Iquitos, Peru’s bustling jungle capital

Gateway to a vast stretch of the rainforest, Iquitos is the largest city in the Amazon without a road link.

Visitors fly in and then step off into the jungle, with offerings from highly exclusive luxury cruises to lodges serving ayahuasca, the powerful Amazon hallucinogen.

Although it often plays second fiddle to the Andes and Lima, the Amazon is one of Peru’s greatest assets, a vast staggeringly biodiverse region literally brimming with life and adventure, a place everyone should visit at least once. The Peruvian Amazon is twice the size of California, meaning that only Brazil, Congo and Indonesia have more rainforest, and the biggest city in the region is Iquitos, a vibrant economic and social hub as well as the gateway to a vast jungle wilderness, including the famed Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the country’s largest natural protected area, where caimans, jaguars, numerous primate species and macaws, among many other animals, roam freely.

As a centre of the rubber boom of the late 19th and early 20th Century, Iquitos also has some magnificent architecture, with the faded glory of many palacios once built by immensely wealthy rubber barons, providing an atmospheric backdrop to a dynamic modern urban oasis in the jungle, its streets teeming with moto taxis. Those palacios include the famous Iron House, designed by Gustavo Eiffel. The city’s heyday has been well captured in the Werner Herzog classic “Fitzcarraldo”. The movie tells the tale of a wannabe rubber empresario and hopeless fantasist, played by Klaus Kinski, who wants to build an opera house deep in the rainforest. The steamboat on which this movie, regarded by many cinema buffs as an all-time great, was shot is still moored in downtown Iquitos and visitors can tour it to learn both about the film and the rubber boom that turned Iquitos from a remote jungle backwater to one of Latin America’s richest cities.

There are many other things to do in Iquitos, including visiting a butterfly farm and wildlife sanctuary that has rescued all kinds of animals, from jaguars to sloths, and dining at a four-star restaurant moored in the middle of the broad river. The city is also now famous as a centre of the ayahuasca industry, with many lodges offering this hallucinogenic that is reputed to heal mental trauma and offer deep personal insight, although we recommend real caution in considering this option. If you want to learn more about Iquitos, especially its world-class luxury river cruises, nature reserves and other options, just let us know.

To learn more about visiting Iquitos as part of your unique, individually tailored Peru itinerary, contact the Peru Empire Company at or on +51-1-700-5100 or, if you are in the US, 347-713-7030/34.

#Nature #Amazonrainforest

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