The magnificent gateway to the Peruvian Amazon is the magical city of Iquitos. It is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road. Yes, exactly as you read it, it can only be reached by boat or plane. The city is a peculiar way to discover our diverse Amazon rainforest. From there you will find numerous tours to different parts of the jungle. And you can also find some very interesting accommodation alternatives. And precisely with the experts from Cusco Peru Travel, we have prepared an article where we thoroughly explain everything you can experience. Therefore, you will have many things to do in Iquitos and your trip will be more than an unusual and extraordinary adventure.
Some wonderful things to do in Iquitos
- Explore the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
- Visit Manatee Rescue Center
- Swim with Pink Dolphins
- Get to know Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage
- Tour the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve
- Try the Canopy walks
- Meet the indigenous tribes: Yaguas and Boras
- Try Amazon foods
- Visit the Port of Belen
- Enjoy the Amazon climate
- Jungle essentials to take into account
Iquitos is not only one of the largest cities inaccessible by land, it is also the gateway to the different Amazon tours. This lively jungle destination, with its abundance of flora and fauna, offers you an interesting list of activities and tours of the Amazon. Next, we will name some destinations of interest within the Amazon jungle.
EXPLORE PACAYA SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
One of the best things to do in Iquitos is an excursion to Pacaya Samiria. It is one of the most important protected areas in Peru, conserving around 1.5% of the country’s total area. This National Reserve is home to abundant biodiversity. There is a record of the presence of a hundred species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and a thousand species of wild plants. The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, rich in wildlife, is captivating. You will see pink river dolphins, giant river otters, jaguars, macaws, various species of monkeys, anaconda snakes, alligators, and Amazonian manatees. Pacaya Samiria is often called “The jungle of mirrors” due to the extraordinary reflections in the water during the high tide season. One of the best ways to visit this place is through our luxury Peru tours. These will travel the reserve in exclusive cruises so that you can enjoy luxury and comfort while traveling to one of the most remote destinations.
VISIT MANATEE RESCUE CENTER
Located at Km 4.5 of the Iquitos-Nauta highway, this center protects the population of the largest mammal in South America, the Amazonian manatee. This species of freshwater manatee lives in the Amazon basin and is sadly hunted for its meat. The Manatee Rescue Center cares for and rehabilitates injured or orphaned manatees (baby manatees remain at the center for up to two years). They take care of them and release them in their natural environment such as the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Also, you can feed a baby manatee as part of this beautiful tour in Iquitos.
SWIM WITH PINK DOLPHINS
A good way to play with them is to dive into the water and they will come close to you. This is a popular activity for young people and adults looking for a unique experience in the Amazon. Being able to swim with the pink dolphins is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in the Peruvian Amazon.
GET TO KNOW PILPINTUWASI BUTTERFLY FARM AND AMAZON ANIMAL ORPHANAGE
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is the perfect place to learn about the life cycle of butterflies. It is a conservation and reproduction reserve for many Amazonian butterflies, including the famous “owl butterfly”. At the same time, this wildlife reserve is home to some animals such as monkeys, alligators, a tapir, and even a majestic jaguar. These animals were rescued by the owner. Therefore, a visit to the charming Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is a must.
TOUR THE ALLPAHUAYO MISHANA RESERVE
Located very close to the city of Iquitos, the small but significant Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve is home to many different ecosystems, such as highly vulnerable white-sand forests and many rare and endangered species such as the Goeldi marmoset and the equatorial saki. But the jewel of the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve is the birds. There are various species of birds such as the Mishana Tyrannulet and the elegant Cotinga. In addition to that, the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve offers you a vast fruit collection. You can find around fifty different amazon fruits… Delicious!
TRY THE CANOPY WALKS
The canopy walk in Iquitos is one of the largest in the world, it is at a height of over 35 meters and extends about 500 meters through the forest. The canopy walk offers you sublime, perfect, and panoramic views of the rainforest. You will witness an unforgettable and captivating beauty. Once you are in the treetops, you will be marveled and absorbed in the amazing biodiversity of the Amazon. You will see and hear different kinds of exotic birds such as macaws, kingfishers, toucans, hummingbirds, and more. There are several interesting things to do in Iquitos but this is probably a dream for passionate nature lovers.
MEET THE INDIGENOUS TRIBES: YAGUA AND BORAS
A visit to the Amazon villages is part of the educational and funny things to do in Iquitos. It will allow you to explore and learn about the traditions and cultures of the Indigenous tribes. Once you trek deeper into the jungle, you will see the Boras performing a traditional dance and the Yaguas will give you some shooting lessons. To contribute to the development and maintenance of the Indigenous tribes, we recommend purchasing some handicrafts such as pottery, paintings, clothing, and more. The Yaguas and Boras are talented artisans. On the other hand, in the last years, Iquitos has become the “Capital of Ayahuasca”. Ayahuasca is a powerful native vine of the Amazon which has been used as a “teacher plant” or as a spiritual medicine by shamans or healers in ceremonies among indigenous communities. It attracts many travelers from all over the world who are interested in healing plants. Ayahuasca is considered a way to expand consciousness and cure physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments.
TRY AMAZON FOODS
If you plan to travel to Iquitos, you cannot miss its unique cuisine. The traditional cuisine of the jungle is varied, exotic, and delicious. There are some popular dishes like:
- Tacacho y Cecina: Tacacho is a green banana puree that is rolled into a ball and then cooked. It is usually accompanied by Cecina, a slice of dehydrated and salted pork.
- Juane: A piece of chicken wrapped in rice and cooked in a sheet.
- Patarashca: Steamed fish dish. The fish is wrapped in a Bijao leaf along with onions, coriander, and tomatoes. The result is extremely tasty.
VISIT THE PORT OF BELEN
Known among travelers as the “Venice of the Peruvian Jungle”, because Belén is a floating neighborhood on the banks of the Itaya River, consisting of wooden cabins built on stilts. You can visit the flooded streets by renting a “peke-peke”, a wooden boat with a palm roof. It would be one of the most pleasant things to do in Iquitos.
ENJOY THE AMAZON CLIMATE
Iquitos weather is very particular, it suffers a phenomenon called “urban heat island”, meaning the heat has difficulty dissolving into the night hours. At the same time, Iquitos has microclimates, for example, sunshine can be present in one area of Iquitos and rain in another. During the summer (high-water season), from November to May, Iquitos is humid and rainy. The Amazon river reaches its highest point. And during the winter (low-water season), from June to December, Iquitos offers sunny and nice days. So, make sure to know the best weather conditions to make your tour comfortable. In the different Amazon facts, we can find that its climate can be divided into three distinct main regions. Its main area is the jungle, high jungle, and low jungle
JUNGLE ESSENTIALS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT
Being able to travel to Iquitos is undoubtedly an extraordinary and wild experience but keep in mind that you must be well prepared. Therefore, we highly recommend bringing the following items:
- Yellow fever vaccine
- Malaria pills
- Insect repellent
- Long, tight-knit, light-colored pants
- Long-sleeved, light-colored cotton shirts
- Waterproof clothing
- Caps or wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses
“DO NOT CALL THE FOREST THAT SHELTERS YOU A JUNGLE.”
In conclusion, the city of Iquitos is an excellent starting point to start experiencing the many Amazonian destinations. You will have unique opportunities to enjoy remote and unique landscapes in Peru. With so many things to do in Iquitos, you cannot miss traveling there. We hope together with the experts from Cusco Peru Travel to have been helpful. If you are looking to find out more about our private and exclusive tours, you can consult with our advisors. They will be happy to help you fulfill the trip of your dreams.