Caquetá-Japurá River and Basin (Brazil, Colombia)

Caquetá-Japurá River and Basin (Brazil, Colombia)

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The Caquetá River, as it is known in Colombia, or the Japurá, as it is known in Brazil, is a tributary of the Amazon River. About two-thirds of the tributary is in Colombia, and the other one-third is in Brazil. The Caquetá-Japurá Basin is the ninth-largest tributary basin in the Amazon.

Caquetá-Japurá River

The Caquetá River (Río Caquetá), as it is known in Colombia, or the Japurá (Río Japurá), as it is known in Brazil, is a tributary of the Amazon River and has a total length of approximately 2,820 km (1,750 mi). About two-thirds of the tributary is in Colombia, and the other one-third is in Brazil.

From its headwaters in southwest Colombia, near the sources of the Magdalena River in the Colombian Andes, the Caquetá River meanders east-southeastward until it receives the water from the Apaporis River at the Colombian-Brazilian border. The Apaporis is the largest blackwater tributary famous for its striking waterfalls and rapids.

In Brazil, the river then takes the name Japurá and flows eastward until it joins the Solimões, the upper course of the Amazon. The Japurá, which has a strong current, is navigable for small boats.

The Japurá River forms a network of channels and large islands with seasonal lakes at its mouth. It is the Amazon River's fourth-largest tributary.

Caquetá-Japurá Basin

Most of the Caquetá-Japurá Basin is located in the departments of Caquetá and Amazonas in Colombia and the state of Amazonas in Brazil. Eighty percent of the Basin is in Colombia. It is the ninth-largest tributary Basin in the Amazon.

Annual precipitation ranges from about 2,300 mm (90 in) near the mouth of the Japurá to more than 3,000 mm (118 in) in the middle and upper Caquetá Basin. Near the foothills, annual average rainfall can exceed 5,000 mm (200 in).

The northwestern drainage of the Caquetá Basin includes not only the high Cordillera Oriental but also an extensive eastern foothill region that is generally below 500 m (1,640 ft).

For most of its length, the Caquetá River meanders widely, and there are some extensive floodplains. The lower 200 km (125 mi) of the Japurá River joins with the Amazon River (Solimões) floodplain to form one of the most extensive wetlands in the Amazon, dominated by flooded forest.

Map of the Amazon River drainage basin with the Caquetá-Japurá River highlighted

Map depicting the Amazon River drainage basin with the Caquetá-Japurá River highlighted