|We had heard about the salt cathedral near a small heritage town called Zipaquira, so we arranged for Miguel, a taxi driver to take us there. About two hours north of Bogota. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed he scenery en route, it's very much like the Okanagan area in British Columbia. Green and fertile with rolling hills with many cows wandering around.
The salt cathedral is described as a world wonder and is indeed very impressive. It consists of huge tunnels and caves that have been hewn out of the salt. We did/ not have a guide and were free to wander around and take pictures at our leisure. There were many crosses carved out of the salt and the main nave is reached at the end with a massive cross and a seating area. Apparently services are held there on Sunday's,for us we prefer when it is less busy. Miguel met us at a designated time and took us to a restaurant for a BBQ beef lunch, it was quite tasty, but the beef was a little tough! We retuned to Bogota in time to fight the rush hour traffic which is quite horrendous.
Our last day in Bogota was spent wandering around the old area of the city Candelaria. Visited a very old church which has become a museum called Santa Clara. It was one of the most beautiful church interiors that I have ever seen with a lot of gold and some very antique art work.
Miguel picked us up early on Dec. 20th to take us to the airport for the two hour flight to Leticia. There are no roads to to this small town which borders Brazil and Peru. Transfer vehicle greeted us and took us to our hotel where a local cocktail drink was served. Our room is very close to the large pool and the temperature is about 30` and quite humid - no complaints with that.
Tues. 21st Dec. After an early breakfast we walked down to the Amazon River and boarded a small boat which was to take us to Puerto Narino. On the way we stopped at monkey Island which is just for the monkeys - nobody lives there but daily the local indigenous people come to sell their wares to the tourists. I bought a lovely wooden armadillo! The spider monkeys are amazing and they clambered all over us, sometime we had 5-6 at a time, but we were not feeding them. They form their own communities and when the group gets too large they split and form a new group, so there are about 5 groups on monkey island. They live on insects and berries.
Back on the river our next stop was to see some rescued parrots that were free to fly away but chose to stay where. They were raised and were very friendly and willingly posed for photos! We saw some huge lily pads nearly a meter in diameter, the lilies bloom only for 24 hours and die.
Our next stop along the huge river which is still quite wide at this point is Puerto Narino a very well-kept little community- they have only two vehicles and the indigenous people clean the streets every day. The restaurant served a lovely lunch to us before we took the boat 75 Kms back to Leticia, but on the way we stopped to see some pink Dolphins. They were not very playful as it had started to rain which apparently and strangely they don't like.
The houses on the shores of the Amazon River are all built on stilts as when the snow melts in the Andes the water level rises up to 12 feet - many trees get up rooted and cause difficulties for the boats navigating the river.
Apparently it takes about a week by boat to reach Manaus in Brazil - it is a mighty river.