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Omshanty

Omshanty
Via Leticia-Tarapaca, Kilometro 11, Leticia, Amazonas
311.489.8985
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Overview: Leticia's remarkable Omshanty Hotel de Selva is one of the most interesting places for backpackers and adventurers in Colombia. The brainchild of Spanish biologist Kike Ares, it offers spectacular opportunities to see, hear, smell, and feel the jungle. It's located on 2 hectares of pura selva, and features a variety of interesting plants and wildlife on the property. Kike has been at this for nine years, and has developed a close relationship with the local indigenous communities. He has a great passion for showing his guests the best that the Amazon has to offer, and is a wealth of information about the local flora and fauna. Omshanty offers guests rustic but surprisingly comfortable cabins at affordable prices, and is a great homebase for setting out on longer mutli-day treks deep into the wilderness.

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Neighborhood: Omshanty is located 20 minutes from downtown Leticia, next to a small indigenous Huitoto community that offers several small restaurants and bars, a shop where you can purchase hand-crafted artesanias, a football field, and a maloca, an indigenous community center. Close by you'll also find numerous ecological treks and paths, a swimming hole, a river lodge with restaurant/bar and ropewswings, a couple of more up-scale restaurants, several nature preserves, and a fantastic jungle zip-line, perched 35m above the jungle floor.

How to Get There: Getting to Omshanty couldn't be any easier or quicker, as there are no traffic jams to worry about, and frequent, reliable, and cheap public transportation. If you're arriving at Leticia's Alfredo Vasquez Cobo Airport, you can either take a taxi or a bus. If you want to take the bus, walk just 200m south of the airport (the only direction you can walk), and you will see a turn off to your right: this is the Via Leticia-Tarapaca, and just wait for the first bus going by, which will say "KM 11". Buses consistently pass from 6am to 6pm, and cost just $2.800. The trip takes about 20 minutes, and the bus's last stop is literally right at Omshanty's front door. Kike will most likely be waiting for you there.

Or, you can take a taxi, which should cost about $15.000 to $20.000 if you want to get there with a little more speed or comfort.

If you're arriving by boat from Manaus, Brazil or Iquitos, Peru, just make your way to downtown Leticia and ask for the Media Torta (the local concert venue) located on Carrera 10 between Calle 7 and Calle 8. There buses leave frequently for KM 11.

Or, you can rent a moto (small 115 or 125cc motorcycle) for just $25.000 a day in downtown Leticia. It's a great way to get to Omshanty, and have a lot of flexibility of mobility. Plus, there is space to park motos right inside Omshanty's front gate.

Management/Staff: Kike and his spouse Adelaida are cordial hosts who offer guests an opportunity to interact with the local indigenous community through guided nature walks, ceremonies, and gatherings. They are happy to set you up with boots (which can be much needed during the Amazon's heavy rains), or lend you a lantern, although it would be a good idea to bring your own.

Kike is working on growing medicinal plants on the property, and is only too happy to give guests a guided tour of all of the vegetation on the property. Whatever your dreams or desires for the jungle, Kike can make it happen. You name it and he's done it.

Rooms: There are five cabins available for guests, at reasonable prices, and there is great flexibility for couples and group travelers as well. The cabins are set relatively far apart on the extensive property and afford considerable privacy for couples. They are all connected by an elevated boardwalk, which is particularly convenient during the Amazon's heavy rains.

Shared Rooms: There is one cabin that is specially designated as a dormitory and costs just $15.000 a night.

Private Rooms: If you're looking for private accommodations, it's $35.000 per night for one person, or $55.000 for two, and on up for multiple people.

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Amenities: The best part about the cabins at Omshanty is that while you are in the heart of the jungle, you are well-equipped with amenities like fully functioning kitchens and bathrooms and beds with mosquito nets so you can sleep in peace and tranquility. Each cabin is also equipped with a fan.

The bathrooms are spacious, with nice showers and sinks, and great plumbing. 

The kitchens include a wide variety of dishes and cooking utensils, and there is a 4 rangetop gas stove in each cabin. There's also a refrigerator where you can store perishables. However, if you want to cook in Omshanty, remember that there are no supermarkets close by; just a couple of stores with very basic staples like rice, sugar, snacks, beer, soda, and water. So, it would be a good idea to swing by the supermarket in Leticia to load up on groceries.

There is no restaurant or bar service on the property, but right across the street you'll find food, beer, and good conversation

For breakfast, try the fish soup, likely to be served up with an entire bocachico, a famous local and abundant river fish. For lunch and dinner, you are most likely look at a choice between fish, chicken, or beef, served up with rice, patacones (fried banana slices), salad, and yuca.

For juices try araza, copoazu, or lulo amazonico, three delicious varieties of fruit that you'll only find in the selva.

Kike offers a wide variety of ecotourism and treks, including night walks, with the help of local guides Esteban and Panero. Within minutes of setting of on your trek, you'll be sure to be photographing frighteningly large tarantulas, exotic butterflies, and rare plants.

One thing you won't find here is internet or television, but why would you want those in the middle of the jungle? There is fairly reliable service from Claro, Colombia's largest cell phone provider, although Movistar and Tigo are spotty. Kike hilariously turned the DirecTV satellite dish into a lily pond.

There's also a barbecue pit, where you can grill up your food. Kike often offers up guests a delicious fish fry as well

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Conclusion: This is a wonderful place to have an authentic and different experience with ecotourism and indigenous communities. And the best part is that you'll find the Huitoto and Tikuna communities in the area are, for the most part, very welcoming and hospitable to visitors, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Kike.

If you are planning a trip to Leticia, make sure to include a stay at Omshanty. Your camera will thank you, and you'll come away with some incredible experiences and lasting friendships.

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