Iquitos is the largest city on earth not reachable by car. The only way to get in and out of this amazon city is by boat or airplane. The city lays directly next to the Amazon river, yet it is more than 3000km away from its ending point. The city grew huge during the rubber boom, thanks to the high amount of rubber trees in that area. One day some smart ass took some rubber tree seeds with him and planted the first rubber trees plantation in more accessible areas, making Iquitos no longer the hotspot for rubber. Nowadays Iquitos is important for tropical Hardwood, oil and tourism.
The city of Iquitos
The city is somehow a bit bizarre. Somehow you feel that you are abounded and far away from the "main land". Yet this is what gives the city its very unique character. While you're in the city (probably waiting to start your amazon trek) you should go check out this Manatee Rescue center, where you can get up close with these very special creatures. They are so chubby and friendly you can feed and touch them. This is also mainly the reason why they are endangered, because they are so easy to hunt. Besides the Manatee rescue center you should also check the local graveyard. It has a unique setting, is quite colorful and has many European sounding names on them. All fellas who came in for the rubber!
Staying in the amazon
Let's face it. This is why you will probably go to Iquitos anyway. The fact you can stay in a lodge in the amazon just tickles every adventures imagination. And i can tell you, it is most definitely worth it !
Please, do not expect any luxury of any kind. Oh wait, there are amazon cruises and luxury lodges too, but don't even think about them if you are not planning on spending less then 1000$ a day. For me, a traveler on a budget, there are plenty of other options. None of them is super cheap, but the experience is unique. What you will witness is unseen. We had the chance to encounter tarantulas, wild monkeys, pink dolphins, a sloth, alligators, bull frogs and even went fishing for Piranhas. One day we choose to go camp somewhere on the banks of the amazon. Away from the lodge, just a tent and our canoe (and guides of course). Best part was we had to hunt (sounds better then fish doesn’t it) our own food. We didn't manage to catch any good fish, so our meal turned up to be Piranhas with rice and bananas. Not the best thing ever, but knowing we caught them bastards ourselves made up for most of it.
Booking an amazon tour
There are many provides and some could be a bit dodgy. Don't buy them of people who sell them in the street. Look up some reviews on TripAdvisor or hear around with other people who travelled the region. We booked our tour at Curuhuinsi Eco Adventure Tours & Expeditions. Our contact, and owner of the company, Gerson Pizango, is a well known guide who knows the whole area like his back pocket. He arranged our pickup at the airport, our stay in a hotel before going to the lodge and the return to the airport. We have not a bad thing to say about his company. Therefore, if you are planning on going there, sent him an email with you dates, requests and all your further questions. He'll be happy to help you out!
here are some of the activities they offer
- Jungle Hikes, Monkies Species and Giant Trees (Ceiba Tree )
- Wildlife ,Butterflies, Insects and Bird Watching, Macaws, Toucans, Hoatzin and Horned Screamer
- Medicinal Plant Knowledge, Including the Traditional Aphrodisiac Drinks, made from the Barks and Root of the Trees, as well as the Ayahuasca Medicine and its Healing Power
- Camping and Expeditions Outside
- Survival and jungle skills
- Spotting / Swimming in the Amazon River with River Dolphins
- Canoeing and Fishing for Piranhas/observation of the Sloths and of the biggest acuatic plant, the water lilies
- Night time Jungle Trips:
- Canoeing, Night Fishing with Spear, Machete and Caiman Spotting
- Hiking on searching for Tarántulas, Scorpions, Snakes and Bullfrog Spotting
- Visit to the Community to meet the Local People to trade some Handicarfts.