Welcome to my guide on Iquitos in the Amazon Basin, Peru. I was born and raised in Lima and studied Economics at the oldest university in the Americas, The National University of San Marcos. From a young age, I travelled with my family in Peru and from there my love of travel was born.
My passion for photography was sparked in 2017 when I visited Machu Picchu. Its landscapes captivated me! I love travelling around Peru and taking adventures in this amazing country. One incredible place that I visited recently was Iquitos. Let me tell you about my experiences there.
Seven Incredible Days in Iquitos
In December, 2019 I set off from Lima on a seven day adventure in Iquitos – three days of which were spent on an excursion through the Amazon Rainforest. The remaining four days were spent outside the Amazon.
It was lovely to immerse myself in the city of Iquitos where I enjoyed the delicious local cuisine and walked through the exotic Belen Market which sells unique delicacies such as crocodile meat, turtle, eel and other animals. This is a fantastic place to base yourself for adventures in the Amazon.
Highlight of my Trip: The Amazon
The highlight of my trip was (of course) having the opportunity to enter the Amazon. I tried to enjoy the Amazon to the fullest. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to wake up in the morning to the sound of thousands of beautiful birds singing. The contact with nature is just extraordinary.
Both the Amazon Rainforest and Amazon River are majestic. As mentioned before, I ventured for three days here on an excursion where we sailed and even swam in the middle of the Amazon River. This place is home to the mystical pink dolphin, piranhas, monkeys, toucans, macaws and snakes.
We also got to see the tallest tree in the Amazon called the Lupuna tree which measures more than 70 metres in height and visited a native community to learn about their customs. Don’t miss the night tour in the forest too! You will see animals that you have never seen before.
Best Things To Do in Iquitos
While Iquitos is a cool town to base yourself in, the main attractions of this area can be found inside the Amazon Rainforest where endless adventures await. The Amazon is an immense place full of history, mystery and beauty. Here are my top six experiences that I recommend for first time visitors:
- Sail along the Amazon River: This is the second largest river in the world and is home to the beautiful pink dolphin, a majestic animal that can only be seen in this part of the world. Make sure you take a dip in the Amazon. It’s one of those bucket-list experiences to tick off!
- Fish for piranhas: The most dangerous fish, but also a delight to see. You have to catch a lot of them or you will run out of lunch. They are like something out of a horror movie but just be careful and you will be fine!
- See the famous Lupuna tree: A massive tree and the largest of its kind in the Amazon Rainforest. It has strong lianas (tree vines) everywhere that you can use to swing from tree to tree like Tarzan.
- Take a night excursion into the Amazon Rainforest: Night time was my favourite time to experience the Amazon as this is when many exotic animals appear. You will be surprised with what you can discover.
- Watch a Colourful Sunrise: It’s one of the most beautiful activities. Be immersed in the sound of thousands of colourful birds singing at sunrise and watch the colours reflect on the Amazon River. Magical!
- Spend time with rescued animals: This was a lovely and unique experience. Some animals have suffered greatly from illegal hunting and selling. You can see rescued monkeys, birds and snakes.
Amazonian Cuisine of Iquitos
From the first day, Iquitos surprises you with its delicious fruits such as aguaje, camu camu and cocona. There are more fruits to try but those were my favourites. In addition, you have to try the famous tacacho con cecina prepared with crushed banana and dried Amazonian pork known as sajino.
A dish which should only be tried by the bravest souls is suri. It’s a yellow worm that feeds on fruit and is a popular food in Iquitos, eaten either live or fried. Would you dare try the suri? This is a unique food experience for sure!
Coming back to more regular cuisine, one restaurant that I recommend everyone try is Embarcadero Restaurante Al Frio y al Fuego. It’s a beautiful restaurant in the middle of the river with fabulous food and sunsets.
Need to Know Before you Go
When it comes to accommodation, I stayed at Iguana Haus and it’s a place I recommend! A very comfortable hotel close to the Iquitos square. The hotel has air-conditioning, hammocks and a swimming pool for you to enjoy. Keep in mind that Iquitos is a hot city with temperatures above 30°C.
Due to the hot climate, it’s advisable to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, mosquito repellent and waterproof clothing just in case it rains. The rain in Iquitos is really abundant. Lastly, I want to stress that Peru is not only Machu Picchu. We have a beautiful country with thousands of wonders.
Iquitos is one of those wonders. Make sure you come to Iquitos with a desire for adventure! You will have the time of your life here both in the city and the Amazon. Last but not least, get to know the locals of Iquitos. They are super friendly and are always willing to help you out. I loved the locals!
Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy your adventures in the Amazon!