Iquitos Tourist Attractions
This city of five hundred thousand, Iquitos, is the largest city in the world not connected to civilization by a road. Boat or airplane is the only way in. Another former rubber boomtown, Iquitos, boasts a colorful history with several faded monuments testament to the good times.One of these sights is the Casa de Fierro, or Iron House. Built by Gustav Eiffel of Paris'Eiffel Tower fame, it is lit at night and contains a café and a British pub. Another area that speaks to Iquitos storied past is the Malecon Tarapaca. This pedestrian only walkway is the center of the action in Iquitos. Lined with beautiful mansions dating from the 19th century it makes a great place to stroll and people watch. All the tiles, marble, and iron work on the mansions was shipped from Italy and points beyond. Other fine examples of 19th century mansions can be found in and around the city center.Iquitos is an excellent jumping off spot to Amazon jungle parks such as the Reserva Nacional Pacay-Samiria, located 12 hours upstream, and the Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo, located 4 to 6 hours away.
The Festival of San Juan
The Festival of San Juan is Iquitos biggest party of the year and is celebrated at the Mercado Artesanal San Juan from June 23-25th. The Festival of San Juan has entertainment ranging from fiestas, to dance competitions featuring indigenous groups to rock concerts.One tradition of The Festival of San Juan is that everyone in Iquitos gorges themselves on juanes. Juanes are named after the patron saint, San Jaun Bautista and consist of chicken, tomato, and onion all wrapped in a leaf of the bijao palm. The bijao palm leaf has a unique flavour which distinguishes juanes from other tamale like foods.Another favourite food at The Festival of San Juan is tacacho which is baked banana. The weather during The Festival of San Juan can be cool at times because of the occurrence of friajes or cold spells caused by winds racing in direct from Patagonia. The temperature can drop to a quickly so bring a sweater.
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve
The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve was created in 1982 and has a surface area over two million hectares. Spread across four provinces, Loreta, Requena, Ucayali, and Alto Amazonas, the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is the largest reserve in Peru and the second largest in the Amazon region.With this large size comes a wide variety of flora and fauna. Within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve there are 330 bird species, 150 species of reptiles and amphibians, 132 mammalian species, 220 fish species and 847 species of vegetation.The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve contains 4 species on the verge of extinction. They are the black spider monkey, the yellow chested spider monkey, the woolly monkey, and the giant otter.The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is accessed via the Amazon River, from Iquitos to the juncture of the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers.
The floating city of Belen is not to be missed when visiting Iquitos. This shantytown consists of homes built on balsa wood rafts with others standing precariously on stilts driven into the mud bottom of the Amazon River. The sights, smells, and sounds can be somewhat overpowering, however, the uniqueness of the city makes it an interesting stop. The floating city of Belen was featured in the 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo.There is a market in the floating city of Belen that sells a very wide variety of merchandise, exotic fruit, herbs, fish and meat harvested from the surrounding jungle.Belen is accessible via boat from the waterfront of Iquitos and tours are recommended.
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm
Located 35 minutes from Iquitos the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is located on the banks of the Nanay and Amazon rivers and makes a good day trip. Pilpintuwasi means butterfly's home in the native language of Quechua and is an apt name for this attraction containing 42 species of butterflies. Two notable species are the buho, or owl butterfly and the morpho, a brilliantly blue colored butterflyThe Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is well set up so that visitors are able to see the complete life cycle, and learn about the impressive development of butterflies.Also on the site of Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is a small zoo containing rescued animals. In residence are friendly monkeys, a small jaguar, tapir, anteater, and agouti.