The recent long weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to explore the Amazon jungle of Peru, so I packed my bags and headed out to the jungle city of Iquitos.
Finally I understand why all the travel websites say nothing can prepare you for it. Why? Because it is true. I expected strange and overwhelming, but I what I got was a different kind of strange, and a different kind of overwhelming.
As I stepped off the aeroplane, the first thing that struck me was the heat. Straight on, in my face,equatorial heat and jungle humidity.
I was thankful to see our transport with our names on his board waiting outside the arrivals gate, because even the airport is different from anything I’ve encountered, and I’ve been to some unique airports… Luckily my trusty travel agent, had thought of everything so all I had to worry about was showing up. To get in touch with him, you can visit his website here, or contact me for his contact details.
What makes the city so interesting is the fact that it cannot be reached by road, only by air or river. It is basically an island, surrounded by river and the jungle. It does have roads though, and is connected by road to one other city, but the two share the island, so to speak. It was noticeable that there were a lot less cars than in other Peruvian cities. No wonder, as all of them had to be imported by boat or possibly air.
Don’t be fooled though, despite the lack of cars, the Peruvian tradition of crazy traffic is held high by means of thousands of “mototaxi’s”, specially adapted 3 wheel motorcycles for carrying people and goods, or both.
The city was founded in the rubber boom and frequented at the time by Portugese, Italian and other settlers alike. The remnants of the colonial era is a colourful mix of beautiful old buildings intermingled with bustling jungle business, chicken restaurants and auto repair shops alike.
The streets that run down to the harbour is littered with a bustling market, serving anything from fresh fruit to dead fish and everything in between.
Going down the muddy bank is part of the experience, as it is still in the dry season and the river levels are very low. The walk down isn’t the greatest experience, as the mud is not only slippery but studded with rubbish. I am once again reminded of the impact we as humans have on our environment and how important it is to tread lightly, leave nothing but footprints, and educate ourselves and those around us to leave the environment in a better state than we found it in. For more info on ways to reduce our plastic use, have a look here and have a look at the amazing work the guys at 4ocean are doing(they work in the amazon too, despite the ocean part of their name)!
The harbour is a floating platform for boarding one of the many boats onto the river, and also provides a location for festivities, such as a full on day time party with live band and dancers clad in blue chintz on a public holiday when I passed by. The boats consist of an assortment of vessels that take an assortment of passengers and cargo into the river lands. From groups of tourists like ourselves, to village folk who came to the city to go about their business and to buy and sell their wares. It is such a different way of life, being so dependent on the river for transport, water, food, and so much more.
What an amazing jungle city. It has so much to offer and more!