Hello Travelers! In this blog we will share you the best tips to travel to a destination of an impressive natural beauty in the Amazon of Peru, which can only be reached on the boat or by plane: Iquitos, considered the largest city in the world that does not has a land connection. Owner of an impressive natural beauty, the city of Iquitos houses tourist attractions that will give you unique experiences. So take note of the following recommendations and tips to travel to the City of Iquitos, know the best climate for your trip, and access a budget of hotels near the city.
A Little History of Iquitos:
Iquitos was founded in the 1750s as a Jesuit mission, defending itself from attacks by indigenous tribes that did not want to convert. The small population survived and grew slowly until in the 1870s, it had 1500 inhabitants. Then came the great rubber boom, and by 1880 the population had increased 16 times. For the next 30 years, Iquitos was at once the scene of ostentatious wealth and extreme poverty. The rubber barons became fabulously wealthy, and the rubber tappers (mainly the local tribes and the poor mestizos) suffered virtual slavery and sometimes death due to illness or ill-treatment. Signs of the opulence of those days are seen in some of the mansions and tile walls of Iquitos. In the First World War, the fund fell, that happened in the rubber era, as suddenly as it had started. A British businessman smuggled Brazilian rubber tree seeds, and the plantations were planted in the Malay Peninsula. It was much cheaper and easier to collect the rubber from neat rows of rubber trees from the wild tree plantations that scattered in the Amazon basin. Iquitos suffered the economic decline during the decades following the First World War, supporting as best they could by a combination of logging, agriculture (Brazil nuts, tobacco, bananas and barbasco - a poisonous vine used by indigenous peoples to hunt fish and now they are exported for use in insecticides) and the export of wild animals to zoos. Then, in the 1960s, a second boom revitalized the area. This time, the resource was oil, and its discovery made Iquitos a modern and prosperous city. In recent years, tourism has also played an important role in the economy of the area.
What is the best time to visit Iquitos?
The rainy season begins in the month of December and extends until the month of March. The best time to travel to Iquitos is from April to October, when the weather conditions are a little more stable and the chances of rain decrease. In any case, it must be in mind that the average annual season is 28 ° and that the humidity levels (even in the "dry" season are very high).
How to get to Iquitos?
As we said before, Iquitos can only be reached by air or by water. The routes to follow depend on the starting point. By air; regular domestic flights arrive from Iquitos from Lima, Tarapoto, Pucallpa and connections. From Lima, the flight time is approximately 1 hour. International flights also arrive from Panama. By water; Iquitos has several operational ports although not all are "legal". The commercial port for regional trips is Puerto Masusa, which is located on Av. La Marina, 3 km north of the city center.
What to see and what to do in the city of Iquitos?
The city of Iquitos is the sixth most populated city in Peru. However, although it extends much more than one might suppose, the historic center and most of the things that there are to see are concentrated and easily accessible. Although most people travel here to get to know the Peruvian Amazon, dedicating time to the city is a way to understand its history, and that of the natural environment that surrounds it.Walk through the historic center (and die of heat with the Casa de Fierro): Iquitos, like Manaos and other centers of the Amazon, had its splendor at the beginning of the 19th century during the rubber rush. It is impressive, if you look at it in perspective, to think that such a remote place played such an important role in the world economy. If Iquitos is difficult to access today, you have to imagine what it was like to get here, live here and do business here more than a hundred years ago. Huge houses with mosaics brought from Europe; Italian palaces with luxuries from another continent, and even an iron structure designed by the Eiffel tower itself, whose panels had to be hauled by hundreds of men through the Amazon jungle. Much of all this, which had its moment of glory, still stands today and can be traveled on foot.
The boat museum (and resist the temptation to open the library): Built in 1906 in Hamburg for the transportation of rubber from Iquitos to Europe and the United States, the Ayapúa was restored in 2004 for expeditionary purposes and officially opened as a museum in 2014 from the waters of the Itaya River. In addition to the curiosity involved in visiting a boat with as much history as this, the visit is interesting because of the objects that are stored there is a library with travel guides of the beginning of the century, navigation instruments of the time and even clothing typical, and for the history of the native settlers who suffered this rubber boom.
Stroll along the boardwalk (especially if it's Saturday night):
One of the things that impressed some tourist positively about Iquitos is the nightlife that the city has, especially on weekends. Both in its squares and on the boardwalk, there is a great display of games of chance, street vendors, ladies offering food and families resting from the heat under cover of the night. Maybe you are not one of those who drink beer, but you also thought it will be a very opportune place to get to know this other side of the city and cool off for a while.
Visit the Flower Market (and try some of the potions):
Both the neighborhood of Flores and the market that bears the same name, are very peculiar places within the city. A Flores is known as "The Amazonian Venice" because of its location on the banks of the Itaya River. Within everything there is to browse inside the market, the street known as "the pharmacy of the jungle" is a succession of posts where cures are offered for all ills. Potions with such suggestive names as "Corre que te enchufo" or "Rompecalzón", made with natural herbs and sometimes with alcohol, may not tempt the palate but may appeal to curiosity. If you do not dare, you can take a natural repellent made with oil and Amazonian essences, or make the attempt with the typical tobacco of the area that serves both to clean the body inside. And the house of evil spirits. The recommendation: whatever you do, be responsible travelers. The market offers many crafts and animal foods such as turtles, lizards or even tigrillos that are protected only in the papers; Do not consume any of this, however "tempting" it may seem.
Taste suri (and not die in the attempt):
The Nanay Market is another attraction of Iquitos. And although, again, there are dishes of all kinds (allowed and not so much), it is worth to shop around. Vegetarian readers: this item may not be particularly interesting for you, but know that in the Nanay Market there is also a great variety of Amazonian fruits that you may not see outside of this area. But returning to the suri, we tell you: it is a huge worm that grows on the trunk of the palm tree. Many eat it raw is considered a delicacy but you can also eat fried or spiced, which is how most of people encouraged and taste it.
