My Travel Guide for a Three-day Tour to Iquitos —What a trip!
Some General Information about Iquitos to Start
Iquitos is in the north-eastern part of Peru, on the bank of the Amazon river, and it is famous for being the main city for every traveller willing to experience the Amazon jungle. Travellers can reach Iquitos by plane and by boat because the indomitable Amazon jungle makes it really hard to maintain a road. The good news is that many flights connect Iquitos with other regions in Peru, so it is not hard to organize a trip that includes Lima, Cusco (and Machu Picchu!) and Iquitos. As for reaching Iquitos by boat, you need to already be in the Peruvian Amazon, like, for example, in Pucallpa.
All in all, Iquitos has a good tourist offer. There are many hotels, hostels, inns and lodges where to stay; and many of them have all-inclusive services, and a swimming pool or some other extra. There are a few river cruises you can take, and many places to sightsee. The city is also known for its intense nightlife, so you will find more than one place where to have fun if you feel like doing so. You should also know that Iquitos is not expensive at all. There are many cheap alternatives for all among you planning to travel on a budget.
My Three-day Trip to Iquitos
I began my trip to Iquitos arriving to the Francisco Secada airport. I arranged an airport pick-up, so once I got to my lodge and rested a little, I was ready to start three days of experiences and adventure in the Amazon. I was very, very excited of being in Iquitos. I had dreamt for years with the mysticism of the Amazon jungle, and with seeing animals in their habitats. Although I did not take a jungle tour, I did visit the monkey island and two other wild animal rescue centres during my trip. Of course, let’s not get ahead of myself. I am going to tell you what I did day by day.
Day one: ‘Fundo Pedrito’
‘Fundo Pedrito’ (‘fundo’ means ‘rustic park’ in Spanish) is a conservation park in Iquitos. It hosts many different kinds of animals, most of them in semi-captivity, and some plants too. There, I was able to see the victoria amazonica, the largest aquatic plant in the world. As a matter of fact, it can be up to three metres diameter! I was also able to see (and to feed!) many animals that are native to the Amazon jungle, including piranhas, crocodiles and paiches. Paiches are edible fish and an important part of the Amazon people cuisine, so they raise them in an area of the ‘fundo’. I also learned that adult paiches can be up to three metres long and weigh forty kilos, making them the world’s largest river fish too.
Tickets to ‘Fundo Pedrito’ cost me 5 soles. That is about 1.5 USD. Its tour is short, so you need not to schedule a full day to visit it. A morning or an afternoon is enough.
Day Two: Momon River Reptile Park and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm
On my second day in Iquitos, I visited other two rescue centres: the Momon River Reptile Park (in Spanish, the ‘Serpentario’), and the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm (in Spanish, the ‘Mariposario’). The former is known for being a shelter of animals that were rescued from the illegal traffic of species, and the latter is known for being a place where they farm butterflies. Both are nice places, and you enjoy the visit.
At the reptile park, I was able to see boas, ocelots, sloths and many different kinds of birds that are common in the Amazon jungle. There, you can hug a sloth and, if you are brave enough, also an anaconda. I did both and I must admit it was incredible! At the butterfly farm, I could see more birds, like a toucan, and some mammals, such as leopards and tapirs, and, of course, a lot of butterflies. They also show you how they farm them.
The ticket to the reptile park cost me 20 soles. That’s about 6.5 USD. The ticket to the butterfly park cost me 10 soles (because I am Peruvian), but they have a different price for foreigners. Both places are kind of apart from one another, so I suggest visiting one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. There are many boat-taxis than can take you for just a few soles. Again, visiting Iquitos city is not expensive, and the boat excursions are another nice experience on its own.
Day Three: Monkey Island
I left the best for the end. On my third day I went to another rescue centre called ‘La isla de los monos’ (or ‘Monkey Island’ in English). I knew everything was going to be great that day. Do you want to know why? Because the trip to Monkey Island is about an hour long from my lodge, and the guide told me that, if we were lucky, we would be able to see Amazon river dolphins. And I saw them!
At the island, you can spend a good while interacting with different kinds of moneys. They are not caged. They wander freely in the island. Some are curious and they approach you. One of them even climbed me so I could give him a walk. I was told there are about seven different species of monkeys living in the island. Among them, I remember the howler monkey, the callicebus, the lion monkey, the spider monkey and the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, which was not only the one I liked most, but it is the only one in the island that lives exclusively in Peru. Needless to say, the island is not just inhabited by monkeys and some humans. There are many birds too, including macaws and parrots. I even saw a sloth with its offspring. That was unforgettable.
