You may know by know that I am quite enamored with the rainforest. Iquitos, Peru is another launching point to the Amazon. The main reason to visit Iquitos is preparation before a jungle excursion and rest afterwards. Iquitos boasts that it is the world’s largest city inaccessible by car.
In order to get to Iquitos you must take a boat or fly. Many backpackers forego Iquitos because of the difficulty of getting there. Other’s turn getting to the remote city into part of the adventure, by taking several day boat trips where they sleep in hammocks to reach the city. I was really interested in going by boat, but after doing research, I ended up flying. It was the more costly option. I chose this only because my timeline was limited this time and I couldn’t spend more than a week in Iquitos. I decided that I didn’t want half that time eaten up just by traveling to get there.
This part of the Amazon is farther North than where I have been in Puerto Maldonado and Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. The rivers are much bigger, as they all feed into the Amazon River. I think this is a pretty cool image from WWF that shows the amazon river system like veins in your body.
And for a little more context:
Iquitos is a busy buzzing city. And when I say buzzing, I do mean buzzing. The whir of motor taxi’s is unmistakable. They are as common as the mosquitos (maybe more so). Don’t expect the same cab fare each time you ride. They seem to make it up on the spot, but the number is typically within a close range.
I enjoyed walking along the river where at night there is live music on the streets, artists selling and creating their work, and people giving street performances in wide variety. Along this street, 1 block from the main Plaza, are also good restaurants. Iquitos has a grit and grime to it that I find fairly typical of hot and humid jungle cities. It is even a bit more rough around the edges because it is bigger. It is not a polished, refined city.
Accommodations and Tour Agency:
I stayed in Golondrinas Hostel and was very pleased. I chose this hostel because:
- It has a full kitchen for guests to use
- It has a swimming pool
- It is a small family run operation (I typically prefer my experience in family run hostel’s, it can be more personal and intimate, and allows opportunity to know locals).
- The owners also operate jungle tours and will arrange everything with you upon arrival.
*The only down side is that this hostel is a schlep from the main plaza and fun by the river.
*If you prefer to stay closer to the action, you can still book Jungle Wolf adventure tours through this family.
*The owner’s were lovely. They were not pushy salespeople, which I appreciated. They waited for us to approach them about visiting the jungle. They own a beautiful lodge and have experience tour guides. Trips are flexible, they will work with you to create the trip you want for as many days as you want. We went for 4 days and 3 nights.
*You may want to note that it takes several hours by car and then by boat to reach the remote destinations in the jungle.
Jungle Wolf Lodge
Animals and Insects
While in the jungle, my guide took us to visit the tiny pueblo, San Miguel, that exists deep in the jungle and far from modern life (Although they were not completely rustic like families I visited in Bolivia – this pueblo had electricity and places to buy gas for the small motor canoes). San Miguel is one street (no cars) with houses on both sides, and a small outdoor church area and soccer field at the end.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the day I walked around holding a baby sloth.
I jokingly told my guide that I expected to see a sloth up close. I said that I wanted a good photo so I could make “Sloth Family” t-shirts for my family. And I complained that whenever I have seen a sloth in the jungle it has been too far away to discern that it’s anything more than a dark blob in a tree.
While visiting San Miguel, the guide surprised me by taking me to the home of his personal friends. This family had stumbled across little LuLu when she was barely a couple weeks old. She was alone, motherless, and too young to sustain life without proper care. So they took her in and nursed her.
The woman of the household could see that I was quite in love with the sloth baby, so she kindly told me I could wander around for the afternoon holding her!
And I must say, a sloth is truly what my life has been missing. She is the perfect pet. All she wants to do is cuddle.
When I walked quickly she got nervous and hid her head, and would tighten her claws on me. When I slowed down she was curious, wanted to look around, and eased her grip.
This is Lupita.
And of course, video of my time in Iquitos and the Jungle!