What to do and see in Iquitos, Peru: The Best Places and Tips

February 10, 2018 Janean Rudisill

Make the port town of Iquitos your base camp for exploring the Peruvian Amazon basin. The river and rainforest are the main attractions, of course, and once in Iquitos it's easy to book a stay at one of numerous nearby jungle lodges. Closer to town, travelers recommend visiting the market and "floating village" of Belen, seeing colorful creatures at the butterfly farm and animal rescue center, and taking a cruise on the great river.
Restaurants in Iquitos

1. La Isla De Los Monos

Condamine #416, Iquitos 065, Peru +51 65 235887
Excellent
68%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 342 reviews

La Isla De Los Monos

A cage-free rescue center in the Peruvian Amazon dedicated to the protection and conservation of abandoned and orphaned monkeys. The aim of the project is the save the life of these creatures and release them back to their original habitat.

Reviewed By Stanislaw T - Toronto, Canada

The "monkey" office in Iquitos was closed on Sunday so we hired a motocar to take us to the port of Bellavista on river Nanay. It takes almost one hour by a speedboat to get to the "Monkey Island" but it is worthwhile to go there. The fast ride on the expansive Amazon river is a special experience by itself. When you arrive at the island the Chorro monkeys will greet you on land. Bring some mature bananas - it is OK. The resident guide will help you to explain the habitat in the Spanish language. Some monkeys are in cages but most of them run free and when you have some food they are all over you. All animals on the island seem to be happy including the resident dog that is so friendly both with the free-running monkeys and the visitors. A good place to visit if you have half a day to spare. Make sure to plan for rest after return!

2. Tapiche Reserve

Ricardo Palma 516, Iquitos 16000, Peru +51 65 600805
Excellent
92%
Good
6%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 102 reviews

Tapiche Reserve

THE #1 place to see wildlife in its natural habitat. BEWARE: we have recently learned of local scammers selling cheap rip-off tours using our name. We are the only company that operates in our private property. Book directly through our website linked here on TA or at our office in Iquitos inside the Green Track Hostel. NEVER trust the street guides and vendors in Iquitos, for your own safety and well-being! When you sign up to go to the jungle with us, you're not just going to experience one of the purest, most pristine primary rainforests on earth. It's not just about witnessing wild animals of the air, land and water in their natural habitats, undisturbed, like you've probably never seen before. Those things are a given. But you should also know that when you visit, you are helping us protect this precious place. We can't do it without you. The Reserve is located in primary rainforest, and it is our Mission to coexist with the jungle environment without disturbing its natural processes. We have ongoing efforts to save a species of river turtle known locally as taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis), which can live to 60 years of age and plays a crucial part in the region's ecosystem. We have also been monitoring our populations of red uakari monkey (Cacajao calvus), which is nearly extinct in Peru due to hunting and the destruction of its habitat. By choosing to visit the jungle with us, you are directly helping us maintain and protect these projects, the Reserve and the local people. Your presence on the trails and in the creeks shows local hunters and loggers that we are watching and patrolling the property. Your financial contribution pays for lodge and boat maintenance and the local people's salaries. Quite frankly, the area's (and Peru's, for that matter) conservation laws are few and weak. Those that do exist are not enforced, making them equal to non-existent. To add insult to injury, the government continues to support business interests over the environment, effectively turning the rainforest into a giant lumber yard/oil well. We don't get support from any other organization, government nor private, local nor international. You absolutely make a difference. We'd like to highlight two main areas of concern with regards to conservation in our area: the illegal animal trade and the illegal logging trade. Both are booming business sectors that have been deeply entrenched in the local psyche and economy for years. Yet, like all businesses, they are driven by demand. And who is doing the demanding? Tourists, clients, customers, buyers...basically you. You can help change the landscape of the market simply by making conscious decisions about what you spend you spend your money on, regardless of whether you're buying experiences, food, souvenirs or furniture. Get ready for a life-changing experience at the Tapiche Reserve!