The ticket for the monkey island cost me 20 soles, about 6.5 USD. I recall children pay half.
What I liked most about travelling to Iquitos is that it is something you can do alone or with your family. If you ever visit Iquitos with children, rest assured the experience will be a full adventure for them. After all, they will be able to interact directly with animals, something they cannot do in a zoo. There is plenty to see and do in Iquitos for everybody, and the food is tasty.
The prices that appear per day are referential and correspond to the sum of activities that were made that day
I arrived to Iquitos and, after an airport pick-up, I got to my lodge. The lodge was nice and cosy, and it was in the middle of the Amazon jungle. I rested a bit for the rest of the morning, and then I headed to Bellavista harbour, where I went together with a group along the Amazon river. After lunch, I went to ‘Fundo Pedrito’. The trip lasted almost an hour. There, I fed piranhas, crocodiles, paiche fish and a few other animals. I was also able to see the victoria amazonica. After that, I got back to my lodge.
I went to the Momon River Reptile Park in the morning. There, I was able to see and interact with several Amazon animals, including anacondas, crocodiles and a sloth. In the afternoon, I went to Pilpintuwasique Butterfly Park. That is in Padre Cocha town. In the Butterfly Park I learned how they farmed butterflies and some other animals from the Amazon river basin that live in captivity there. Those animals include tapirs, a jaguar, toucans and monkeys.
I went to ‘Puerto de Productores’, where I took a boat to Monkey Island. The trip lasted for about an hour and a half, and I was able to see the Amazon river dolphins. They are an endangered species, so it was a privilege! Once in the island, I saw how they are loose in the island, making it fun to interact with them. You can feed them, play with them and one or two will even ask you to carry them. After having lunch, I decided to relax the rest of the afternoon in the hotel’s swimming pool. I had to get back the next morning, after all.
The lodging that is shown in the list of each night is recommended by the traveler, you can find more similar options. The cost is per person in a double bed room.
The prices that appear by transport are referential and correspond to what the traveler paid at that moment
|Type of transport
I will start by saying that it is easy to get there. Lots of travel agencies offer you tours to Iquitos, and you can get fast by plane. If you are already in the Peruvian Amazon, then going by boat is an option too.
Iquitos has a very hot weather, so make sure to take comfortable clothes. I suggest light trousers and long-sleeved t-shirts so you can resist the heat and… more importantly… prevent mosquito attacks! In the Peruvian Amazon, a repellent is a must.
There are dozens of places where to stay in Iquitos —hotels, hostels, lodges and inns. Many of them offer rooms with all meals included. I recommend staying not too apart from the centre of Iquitos so you will not be too far away from the main attractions. Some accommodations that are too far away from everything, and they could delay you from living the experiences you want to enjoy if you spent the night there. Of course, choose what suits you best.
The lodge I stayed in offered several extra activities such as birdwatching, fishing, going to a jungle tour or visiting a native community. Ask about extras like those before you choose where to stay. If you have time, do them too, yet I suggest prioritizing the activities I mentioned here because they are both interesting and fun.
All in all, Iquitos is an inexpensive city.
Do not forget to try its cuisine: the famous cecina, tacacho or paiche. There are several good restaurants in Iquitos. I suggest having lunch at Bufeo Colorado , because it is a floating restaurant, or at Pizzeria Antica, near Iquitos main square.
Iquitos is very rainy, so the best time to travel there could be between May and October. Rains decrease and rivers are less torrential.
As lodges are often away from the city, it is best to eat there. Some of them have a ‘menu’, that is, ready-made lunches from which you choose an entrée and a main course. Others have an all-inclusive system. I opted not to take one of those (just the breakfast) because I wanted to have the flexibility of eating in other places.
The hotel cost does not necessarily include an airport pick-up, but you can arrange it as an extra.
Hotel staff can help you get the boat-taxis you need to move. They usually come with a guide. Do not forget to bargain! It is usual in Iquitos.
In all boat-taxis the cost is per person.
Keep in mind that there is not Internet at the hotel and that there is not electricity all around the clock in Iquitos. Electricity is available for a while in the mornings and at night. If you want Internet, make sure to buy a SIM card with enough reach in the area. I suggest Claro.
There are two times to visit the monkey island, at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m. Both depart from ‘Puerto de productores’ in Iquitos. You can also arrange to being picked-up from your lodge. The guide I met was Hugo, and his phone number is +51 918 785 471.