Surely you have heard of the great Amazon Jungle many times. You have arrived in Peru and you have heard about the enormous biodiversity of the country. Its ecosystems, climates, cuisine and its jungle (or its jungles). And you decided that you’re going to go discover the jungle. But how? From where? What forest are you going to go to? We invite you to experience our trip to the Amazon.
First head to Iquitos, in the heart of the Amazonian forest. It can only be reached by plane or boat but fear not, there are inexpensive flights daily from Lima and regularly from Cusco. The other option is to take a boat from Pucallpa a trip that can take 5 to 7 days depending on the level of the river.
Video TOUR The Amazon River Iquitos – Perú
Exploring the Amazon Forest
The low forest is hot and humid. The average annual temperature is no lower than 24C and the rain can be intense. The low forest is defined by an altitude of 100 to 500 meters above sea level. The geography is a snaking system of rivers lakes and sweeping bogs. The vegetation is thick and casts deep shadows on the forest floor. There are few overland routes as the residents have amuch easier time navigating the river system in boats.
It is necessary to be ready for the intense sun on the river and to bring spray for the bugs, It is also vital to get vaccinated for the yellow fever. Sunglasses and durable clothes are a must but nothing is more important than good shoes for hiking.
In Iquitos there is an important decision to make. How far into the jungle do you want to go? There are three options. The first is to enter the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in a journey of almost 10 days but in which you are deep in the jungle. The second option is to get to the reservation but only stay at its borders. It is a less extreme experience in which we still have some comforts. The third alternative is Iquitos and its surroundings since this city has many options. Before deciding anything, we tell you some details of our adventure so you can choose the one you prefer
A trip to the deep jungle: Pacaya Samiria
Without a doubt this experience is a disconnect with the conveniences and commodities of urban life. The trip starts around and hour and a half from Iquitos at the final part of the road in Nauta. From there a boat will take you three and half hours via the river Marañón right to the doorstep of the reserve. The things along the away are truly stunning
Pacaya Samiria is one of the larger reserves in Peru. It has a territory ranging 2 million hectares, around the size of Holland or Switzerland. It is bordered by the rivers Marañón and Ucayali. Travelling the reserve entails tight winding trails and small boats through rivers and lakes. At nightfall is when the forest comes most alive.
To take in the majesty of Pacaya Samira we recommend no lees than 8 days, but it is possible to experience if you have less time. On the trip you will learn things like making fire in such a humid place or techniques to guide you in the jungle. Your days are lived in boats, boats, canoes and tents. It was a trip to disconnect (from the internet).
Pacaya Samiria was created with the objective of conserving and studying the local flora and fauna, for this reason the ecosystem is interfered with as little as possible. You will take advantage of the natural resources offered by the jungle but only what is necessary. During the days that in the jungle you can discover exotic animal species such as the macaws and the sloths. Deeper in the jungle there are anacondas, reptiles of all kinds, pink dolphins, monkeys, dozens of species of birds, fish and hundreds of insects. It is amazing to see these animals living in their natural state.
The region has around 80 lakes however, El Dorado is especially beautiful. It is a mirror of water that houses the greatest biodiversity within the jungle. Among the typical flora you can see countless varieties of orchids, cedar, aguaje palm, cacao, mahogany and more.
Camping within the Amazon
If the idea of sleeping in a tent every night does not interest you or your budget is tighter, you can stay outside the park. There are cabins to spend the night. This region is still not very man-made although it has some “urban touches” since you can buy snacks and there are menus with less exotic dishes. The views of this place are magnificent: the silence of the river; the canoes arriving and departing from the port; the reddish sunsets that are reflected in the water.
The possibility to enter the jungle is subject to weather conditions. It turns out that in the jungle there are two seasons: the empty or dry season, which runs from May to October; and the growing or rainy season, from November to April. The first is considered summer and the second winter. That is why the best time to travel to this region is between May and October. Although the weather is unpredictable and a rain could ruin your plans. Rivers can unexpectedly increase in flow, the islands that had formed are under the channel and many areas become unnavigable.
Iquitos: urban life in the jungle
Iquitos is the captial of Loreto. It cannot be reached by road and the planes only fly to a few destinations in Chile. Boats offer more local destinations.
Exotic foods and jungle goods abound in Iquitos. Suri is one of the more striking dishes you will find. It consists of worms that grow on palm trees and are prepared fried, roasted or anticucho. They are placed on sticks and served with some garnish. Although the first impression can be disgusting, it is a very rich dish. If you do not want to risk it so much you can eat any variety of fish, although there is one very special: the Patarashca, which is served wrapped in banana leaf, it is seasoned well and can be roasted or baked.
The city is surrounded by rivers, the most important is the mythical Amazon. It is easy to spend a couple of days here since it is a large city. One of them is the Belén neighborhood, where the houses were built on wooden piles and float on the water. It is known as “the Amazonian Venice”.
At night the boardwalk beckons. The nightlife is an animal all its own. The heat is not as overwhelming as in the day, although there is never enough beer to quench the thirst.
Another interesting spot is the Mercado de Flores Flower Market. It;s name is a bit misleading as it has exotic wares. You can discover potions of all kinds and for many purposes. They are made with herbs and “ingredients” from the jungle. Although it is very tempting to try everything, we recommend that you be cautious and responsible.
On the outskirts of Iquitos has lighter jungle experiences. There is the National Reserve Allpahuayo-Mishana, 27 kilometers from the city, is a highly recommended by the locals. Also, 11 kilometers from the center of Iquitos is the Quistococha Zoo. This place has tigrillos, toucans, parrots, alligators, snakes, turtles and jaguars, among other animals living in total freedom. Finally, a magical place, the Puerto Almendra. It has very nice white sand beaches to rest. And there are also little boats that take you for a ride in the area.