Border Crossing | Colombia to Brazil

Transportation by bus is usually preferred during long-term travel not only because it is much cheaper (although there are some exceptions), but also it provides the traveler with a sense of living locally. Chickens on the bus? Excellent, just like the locals. Feeling nauseous from the curves in the road? That’s how the locals live! How utterly cultural of us.

Unfortunately, the only direct way to reach Brazil from Colombia is to go around from Ecuador, and up through Argentina which could take a few months unless you are willing to spend several days on a bus which, in price, will equate to about the same as a direct plane ticket.

Technically, the border crossing I am about to show you is by land, but in order to reach this point, you will have to take a flight. I even spoke to some of the locals and asked them how to arrive to Leticia, the city on the border, if there was some bus, and they confirmed that the only way to get there was by plane. Now there might be another option of trekking through the jungle for a few weeks, but this requires a bit more preparation involving masks to ward off animals of the jungle and blessings from jungle tribes… but let’s stick to the route that keeps us alive and well for now.

Fly to Leticia, the Amazonas of Colombia

Leticia is a city in Colombia that borders Brazil, and Peru. The Brazil side is Tabatinga, and the Peru side is Santa Rosa. You must arrive here to start your border crossing.

It’s generally cheaper to fly from Bogota than Medellin due to its proximity, but either way, your searches will be domestic flights, so they will not be as expensive as international. I flew with Latam Airlines, which I booked through about 2 months in advance and it was $96. If I had bought the tickets earlier, they would have been cheaper, but so goes life.

Arrive to Leticia

Upon arrival to Leticia you will be hit with an entrance fee. Yes, all tourists, tour guides, tour groups, business persons, wannabes, and vagabonds must pay the entrance fee of 32,000 COP.

Try to spend a couple of days in Leticia. Take a tour into the jungle, or just trek through it yourself (with much preparation). It’s a small city, but there’s a mix of Brazilian and Colombian culture in one location, and the fact that it is secluded from the rest of the big cities makes it slightly different than each of the countries it imitates (i.e. everyone speaks both Portuguese and Spanish).

Cross the Border to Tabatinga

Crossing the border is the easiest part. To the border by mototaxi it is 2,000 COP, and by tuk-tuk 5,000 COP. The border (la frontera) however, is not where you get your passport stamped. You must ask your driver to take you to la policia federal (the federal police) which is an office where you can have your passport stamped.

Get Your Passport Stamped

The stamping of the passport is very straightforward. Either have your driver wait for you outside, or be prepared to track down another one. My driver waited for me while my passport was stamped. Since a lot of the drivers live in this area, they are given permission to go and come across the border as they please due to a certain visa, so it would be easiest just to have the same driver the whole time. 

Drive to Airport

By mototaxi, the whole trip should not cost more than 10,000 COP. 

The airport is only another 5 minutes by mototaxi from the policia federal office. The Tabatinga airport is extremely small: one security check and one check-in line for both international and domestic flights, but there will be no signs until you get past the first security check. You will notice the difference in the Spanish speaking abilities though-- no one speaks it.

I took Azhul Airlines (a local Brazilian airline) and paid about $260 for the one-way flight (also bought 2 months in advance).

Alternative route

Many people travel to Tabatinga in order to catch the riverboat on a 5-day tour up the river to Manaus. Because I was in a hurry to get to Carnaval in Rio De Janeiro, I did not choose this option. Once you reach Manaus, however, you will either have to catch another flight or take a bus which amounts to 85 hours and several transfers.

Fly to Rio De Janeiro

Whether you take the boat or a flight, you will most likely have a stop off in Manaus before heading to Rio De Janeiro. Manaus is another city worth spending some time in, so if you are not in a hurry try to take advantage of the city in the middle of the jungle.


Border crossing at leticia from Colombia to Brazil

Quick Summary

  • Fly to Leticia, Colombia
  • Pay Entrance fee in Leticia 32,000 COP
  • Stay one night in Leticia (as needed) 
  • Get Passport Stamped at la policia federal
  • Drive to Tabatinga Airport 10,000 COP by mototaxi
  • Fly to Rio De Janeiro 

And there you have it! Brazil makes it a bit difficult and involves a lot more steps in order to get there, but for whatever reason, it’s completely worth it in the end. So take the steps, spend the money and prepare to experience one of the most lively cultures out there!


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leticia, Colombia to Tabatinga, Brazil border crossing

4 thoughts on “Border Crossing | Colombia to Brazil

  1. Awesome Post! I’m currently saving up for my dream trip of three months in Colombia and Brazil, and I was wondering if you think $2,500 would be enough so long as I volunteer at hostels throughout my stay

    1. Yay! I’m excited for you to head out on your dream trip!

      Budgeting for Colombia and Brazil will be a breeze if you can volunteer at hostels throughout the stay. I highly recommend it not only for financial reasons but also to get to know the area you’re visiting. For three months, $2,500 will be a perfect amount. Brazil is a little more expensive, especially when it comes to transportation.

      Have fun on your trip and let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Very informative post! My plan was to go from Leticia to Tabatinga, to Manaus and then to Fortaleza. However, I’m a 24 year old female by myself with a large suitcase and a small backpack. I’ve heard some say that crossing the border, especially alone can be dangerous. Do you have any insight on this? I speak Spanish fluently and Portuguese conversationally, I was told to not speak any English and try to not look like a foreigner too much (or at least not look like an American)

    1. Lauren I crossed this border at 28, I’m 5 feet, with one large backpack and one small backpack, solo. Leticia is small. I don’t suggest walking around solo at night, but I never found it to be dangerous. I crossed the border by bike straight to the airport and the guy who took me was very nice and spoke both languages. When you enter tabatinga you will see a lot of military which can be unsettling, but other than that I never felt in danger. Just don’t go out late as there are some
      Town drunks who I noticed would get too close to comfort. If you speak fluent Spanish you will be fine.

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