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Unforgettable Amazon Jungle Accommodations: Your Guide to Palmari Reserva Natural

Ka has been there the longest. With his broad, muscular shoulders, he is the alpha male to the other native escorts, who all know their way in the jungle. During your stay at Palmari Reserva Natural, Ka will assign you a guide available 24/7 to take you kayaking, hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, bird watching, caiman spotting, visiting indigenous villages, and interacting with the pink river dolphins.

Walking to dock with backpack.
Leticia dock on the Amazon River. A Palmari rep will take you from plane to boat.
Dock with lots of panga boats.
All aboard. Prepare for rain or shine while traveling 4 hours in a 16-foot covered panga with a 40-hp motor.

Palmari reserve, named after the neighboring village, is remote. Fly from Bogota in the Andes mountains at 9000 feet to Leticia at 259 feet in about two hours. At the airport, Francis will load you into a taxi and dash you to his house for a credit card payment of your balance. Back in the cab, through the lower-income streets, you arrive at a dock. The Amazon River is breathtaking for its width and reach and the chaos and culture shock of all the locals and boats crowded at the shore. The water current looks strong for the 16-foot covered panga with a 40-hp motor. But it is a calm sunny, humid day with the equator just four degrees to the north.

View from panga boat of white-out.
Whiteout. A wind-filled rain can blind your view and last for hours.
Boat at dock of Palmari Reserva Natural.
Arrival. Palmari is an oasis in the jungle, located in Brazil, but reached from Colombia.

An hour into the trip, clouds form in the distance. The water turns choppy as the rain begins to fall in blinding sheets that “white out” your view. Holding on to the flapping tarps that cover the sides, it is still over three more hours to the reserve. A while back, you turned onto the Javary River, a border with Brazil on one side and Peru on the other. You pass a couple of towns, but for hours later, it is all jungle.

A macaw in the kitchen.
Saved. Residence Laura and Tuuky were rescued from bird traders.
A large wooden deck.
Welcome deck. After a quick look around, head to the boot rack to pick out a pair.

Soaked and shaken but never cold, you arrive at a small dock with a welcome greeting from Sandy, the translator, who turns out to be an enthusiastic botanist out for a tireless adventure. Up the stairs to the large deck outside the central maloca is where Laura the macaw and Tuuky the toucan live. Guides rescued these birds from the illegal markets. The maloca is also where you meet outdoorsy travelers, mainly from the Netherlands, Canada, and Germany. You dine on fresh, cooked typical foods like beans, rice, chicken, fish, arepas, and fresh juices, play ping pong and foosball, and get a poor internet signal that usually only works with WhatsApp.

A ping-pong table inside a maloca.
Central maloca. Come here for socializing, dining, gaming, and a weak internet signal.
Fresh food on a counter top.
Yum! Three healthy meals are served at 7 am, noon, and 7 pm.

The 360° view sweeps from the three-story observation tower that overlooks the jungle and Javary River. Palmari is a beacon of positive change to the area by encouraging indigenous locals to protect their culture and landscape. It is important and interesting to travelers who come from far away to see their simple and self-sufficient way of life.

Three people birdwatching with binoculars.
360° view. The 3-story observation tower is great for birdwatching at dawn and dusk.
Covered wooden walkways.
Covered walkways. Stay dry while heading to cabins or a bed in the shared maloca.
A large and empty maloca.
Just a bed. Choosing this option could get you stuck with a maloca full of school kids.

Covered walkways take you to the four cabins with private bathrooms, or to the maloca with the “bed only” option. If you opt for just a hammock, you walk in the opposite direction down an open and slippery path to another shared building. But everyone gets the same 76° F shower water and no paper flush toilets. Each day is carefully planned the night before, with Ka always available to share his suggestions for an adventure.

Woman inside room at Palmari Reserva Natural.
Top tier. The only real difference between Options C and D is electricity and a fan, which could be essential during the dry season.
Hammock on deck overlooking river.
Tranquilo. All cabins have a private deck with a view of the Javary River.

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Hi. We are Paul and Cindy, two biologists, fit and over 50, who enjoy exploring, photographing, and blogging about our outdoor travel. Our journey is to find outdoor activities that are away from crowds, kind to nature, and authentic. We carry backpacks, stay in clean accommodations, and feel that good food is as important as good friends.

The African savanna with three acacia trees.
Amazon Jungle
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