Three trips through Peru: Iquitos and the Amazon Rainforest

On this stop on a triple itinerary, anyone who wants to explore the Amazon can take boat tours, try tropical foods, and visit indigenous museums

Rafael Bahia Getty Images

Published October 2019

Peru is home to diverse landscapes that result in impressive cities, traditional cultures, and a world-famous cuisine. Here, we present Iquitos and the Amazon Rainforest, before heading to Lima and the Pacific coast; and Cusco and the Andes.

Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon

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

Traditional food in Iquitos: ants and different fruits

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

The history of native peoples at Museo Etnográfico

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


Now that you’ve discovered Iquitos, check out what to do in Cusco and Lima.