Reviewed By mashpatatas - Chicago, Illinois

In short: 5 full days stay over December 24th - December 30th 2017 for married couple with no kids, wildlife sightings listed below, supremely impressed with conservation efforts, lodge is how you want to experience Amazonian river life, guides are top-rate (Katoo, Ana, Jose), local staff is fantastic, experience was unparalleled. Great for photographers, hikers, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, nature-lovers of all kinds. Photos to come.
In reality, there is no short way of describing the experience gained from Tapiche Reserve. The facets of this trip are all rest-of-your-life level memories. The natural primary rainforest surrounding, the parred down lodge setting, every wonderful and dedicated person involved, the wildlife - from the smallest of frogs to the giant river otters - that seems to be at every turn, all add together to bring Tapiche to life in a way that doesn't exist in many places left around the world.
First, your hosts, which are more like ambassadors to everything happening here, are some of the most capable people we've encountered. They top the list of guides we've had across many remote places all over the world. Katoo and Ana are, in the most honorable and awe-inspiring way, wholly dedicated to their conservation Mission on the reserve. They have sacrificed more time and energy to nature conservation than I can even aspire to, and if that is something you're looking to support, then you've found the perfect outlet. They both have fascinating stories to tell - so definitely intently ask about their experiences living there!
The Lodge itself is rustic and parred down. If you are hesitant due to reviews of it's simplicity, understand that you wouldn't want to experience the rainforest in any other way. Everything you need is provided for, and life at the lodge is in total congruence with the conservation Mission of Tapiche. They utilize rain water, fallen wood only, buy from local sources to support the community, and raise free ranging hens for eggs. It is both remarkably sustained and very comfortable, with it's best feature being the location and immersion into Amazonian life. The cook, Verdi, supplies fantastic and delicious meals over a wood fire range and you'll never go hungry sitting at the large community table where our favorite conversations were had.
The best realization and most important thing to understand about Tapiche is their prioritization of conserving the primary rainforest. You will never be left wanting, but...while you're on lunch break in relaxation, Katoo and Ana are listening for motors of skiffs potentially headed to the lagoon or a chainsaw in the distance. If you are living a modern western life and concerned for the environment and it's conservation, this is your opportunity to see first-hand what local action on the front lines looks like. It is both inspiring and gravitational to see this in motion. The borders of the Reserve stand tall with old trees and rainforest thick with vegetation erected freely by nature. While it is maintained by nature, it is protected by the Tapiche staff. Beyond the borders is sometimes a forest in deficit, logged and raided, both by those with ill-intentions and those with little choice left economically. Because of the efforts of Tapiche, you will have the fantastic opportunity to still see enormous centuries old teak trees, fruitful vegetation, and a forest floor filled with undiscovered things. What covers the land of the reserve itself is truly something special to behold, and is the real draw.
The mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects left my wife and I breathless on many many occasions. When we arrived to Tapiche, we promised ourselves to keep expectations low as we understood we were entering a wild reserve and not a captive zoo. What we came to realize is that due to the conservation efforts, the wildlife seems to understand Tapiche as what you might call a zone of comfort where they know nature can move along un-impeded. It's safe for nature, you might say. We assume, due to this, we had countless viewings of wildlife. As always in the wild, there's never any guarantee, but we found ourselves very fortunate. For an off-the-top-of-my-head list of our sightings over 5 days:
- Anaconda (estimated 15-20ft long) after consuming a caiman
- Live birth of a baby pink dolphin (many pink dolphin sightings)
- Giant river otters
- Baby Tortugas (nearly 1,000 recently hatched at reserve)
- Caiman (patrolling the lagoon)
- Gray dolphins (countless)
- Uakari monkeys (troop of 50-100) jumping branch to branch across a creek (20ft)
- Pygmy marmoset monkeys (smallest in the world at ~4oz.)
- Red howler monkeys (always around)
- Brown Capuchin monkeys
- Tamarin monkeys
- Squirrel monkeys
- Macaws/Parrots/Parakeets
- Porcupine
- Heron (in the 100s together)
- Hoatzin, Jacanas (w/chicks), Horned Screamers, Snail Kites, Hawks,
- Toucans
- Woodpeckers, Hummginbirds, Kingfishers, weavers, etc.
- Piranha and Piche
- Butterflys everywhere
- Tree frogs of all kinds everywhere
- Caiman lizard (swimming across the river)
*If you're specifically interested in wildlife or photography or a certain aspect of the forest, then just communicate that and you'll find Katoo and Ana very accommodating to providing walks/boat rides with the highest probability of sighting your requests.
One last bit I'd like to highlight is Tapiche's outreach to the Peruvian Amazon communities along the river nearby. Understanding the dynamics of life there, Tapiche staff constantly are organizing opportunities for their neighbors to find economical growth. They've organized construction projects, bargained deals for local food, hired known poachers and loggers in an effort to help them provide for their family without harming the rainforest, along with many many other organized efforts in the works. There is a true appreciation for not only conservation, but local education as well. Ana has volunteered untold countless hours to helping children learn conservation efforts and teach them about nature. It is a part of their efforts that may go unnoticed, but should be celebrated along with the rest of it.
Without a doubt 5 Star trip.
Pro-tip: Don't forget to cover *all* your unadjusted skin surfaces to protect against sun and mosquitos. In addition to the usual long sleeve / long pants rainforest wear, I recommend a buff headscarf and even light gloves (especially for photographers)

