As Peru’s premier jungle destination and the gateway to the great Amazon rainforest, there are a plethora of exciting activities to keep an adventurous traveler busy in Iquitos. Whether it be marveling at a floating settlement or delving deep into the Amazon, here are the top 10 things to see and do in the city.
Built towards the end of the 19th century, this historically significant iron residence is a living testament to the wealth amassed during the region’s rubber boom. Said to be the first pre-fabricated house in the Americas, the building was designed in Europe (some believe by Gustav Eiffel), shipped to Peru, and carried through the jungle by hand, piece by piece. Upstairs has a decent restaurant.
Butterfly enthusiasts rejoice, Iquitos has one of the best butterfly farms on the continent. Countless colorful species call this refuge home, made all the better by an informative guide who passionately explains their life cycles and breeding habits. A number of other exotic animals such as a jaguar, manatee, caiman and monkey are also on display.
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm & Amazon Animal Orphanage, Iquitos, Peru +51 65 232665
Those more interested in aquatic wildlife should head straight to the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Center to get to know these graceful endangered species up close and personal. Visitors are encouraged to bottle feed younger manatees who stay in the reserve until they are two years old and are ready to be released into the wild.
Manatee Rescue Center, Iquitos, Peru +51 965 834 685
Iquitos has its own real life monkey island and its every bit as exciting as it sounds. As one would expect, the place is absolutely packed full of monkeys, with nine different species roaming freely throughout the 200 hectare plot. Entry is by donation only, although the cheeky locals expect an additional gift so be sure to bring bananas from Iquitos.
La Isla de Los Monos, Iquitos, Peru +51 65 235887
Ethno-tourists will relish in the chance to visit the indigenous settlement of Yaguas, a short boat ride from town. Traditionally dressed villagers treat tourists to a vibrant song and dance routine and offer a crash course in the finer points of blow dart hunting. Consider purchasing some locally made handicrafts, the perfect Amazon souvenir of which the profits go straight back into the community.
Comunida Nativa Yaguas, Iquitos, Peru
Just south of Iquitos lies the region’s most remarkable settlement, a floating village seemingly untouched by the passage of time. Boat tours take travelers right through the town, passing family homes and public buildings like schools and restaurants. Many opt to visit the Belen market, particularly Pasaje Paquito where all kinds of traditional Amazon medicines are on sale to cure anything from baldness to a broken heart.
Enter a different dimension on an Ayahuasca retreat
An indigenous medicine that has been used in the region for centuries, Ayahuasca has become popular in recent years with westerners seeking spiritual guidance. This potent brew is made from a combination of local roots and sends visitors on a profound psychedelic trip, something definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Due to Iquitos’ notoriously hot days, the city’s main boulevard doesn’t really fill up until it 7 pm or so. With views of the mighty Amazon below, this vibrant thoroughfare is the perfect spot for a sunset drink combined and a spot of people watching.
Check in to a jungle lodge
The best way to truly experience the Amazon is to head well away from the city and immerse yourself deep within this thriving eco-system. There are an overwhelming number of eco-lodges scattered throughout the region, so choosing just one can be a challenge. We recommend a three-day package with Sinchicuy Lodge which works out to be excellent value for money.
Embark on a luxury river cruise
Travelers with a bit of cash to splash should opt for a river cruise, which is by far the most sophisticated way to enjoy the sights of the might Amazon river. Kick back in comfort with unparalleled on board amenities, only leaving such luxury to explore smaller rivers and tributaries on a dugout canoe.
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