We have visited or participated in the following attractions or experiences in Iquitos or the surrounding region.
Amazon River – what can you say about the Amazon River except its the world’s greatest river. Its mind boggling to think that it supplies nearly a quarter of all the world’s freshwater! From the Atlantic Ocean in Brasil, vessels make the entire trip up the Amazon River to Iquitos (some 3,600 kilometers of navigable waterway). It can take up to 30 days or longer to cover this distance (a fast journey would be 5 to 6 days). A diversity of ships make this long ‘trek’ including larger cruise ships that normally ply ocean waters.
The Amazon River is very brown looking – one may even see large logs, fully grown banana plants or other organic material floating down the river. The current in places is extremely strong. Alligators and piranha’s live in and among the tributaries of the river.
Numerous small villages near Iquitos are distributed along the banks of the Amazon. For the most part the only transportation between these villages is by boat. Think of the Amazon River as a huge highway which never needs road repairs.
Boras – this tribe of Amazonian Indians live in a village about 20 minutes by fast boat from Iquitos. The village is popular with tourists (especially the male tourists) as men and women will dance traditional dances while topless. The cost, depending on who you talk to is 20-30 soles per person which includes about 10 minutes of actual dancing and then photos with the villagers afterwards.
One of the village headman will talk about their village and customs – and then they will begin to dance. After a few dances, tourists are invited to also dance. When the dancing is finished its OK to take photographs, including with the beautiful topless women. During our visit, we met the village headmen. He told us he travels all over Peru – in part to take part in conferences geared towards the protection of the Amazonian rain forest and the native peoples.
Belen is a small shanty like town 15 minutes walking distance from the main square in Iquitos. Visually this is among as raw a view of abject poverty one will ever see. This community is made up of piece-meal wooden buildings with either thatched or tin sheet roofs. Some of the buildings float on balsa wood, some do not but all are in or around water. Wooden walkways, some raised connect parts of the village. This shanty town revolves around changing water levels of the nearby rivers – and much of the year the only way to get from house to house is to either swim or take a boat. However, during the drier months, water recedes leaving a miserable muddy mess.
One can rent a dugout canoe including a guide to row you around for an hour or so for merely a few soles. Its a good idea to bring a raincoat as there is no overhead protection in the dugout canoe.
A very good fruit and vegetable market is located about 5 minutes from the entrance to Belen. One can find an excellent selection of tropical fruit here. Chances are you will be among the only tourists as it is not a popular destination for travelers. If your Spanish is passable, perhaps you will even hear some of the old ladies say “why are these gringos here, what do they think they will find in a fruit market”!
Yellow Rose of Texas is a bar/restaurant and is a must visit for any traveler to Iquitos. Located just off the Plaza del Armas, the Yellow Rose of Texas, is run by former Texas oil & Gas engineer, Gerald Mayeaux. This place absolutely bleeds with character. Huge Texas sized saddles rotate as seats at the bar. An eclectic variety of dead jungle animals line the walls and ceilings along with hundreds of hanging photos. The food is excellent especially the slow-cooked ribs, smoked for 15 hours and covered in an 18-ingredient home made sauce served with a sizable portion of tasty mash potatoes. Be sure to also try paiche, the worlds best tasting, largest freshwater fish.
An impressive drink list is offered. The dishes are all Texas sized – order a few and eat family style. Gerald, used to be the former commissioner of tourism for the Maynas Province (including Iquitos) and he will offer plenty of information about the region if you ask. Located at Putumayo #180 PHONE – From the USA dial +1 (51) 65 231353 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Remarkably they are still open 24/7.
- Additional contact information:
Gerald and Pamela Mayeaux
Zoo. Only a few minutes from the Boras tribe by boat, this small but excellent zoo offers a great representation of the primary animals found in this part of the Amazon. Admission is 10 soles which includes a private guide for about 25 minutes. He will provide additional insights about each animal.
Visitors will be able to carry a sloth – for most people this will be the first and only time to do this. These animals have large razor sharp claws but are very docile and always sleepy. Also visit the anacondas – despite already 10 feet long, they are still juveniles! An amazing creature which does not seem to have a need for Viagra or other similar type penile enhancement products is a certain species of monkey. This little guy is always erect and the guide will lift him up so that you can see for yourself.
Another highlight is visitors are allowed to hold baby alligators in their hands.
Another highlight in Iquitos is the Iron Building designed by Gustaf Eifel the designer of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. This building somehow looks very raw – perhaps it is all the iron that used in its construction. Also be sure to visit the free small museum located right on the main square in Iquitos. It contains some stuffed jungle animals, local stuffed fish and other information about the natural history of Iquitos and the region.