Monday, September 22, 2014

Iquitos, Manu or Tambopata? What is the best place for an Amazon Tour? - Part 1

You are planning a trip to Peru and you remember some of the must see in the country: the Museums and largest water fountains in Lima, the Nazca Lines in Ica, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in Cusco, the world’s deepest canyons in Arequipa, the Titicaca Lake in Puno and the Amazon rainforest. A lot of information is available on Internet about these destinations, but when you search for the Amazon it can be confusing due there are two options in Peru to start a jungle tour: the Northern Amazon and the Southern Amazon.


NORTHERN AMAZON


Iquitos is the main city in this Peruvian region and the biggest city in world without road access, with around 450,000 inhabitants and the wealth past of the Rubber Boom from 1885 to 1914 is the main city in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and one of the main ports in the Amazon river. Because is a big city pristine jungle areas are inside the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, both offering primary rainforest. Some of the highlights in Iquitos are:

  • Amazon River. The first source of the Amazon River starts in the Quehuisha mountain (Arequipa, Peru) and at Meeting of the Waters of the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers, close to Nauta city and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, around 100 km or 62 mi south Iquitos, the Amazon River takes its name. From Iquitos is easy and cheap to take a boat to navigate for some minutes or hours the longest river in the world. As Machu Picchu, the Amazon River is a must-do in your Peruvian experience. Moreover, the award as a World’s Wonder of Nature is in the Boulevard, a riverwalk located one block from the Main Square (Plaza de Armas) of Iquitos. The Southern Peruvian Amazon is part of the basin with some tributaries, but the real Amazon River does not flow there.
  • Nearby places and tribes. Sights as the Amazon river itself, the Momón river, the Nanay river, the Monkey Island, the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage, the caiman farm, the Manatees Rescue Center, Quistococha Zoo, indigenous tribes (remember nearby tribes as Boras and Yaguas perform a show for tourists, “real” tribes requires more than 10 day expedition), the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve and four museums are some of the places that you may reach alone from 15 minutes to less than two hours per site, saving money using local transportations, without hiring an organized full-day tour or guide. Visiting those will be enough to keep you busy from 3 to 4 days. Perhaps the only requirement is to know some basic Spanish. Note that these places are in the city or secondary jungle with a lot of humans, hence there are not animals in the wild. If your focus is real nature, your require go a little far away from the city (see Tourist services and costs).
  • River cruises. Iquitos is the only river port in Peru to start a river cruise to the Amazon jungle and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. From affordable to luxury, these vessels are floating hotels that organize some excursions to the jungle near the river or stream they stop. Some cruise companies are Selva Viva by Latitud Sur, Delfin and Aqua Expeditions. Reservations in advance is necessary.
  • Tourist services and costs. The main conurbation in the Peruvian Amazon is base of many tour companies and lodges that offer expeditions to the jungle. Costs for most jungle excursions are lower than in Puerto Maldonado, but take note that most of the tour companies and lodges claim to be in pristine jungle but most are located on the banks of the Momón river, Amazon river or nearby places less than one hour by boat from Iquitos, densely populated areas without animals in the wild. Best ecosystems are more than 70 km (43 mi) south the city, onto secondary waterways, inside protected areas like the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Community Reserve or the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Primary jungle areas require more than 3 hours trip from the city, 2 night stay and are more expensive. Besides, Iquitos has a varied offer of accommodations from backpackers to luxury hotels, river cruises, restaurants, museums, banks, ATMs and nightlife offer. Visitors at Iquitos feel as they are in an Asian destination, in part because the unique character of Iquitos (different to any other place in Peru), and the large number of competitors is the reason for being of many aggressive touts and drivers offering mainly low-quality services along streets and the airport in order to claim for a commision from some companies. See some reliable jungle lodges at The 5 Best Jungle Lodges In The Northern Low Peruvian Amazon For Wildlife Lovers.

  • A crossroads city. Iquitos is isolated by land, but it can be reached by air or river from Lima, Tarapoto and Pucallpa in Peru; from Tabatinga (Brazil), Leticia (Colombia) and Panama city. Some airlines offer affordable domestic flights as Peruvian Airlines (www.peruvian.pe), Star Peru (www.starperu.com) and Avianca (www.avianca.com). International flights to Iquitos are operated mainly by LAN (www.lan.com) and Copa Airlines (www.copa.com). Also, after an arduous journey by river is possible to reach Ecuador, and combining with land transportations get some northern and southern Peruvian destinations as Chachapoyas, Chiclayo and Pucallpa.

On October 2nd 2014 we were publishing the Second Part of this article, with information on the Southern Amazon Rainforest and the Summary.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The 5 Best Jungle Lodges In The Northern Low Peruvian Amazon For Wildlife Lovers

Harrier with fish at the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest is the habitat of most of the wildlife in world. Peru, after Brazil, is the country with the second portion of the Amazon basin and is the country where the Amazon river itself begins at the Quehuisha mountain (Arequipa) and takes its name in the meeting of the waters between the Marañón and the Ucayali rivers, near to Nauta, located around 100 km or 62 miles south Iquitos, the main city and port in the Peruvian Amazon. The Peruvian Amazon is isolated so has one of the healthiest jungle habitats in South America. We have picked out five best and favorites ecolodges in Iquitos, located more than 70 km or 43 mi away from the city (primary jungle) to help you to take a good decision for a wildlife-focused trip.


