When you hear that there is a big city in the northern Peruvian jungle that is basically only reachable by plane, your mind starts to go over and over the idea of this hard-to-reach place until you can finally experience a visit to Iquitos.
This city is kind of a South American version of a Southeast Asia city, with swarms of motorcycles combined with heat and humidity, but at the same time, very attractive for the curious visitor, with enigmatic street food and surroundings like no other on planet Earth.
This destination offers mostly an experience of contact with the natural world of the Amazon jungle, but keep your eyes and ears open as there are other little surprises along the way, like great architecture dating back hundreds of years to the past, and the story of Fitzcarrald that is worth hearing.
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) and the gray. Myriads of birds will be all over, maybe monkeys as well. The thing is to be aware of your surroundings (and to what your guide says).
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The first thing to be said is that you will navigate the Amazon river waters! but hold on, because you will like 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, but this is not the Amazon river sprawling (not yet). One is the Nanay river, to the west, and the other is the Itaya river, the one that actually touches the city’s downtown. And this is the side of Iquitos most people are attracted to: the wonderful chaos of its markets (Belen and Nanay), docks, and neighborhoods where the rivers previously mentioned meander with civilization, providing a cocktail of images of the odd, extravagant jungle-life most foreigners are not familiar with. Streets covered by swarming tricycles, and one-of-a-kind wooden-bodywork buses, surrounded by the warm and colorful atmosphere, it is an experience not many places can provide.
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 of the main square, and the opulent and beautifully tiled Morey House, now converted into a luxury hotel, are highlights you shouldn’t miss.
The city museums are few but very interesting in their themes, the Historical Boats [boat]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 try -for example, the fabulous floating restaurants, especially at night.
Further away -but not far, are zoos, and shelters of many types, but only a few are really helping the animals. The one that we love to recommend because it is an accredited institution, is the Centro de Rescate Amazónico (CREA). To visit wildlife rescue centers is a great idea for intimate contact with animals, and an even greater way to contribute to their rehab, and luckily to their reintroduction to their natural habitat.
Then comes the real jungle experience, and for this, we will lodge you in a beautiful typical accommodation, managed in a very environmentally conscious way, with lots of privacy and amenities. But, are the variety of activities around the lodge the ones that make this place the prime choice.
You will be immersed at the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo National Reserve, warranty of pristine nature. The commitment to environmental conservation of the lodge goes to the point of being stewards of wildlife, like the time when CREA freed two manatees (or dugongs), in the river next to the lodge. So, chances to see them 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.
The guides are people of the same forest, for instance, their knowledge is outstanding, especially noticeable when it is about medicinal and edible plants. And also during the night excursions when spotting the invisible life of the forest.
Contact with a local community is also possible, in this case, it is the Tamshiyacu village that can be visited, and it is especially enjoyable for kids when sharing and playing with the village kids.
Iquitos and the surrounding jungle are like any other lower Amazonian location (weather and environmentally wise), so our recommendations of the best time to visit and how to prepare the necessary luggage are described in the provided links.
How Iquitos connects to other destinations
Being so isolated and remote, Iquitos is not much connected with other destinations but more importantly, it is connected to Pucallpa by boat, and to Lima by plane.
For a logical and fluent visit to Iquitos, do not hesitate in contacting our travel specialists, they will be more than happy to help you co-designing a Peruvian Northern Jungle experience, preceded or followed by other destinations around Peru.
Consider the easy way and relax
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 experience in tailor-making unique travel experiences throughout our beautiful country. We’ll take all the work out of your hands and leave you only to look forward to your dream trip.