This compact riverside town, its partially unpaved streets abuzz with a fleet of scooters and motorcycles – the local transport of choice – has worn many hats during its lifetime. Founded in 1867, LETICIA was part of Peru until it was awarded to Colombia in 1933 in a ceasefire agreement following a war between the two countries in 1932. A den of iniquity and sin (well, drug trafficking) in the 1970s, Leticia had to clean up its act when the Colombian army moved in, though visitors are still warned not to wander out into the outskirts of Leticia after dark. Today it’s a hot, humid, yet relatively tranquil place, with a lively waterfront and houses hidden amid the greenery. It makes a good base for short trips up the Amazon and for crossing over into Brazil or Peru.
The main attractions lie outside the town, but in Leticia proper you can stop by the Museo Etnográfico Amazónico to check out the collection of indigenous weaponry, splendid (and scary) ceremonial masks, pottery and more. For high-quality crafts made by local indigenous tribes, the best selection is at the Galería Arte Uirapuru.