Published October 2019
You can still see the splendor of the rubber boom in the sumptuous Portuguese tile manors and faded facades. But Iquitos hasn’t been the same since the 19th century: it has become the capital of the Peruvian Amazon – and the largest city in the world not accessible by road.
The city is located where the rivers Itaya and Nanay meet the Amazon River. Urban life, therefore, takes place next to the waters by the malecón (sidewalk); or literally on them, on boat rides through the forest or in the doncella (Amazonian fish) ceviche at the floating restaurant Al Frio y Al Fuego.
Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, around three hours from Iquitos, is home to a varied ecosystem with great biological appeal. There, you’ll find over 1,780 plant species and 145 mammal species, including the white-faced saki and titi monkey. Look for tour options to explore this reserve.
Al Frio y Al Fuego: Avenida La Marina, 134-B
Iquitos brings to the surface secrets of the jungle, just like the vendors at Mercado de Belén, who offer the catch of the day. They cross the neighborhoods built on stilts, in the south of the city, and arrive at the locale bringing huge ants, to be consumed as appetizers, and different fruits as well, like aguaje, that are mixed in the same jar to become a special jugo sold for cheap.
Mercado de Belén: Calle Ramírez Hurtado
Iquitos also preserves its history. Museo Etnográfico is home to objects and sculptures made by native peoples. It’s installed in the same building as Biblioteca Amazónica, which has the largest collection of documents about the region’s hydrography on the planet. It’s quite a feat, since thousands of watercourses gave way to the most biodiverse forest in the world, whose green never fades and makes Iquitos pulsate with life.
Museo Etnográfico: Malecón Tarapacá, 386
Biblioteca Amazónica: Malecón Tarapaca