Tucked away in the forest surrounding Puerto Narinó, la Fundación Natütama houses not only elaborate hand-carved replicas of local wildlife and mythical creatures, but also the secrets to the unseen, mythical world below the Amazon’s river currents.
The Amazon rainforest is home to countless species of flora and fauna, large and small, known and unknown. Alongside this animal kingdom exist spirits, beings, and entire worlds out of sight and out of reach to humankind. The Indigenous Tikuna elders who inherited these forests and rivers tell tales of seductive shapeshifting dolphins and large hairy human-like creatures that stalk the forest. There are legends of entire cities built under the river’s surface, where pink dolphins and turtles live.
The Natütama Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with the community of Puerto Nariño to develop research, education, and conservation initiatives combining cultural and scientific knowledge and practices.
As part of this mission, they built the Centro de Interpetación (Environmental Interpretation Center). An education center and museum consisting of two permanent installations depicting different phases or aspects of the Amazon rivers environment that are difficult to witness in the wild. One exhibition is based on the flooded rainforest, which depicts, using wood carvings by local artisans, scenes of wildlife beneath the water’s surface and among the trees. Here you can see life-sized carvings of pink river dolphins, river otters, and various fish species. These include the iconic pirañas and the pirarucu, which is the largest fish in the Amazon and a staple of the local diet.
Another building holds a pitch-black room. Barefoot, you step in and are guided through a recreation of an Amazon beach scene at night. A guide uses a flashlight to illuminate the room while recounting a local legend about a fisherman’s encounter with a river dolphin in the dead of night.
Know Before You Go
La Fundación Natütama is located in Puerto Narinó. To reach it, you must fly into Leticia, flights from Bogota and other points are available. From Leticia, take a 3-hour river boat to Puerto Nariño. Natutama doesn’t list an address, but the village is small enough that any local would be able to guide you. It’s a 10-minute walk from the dock where you arrive.
Hours of operations are listed as 9-5, except Tuesdays.