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Iquitos

Why visit Iquitos?

The world’s largest city that can't be reached by road is a colourful, fascinating place of contrasts from sophisticated bars, five-star cruise boats and impressive 'rubber baron' mansions to a floating shantytown, tiny three-wheel motorcycle taxis and dugout canoes.

Its prime appeal, of course, is that it is the starting point for any voyage to see the unrivalled wealth and diversity of wildlife of the Amazonian rainforest, including pink dolphins, giant otters, jaguars, tapirs, more than 1000 species of birds, 1200 species of butterflies and no less than 15,000 different flowering plants.

  • Reasons to visit Iquitos include:
    • Venture deep into the rainforest to the 'Mirrored Forest', the five-million acre Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Twice the size of Yellowstone Park, it's home to the endangered pink Amazon dolphin, black caiman and three-toed sloth and to brilliantly-coloured birds and butterflies. Look out also for yellow-headed caracaras, ringed kingfishers, gladiator tree frogs, squirrel monkeys, yellow spotted Amazon river turtles and vibrantly-coloured macaws and, if you're very lucky, you may even spot a jaguar.
    • Stay on an elegant cruise boat, on a voyage of adventure along the Amazon, enjoying stunning, panoramic views of the jungle and river, taking motorboat trips to explore further, or guided walks in the rainforest .
    • Learn about the history and culture of dozens of different Amazonian tribes at the Iquitos Museum of Indigenous Amazon Cultures, or visit the Historical Ships Museum, housed in a 1906 Amazonian riverboat, to learn about the people who made a living from, or lived on, the mighty river.
    • Have an early start and head to the market that sits alongside Belén floating shantytown. This is where the residents of the jungle villages come to sell their wares, and you can try jungle foods such as Amazon worms and fried leafcutter ants. It's truly fascinating, but do keep a tight hold on valuables...
    • Enjoy the diversity of architecture in the city, from the Gustav Eiffel-designed Casa de Fierro (Iron House) and early 20th century Iglesia de San Juan Bautista church to mud huts and wooden stilt houses.

    When to go to Iquitos

    This area is always humid, and there is rain all year round. There is a 'dry’ season, from May to October, but it still rains! It is a little cooler from November to April, and more waterways become navigable as the water levels rise. The Amazon is at its highest point in May and at its lowest in October. For more information about when to travel in Peru, see our When to visit Peru page.

    How to do it

    Iquitos is only accessible by air or boat. There are direct flights from Lima.

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    facts and information

    Time: GMT-5hrs

    Flight time:

    Both KLM and Iberia have flights to Lima via Europe, leaving the UK early in the morning to arrive in Lima in the evening. The flight time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly to Lima via America.

    Language: Spanish and Quechua are the official languages.

    Visas:

    Not required for British travellers (up to 90 days). EC nationals can ask us for further advice.

    Health:

    There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.

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