Peru travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Arriving in AND leaving Iquitos by plane on the same trip is just plain wrong! You absolutely must arrive here OR leave by RIVER! Otherwise you miss so much!
You come to Iquitos for as much of an Amazon experience as you can get, this was my thinking! And the river of course is a major part of a real Amazon and
My Journey to Iquitos
My journey to Iquitos began in the mountains of Peru in the city of Huanuco
, some 763kms south / west. I descended into the Amazon Basin by road
from Huanuco to Tingo Maria
, then to Pucallpa
, then back to Tingo Maria to get north to Tarapoto
on Peru's most dangerous road
. Then north to Yurimaguas
the road ends and the river begins! I did this over 12 days, then made my 4th river journey by ferry
in the Amazon Rainforest to Iquitos from Yurimaguas (2 days and 2 nights).
I'm Here to See Nature
My priority in Iquitos was to see nature, this is the heart of the Amazon and there is much to see! After a couple of days relaxing after the river journey I booked a nights stay in a jungle lodge as part of a tour.
Staying in a Jungle Lodge
With a guide, myself and a couple of other people were taken from the city center to the river and by
boat, firstly to a beautiful animal sanctuary on the rivers edge where there was a sloth and very friendly monkeys running freely around. There was no hurry to
move on so we spent about 40mins here enjoying it. From this point we continued by river to the jungle lodge which was really quite nice indeed!
At the Lodge
The lodge had several
groups of people, small and larger, all at different stages of their tours. We all had lunch together in the dining room. Some people were leaving afterwards,
some had just arrived and some were halfway through a 3 day stay. Before lunch I had been shown to my own private room which I was very surprised and happy to
receive, it had a basic bathroom, 2 beds with mosquito nets and was very comfortable.
Afternoon Walk in the Jungle
The afternoon plan for me would be for my guide and I to go walking along
a path through the jungle to see nature and some more animals. Along the way we passed through a community called Santa Maria de Fatima and about 30mins later
arrived at another animal sanctuary. This time there were macaws, a tucan, an anaconda, more monkeys and a sloth! This was pretty good but then the rain came
down hard, real hard! We waited for a break and made it back to the lodge where later the guests enjoyed the great food that they put out at mealtimes! Relaxing
on a hammock in the evening, charging the camera etc and getting an early nights sleep.
A Real Jungle Walk
In the morning I felt I still hadn't quite seen or experienced what I
had come there for. I wanted to look for insects, birds, interesting plants, flowers, ferns and things like that! My guide who called himself Jungle John said
we would be going on a walk to a very old tree and that we could go the short way or the long way and afterwards we would go and visit an indigenous family. I
thought that sounded fantastic and was keen to walk to the old tree the long way! This was the part I had really been dreaming about, to find and photograph insects
and creatures! I was not disappointed! I found miniature frogs, colorful butterflies, grasshoppers of different varieties and colors (green, brown, yellow, orange,
black, red), a green ladybug with black spots, a furry spider, colored flies and beetles! I also found some jungle plants, mushrooms and flowers too. You have to
look very hard and close to find these creatures in the fauna beside the walking paths but they are there all around you. Jungle John was helpful in spotting them
for me at first, but I got the hang of it after a while!
Tree 150yrs Old / Indigenous Family
We got to the old tree of over 150yrs, then made our way back towards the lodge and the indigenous
family. I presumed it would be something put on for tourists. I don't really get into that so much as I am not new in Peru and am not a tourist! Anyway, I went
to see them with my guide, looked at their crafts, they did a dance, they stood there for photos and then I was supposed to give them money but I don't think I
gave them what they were hoping for. I had lunch back at the lodge and was then taken by river back to Iquitos!
Nature Walking on the Riverfront
I felt pretty good about what I had seen in the
jungle near the lodge but I wanted to do it more. So I made my own nature walk and exploration along the waterfront of Iquitos itself a couple of days later, early
in the morning (6am). This time I found and saw more birds including a jumping bird, a black bird with yellow head, an amazing dark blue bird with red / yellow beak
plus more insects and plants!
Bars and Restaurants
The best part of the city to hangout in is along the waterfront where there are bars
and restaurants, hostels and hotels, a couple of museums including the Historic Boat Museum. Plazas, monuments and statues, Portuguese architecture, the Anaconda
Arts Center and the church at the main plaza nearby.
Views and Belen Market
Views from the waterfront area down to the river are awesome! I didn't visit Belen markets - I didn't want
to see chopped-up turtles and natural medicines made from animals.
Quite Expensive for Peru
I stayed 8 nights in Iquitos including the lodge which was actually more time than I needed to see the
place and do my thing but I was near the end of my trip and this was my holiday in a way. Iquitos is quite expensive compared to the rest of Peru and some of
the locals milk that for even more. You need to bargain a little harder here, don't pay $2 Soles for a chicken roll on the street, the price is $1 Sol OK!!!
Fast Bost to Santa Rosa
From Iquitos I travelled down river by fastboat (9hrs) to Santa Rosa
on the border of Colombia!