colombia, in the department of Amazonas, on the Amacayacu River. About 8 kilometers from the village Puerto Nariño and over 2 hours by boat from Leticia.
About 500 inhabitants live in San Martin de Amacayacu, all of whom belong to the indigenous Tikuna tribe. The village was founded in the year 1972. Before that time, the Tikuna lived scattered throughout this part of the Amazon far away from the major rivers. Not very practical in terms of health care, schooling and religious gatherings. The Tikuna were therefore encouraged to settle closer to the Amazon River. Not in large houses for many families, but one house per family.
Today, San Martin de Amacayacu has about 100 houses. Residents engage in various economic activities, including agriculture, fishing, hunting, handicrafts and tourism. Because of the poor water supply, residents use the river to wash themselves, clothes and dishes.
As you walk through the village, you will see the school, soccer fields and the church in addition to the local houses.
The indigenous tribe of Tikuna
The Tikuna is an indigenous tribe living in both Brazil (46000 people), Colombia (13800 people) and Peru (9400 people). In addition to Spanish, they speak their own language Tikuna. In fact, in Brazil, it is the most widely spoken indigenous language.
For the Tikuna, the natural world is a whole. In which humans are part of the plants, trees and animals. The relationship between nature and culture is woven together in the social system. Because of their knowledge of the habits, territory and life cycles of rainforest animals, the Tikuna are excellent hunters.
Traditionally, the Tikuna have practiced the Shamanism, but due to Christian influences, this is now rare. Only within very isolated communities Shamanism is still practiced. Regarding marriage, the Tikuna follow the rules of exogamy. This means that members of the same group may not marry each other. This is also told by the guide while walking through San Martin de Amacayacu. Within the Tikuna community there are several sub-tribes, so two people within one such tribe are not allowed to marry each other.
Because there is still a lot of poverty within indigenous tribes, including the Tikuna, NGOs are actively involved. In addition, tourism is also becoming increasingly important. Casa Gregorio contributes to this by working only with local guides. Here you can see in which projects, such as water supply, education and land distribution, Casa Gregorio is active. Jose plays a major role in this and has already managed many positive changes.
If you want to learn more about the indigenous communities in the Amazon, and specifically the Tikuna, visit the very interesting ethnographic museum in Leticia.
The Amacayacu National Park
Amacayacu was declared a national park in 1975 and is part of the 59 protected natural areas in Colombia. Amacayacu comes from the name Hamaca (hammock) and Yacu (Quechua word for river). Hammock River , because the Tikuna used to make many hammocks from the chambira palm fiber for trade. The national park is 4220 square kilometers and is the first protected area established in the Amazon region in Colombia. Amacayacu is the only area where you will find flooded trees during the rainy season, when the Amazon River is about 10 meters higher than in the dry season.
The jungle of Amacayacu National Park is home to more than 5,000 plant species and the rainforest is characterized by the greatest diversity of monkeys in the world. If this is not enough, nearly a third of all bird species and half of all mammals in Colombia live here. Not for nothing is Colombia ranked number 2 of most biodiverse countries in the world.
A very appropriate place, therefore, to admire the animals of the Amazon .
This area of the Amazon rainforest was established as a national park not only to protect nature, but also for the preservation of the indigenous Tikuna culture. In addition, it is a place where tourists can admire all the beauty the Amazon rainforest has to offer. The animals, nature and culture.
Casa Gregorio | Extraordinary accommodation in the Colombian Amazon
After hearing so much about Casa Gregorio, the decision was easy: I want to go there! Casa Gregorio was founded in 2012 by Jose and Heike, with the goal of sharing their experiences, the beautiful rainforest and indigenous society with anyone interested in the reality of the Amazon. For an unforgettable and educational experience. Built in the style of traditional Tikuna houses, the lodge is in the middle of the village of San Martin de Amacayacu.
Far away from a world full of cars, phones, haste and crowds, stay in a extraordinary hotel in the Amazon. Not only in an indigenous village, but also deep in the rainforest. For a few days, you will experience what life is like in the Amazon and discover this beautiful piece of earth.
How do you arrange a stay at Casa Gregorio?
In the Amazon, don’t search for the nicest hostel with your backpack; it’s best to arrange everything in advance. Therefore, at Casa Gregorio, you don’t just show up, you have to book transportation in advance. So reserve everything. This will make your trip to the Amazon much easier.
Here’s how it works:
- Send a message to Heike van Gils, the owner. This is her number: +57 310 2798147. This may be in Dutch, English or Spanish. You can also make reservations using the contact information on their website.
- Let them know with how many people you want to visit the Amazon, and in what time period.
- Heike will then send you a lot of information, including the packages they offer and the corresponding prices.
- Choose your package and make your reservation.
- You will receive from Heike all the information you need to get to Casa Gregorio.
What exactly are you reserving?
At Casa Gregorio they only offer total packages. All-inclusive, in other words. So they can arrange all the entrances, transportation and guides in advance, and you will have a carefree trip through the Amazon.
Which package in the Amazon did we choose?
Casa Gregorio offers a standard package, but you can tailor it to your needs and the time you have. Our package looked like this:
Day 1: Arrival. This didn’t go as planned, as you can read here . As a result, we stayed the first night in Leticia.