YVY MARA EY LODGE

Yvy Mara Ey Lodge, located in Yarina village inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
Based out in the Yarina village inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, around 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Nauta city; is administered by villagers of Yarina who are committed on the sustainable use and protection of the natural resources of the reserve and were trained and assisted by the Peruvian government and NGOs. Yvy Mara Ey (Kukama Kukamiria language for “The land without harm”) offers confortable cottages surrounded by primary and protected jungle, with electricity provided by solar panels until 10 pm, private bathroom, shower with cold water. Staff is very kind, helpful and knowledgeable about the Amazon flora and fauna because they grew in the Reserve. Rates are all inclusive. Ivy Mara Ey is the first Green Choice accredited lodge in all over Peru, a sustainable tourism certification. Minimum required is 4 days / 3 nights.
Information and rates: reservas@pacaya-samiria.com ; www.pacaya-samiria.com


CURASSOW AMAZON LODGE

Curassow Amazon Lodge is located in the Iquitos' virgin jungle.
To reach is necessary an almost 4-hour speedboat ride along the Amazon River. Surrounded by a lot of lagoons in a wildlife-rich corridor between the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (a RAMSAR site and one of the largest government-protected areas in the Amazon), its location 190 km (85 miles) south Iquitos within protected and virgin rainforest is home of primates, river dolphins, caimans, tropical birds, butterflies, and more; ideal for wildlife enthusiasts. Their comfortable and secluded bungalows (cabins) starts from USD 105 per person per night, with private bathroom, shower and running water 24 hours, kerosene lights line walkways and limited electricity to avoid disturb the nature. Rate includes meals (full-board), transfers and activities led by local guides as canoe trips, jungle treks, camping, birding, piranha fishing and sport fishing. Minimum stays of 2 nights.
Contact them for more informationinfo@curassowlodge.com ; www.curassowlodge.com


EXPLORNAPO LODGE

ExplorNapo Lodge by Explorama is inside their private reserve in the Napo river.
This is one of the lodges operated by Explorama in Iquitos. It is located in a stream of the Napo River in the Sucusari Private Reserve, around 160 km (62 miles) northeast Iquitos, it has a one of the longest canopy walkways in the world with almost 500 meters-long and 40 meters-high, to observe closer birds, primates and spiders. Lodge is rustic but every room has private bathroom and mosquito nets. Also, WiFi is available. Varied and tasteful meals are included. They recommend a 5 day /4 night program. Rates start from USD 550 per person per night.
Further information: amazon@explorama.com ; www.explorama.com


HATUCHAY PACAYA SAMIRIA LODGE

Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge by Hatuchay is located in the buffer zone of the reserve.
Located on the left banks of the Marañón River, within the buffer zone of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve has eight confortable cottages built according to the local architecture with bathroom, shower and water. Most of their staff is descendants of the Kukama Kukamiria indigenous people and offer activities insider the reserve as walking, canoeing, fishing, birdwatching, visiting villages working on protecting natural resources and in October liberating baby taricayas (Podocnemis unifilis) into the river. Hatuchay is helping people of the nearby village of San Jorge in assess their Kukama culture and to be proud of it through their arts and language.
More information: www.hatuchayhotelsperu.com/pacaya-samiria/


...AND TWO OPTIONS IN LAGUNAS VILLAGE

A sloth, one of the species found in primary jungle.

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest government-protected areas in South America with its astonishing density of wildlife. Most of the authorized tour companies are based in Iquitos, but the small village of Lagunas, located on the left bank of the Marañón river opposite the reserve and 4 hours downstream from Yurimaguas city is a good place to start an expedition to this park. In Lagunas is possible to find two small local groups as ESTYPEL and Huayruro Tours that organize trips to pristine areas of the reserve for affordable rates, an option for those adventure and budget travelers in route to Iquitos by boat from Tarapoto and Yurimaguas. There are no banks in Lagunas, take cash in Yurimaguas. Most of the guides are Spanish-speaking. Required a minimum stay of 3 days and 2 nights suggested.
More information: ESTYPEL: www.estypel.com | Huayruro Tours: www.peruvianrainforest.com/en/

What do you think about these options?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Iquitos Hotels and hostels (accommodations)

Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazonia. This city offers more than 185 accommodations from a 5-star hotel to many economical hostels and budget dormitories. We have checked some registered accommodations and we have classified them according their price ranges for a single room as following: 


  • Luxury: Over S/. 180 Soles. 
  • Mid-range: S/. 90 to 180 Soles. 
  • Budget: Under S/. 90 Soles. 
  • Dormitory (shared room): S/. 20 Soles per person. 
These are our favourites, located at walking distance from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square):


LUXURY
 
1. El Dorado Plaza Hotel and Business. Jr. Napo 254-258. Modern looking is opposite the Plaza de Armas. The only 5-star hotel in Iquitos. It has a business centre, restaurant, bar, and pool. Rates are over S/. 550 Soles.

