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Travel Guide to Iquitos in Northern Peru

When you hear that there is a big city in the northern Peruvian jungle that is basically only reachable by plane, you won´t be able to stop thinking about this hard-to-reach place, until you can finally get to live your own experience in Iquitos.

This city is a bit like a South American version of a Southeast Asian city. Swarms of motorcycles, heat and humidity come together in this place. But at the same time, you can find enigmatic street food options and admire surroundings that can´t be found anywhere else on planet Earth.

This destination mostly offers an experience of getting in contact with the natural world of the Amazon jungle. But keep your eyes and ears open, as there are other little surprises to be found along the way. You can see interesting architecture dating back hundreds of years, and you might want to get the story of Fitzcarrald told, which is worth it in our opinion.

Once in the bush, or on the water, things get more interesting for the wildlife lovers. Stay alert for dolphins! There are two species of them in this area: the pink (sometimes not so pink, actually) and the grey dolphin. Myriads of birds will be all over the place, and maybe monkeys as well. Never forget to be aware of your surroundings (and to what your guide says), so that you don´t miss out on anything.

If you are already intrigued to get to know the magical jungle of Peru, go right ahead and have a look at all of our Peru Amazon Tours and Activities. Here, you will not only find tours going to Iquitos, but also other jungle experiences located closer to Cusco. In case you are still overwhelmed by the abundance of possibilities of wildlife tourism, feel free to make use of our Custom Itineraries Service and we will be there to tailor-make your own unique trip!

What we recommed for you when traveling in Iquitos

The most important thing to be said is that you will navigate the Amazon river waters! But hang on a minute, because you will need some advice on how to navigate the city first.

When you get to Iquitos, you will be able to see that it is bordered by water. This is not the Amazon river sprawling (at least, not yet). Instead, one of them is the Nanay river, to the west, and the other is the Itaya river, the one that actually touches the city’s downtown. However, the side of Iquitos that most people are attracted to is the wonderful chaos of its markets (Belen and Nanay), the docks, and neighborhoods, where the rivers previously mentioned meander with civilization. All of this provides a cocktail of images of the odd, extravagant jungle life most foreigners are not familiar with. The streets are covered by swarming tricycles and one-of-a-kind wooden-bodywork buses. Combine this with the warm and colorful atmosphere and you will live an experience that not many places can provide.

The rickety houses standing on stilts with their staircases going down to the river shore are one of the first impressions

Some of Iquitos’ buildings are evidence of a rich past of rubber exploitation, where the white sap extracted from the trees was as valued as gold. The Iron House (or Eiffel House), which is now a restaurant with a great view over the main square, and the opulent and beautifully tiled Morey House, now converted into a luxury hotel, are highlights you shouldn’t miss.

Casa Morey is not only beautiful in and out, but also some kind of antiquity museum

The city museums are few but very interesting in their themes. The Historical Boats Museum and the Amazonian Civilizations Museum are the recommended ones.

Once your urge for experiencing the city like a local is satisfied, we also recommend exploring beyond and trying, for example, the fabulous floating restaurants, especially at night.

Further away, but never far, you can find zoos and shelters of different types. At this point, we have to admit that only a few of them are really helping the animals. We love to recommend because it is an accredited institution, the Centro de Rescate Amazónico (CREA). Visiting wildlife rescue centers is a great way to get in contact with animals, contribute to their rehab, and (in the best-case scenario) witness their reintroduction into their natural habitat.

A Neotropical Otter at CREA. This species is the smaller riverine relative of the Giant Otter.

Now that we know a little bit of Iquitos, we can begin our real jungle experience. To help you benefit in the best way possible, we will lodge you in a beautiful typical accommodation that offers lots of privacy and amenities. The lodge is managed in a very environmentally conscious way. But of course, it is the variety of activities around the lodge that makes this place our primary choice.

This is a glimpse of what could be your accommodation during your days around Iquitos

You will be immersed at the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo National Reserve, where we can guarantee you to witness pristine nature. The commitment to environmental conservation of the lodge goes to the point of being stewards of wildlife. The time when CREA freed two manatees (or dugongs) in the river just next to the lodge was an example of this. As you can see, chances to see these animals out of captivity are real, being another highlight of the place. Not to mention the abundance of birds, mammals, and other popular animals like caimans.

Manatee feeding on water lettuce. This species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

All of the guides are people coming from the same forest. Their knowledge is outstanding, which is especially noticeable when they talk about medicinal and edible plants, or during the night excursions when they spot the almost invisible life of the forest.

It is also possible to get in contact with a local community. In our case, it is the Tamshiyacu village that can be visited. It is especially enjoyable for the kids who can engage and play with the village kids.

Concerning the weather and environment, they are the same no matter wo which jungle destination you want to travel to. So, you can just have a look at our jungle sections in the blogs Best Time To Travel To Peru and What To Pack For Your Trip To Peru to be informed before starting your trip to the jungle.

If after reading that, you feel prepared enough for your trip , go right ahead and check out some of our Iquitos tours. If you prefer to get some help to decide what is best for you, please contact our team of travel designers in the Custom Itineraries Section and we will assist you.

How Iquitos connects to other destinations

Being so isolated and remote, Iquitos is not much connected to other destinations. The most important connections are to Pucallpa by boat, and to Lima by plane.

Consider the easy way

If you prefer real experts to plan your itinerary for you, consider taking a look at our Custom Itineraries Section. We have more than a decade of experience in tailor-making unique travel experiences throughout our beautiful country. We’ll take all the work from you and all that´s left for you to do is look forward to your dream trip. 

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ABOUT RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL PERU

RESPONS’ mission is to improve living conditions in Peru through developing and promoting sustainable tourism. We’ve implemented a business model in which all areas of human relations are respected, and - equally important - respect for the planet is incorporated.

Following this business model, we practice fair trade, foster cultural identity, promote equal opportunities, and we preserve the environment that surrounds us and other species.

Together with you we improve, day by day, on the always-demanding path towards sustainability.

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