Day 2: Puerto Nariño and Tarapoto Lake. This day we visited Puerto Nariño and a beautiful lake in the Amazon. We also saw dolphins for the first time. In the evening around 10 o’clock we took a pretty scary night hike through the jungle.
Day 3: Jungle hike. After a one-hour boat ride down the Amacayacu River, we did a hike through the rainforest. It was really beautiful and very special to see the many special trees, plants and insects.
Day 4: Mocagua and the monkey sanctuary. Today we went by boat to another indigenous village, where Tikuna also live. This village, Mocagua, is in proud possession of beautiful painted Tikuna houses. We visited the monkey rehabilitation center Maikuchiga. What a beautiful experience! In the evening, we did a ceramics workshop.
Day 5: Back home. At 6:30AM we left by boat for Leticia to catch the plane back to Bogotá.
How much does a stay at Casa Gregorio cost?
To stay at Casa Gregorio, you pay between COP 280,000 (62 euros) and COP 350,000 (78 euros) per person per night. Exactly how much you pay depends of:
- The month you are traveling (high or low season);
- The room you choose;
- How many days you stay;
- What excursions you want to do.
Anyway, these costs always include all breakfasts, lunch and dinner, drinking water, coffee and tea, all entrance fees, all guides, the workshop and all transportation to and from Casa Gregorio. Also, you don’t have to bring the boots you need in the Amazon, you will get them at the hotel. Excluded are the airfare from Bogotá to Leticia and the cost of the Express Boat to Puerto Nariño and back. In this mini-guide Amazon I give a complete overview of all the costs together. There are no ATMs in the jungle, so bring all cash.
A trip to the Amazon is not cheap, especially since you cannot do anything yourself, you need a guide and a boat for everything. It can undoubtedly be found both cheaper and more expensive. In any case, I found the Amazon and the stay at Casa Gregorio well worth the money.
What do you get to eat?
To our great surprise, we were introduced to fruits and vegetables from the Amazon that are completely unknown in the rest of Colombia. Very tasty. There is incredibly delicious and healthy cooking. Especially natural products. I am a vegetarian and that is not a problem at all. Meat they eat little, mostly fish and chicken. Thus, we were presented with a piranha caught by Jose. You will get more than enough to eat and there is no need to buy your own food or drinks.
At Casa Gregorio they have a water tank that allows you to fill your water bottle.
The rooms in Casa Gregorio
Casa Gregorio is a small lodge with some fine rooms. From double rooms with a standard double bed and shared bathroom to comfortable double rooms with a view, a king size bed and private bathroom. There are also rooms with two single beds and with three beds. We choose a king size bed which is very comfortable. It is rare that I sleep so well in a hotel.
Casa Gregorio is suitable for couples, solo travelers and groups of friends and families.
A mosquito net hangs above all the beds and you will find soap and towels in each bathroom.
There is no air conditioning, but this is also totally unnecessary. In fact, it is so chilly at night that I even needed a thick blanket to stay warm.
Is there electricity and WiFi?
Wifi is not available, only for emergencies. Electricity is only available between 5PM and 10PM, then you can charge your phone, camera and other devices. Hot water, by the way, is not there either.
How do you get to the hotel?
By Express boat from Leticia. It leaves at 7AM, 9AM, 12PM and 2PM. Given the flight times from Bogotá, it is most likely that you will take the 2PM boat on the way out and the 7AM boat on the way back. Casa Gregorio aranges for you a spot on the boat. You will then be dropped off at the Bocana Amacayacu stop. There, another boat is waiting to take you across the Amacayacu River to the hotel. More about the boat in this article. In any case, you don’t have to worry: Heike is in constant contact with you (until Leticia, after that there is no Internet) and arranges everything for you down to the last detail.
What do you take with you when you stay at Casa Gregorio in Amazon Colombia?
There is no store in San Martin de Amacayacu where you can buy things or food, so you have to bring everything yourself. Don’t forget this anyway:
- A hat/cap against the sun;
- Your sunglasses;
- A refillable water bottle;
- Sunscreen of SPF 50 or more;
- Anti mosquito cream;
- A good flashlight and extra batteries. Your phone is not enough so really take it with you!
- Flip-flops or sandals;
- Long socks to prevent the boots from rubbing against your skin;
- Long-sleeved shirts;
- Long quick-drying pants;
- A waterproof bag for things like your camera and phone. This one, for example.
Also important: take your daily medication with you. A malaria prevention kit is also recommended (we didn’t bring one, but it is especially useful during the rainy season), as is a good travel insurance. You also need a Yellow Fever vaccination for the Amazon. This is not checked, but is obviously important for your own health. Also handy to bring with you are Oral Hydration, diarrhea inhibitors, paracetamol, antihistamine (you can buy this at any drugstore in Colombia for an euro, ask for Cetirizina) and other medications that may come in handy in the Amazon. The jungle is hot with high humidity. If you know yourself to be prone to this, be sure to take this medication to avoid problems.
Keep in mind that after Leticia you can buy almost nothing, so really bring everything you need. If you don’t miss the boat like we did, you won’t have time in Leticia to buy anything else.
Are you guaranteed to see animals in the Amazon?
Yes indeed! Which animals you see is different for everyone. Be sure to read up on this so you don’t leave disappointed. About whether you are guaranteed to see animals read all about it in this article under the heading “The Amazon rainforest is not a zoo”. Be surprised by nature and enjoy the little things of life.
What was the most remote hotel you ever stayed in?
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