2. Victoria Regia Hotel & Suites. Jr. Ricardo Palma 252. A 3-star hotel with the facilities of a 5-star. This is one of the best options for travellers looking for elegant facilities and an outstanding service. It is located within walking distance the Plaza de Armas, only 4 blocks away. Facilities include restaurant, café, pool, business centre, and more. Around S/. 200 Soles.

3. Samiria Jungle Hotel. Jr. Ricardo Palma 159. Located within walking distance from the Plaza de Armas (4 blocks away), is one of the two newest accommodations (join with Gran Marañón). It has pool, restaurant, and business centre. Around S/. 200 Soles.

4. El Dorado Isabel. Jr. Napo 362. One block from the Plaza de Armas, has pool, wifi, and restaurant. Around S/. 230 Soles.


MID-RANGE
 
1. Emperador Terraza Hotel Iquitos. Jirón Fitzcarrald 191. info@emperadorterraza.comLocated right off the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and one block from the Main Church in Iquitos, this small, charm and elegant hotel is situated close to the city’s famous historic buildings, museums, banks, ATMs, malls, and tourist services. Emperador Terraza features a classical and contemporary design, with 12 rooms with modern amenities including flat screen TV, air conditioner or electric fan, intercom, fitted closet, safe box, and private bathroom with shower. The hotel has 24-hour reception desk, room service, wireless Internet area, Internet PC (WIFI), luggage storage and specialized tourist information. Their staff is friendly, polite, helpful, and reliable; most of them speak pretty good English. They accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners cards. Rates include continental breakfast. Rates from S/. 70 to 140 Soles.

2. Terra Bella
www.terrabellaperu.comJr. Putumayo 442.


3. Casa Morey Hotel Boutique. Jr. Loreto 220. This building is a Historical Monument belonging to the Rubber Era (1879-1914). Was built on 1912, it is located 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas offers very spacious rooms, with a romantic, nineteen-century look. Has a library stocked with books on flora and fauna, and pool. Also, its hall has a collection of stuff of the Rubber Era in the Amazon. Ideal for history lovers. Rates from S/. 150 Soles.

4. Nativa Apartments. Jirón Nanay 144. Located four blocks from the Main Square, has 13 quiet, clean and confortable apartments, with air conditioning, WIFI, hot water, cable TV and kitchenette with microwave, glasses and fridge. Rates from S/. 180 Soles.

5. Gran Marañón. Jr. Loreto 446. Is one of the two newest accommodations (join with Gran Marañón), located only 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. It offers spacious facilities, business centre, wifi, restaurant, and pool. A good relationship between quality and rate.
Rates from S/. 130 Soles.

6. Marañón Hotel. Jr. Nauta 285-289. One block from the Plaza de Armas. Among the facilities are included wifi, restaurant, and pool.
Rates from S/. 100 Soles.

7. Acosta Hotel. Two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this is a small 3-star hotel. A good option if you are looking for some comfortable and reliable place.
Rates from S/.130 Soles.

8. La Casona Hotel. Clean and quiet, this 2-star hotel is half block from the Plaza de Armas. It has a shared kitchenette, courtyard, and a little library.
Rates from S/. 90 Soles.

9. Ambassador. Clean rooms and central location, three blocks from the Plaza de Armas.
Rates from S/. 90 Soles.

10. El Colibrí. A clean and good option at one block from the Plaza de Armas.


BUDGET
 
1. La Pascana.
2. Florentina.


DORMITORY
(S/.20 Soles per person on shared rooms)
 
1. Las Golondrinas. Putumayo block 10. Around 15-minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas, this is the only backpacker that has a pool in Iquitos. Rates from S/. 20 Soles.


To get a complete list of registered accommodations in Iquitos or Peru, please contact iPeru (iperuiquitos@promperu.gob.pe
).

Also, you can get real travellers reviews about lodging and tourist services at www.tripadvisor.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Iquitos Travel Guide: Third part

ORGANIZED TOURS


From Iquitos is possible to explore the Amazon Rainforest on board of cruise ships, lodges and travel agencies. There are many companies operating jungle trips and to nearby attractions, but only a few are registered and reputable. It is strongly advisable to check the tour companies registered in iPerú, Tourist Information and Assistance of PromPerú (Peruvian Tourism Board: iperuiquitos@promperu.gob.pe). Then contact with several registered companies directly in their offices, telephone or website. Always ask for your invoice, a copy of the terms of the service hired (written on the bill or in a separate paper containing what you paid for). Never buy tours from people at the airports parkings (outside the Arrival Lounge) or on the streets, you may be ripped off. Please, avoid and denounce scammers.

Cruises are ships with services and facilities of a luxury hotel: comfortable rooms with air conditioning, panoramic windows, outstanding service and more. Cruises stop at jungle and ribereño villages in a short visit to buy handicrafts or see dances, and at the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (depending on the route), to go into the jungle to see wildlife. Cruise operators offer trips from S/.500 Soles/person/day (US$180). It is advisable to book in advance.