CREA rescue center:
As its name indicates, it is an institution that is responsible for rescuing species in captivity, or illegal trafficking, or offspring that have been orphaned and then reintroduced. They have different species, but they specialize in manatees, animals that seem to be the most tender and that are very difficult to see in freedom. The entrance costs 20 soles and the center is located 11 kilometers from inside the city. For 8 soles you can arrive by motorbike taxi.
It is a fish hatchery located on the banks of the Amazon River. Although it is not very large, it is a good opportunity to see up close the paiche, the biggest fish in the Amazon, and feed piranhas. The ticket is worth 5 soles, and can be reached by public boat for 3 soles from the Port of Nanay.
Butterfly farm Pilpintuwasi:
The most beautiful visits in the surroundings of Iquitos. Pilpintuwasi is a butterfly garden where other species that have been rescued from captivity or illegal trade also live. Monkeys, young lions, tigrillos and even a tapir, all under the conscious care of Gudrun, an Austrian who fell in love with the Peruvian Amazon and dedicated her life to the founding of this butterfly garden. Why was the trip I liked the most? Because several reasons: first, because in Pilpintuwasi the concept is that the bars protect the animals from us, and not vice versa. Therefore, one spends a good part of the walk walking through tunnels, while the animals move around. Second, because Gudrun is very accessible, then one can do the tour with her, understand first hand what is the problem, the history of each animal, and what to do to contribute. Third, because in my life I had seen such a beautiful project related to butterflies, and in Pilpintuwasi we even had the chance to see more than one being born.
Also on the banks of the Amazon River, this space is dedicated to rescue and "reintroduce" monkeys that have been rescued from captivity. We put it like this, "reintroduce" in quotation marks, because in reality it is impossible for a monkey that has been extracted from the jungle to live again in freedom: families do not accept it and a monkey was born to live in community. However, this project, which has been going on for almost twenty years, began by acquiring the territory and populating it with fruit trees so that the monkeys have something to eat on their own. Once the land was prepared, the island was in charge of preparing the animals for their release, of forming families of rescued monkeys and adapting to live in freedom. Today, there are more than 300 copies that were "reintroduced".Monkey Island is 30 km from the city of Iquitos, and you can get there by sailing the Amazon. The journey costs 5 soles per stretch, and entrance 20.
Pacaya Samira National Reserve:
The most extensive protected flooded forest area in the Amazon is a walk in itself. With an area of 20 800 km², it is the most extensive National Reserve in Peru and the fourth protected area in all of South America, where thousands of species live among mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as native flora. If you want to get in touch with the unspoiled nature, this is the place to do it. The reserve can be visited independently, although the most recommended is to do it in an organized tour of 2 or 3 days with a responsible agency that is in charge of managing the permits and coordinating the activities in the place.
Is it safe to travel by boat through the Peruvian Amazon?
Usually yes, but common sense is what prevails. If you are going to travel alone, always have your personal belongings in sight, do not leave things scattered and try to secure your luggage especially at bedtime. Please take note that the boats make stops and in each port people go up and down, for that reason is recommendable to pay attention. If you travel in a group, tie your backpacks.However, bad thing don't always happen Iquitos is a wonderful city that you can not miss and without danger.This tips are so to prevent some unfortunate events.
How to move in Iquitos?
Iquitos can be traveled on foot very easily, although for longer distances it is convenient to take public transport. Motorcycle taxis are usually the best option, in addition to a typical medium. Negotiate prices before uploading. For visits such as Pilpintuwasi or Fundo Pedrito, public boats leave from the Port of Nanay.
Do not go to Iquitos without ...
- Repellent: It is essential if you do not want to have bites. Try to be one of long duration.
- Sunscreen / cap / sunglasses. Although it is cloudy, they do not hurt.
- Rain poncho or waterproof jacket. Even outside of the rainy season, the weather can change very fast.
- Flashlight (especially if they go to sleep in the jungle).
Curiosities of Iquitos:
- According to studies conducted in 2007 and 2008, it is the longest in the world, leaving the Nile in second place in Africa.
- It supposes near a fifth part of the current fresh water of all the planet.
- The source where it begins is in the Cordillera de los Andes, in Arequipa, Peru.
- The Amazon River carries more water than any other in the world, and is the largest of all.
- It was rediscovered by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana, in the 16th century, although it was after the expedition of the Portuguese Pedro Teixeira that its existence was spread throughout the world.
- The river was named after women warriors called Amazons who, according to a Greek myth, had such courage and a war cry that generated terror to their adversaries.
- Its extension is approximately 6,700 kilometers.
After receiving this great news and knowing that now we have two wonders of the world: Machu Picchu and the Amazon, we are left with the question: What is the charm of the Amazon and what can we visit? We will be brief and we will give you some information about why our Amazon deserves a visit: Peru is the second country in Latin America in which the Amazon occupies a large part of its territory, almost 60% of the country. So, whoever does not know it, does not know half of Peru, that is, it would be half Peruvian. The Peruvian Amazon is the area with the least human presence, which is why it is considered the most virgin territory of the entire Amazon. Thanks to the variety of thermal floors, unique species in the world have been maintained in this area and, together with the other members of the landscape, they make up the most biodiverse place on the planet. The largest and longest river in the world is born and circulates, the Amazon River. And its presence as that of other important rivers in Peruvian territory, make our country a highly fluvial place, proper for the conservation of many species.
Are you thinking of traveling to Iquitos or Peru Jungle?