When it comes to my job the best part of it is that I get to travel to some of the remotest places in South America. And one of such places is Mitú, which is a small town tucked away in the southeastern part of Colombia in the Amazon Basin. Being in the middle of the Amazon forest I felt more connected than ever with nature. For sure it has given me a new perspective in regard to protecting places like Mitú, which is why I consider this expedition as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
By far Mitú is the only departmental capital of Colombia which is inaccessible by road, and to reach there you either need to choose an airplane or a boat, and I opted for the former one. After traveling for approximately 3 hours on the plane from Bogotá, I finally reached Mitú. My first impression about this place was the dense, lush vegetation and the extension of rainforest on the horizon, which altogether were some of the key features that were very peculiar to the region, since the place where I come from has a different kind of topography and vegetation.
Keeping that interesting observation in my mind I headed to my hotel, where I was about to stay for a few days. On my way in a local taxi, I was pretty amazed by the wide Vaupes River, which flows in the border between Colombia and Brazil. It meanders beautifully in parallel to the main road of the Mitú town and eventually ends up into the Amazon River.
Upon reaching the hotel, I had to run some errands as I was planning an early morning trip to a far cry area, which would approximately take me 4 hours to reach. So the next morning I woke up at 4:00 a.m and joined some locals for the expedition. We took a full-throttle, off-grid three-wheel cargo motorbike (typical in this region) trip.
We were on a very rugged path which seemed to be very challenging especially with the occasional deep potholes. At one point I felt as if I was on a roller-coaster, bumpy ride packed with adrenaline. Though, the real danger of riding on this path is when it rains. The terrain becomes very slippery and challenging as we were not able to spot dangerous potholes. These potholes were usually filled with rainwater, which led us to a small road accident. Thankfully, we were all safe and none of us suffered any serious injury. But the best part is that we get to see the unfiltered part of Colombia, which I think is worth the challenges.
Once we arrived at our final destination, we met with a native from the indigenous community as the region was in an indigenous zone far away from the crowded town. We needed a local guide to show us the path leading to the place we were hoping to go. The native guide was very kind and helpful throughout our trip.
What really hit me was the way the indigenous people live in this area. They have a very simple lifestyle that compliments their environment as if they know how to live in harmony with nature. They have ubiquitous houses called ‘malocas’ built with wood structures and thatch roofs.
At this point, I felt an intimate connection with nature. I could breathe the clean air around me, which made me realize that we are all part of this huge living ecosystem we called ‘Earth.’
The team was quite excited to explore more about the region and we set off deep in the middle of the jungle, where I had the chance to encounter a great variety of species that I have never seen in my lifetime. The place is lauded mostly for its eclectic range of bird species such as tawny-tufted toucanet, pompadour cotinga, fiery topaz, and many more. Also, the height of the trees can reach up to 30 meters above the ground level. At this point, I felt an intimate connection with nature. I could breathe the clean air around me, which made me realize that we are all part of this huge living ecosystem we called ‘Earth.’
As we hacked our way through the forest we suddenly had to stop walking at a creek, where we were supposed to cross it by swimming, and that was quite a daring situation for me since I was not really a good swimmer at that time. Yet, I did my best to swim without any difficulties.
Thankfully, I was able to reach the other side of the trail. We continued to walk for about 4 hours until we reached our destination. We basked in the incredible view of the landscape studded with a majestic geographical feature called ‘inselberg’, which is an isolated rock hill that rises above the surrounding plain.
Obviously, we took the advantage of the daylight to observe the rocks of this place known to be the oldest in the Amazon region. They were basically formed by the tectonic collision of the continents some 2000 million years ago! Unfortunately, we couldn’t take more time as we had to make our way back to the guide’s maloca, which means another 4 hours of hiking before the disappearance of the daylight that usually happens around 6 p.m in this region. So we sped up our pace and made our way back easily as the path became familiar.
Back in the maloca, we were greeted by the guide’s wife. She humbly offered us an indigenous dish which is locally called ‘Yuca’- a starchy dough with a crunchy texture, and a little salty to my taste, but I heartily ate it since I was very hungry at that time.
The generosity and simple lifestyle of these native communities of the region made me realize that people living in modern societies are rather living a superficial lifestyle caught up in their daily routine. Sadly we take many things for granted so easily. And as for me, I am very grateful for the travel opportunities that I get as a geologist, where I get to enjoy unique and profound moments with different people across various trips, which of course, help me to enrich my knowledge.
About the Author:
I am a geologist currently living in Medellín, Colombia. I am passionate about traveling, learning different languages, technology, and coding. Most of my travels are in different cities and towns of Colombia, and also in some of the Latin American countries. Travel has allowed me to meet many people from different cultures and places, which of course has helped me grow personally and professionally.