Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Iquitos Travel Guide: Second part


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.


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