A lodge (albergue) is an accommodation inside the forest with more comfortable facilities than a travel agency. Some lodges have swimming pool, air conditioning or Wi Fi for a price between S/.180 to 350 Soles/person/day (US$60-130) for trips to the jungle, Pacaya Samiria or the canopy walkway.


Finally, travel agencies operate budget trips with basical facilities and prices from S/.120 to 180 Soles/person/day (US$45-60) for the forest or S/.200 to 250 Soles/person/day (US$70-90) for the Pacaya Samiria.


Tourism companies’ rates are often all-inclusive (transfer from the city to the jungle, entrance fees, guide, accommodation, activities, food and equipment).


Only in the case of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, in addition to the above, it is possible to contact with the Local Tourism Groups (Grupos Locales de Turismo-GLT), whose rates are between S/.120 a 200 Soles/person/day (US$43-70). They are people living in small villages in the Reserve, which were trained by Peruvian Government, Spanish International Cooperation Agency and NGOs. There are GLT in every Tourism Use Areas. In the case of choosing a GLT contact them in advance (ask in iPerú their contact information).



DAY TRIPS


Except the Amazon rainforest, many of the sights and attractions in Iquitos and surrounding areas are easy to visit on their own for a day trip, using the local transportation system (mototaxi, bus and bus/taxi boats) to reach them. Some of the sites are included in itineraries of the tourism companies make the day trip easier and offer a bilingual guide. Before perform the following itinerary, check the tour company program acquired:


· Day 1: Amazonian manatee oprhanage; Quistococha, San Juan Handricraft Market and the Historic Centre of Iquitos.


· Day 2: Bellavista-Nanay port and market; Nanay River; Pilpintuwasi; Amazon River; Fundo Pedrito.

· Day 3: Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve (IIAP research centre).

· Day 4: Monkey Island.

· Day 5: Nauta city and surroundings (Sapi Sapi lagoon and the Meeting of the Waters).

· Day 6: The Heronry of Fátima (between December to May, during the high river season or creciente).

· Day 7 and beyond: An organized tour to the jungle (min 2d/1n) or the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (min 3d/2n).


ACCOMMODATION


Most accommodations in Iquitos are located at the downtown (up to 10 blocks around the Plaza de Armas). There is a 5 stars hotel, and several 3, 2 and 1 hotels and hostels, as well as guesthouses. The referential rates of 3 stars hotel are from S/.80 to 300 Soles (US$28-110); 2 y 1 stars hotel from S/.45 to 150 Soles (US$15-50). Hostels from S/.30 to 120 Soles (US$12-45), and guesthouses from S/.25 a 200 Soles (US$9-70). There are many guesthouses that offer dormitories (backpacker rooms, shared by 6 people) from S/.15 to 20 Soles/person (US$5-7).




FOOD AND RESTAURANTS


Iquitos has many Peruvian, Amazon and international restaurants and prices are low compared with the USA or Europe standards. Most of them are concentrated along the Boulevard, Plaza de Armas and surrounding streets. The first blocks of Fitzcarrald, La Condamine, Napo, Nauta and Putumayo streets have several “pollerías” (restaurant whose specialty is pollo a la brasa, or Peruvian chicken), snacks and cafes. Around the Plaza 28 de Julio are many of the most renowned chifas in the city (Chinese-Peruvian food).


From S/.15 to 25 Soles/person is enough to afford a daily budget or mid-range breakfast, lunch and dinner. With S/.35 a 85 Soles/person is for a splurge restaurant.


In the case of the typical food of the Peruvian Amazon, the most representative dishes are the Juane (the best known is made with rice, but there are more varieties such as cassava, egg or fish juane), the Inchicapi (peanut and corn soup), inchicucho (peanut cream), tacacho (mashed green banana with pork), cecina (an Amazon jerky), chorizo (a local sausage), chonta salad (palm salad), grilled macambo (Theobroma bicolor), etc.


There are soft drinks made in aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa), camu camu (Myrciaria dubia), arazá (Eugenia stipitata soraria), cocona (Solanum sessiliflorum), and other Amazon fruits.


It is possible to enjoy a shot of macerated barks-with-honey drinks as the “7 raíces” (7 roots), “21 raíces” (21 roots), “chuchuhuasi”, “clavo huasca”, “RC” (seven roots), “SVSS” and much more. Popular wisdom attributes them different healing and aphrodisiac properties. These drinks are found industrialized in some supermarkets and bars in Iquitos (downtown) or even in Lima. At Pasaje Paquito in Belén market they are found made in the traditional and homelike way (interesting to see the variety and ingredients of these drinks).


It is very important to consider that although available in several markets, food stalls and even restaurants, hunting and sale of exotic meats (turtle, alligator –lagarto- and carne de monte) are forbidden by law because these are endangered species. Help to protect the Amazon wildlife.



NIGHTLIFE


Along the boulevard and surrounding streets of the Plaza de Armas area is the most established nightlife hot spot for tourists in Iquitos, it is full of clubs, bars, cafes, karaoke, and live Latin rock/pop genre clubs.


