In the middle of the Amazonas, jungle, isolated from roads and highways, is Iquitos, the jungle city. If you want to go there, you must fly or travel by boat, because there are no roads leading to the city (or only one, and only to the neighboring village). However, or simply because of that, tourism is booming in Iquitos. The place is considered an ideal start to travel in the Peruvian Amazon or impressive excursions in the raging Amazon River. Whether backpackers or ecotourists, from here you can embark on a journey of discovery in the jungle.
Iquitos – Bastion against “infidels”?
The settlement was built in the middle of the jungle in 1750. Members of the Jesuit order wanted to build a stronghold against the Indians, who refused to convert to Catholicism. The Indians managed to preserve their identity and their own religion, but when the rubber boom broke out 120 years later, they were still in a very inhuman situation: they were treated like slaves and died of hunger in poverty, while the Europeans (in mostly Spanish) rubber distributors filled the bags.
Many of the sumptuous mansions built by the rich are still standing today, near the Plaza de Armas and on the banks of the river, and can be visited, including the “Casa de hierro” by French architect Gustave Eiffel.
However, Iquitos is still one of the poorest cities in Peru and, of course, it is also trying to make money with everything that is possible.
At first, nature has suffered a lot due to overexploitation and hunting of exotic animals. Today one thinks of oneself and increasingly depends on ecotourism and environmental protection. However, one must -especially as holidaymakers in Peru- take care to avoid the black sheep, which still depend on the memories of animals and the Company.
Attractions in Iquitos
As in most Peruvian cities, life takes place around the Plaza de Armaz. The main square of the city offers a colorful mix of modern houses and ancient splendid villas with extensive mosaics, a church (whose spire is the highest point of the city), a fountain and the typical street vendors. Especially on Sundays at night it fills up with people.
The “Casa de Fierro” or iron house was designed by the famous architect Eiffel. To create the metal plates with which the house was made to Iquitos, thousands of Indians had to take the pieces through the Amazon. Today, the Casa de Fierro houses a restaurant and some small art shops selling locally made souvenirs.
The Barrio de Belen was actually the poor district of the city, but it has become one of the areas with the highest income due to the growing popularity of tourists. The “Venice of the Amazon” consists of stilts on stilts and sloths on the sliding fins of the river. Meanwhile, you can stock up on countless souvenirs or try exotic delights, such as crocodile meat or grilled piranha.
A trip to the butterfly farm
The Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and the Amazon Animal Orphanage are about 20 minutes away by boat and a few steps from Iquitos. Here you can admire not only the colorful butterflies of the Amazon to enter Soles 20, but also visit the rescue station of orphaned animals of the Amazon, jaguars, monkeys, anteaters and the Company. The animals were rescued from the jungle or are animals that have been treated poorly as a tourist attraction and are taken care of here.
Who wants: Volunteers are always welcome here!
Trips to the Amazon
Of course, the main attraction of the region is the powerful jungle, which only hopes to be conquered at the gates of Iquitos. If you want to explore it in all its splendor, you must, however, plan a trip of several days to the heart of the jungle. You can book trips in Iquitos, but you should be careful to do so at an accredited and mostly registered agency. Around the Plaza de Armas there are numerous travel agencies, and here you can say as a general rule: see the commercial facilities well maintained and sellers are friendly and not shameless, it is a good sign. A look at the reviews on the relevant Internet portals can also be useful.
There are numerous trips to the jungle: camping trips or overnight stays in a hostel or hotel, boat trips in the Amazon or at the foot of the Schuster, according to your own requirements. Consequently, of course, prices fluctuate. A day trip to the Amazon, where it starts early in the morning and returns in the evening, costs around $ 50.
How to get to Iquitos and where to stay
Iquitos is 1011 km from the capital of Peru. Since there are no roads here, you can only arrive by plane or boat. The Iquitos airport is located about 7 km outside the city center and several Peruvian airlines serve it several times a day. The flight time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. The airport is also served by Tarapoto (50 minutes flight) and Pucallpa (1 hour flight).
For example, if you want to travel by boat, you can board the boat in Pucallpa. The trip lasts from four to seven days, depending on the boat. Theoretically, one could drive from Iquitos through the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean, but would have to change ships on the border with Brazil.
Iquitos has many 3 or 4 star hotels and some 5 star ones. A good middle class hotel is the Victoria Regia Hotel, where you can book a room for less than 60, – Euro a night. Free Wi-Fi and breakfast, an airport shuttle service and an outdoor pool make the stay comfortable and relaxing.