As very first stop of our one month-trip through Peru, we spent several days in the jungle. I’m a big nature lover so my boyfriend didn’t need to do much in order to convince me to travel there. There are many options to visit the jungle in South America, but Iquitos is kind of a special place. The city is only reachable by plane or boat, there are no roads leading to this city. It’s completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle.

How to get to Iquitos?

As already mentioned, Iquitos is completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle which makes it impossible to reach it by car. There are only two ways to reach the city. The first way (and less popular way) is by boat. The boat takes several days which makes it more time-consuming. However, I’ve read and heard good things about the boat trip. Concluded, I can’t tell you much about traveling there by boat, but I’m sure that the World Wide Web has something in store for you. Reaching Iquitos by plane departing from Lima takes about 2 to 3 hours. At the airport in Lima, you can find many travel agency stands that sell tickets for about 200 to 300 sol (ir y revuelta). But of course, there’s still the internet if you prefer to plan your tickets ahead. My flight to Iquitos was one of the most beautiful flights in my life… Make sure you get a seat at the window!

Transportation: from the airport to the city center

When you walk out of the airport many people will try to get you in their taxi… DON’T fall for these people. Walk a little bit further and stop a three-wheeler. These mototaxis (or three-wheelers… however you want to call them) are very efficient and cheap. A mototaxi from the airport to the city center is about 8 to 10 soles. The city center of Iquitos is called ‘Plaza de Armas’.

Just outside of the airport: choice enough!

Accommodation: Hostels or hotels

In Iquitos, you can find everything. From the most shitty hostels to a Hitlon hotel. Because I travel on a budget I stayed at the Casa Celestrial Hostel. I’m mentioning the hostel because I was very satisfied with the hostel since it fitted my budget very well. The stay there was smooth and easy, and a very good location as well. The owner spoke both English and Spanish. If you’d like to check other options I can tell you that generally hostels aren’t expensive in Iquitos – 1 night could cost you between 16 to 22 Peruvian Sol per night.

Tourist scams

People on the street try to address you. First, they try to become your friend by asking about your home country and by asking your name. See, that a trick. The owner of our hostel specifically warned us about that. By knowing your information they will contact the next hostel, tour guide or whatever you’re planning on doing or visiting and they’ll claim that he has sent you there. When that happens, the people of the agency or hostel will have to pay that person a commission. Even though they didn’t do shit.

Wifi

Be prepared for a little internet detox. The wifi in Iquitos isn’t as strong as we know it like back home. So, do much of your researching, booking, downloading before you get to the city.

Gateway to the jungle

All tourists who make it to Iquitos are preparing their trip to the jungle. My tip is: don’t book in advance, especially not on the internet. Don’t bite from the first time. The best thing you can do is hear people out, negotiate the price and tell them you contact them later once you’ve decided. There are tons and tons of jungle experiences that are sold in Iquitos. I’ve heard good and bad stories there. I, luckily, had a good experience with our tour. We stayed at a lodge which was very authentic. Our tour guide, Louis, was the owner of the lodge. I cannot express how much I appreciated him. He gave us so many great memories which I am so grateful of. I think I can write a book about him and his stories. If you’d like to know more about my stay or get a contact please contact me in private. I’d gladly provide you his phone number. Ps, post about my stay in the jungle coming soon!

Buy bottled water, don’t drink from the tap

Water on tap in Iquitos is not drinkable. Always buy bottled water. In fact, when I took a shower I felt very weird afterward. Like … not clean.

Try to avoid touristy restaurants and eat street food

The touristy restaurants of Iquitos are much more pricey than the street food places. Also, how much more authentic is it to eat with locals instead of being surrounded by all English speaking people. At night, street food is found generally everywhere.

Ayahuasca

You’ll get the opportunity to do Ayahuasca. When I was there, I got many opportunities too, but I didn’t do it. I can’t tell you much about it but what I can say is … Be careful. If you do decide to do it, then do it with full awareness. Make sure you’re with trustable people and with a clear head. I’ve heard many great things about it and many people recommended it to me. However, I’ve also heard some horror stories. Know that you’ll be puking your organs out, and you’ll be shitting your pants. However, I heard the trip is nice. I heard that people really get to know themselves afterward. Everyone says it’s a medicine, I’d rather call it a drug but I suppose it’s a matter of perception and everyone should decide for themselves what they consider it to be.

What to do in Iquitos?

Monkey Island – La Isla De Los Monos

Isla De Los Monos or Monkey Island is a sanctuary for monkeys owned by a family and opened up to the public. At this rescue center, you won’t see poor animals being locked up in cages that are way too small for them to live. In contrary, you’ll see the monkeys running and playing around in open air. Getting there: So, you should be very careful when navigation to Monkey Island. We tried… At the harbor, we contacted a local driver, made a deal and … finally, he dropped us off somewhere that clearly wasn’t Monkey Island. Concluded; we didn’t get to see the real Isla de Los Monos, but instead saw a mournful ‘rescue center’… It was quite sad and poor looking one which made me doubt if it was a real one. Again, a tourism scam.  The real Isla De Los Monos is located about 45 minutes by speedboat. This is the right information I got from the tourism center: take a speed boat from Puerto de Productores (and not Port Bella Vista – this is the mistake we made). There, look for a boat that goes to Varadero. It’s recommended to call the place when your boat leaves to any of these phone numbers: 065 235887, 965841808 or 987610985. By doing that, they can send a smaller boat to pick you up in Varadero.

Belen Market

The Belen market is characterized as a vibrant and exotic place. You can’t miss this out when in Iquitos! The size of the market is enormous and you won’t believe your eyes when you see what you’ll encounter. It’s recommended to go there with a local guide as it is easy to get lost. However, I think if you think rationally, you’ll be able to find your way back. Also, big tip: be aware of pickpockets. It’s commonly known that tourists at this place are a frequent target.

Puerto Belen

They call Puerto Belen the Venice of Iquitos… Only much more poor. You’ll encounter houses put on poles to stay above the water. It is located at río Itaya, right next to the Belen market. We spent half a day at this location, going around by boat. It’s a sketchy area, but it is worth visiting. I recommend you to go there with local in order to obtain a more local experience. If you’d be interested feel free to contact me and I could provide you the telephone number of a friend we made there. Wear decent shoes or even boots, feet might get dirty. Apologies for the quality of the next video!

Manatee Rescue Center

Ever heard of a Manatee? To me, it is the cutest animal I’ve ever seen. At the Manatee rescue center, you’ll encounter several animals that have been rescued out of several terrible situations, for example out of the hands of local people that keep them (sloths, monkeys, …) as a pet. Of course, there are so much more situations I could sum up. That’s where this team of people comes in. They started out as a rescue center only for manatees and finally grew to what they are now. Visit their website for more information. Getting there: You could reach the place by getting into a mototaxi. The address is Carretera Iquitos – Nauta, km 4,5. You could find it on Maps.me by typing ‘Centro de Rescate Amazonico (CREA)’.