Centro de Convenciones El Pardo at the Mariscal Cáceres-Paseo de los Héroes Avenue, is another major nightlife destination and draws mainly local crowd but are safe enough for tourists. They offer live show of Peruvian cumbia genre.


The cinema, located just a block from Plaza de Armas (second block of Arica street), screens a range of movies in Spanish and English (subtitled in Spanish). Rates are from S/.4.00 to 8 Soles (US$1.20-2.50), depending the day. At the hall there are arcade game machines.



IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES


Travelers must stamp their admission and exit passport only in the Peruvian immigration office located at the borders, not in the cities located inland Peru, where it is impossible regularize the procedure or pay to do it. If the traveler does not have the admission stamp, the only solution is to return to the border where he/her entered, spend a night abroad and come back to Peru. It is very important, because in case he/she continues his journey across the country without the stamp and is discovered, the police shall order the expulsion of Peru.


At your admission, the immigration officer will interview you, according to this will give you from 1 to 183 days to stay in Peru, and will give you the "Tarjeta Andina de Migraciones" (TAM, the Andean Immigration Card, a complementary immigration document that the traveller have to keep until leave Peru).


All the above procedures are free of charge. If the traveler stays longer than allowed, he/she have to pay US$1 for every extra day in the immigration office at the border line when leaving Peru. Always ask for your invoice or receipt for every payment to a public institution. In case the TAM is lost, the traveler has to obtain a duplicate for less than S/.9 Soles (US$3.20) at the immigration offices in the cities or in the borders. Avoid and denounce scammers.



FREE AND OFFICIAL TOURIST INFORMATION


Contact iPerú, Tourist Information and Assistance, run by PromPerú, the National Tourism Board to their 24-hour line (+51 1) 574-8000 or to iperuiquitos@promperu.gob.pe. Visit the official website www.peru.travel.

Iquitos Travel Guide: Second part

SIGHTS AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

1. Historic Centre of Iquitos. The centre of Iquitos is filled with several buildings built during the Rubber Boom (1889-1914). Once luxury and of European design, they still remain valuable architectural features unique in Peru. Examples are the Iron House (built by Gustave Eiffel), the Main Church, the Pinasco House, the Sargento Lores School, the Morey House, the Cohen House and more. El Malecón Tarapacá and the Boulevard have some historical buildings including the Capilla de la Consolación, the Governor’s House and the old Naval Factory.


2. Bellavista-Nanay port and market. Located 4 km at the north of the Plaza de Armas, to get here it is necessary to take a mototaxi (S/.2.50 Soles one-way, 12 min) or a bus “colectivo” (S/.1.00 Sol one-way, 20 min). It is an open street market full of stalls selling the Peruvian Amazon dishes. A hundred metres from the market is the port, where “peke peke” taxi/bus boats can be taken or a private peke peke or speedboat (or bote rápido, a boat for 8 people) can be rented, towards the Nanay River (Padre Cocha village or the Butterfly farm) or the Amazon River (Barrio Florido village). "Peke peke" is a small motorboat made in wood, thatched roof and with a long-shaft outboard stationary-motor.


3. River Amazon. The longest and mightiest river in the World with 7,062 km (4,388 mi) long from its source in the Apacheta stream, Quehuisha peak (Arequipa, south Peru), more of 5,597 masl (18,363 ft). Sandy coloured water, Amazon takes its name in the Marañón-Ucayali confluence, near to Nauta city, and 100 km (62 mi) south of Iquitos. From Iquitos it is possible take a look or navigate the Amazon from Bellavista Nanay and see the Amazon confluence with the the darkly coloured waters of the Nanay River.


4. Padre Cocha village. Left bank of Nanay River. From Bellavista access is by bus boats (20 min) whose one-way fare is S/.1.50 Soles (Peruvians) and S/.3.00 Soles (foreigners), children S/.0.50 cents. The village is the starting point to visit the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm (15 min walking) and the native yagua and bora, both located on the right banks of the Momón River (30 min walking).


5. Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm and Amazon animal orphanage. (+51 65) 965-932999, Tue-Sun 9am-4pm, admission: S/.10 (Peruvian adult), S/.5 (Peruvian student with card), S/.20 (foreign adult) and S/.10 (foreign student with card), rates include guiding.
www.amazonanimalorphanage.com. From Bellevasita Nanay it is necessary to rent a private boat (peke peke or rápido, from Los Delfines Boats Association for S/.40 Soles round-trip, for 4-5 people) to go directly to this place, or take a bus boat to Padre Cocha village and from here to walk 15 min or take a mototaxi ride (S/.3 Soles one-way, 5 min). The sandy path, easy to walk, is signed and well maintained. Pilpintuwasi has between 20 to 25 Amazon butterfly species, throughout its life cycle. Also it is a center for rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife as monkeys, sloths (Bradypus spp.), a jaguar (Panthera onca), ground turtle motelo (Geochelone denticulata) and river turtles charapa (Podocnemis expansa) and taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis), spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus), amazon manatee (Trichechus inunguis), parrots, and more.

