Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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.

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