Things to Do in Iquitos
The mighty Amazon River and its enormous, thickly forested basin are the heart of South America and the guardian of 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water. Visitors from around the globe come to Iquitos to cruise the river’s storied waters and catch a glimpse of diverse fauna both above and below the surface.
The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in Peru’s northern Loreto region is the country’s largest and most pristine protected area and the second largest reserve in the Amazon. Located at the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali rivers, the reserve has some of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world.
This Amazon Rescue Center establishment is a haven for orphaned and injured manatees. Established in 2007 and run by the Institute for the Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP) in partnership with the Dallas Aquarium, the Amazon Rescue Center educates visitors and allows for interaction with these endangered animals.
Visitors can see rescued adult and baby manatees in natural pools and witness their rehabilitation. It is also possible to volunteer with the center and even bottle feed a baby manatee. The staff members take great care to teach about the importance of preserving the species and the present dangers to their habitat, as many local manatees are poached and babies captured to be sold as sold as pets, often with a high mortality rate. Tours are conducted in both English and Spanish.
Dominating the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos, this 2-story building seems delicate and elegant in the midst of the otherwise rough jungle town. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the so-called Iron House was forged in Belgium and shipped to the Amazon where it was reconstructed piece by piece during the height of the rubber boom.
Commonly known as “The Venice of the Amazon,” the floating town of Belén near the outskirts of Iquitos offers a unique cultural experience. A boat ride through the market of Belén will give you a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of the locals. A shantytown of modest thatch-roofed homes, restaurants and bars sit atop balsawood foundations, Belen is one of Iquitos’s top tourist attractions.
This research and conservation center in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon began with the gift of 100 acres of land from the local San Juan de Yanayacu Indians. Today, it serves as a leading lodge and excursion center in one of the world’s most biologically diverse settings. Available guided activities include bird watching, photography and both cultural and wildlife excursions in the jungle and on the river. The center caters to photographers, visiting research teams and wildlife enthusiasts who want to experience the raw Amazon jungle, while working to employ local people and allow visitors to access the Amazon sustainably and in harmony with nature.
Naturalists lead walks through the rain forest ecosystem to view hundreds of species of unique plants and animals. With over 100 species of mammals such as jaguars, monkeys and the famous pink Amazon dolphin, colorful reptiles and over 500 species of birds, there is no shortage of natural beauty and adventure to experience. There are camping treks, jungle tours and river cruises offered for both individuals and groups.
Running along the northern border of the rainforest city of Iquitos, Nanay is a slow tributary of the Amazon River where rare white-sand beaches appear when water levels are low. Lodges scattered along the banks offer day trips, journeys upriver into the wilderness, and visits to native Yagua, Bora, and Mestizo communities.
The Itaya River is a tributary of the mighty Amazon River in the northern Loreto Region in Peru, flowing parallel to the city of Iquitos and the floating town of Belén. Forming the eatern border of the city, the waterway offers the easiest access in and out and most of the city’s main attractions fall along its banks.
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