6. Bora people, Maloca # 3 (river Momón). Mon-Sun 9am-2pm, admission: S/.20 Soles/person to watch their show. From Bellavista it is necessary to rent a private boat (S/.40-50 Soles round-trip, peke peke or rápido boat, 4-5 people, preferably belonging to Los Delfines Boat Association) to go directly to the maloca 
(longhouse) # 3, or take a bus boat to Padre Cocha village and from here take a mototaxi (S/.5-7 Soles one-way, 10 min). They are assimilated and live according to modern western customs, performing a show for visitors with dances from their original culture. They will invite the visitor to dance with them and to buy their handicrafts. In the case of the Bora, it is strongly recommended visit the maloca N° 3 (the farest from Padre Cocha), because N° 1 and 2 are very insistent with visitors and have a poor show due they work on the commission system with Bellavista's boats. The Maloca # 3, chief (Apu) is don Rafael Flores Necoy.

7. Fundo Pedrito (also known as the alligator and paiche farm), Barrio Florido village-Amazon River. Mon-Sun 9am-4pm, admission: S/.5 Soles (includes fish). From Bellavista, access to the village is by bus boat (S/.3 Soles/person one-way, 45 min downstream and 90 min upstream) or private boat (S/.80-120 Soles round-trip, peke peke or rápido boat, 4-5 people, Los Delfines Boats Association). From Barrio Florido, walk for 2 min to the Fundo Pedrito. It houses 3 lagoons surronded by a green landscape. These lagoons houses the Victoria amazónica, the largest lilypad in the world; spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus), piranhas (Serrasalmus sp.), and paiches (Arapaima gigas), the largest fish in Amazonia and one of the largest in the world (2.5 m long and up 250 kg). It is possible to feed the animals.


8. The Heronry of Fátima Reserved area (El Garzal). Santa María de Fátima village-Amazon River, Mon-Sun 8am-12pm, admission: S/.20 Soles/person. From Mercado de Productores, accesss to the village is by bus boat (S/.13/person one-way, 40 min downstream and 50 min upstream) or from Bellavista by private boat (S/.80-100 Soles double way ticket, peke peke or speedboat for 4-5 people). From Santa María de Fátima village, walk for 30- 40 min, and then take a 10-minutes canoe ride to the camouflaged viewpoints where birds are watched. This is a bird colony where many species of local and migratory herons nest. It is possible to see the Chestnut-bellied Heron (Agamia agami), one of the world’s most beautiful herons, the Boat-billed Heron or huapapa (Cochlearius cochlearius) that displays a punk-style crest during a courtship dancing, and the Black-crowned Night Heron or huaco común (Nycticorax nycticorax), as well as their nests and courtship displays. Early in the year it is possible to see the hoatzin or shansho (Opisthocomus hoazin). The high river season or creciente (December to May) is the season for visits.


9. The Monkey Island. River Amazon, Mon-Sun 8am-4pm, admission: S/.20 Soles, 
http://www.laisladelosmonosperu.com/. An island 30 km or 18.65 mi downstream Iquitos in the middle of the river Amazon, where live free 40 primates of 13 species. Also is possible to see and heard local birds as parrots. They have available a volunteer program. To get here is necessary to call first to the Monkey Island representative (they will arrange a boat for you in Varadero), then take a bus speedboat from Productores port (S/.15 Soles/person one-way, 40 min) to Varadero de Mazán. At Varadero, a private peke peke boat will be waiting to cross the river to the Island (they will ask for around S/.25 Soles for all the boat and waiting). Also, it is possible to rent a private boat in Bellavista (S/.250 Soles a speedboat or S/.150 Soles a peke peke, both round-trip, up to 8 people, Los Delfines Boat Association). It is recommeded to rent a speedboat because takes 1 h to get and 2 h to return, peke peke takes twice. To save money, rent a boat is suggested for groups from 4 to 8 people.

10. Amazonian manatee orphanage (Centro de Rescate Amazónico-CRA). Km 4.5 Iquitos-Nauta highway, (+51 65) 965-834685, Mon-Sun 9am-12:30pm and 2pm-5pm, free admission (only show your ID),
www.acobia-dwazoo.org; manati-peru@hotmail.com. Located 1h20min from Plaza de Armas by bus (S/.1 Sol/person one-way, Line N°49, Pickup/dropoff at Putumayo/Arica St corner, Plaza de Armas) or 45 min by mototaxi (S/.10-12 Soles/vehicle one-way). CRA is a non-lucrative organization that rescues and rehabilitates river mammals as the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), pink and gray dolphins (Inia geoffrensis and Sotalia fluviatilis). It is supported by the Dallas World Aquarium (USA). DWA donate milk and special food for these species, in care of biologists and volunteers. Visitors may touch and feed the manatees. They also have educational programs for local communities and schools about the importance of the preservation of the ecosystem. Also, workers will be the visitor’s guide free of charge. CRA sells some souvenirs (from US$3) and accepts donations to fundraise.

