There are several nearby attractions. The ones described below are only several – they happen to be the ones visited by this author.
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, ocean going vessels can make the entire trip up the Amazon River to Iquitos – these are huge ships. That is the great size and depth of the Amazon river near Iquitos.
The Amazon river can be quite brown looking – you may even see large logs or huge 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.
Near Iquitos there are many small villages scattered along the banks of the Amazon. For the most part the only transportation between these villages is via boat. Think of the Amazon River as a huge highway which never needs road work.
Boras – this is a tribe of Amazonian Indians who have their village about 20 minutes by fast boat from Iquitos. They are popular with the tourists (especially the male tourists) as the men and women will dance traditional dances while topless. The cost is 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 with the topless people. One of the village headmen has traveled all over Peru – in part to take part in conferences for Amazonian rainforest villagers.
Belen is a small shanty like town 15 minutes walking distance from the main square in Iquitos. For the most amazing display of abject poverty and ram shackled homes pieced together visit this town. Belin is made up of piece meal wood buildings with either thatched or tin sheet roofs. Some of the buildings float, some do not and are built on sticks. This town revolves around the changing water levels of the nearby rivers – as much of the year there is water everywhere in this town and the only way to get from house to house is to either swim or take a boat.
You can rent a dugout canoe including someone 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.
There is a very good fruit and vegetable market about 5 minutes from the entrance to Belen. You can find an excellent selection of jungle fruit here. Chances are you will be among the only tourists here as its not a popular destination. If your Spanish is good, perhaps you will even hear some of the old ladies say “why are these gringos here in this market, what do they think they will buy in a fruit market”!
Yellow Rose of Texas is a bar/restaurant and is a must visit for any traveler to Iquitos Peru. 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 adorn the walls and ceilings and hundreds of photos line the walls. The food is tremendous. Never have you had such tasty ribs, smoked for 15 hours and covered in an 18-ingredient home made sauce served with a sizeable very tasty portion of mash potatoes. Be sure to also try the Paiche, the worlds best tasting, largest freshwater fish.
A very large drink list is available for your personal consumption. The portions of the food are all Texas sized – a great way to eat is to order several dishes and share them. Gerald, the owner used to be the former commissioner of tourism for the state that Iquitos is located in, and he will give you very good tourism information if you ask. Located at Putumayo #180 PHONE – From the USA dial 011 (51) 65 231353 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Additional contact information:
Gerald and Pamela Mayeaux
Telephone (51-65) 23-1353 E-mail: email@example.com
Zoo – A few minutes from the Boras tribe by boat is a small but excellent zoo which gives a great representation of the main animals found in this part of the Amazonian rainforest. The cost is 10 soles and you will have a private guide for about 25 minutes. He will take you from animal to animal and will explain about each one. You will be able to carry a sloth – for most people this will be the first and only time to do this. They have very large razor sharp claws but they seem very docile and sleepy. Also visit the Anacondas – they are babies but they are like 10 feet long! 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 you can hold baby alligators in your hands.
A couple of other things to see in Iquitos are the Iron Building designed by Gustaf Eifel the designer of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. This is a raw very “iron” looking building. 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 Iquitos area.