Colombia’s lush Amazonian forest reserve occupies one-third of the country’s landmass and is approximately the size of California. Shared between Colombia’s South America neighbors, this massive tropical rainforest and bounteous river serve as yet another of Colombia’s top vacation destinations.

Known by Colombians as “Amazonia,” the rainforest is incredibly diverse, with five distinct ecoregions within the larger area. It shares characteristics with the larger rainforest, such as biodiversity and warm, moist climate. The region experiences intense and well defined periods of rainfall, during which the Amazon river can rise dramatically. In many places transportation is limited to boats running up and down the powerful rivers, even in the dry season. The capital of the Amazonas region, Leticia, is only accessible by boat, despite a population of 33,000 people.

Part of the region’s charm is it’s undeveloped purity, with indigenous cultures and endemic ecosystems in tact.

Visitors who make their way to Amazonia usually do so in search of an authentic experience, whether cultural or natural. It appeals to the deep adventurers, those who will forego a day of air conditioning in favor of a jungle hammock, and those who consider true luxury to be found in the flora and fauna of a region infrequently seen by human eyes. Even popular sites like “Monkey Island,” home to over 5,000 friendly monkeys, maintain their rustic and remote atmosphere.

The complex network of tributaries requires a navigation guide, and it is recommended that a jungle guide accompany visitors at all times. The jungle is full of unfamiliar and exotic species, which are potentially dangerous. However, with a capable guide, visitors will find their beauty captivating, and enjoy the thrill of close contact.

Thanks to nutrient poor soil and high levels of acidity, the Amazon rainforest does not share acreage with agriculture or grazing. As governments make moves to combat deforestation for lumber harvest, the Amazon’s expanse of towering jungle could remain in tact for generations. However, those who visit now will see a different world from those who visit in 10 years. Competition and specialization in the Amazon yield very short life-cycles and constant change, so that the jungle seems to evolve around you, every day slightly different from the one before.