11. Quistococha Complex (Complejo Turístico de Quistococha). km 6.5 Iquitos-Nauta highway, Mon-Sun 8:30am-5:30pm, admission: S/.3 Soles (adult) and S/.1 Sol (children). The main Zoo in Iquitos with around 70 wildlife species rescued from farms and hunters. Also Quistococha has a serpentarium, a botanical garden, a natural lagoon with darkly coloured waters where paddle (S/.5 Soles/hour) and pedalo (S/.10 Soles/hour) boats are rented, a white sand beach with calm waters, typical restaurants (dishes from S/.5 Soles), a beach soccer/volleyball field, and 12 Amazon myths and legends (in Spanish and English). 2 km from Quistococha is the Amazonian manatee orphanage-CRA; transportation from the city downtown is the same. From CRA to Quistococha is possible to walk (1 hour) or take a mototaxi (S/.3-4 Soles one-way, 7 min). Some of the cages are small, but regardless, Quistococha is a better place than a market or a villager's house. Quistococha is an official place with veterinarians and specialist that take care of the animals.


12. Santa Clara and Santo Tomas beaches. Located at nearby villages, south west of Iquitos, they offer white sand beaches. Santa Clara is a nice river beach ideal during low river season and Santo Tomas is ideal in high river season.


13. Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve (IIAP research centre). (+51 65) 26-5515 and 25-7733, km 26.8 Iquitos-Nauta highway, Mon-Sun 8am-2pm, admission: S/.8.73 Soles (Peruvian adult), S/.5.45 Soles (Peruvian Children), S/.21.82 Soles (foreign adult), S/. 16.36 Soles (foreign student with ID), accommodation S/.32.72 Soles or S/.16.36 student with ID, admission includes guided tour (first group 8am, second group: 10am). Supported by the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute-IIAP, is necessary to call in advance for groups of 2 or more people or if it is considered to spend a night here. Take a bus to Nauta city (Trans del Sur SAC, S/.3 Soles/person one-way, 1 h, at Próspero/Libertad St corner, Belén district). A former Finnish Amazon research centre, this natural area protects an uncommon ecosystem in the whole South American Amazon rainforest: white sand forests (known as varillales). Specialized flora and fauna grows here, with high rates of endemic species. It houses of 535 bird species and 23 of them are endemic as the Iquitos Gardnatcher (Polioptila clementsi) the symbol of the city. As well, it has the world record in tree species per hectare and a great variety of insects. Moreover, there are ecological treks, an amphibians’ farm, and medicinal and fruit plants gardens. There is a lodge to spend a night. Is suggested to bring water to drink and food.


14. Nauta City. 30,000 inhab, 105 km (65 mi) south of Iquitos. Take a bus (Trans del Sur SAC, S/.8 Soles/person one-way, 2 h, at Próspero/Libertad St corner, Belén district) or taxi colectivo (S/.10.00 Soles/person one-way, 1h30 at jirón Aguirre 14th block, next to Sachachorro mall). Within Nauta city is the Sapi Sapi lagoon, with river turtles, paiches and Amazon fish. The Botanical Garden (Vivero Municipal), 15 min from Plaza Centerario (the main square of Nauta) by mototaxi (S/.3.00, one-way, 7 min) is one of the largest botanical gardens in Loreto. Nauta is a basic city, it has accommodations, restaurants (do not expect English speaker staff) and hospitals, but not banks (only the public Banco de la Nación) or ATM.


15. The Meeting of the Waters. 30 km from Nauta is the Marañón-Ucayali confluence to form the Amazon River proper. Here the river takes its name and both flow side by side, the black coloured Marañón with the mud coloured Ucayali for a few km. To reach the confluence there are bus boats and costs S/.5 to 10 Soles/person one-way, but it will stop in every village they have passengers. Most recommendable is to rent a speedboat (S/.200-250 Soles round-trip, 45 min downstream and 90 min upstream, 5 to 10 people), or a peke peke (S/.80-100 Soles round-trip, 90 min downstream and 180 min upstream, around 5-10 people). Facing the meeting of the Waters is Grau village with its lookout (S/.10 Soles, 35 m or 114.8 ft tall) that is not well maintained.


16. Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (RNPS). The largest reserve in Peru and the largest within the whole South American floodable Amazon (várzea) with 2’080,000 ha (20,800 sq km or 8,031 sq mi) and a RAMSAR site since 1986. To visit the RNPS is usually required at least 3 days but is recomended to spend 5 days (in rainy season: December-May) or 7 days (dry season: June-November). RNPS has a volunteer ranger program to serve between 45 to 90 days. RNPS is the habitat of endangered species of amphibians, river turtles, fish, birds and mammals. Some inhabitants of these forests are the pink and gray dolphins, the giant otter (Ptneura brasiliensis); black caiman (Melanosuchus niger); the spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus); the Amazon manatee or see cow (Trichechus inunguis); the sloth (Bradypus spp.), monkeys, birds as the exotic hoatzín or shansho (Opisthocomus hoazin), as well as the flora like the aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa), irapay (Lepidocaryum gracile Martius), and more.

