Friday, April 3, 2015

Iquitos, the gateway to the Amazon

Iquitos is a 500,000 inhabitants city located in the North Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Iquitos is surrounded by the Amazon River, Nanay River, Itaya River and the Moronacocha lake.

The city is famous by its Rubber Boom heritage. The Rubber Boom (1886-1914) was the era of wealth for the Peruvian and South American Amazon. It led to great wealth for a few, most of them newcomers from other provinces of Peru, but also foreigners from the United Kingdom, United States, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, etc. Also it led to slavery for indigenous tribes. The effects of the Rubber Boom were substantial. Mainly Iquitos in Peru and Manaus in Brazil grew from small settlements in 1886 to important cities by 1914. Other jungle villages in these countries also grew.

Nowadays, Iquitos has historical buildings in its downtown as the Iron House designed by famous architect Gustav Eiffel, the Former Palace Hotel, Pinasco House, Fernando Lores School, Main Church, among others.

Iquitos is also the most important city in the Peruvian Amazon. Most travelers arrive in Iquitos with the dream to discover the rainforest and its wildlife but basically there are two jungle areas to visit from Iquitos:

  • Surrounding jungle areas (Momón, Amazonas and Nanay Rivers). Most jungle lodges, tour operators and guides offer itineraries to these areas. Places along the rivers near Iquitos has natural landscapes, but because are very close to the main city there are no chance of seeing animals in the wild. That is the reason that programs to these areas include visits to zoos and snake farms to observe animals, also included visit to tourist native tribes as bora and yagua. Most of these places can be visited without an organized tour using available public transports. Required time: From a couple of hours to 2 days.

  • Virgin jungle or primary rainforest (places located more than 80 km or 50 mi south of Iquitos, especially within protected areas). Far from main cities, these places has healthy ecosystems. These places are very rich in biodiversity hence is possible to observe wildlife in their own habitat. Two awesome options are the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (RNPS) and the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Regional Conservation Area (ACRCTT). These reserves are not possible to visit on your own. It is required a formal tour company. Required time: Minimum of 3 days and 2 nights.

Tours in Iquitos are not as cheap as in the rest of Peru. Tours for the surrounding jungle areas are around USD 50, and for protected areas around USD 130, in both cases per person per day.

1 comment:

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