Iquitos is one of South America’s most remarkable cities; due to its remote location in Peru's northern Amazon, it is the largest city in the world not accessible by road.
Exploration of the city reveals a curious fusion of historic decadence and modern simplicity, reflecting the regions changing fortunes since the rubber boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. This fusion is also embodied in the activities on offer, which range from restaurants and nightclubs to boat rides along the Amazon River.
Peru's first river port was opened at Iquitos in 1864 and became a major hub of the rubber trade before the industry fell into decline. Today, Iquitos remains a significant trading port in the Amazon Basin as well as a major cruise destination for trips through the rainforest. Passenger ships pass through its port terminal all year round on journeys as far as Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia.
The Port Terminal of Iquitos is located along the city's pedestrian river walk, just 2.5 kilometres or 3 minutes north of the city centre. Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport lies 12 kilometres south-west, or 11 minutes by taxi.
The Port Terminal of Iquitos has existed for 150 years, but has been extensively redeveloped in recent years to provide facilities for the growing number of passengers arriving and departing on cruise ships.
- food and drink options
- boat trips to nearby towns and nature sites.
The port terminal is located within the city, so it’s just a short distance to hotels, restaurants and major sights.
How to Get Around
There are several options for getting around in Iquitos once you arrive. Due to the city’s isolation, motorcycles are the dominant form of transport, in particular the rickshaw-like motocarros capable of transporting up to 3 passengers.
Taxi cars are also in use, especially on the route to the airport. These taxis are not metered, and prices should be negotiated beforehand.
Travel times from the Port Terminal of Iquitos
By motorbike taxi:
- 3 minutes to downtown (2 Sol)
- 11 minutes to airport (3-6 Sol).
If you are visiting other towns and remote areas that are not accessible by land, you will need to use a private boat taxi or llevo-llevo public boat.
- Currency - the Nuevo Sol is the currency of Peru, with notes being issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Sol and coins in smaller values. US dollars can be exchanged at banks or money changers, though not other South American currencies, which should be changed before entering Peru.
- Time Zone - Iquitos and Peru are 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Saving Time is not applied.
- Weather - Iquitos is situated just 3º south of the equator, and as such its climate is hot and humid all year round, ranging, on average, from 21º to 33º Celsius, with moderate variation in rainfall.
- Iquitos Main Square - head to the heart of Iquitos to orient yourself and see where the locals gather in the evening. The square is dominated by a monument to the Pacific War and is close to many of the city’s premier landmarks, including City Hall and the neo-Gothic Iquitos Cathedral.
- La Casa de Fierro - designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Iron House is Iquitos’ most notable building. Originally built in Belgium, it was transported from Europe by plane and boat, and today houses a restaurant and shops.
- Amazon Animal Orphanage - get up close to creatures of the rainforest in safety with a day trip to the Amazon Animal Orphanage in Padre Cocha, just outside Iquitos. A wide variety of orphaned animals are cared for at the centre, from monkeys to anteaters. You can see more colourful creatures at the neighbouring Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm.
- Belen Floating Markets - called the ‘Venice of Latin America’, Belen is a popular side trip from Iquitos. Many of its houses and shops are built on stilts to protect them against rising water levels, and arriving there early in the morning you’ll see farmers and fishermen selling their fresh produce from canoes.
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