Iquitos Travel Guide: First part

GENERAL INFORMATION 

City: Iquitos.
Province: Maynas.
Region (State): Loreto.
Population: 406,340 (2007 census).
Calling code: (+65).
Elevation: 106 masl (348 ft).
Coordinates: LAT 3°45’0’’ S LON 73°15’0’’ W.
Climate: Tropical rainforest (hot, very humid and rainy throughout the year).


GETTING TO IQUITOS

By air

Iquitos is 1:40 hours from Lima. It has around 8 flights daily to Lima as well as one daily flight to Tarapoto and Pucallpa (by Star Perú). Airlines from/to Iquitos are:

  • Lan Perú (T. (+51 1) 213-8200 (24 hours) | www.lan.com),
  • Peruvian Airlines (T. (+51 1) 716-6000 (24 hours) | Iquitos: (+51 65) 23-1074 y 23-2673 | www.peruvianairlines.pe),
  • Star Perú (T. (+51 1) 705-9000 (24 hours) | Iquitos: (+51 65) 23-6208 | www.starperu.com).
Check fares and promotions for non-Peruvians and penalties for changing flight dates with all the airlines. Book in advance when possible.

By land and river
Regarding river access, Iquitos has motonaves or lanchas (slow boats, cargo and passengers) to Yurimaguas, Pucallpa, Pantoja (border with Ecuador) and Santa Rosa (Tres Fronteras, a tripoint of Perú, Brasil and Colombia). In the case of Tres Fronteras, there are speedboats and flights of the Peruvian Air Force (planes usually land at Caballo Cocha village, 2 hours in speedboat from Santa Rosa). Motonaves (slow boats) are affordable, although not very comfortable and punctual.

There are four frecuent routes to get to Iquitos by land and/or river:

ROUTE 1
Land: Lima – Chiclayo – Tarapoto – Yurimaguas (around 18 h). River: Yurimaguas – Iquitos (3 days).

ROUTE 2
Land: Lima – Pucallpa (around 20 h). River: Pucallpa – Iquitos (5-day boat).

ROUTE 3
Land: Ecuador: Guayaquil - Loja - Perú: San Ignacio - Jaén - Bagua Grande - Tarapoto - Yurimaguas. River: Yurimaguas – Iquitos (3-day boat). 

ROUTE 4
River: Ecuador: Francisco de Orellana village (aka Coca) - Nuevo Rocafuerte - Perú: Pantoja - Iquitos (6-day boat).


Also, from Iquitos is possible to reach the mouth of the river Amazon in the Brazilian Atlantic Ocean:

1. Iquitos – Santa Rosa (Slow boat: 3 days. Speedboat: 9 h. Hydroplane: 1 h to Caballo Cocha and next 2 h by speedboat).

2. Santa Rosa – Tabatinga/Leticia (“peke peke” boat: 10 min).

3. Tabatinga – Manaos (Slow boat: 4 days. Speedboat: 36 h. Plane: 2 h).

4. Manaos – Belém (Slow boat: 4-5 days. Plane: 2 h).

The slow boat's (Motonave or lancha as locals call it) tickets have to be purchased the day of the departure, on the vessel. In the case of speedboats and hydroplanes, tickets have to be purchased 1 day before in their offices in the city. Peruvian vessels only go up to Santa Rosa (on the triborder).


TRAVEL SEASON AND EQUIPMENT

Due the tropical rainforest climate temperature, humidity, and rains remain relatively constant throughout the year and have mean temperatures above 23°C (73.4°F).

There are two seasons in the South American Amazon basin: the low river season, Amazon summer or vaciante (June to November), and the high river season, Amazon winter or creciente (December to May).

During the vaciante, many canals, streams and rivers dry out, so the trips by boats are longer but fishing is much easier and waters leave behind fertile silt and moisture, where villagers plant rice mainly, but also beans and some vegetables.


During the creciente, rivers rise several meters, lowlands become flooded (water-covered forests are ecosystems known as várzea or tahuampa), and the rivers and jungle combine to form breathtaking landscapes.


The lowest and highest average level of the Amazon River in Iquitos is 106.08 m (348 ft) and 118.6 m (389 ft), respectively. That is, it varies about 12.52 m (41 ft) between the low river and high river season.


There are showers and thunderstorms throughout the year, hence waterproof bags and/or containers will be important to protect things as documents, cameras and, significant articles. Fresh cotton clothes, long sleeves, long pants, mosquito repellent, and a flashlight are necessary too, especially for trekking in the depths of the rainforest. It is also possible to consider bringing a sun block, sunglasses, a lighter, and a pocket knife. A raincoat, a mosquito net and rainboots (wellies) are a good idea but are not essential, because is possible to get them in Iquitos, and tour companies usually include these items in their rates.



HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS


Climate in the Amazon basin is very hot and humid. Pack thin, light-colored, cotton clothing. To avoid mosquito bites (they could carry malaria, dengue or yellow fever) use fresh cotton long sleeve shirts and pants, mosquito net and repellent containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), picaridine or permethrin (to spray on the clothes and mosquito nets). DEET repellents are hard to find in Iquitos.

No vaccination is required or mandatory for Iquitos or the Peruvian Amazon, but it is advisable to take a shot against yellow fever at least 10 days before arriving to the Amazon.