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Jeremy Wade in Colombia

Harry's Bar

Photo by Piers Calvert

Harry's Bar in Bogota, Colombia.

Flying turns arrival into a process rather than a mere moment, and the descent into Bogotá is more spectacular than most. Clouds part to reveal a high-altitude plateau, bordered by mountains. At touchdown, you’re still at 8,660 feet. It’s a city in the sky.

Embassy Suites in Bogota.        

I’m in Colombia with my film crew to shoot an episode of the fifth season of River Monsters (premiering April 2013), where I investigate a death at the hands of the “Colombian Slasher.” The killer I’m looking for is not human but rather a fish in a remote area in which few tourists would journey. Before launching my investigation, I stay a night in Bogotá, the world’s third-highest capital. How strange, then, that my ultimate destination is lowland rain forest. But Colombia is nothing if not geographically diverse, from its Pacific and Caribbean coastlines to the Andes and the Amazon.

We stay at the Embassy Suites in the bustling commercial district, less than a mile from the foot of the Cerro de Monserrate mountain. After a quick shower, we regroup in the hotel’s airy atrium and take a short walk to the upscale Harry’s Bar for light snacks and Águila beer.

The next day, we take a short flight to Leticia, located on the banks of the wide, brown Amazon in the country’s southeastern corner. If you cross the river here, you’re in Peru, and if you walk too far downstream (as I did once), you’re in Brazil. From this small port city, we take a boat upriver to Puerto Nariño, a friendly town with some nice rustic lodges. Next, we trek into the rain forest, at one point dragging our boat through the jungle to a floodplain lake. This part I wouldn’t recommend, unless you like knee-deep mud and blood-sucking insects. I can’t say much about what happens next—you’ll have to tune in to find out.

Botanical gardens. Photo by Piers Calvert.        

The discomfort of being in the jungle makes the return to Bogotá sweet. The only downside is that our time there on the way out is confined to the airport. But the city is definitely on my list of places that I’d like to revisit as a tourist. Until then, the botanical gardens, churches of Old Bogotá and the funicular up Monserrate will have to wait. //

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