Loreto – the green lung of Peru

Loreto – die grüne Lunge von Peru

High in the northeast of Peru, the region of Loreto, which is not only the largest region of Peru, but also the least populated area of the country. Why is that? In a nutshell: in this area, the rainforest is still in charge. The powerful Amazon Rainforest covers the entire region and borders Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. Here, on the banks of the Amazon River, a jungle develops on white sand that has no parallel. The animals and exotic plants, the extraordinary culinary experiences and the relaxed tranquility of its inhabitants make Loreto an almost enchanted fairytale forest.

The capital Iquitos – enclosed in the jungle

Originally founded as a Jesuit mission, today Iquitos is the gateway to the Amazon jungle. And what is special about Iquitos? You can not get to the city by car or bus, because (still) there is no road that leads to the capital of the Loreto region. Iquitos can only be reached by plane or, if you have a lot of time and want to see the incredible scenery from the water, by boat.

Formerly a booming center for rubber cultivation and the trade of raw material requested, tourism today focuses on tourism, because those who want to venture into the wild jungle will begin their journey right here. It is not surprising that one finds a very active nightlife with live music, beer and laughter, but also a variety of accommodation. From the simple hostel for backpackers to luxurious resorts with lush gardens.

The views of Iquitos are “gimmicky” relatively fast: there is the Church of the Holy Mother, the Mother Church in the Plaza de Armas. It is the tallest building in the city (and not very tall), but it is much more beautiful. Also in the main square there is an architectural marvel: the Casa de Hierro, a house built entirely with iron plates, created by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel.

The district of Belen used to be one of the poorest in the city. Today, houses on stilts and houseboats attract visitors every day, who can stock up on all kinds of souvenirs and try the delicious street food here.

Those who want to enter the jungle from Iquitos, get everything they need, from equipment to supplies, guides and clothing. But there is one thing you should consider as a traveler: tourists are one of the main sources of income and, therefore, all try to make “quick suns”. It is well known that money is little related to tourists, and not only in Peru. Therefore one must, especially with tours in the jungle, only to the reputable agencies (it is located around the Plaza de Armas) in turn and in no case in the direction of the street.

And visitors to stores with popular souvenirs should be careful, since you can buy all kinds of animal memories here. But those who try to smuggle products made with animals protected across borders can pay dearly. Here it is: Before buying through the Internet necessary to gather information, if your own memory is safe! All this apart from the fact that one should rely on sustainability and ecotourism instead of looking for memories.

Go to the jungle!

There is not much original jungle in Iquitos today. In a radius of almost 100 km it was cleaned and built here, so you have to drive a little more to increase the real feeling of the rainforest.

If you only have time for a day trip, you should definitely visit Lake Zungarococha. It is near the airport and in the Corrientillo lagoon there are some small fishing restaurants that make the best stews on the other side of the Amazon. On the right bank of the Nanay River, you can take a refreshing swim or try the kayak.

The expeditions to the Amazon begin regularly from Iquitos. Whether you spend the night in a tent or hotel, in search of wild animals or by bicycle through the vegetation, the jungle offers tourists endless possibilities. There is only one thing you should avoid: open without a leader, because once you get lost, it will be difficult to find a way out of the thicket.

The Santa Clara Beach – only open in the dry season

About 12 kilometers from Iquitos is the Santa Clara Beach, which appears only in the dry season from July to November. Then, when the waters of the Nanay River are low enough, the white beaches appear – and so do the visitors. One can spend the beach camping or just spend a leisurely afternoon and by the numerous street vendors is also taken care of the physical well-being.

How to get to Loreto?

The Amazon is one of the most difficult areas to reach in the world. Fortunately, there is a small airport in Iquitos, which is served daily from Lima (flight time of 1 hour and 45 minutes). Also from Tarapoto you can fly to Iquitos (50 minutes). The distance to the capital, Lima, is 1057 kilometers from Iquitos.

If you want to travel on water, you can do it from Pucallapa through the Ucayali river by ferry, or from Yurimaguas through the Huallaga and Marañón rivers with a “Motonav”, a small motorboat.

In the middle of the jungle you will find some first class hotels, which, located in the surroundings, promise comfort and relaxation. One of them is the San Pedro Lodge, which is about two hours from Iquitos. It is located on the Nanay River and has beautiful bungalows overlooking the garden. The night costs between 40 and 80 euros and there is even a free shuttle service to and from the airport.

Region Loreto?

Inhabitants: 1 million
Area: 368851 km²
Capital: Iquitos
Municipalidad