Iquitos Travel Guide: The heart of the Peruvian Amazon forest
Iquitos, the exceptional “capital of the Peruvian Amazon” is located in the department of Loreto and is the largest city of the Amazon region in Peru. Peru by Bus brings you a short guide to this city.
Iquitos: the gateway to the jungle
In the heart of the Amazon Iquitos rises between the Nanay, Itaya and Amazon rivers and is considered one of the most important ports on the Amazon River. The city is the heir of the “Rubber Era” and its old town still conserves buildings of important historical-architectural value, unique in its style, as well as ethnographic and historical museums.
Iquitos is well known for its warm climate and cheerful people. “Charapas”, as people from the Amazon are called, are very open to conversation and are known for throwing wild parties. That’s why many tourists seek out Iquitos for vacations: you just won’t find a city with a better nightlife!
How to arrive to Iquitos
Iquitos can only be reached by air or by water:
- By air: Regular domestic flights arrive from Iquitos from Lima and other cities. From Lima, the flight time is approximately 1 hour.
- By water: You can reach the city from Pucallpa and Yurimaguas. The commercial port of Iquitos for regional trips is Puerto Masusa. You need to go to Av. La Marina, 3 km north of the city center. Remember: river transport is significantly slower, so be prepared if you opt for this route.
What is the best time to visit Iquitos
The rainy season begins in the month of December and extends until the month of March. Best time to travel is from April to October, when the weather conditions are a little more stable and the chances of rain decrease.
Iquitos enjoys a humid tropical climate (hot and rainy) throughout the year. The average minimum temperature is 21 °C and the maximum temperature is 38 °C plus the humidity that gives the sensation of more heat.
- On the pier and throughout the historic center of Iquitos there are dozens of restaurants and bars where you can eat local dishes such as tamales as well as international food.
- “Mototaxies”, a motorized tricycle for the transport of passengers with a very economic fare, are the most used transportation method in the city.
- The ideal time to stay is 5 or 6 days to enjoy the city and spend time with the attractions in its surroundings, such as rescue centers, or venture to the heart of the Amazon in areas where you can see animals in their natural habitat.
Touristic attractions of Iquitos
1. Museum of Amazonian Indigenous Cultures
One of the best ways to learn about the indigenous cultures of the Amazon is a brief step through this museum. It shows how the Amazon people and their culture interact with animals, plants, forests, rivers and lakes in the Amazon. You will find from feather arts, ceremonial objects, musical instruments, utensils used in hunting and fishing and much more. Located at Malecón Tarapacá 332, the entry price is 15 soles.
2. Amazon Rescue Center (CREA)
This center rescues the manatee offspring that have been captured for illegal trade as pets, and tries to rehabilitate them. They also rescue other species such as pink dolphins, anteaters and sloths. It is located 11,5 km from the center of Iquitos and you can get there by mototaxi for about 10 soles, or by public bus for 1 sol. The entry price is 20 soles.
3. Fundo Pedrito de Barrio Florido
On a visit to Fundo Pedrito, you can stroll through the zoo of paiches (the largest river fish in the Amazon), alligators and piranhas, as well as see other native animals. The entry price is 5 soles. You can get there in a public boat for 3 soles from the Port of Nanay.
4. Padre Cocha
Located about 20 minutes from the town of Bellavista Nanay by motor boat, on the left bank of the Nanay River. In this site, you can meet the Cocama Cocamilla ethnic group, a village of artisans who are mainly dedicated to pottery. From this point, you can access the bora tribe and the Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm. You can arrive there with a public boat for 4 soles from the Port of Nanay.
This amazing butterfly garden houses a wide variety of butterfly species which also functions as a rescue center for many Amazonian wildlife. It is located by the Nanay River, close to the community of Padre Cocha and takes about 20 minutes by boat from the port of Nanay. Entry price is 20 soles (visits are guided and included in the price).
Quistococha is a lagoon surrounded by a recreational complex of more than 360 hectares of natural forest. In it you will find an artificial beach with white sand where you can swim, take a walk on the lake in rowboats or enjoy the restaurants that are in the area. There is also a zoo and a botanical garden in Quistococha. 30 minutes by mototaxi from the center of Iquitos (between 15 and 20 soles the journey). The entry price is 9 soles.