3. Amazon Rescue Center

Carretera Iquitos-Nauta Km. 4. 5, Iquitos 16000, Peru +51 965 834 685
Excellent
61%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 634 reviews

Amazon Rescue Center

Ecotourism; Rescue, rehabilitation and release of andangered animals; Environmental education.

Reviewed By conbauer - Chicago, Illinois

Fabulous tour guides - very well-informed, spoke perfect English and answered our myriad questions. We learned so much about the endangered species of the Amazon. And the animals were incredible - seeing the turtles, otters, macaws, and, of course, the manatees. This is such a needed service in the Amazon - the education they do in the communities and with the children is fabulous, We plan to make a donation to the group now that we are home!

4. Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

Padre Cocha, Iquitos, Peru +51 65 232665
Excellent
69%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 558 reviews

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

Please visit us in Padre Cocha! See our website for more info. Please know that a previous employee of the refuge has also set up a butterfly house and is offering boat-drivers commission to take visitors to this alternative centre rather than the original Pilpintuwasi. The true centre offers homes to a number of rescued animals in addition to the butterfly house. Please ensure you follow our visiting directions as we would love to welcome you all to our centre during your visit to Iquitos. About us: Pilpintuwasi is a wildlife rescue and temporary custody centre located on 20 hectares of land in the village of Padre Cocha, 20 minutes outside of Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting animals affected by the poaching and trafficking industry which thrives in Iquitos. We work with the ecological police to take in animals confiscated from markets, airports and homes, which often arrive with injuries and malnourishment.

Reviewed By Tim R

If you’re in Iquitos, you have to go here. Take a boat from the port (20 soles) and go spend some time here. We arrived after the last tour had started, but instead of turning us away the wonderful German lady gave us a personal tour. Not only is it a butterfly habitat, they have over 100 animals too. The stories behind some of them are sad, but it’s good to see the animals doing well! Go and donate for a good cause!

5. Museum of Indigenous Amazonian Cultures

332 Malecon Tarapaca, Iquitos Loreto, Peru +51 65 235809
Excellent
56%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 183 reviews

Museum of Indigenous Amazonian Cultures

The museum exhibits ethnographic artifacts from 30 different Amazon Indian cultures from the greater Amazon basin including groups from eastern Brazil, Guyana, Xingu, Mata Grosso, Colombia, the Peruvian Lowlands and the foot hills of the Andes. The theme of the museum is how Amazon Indians live within nature and are helping to conserve the fragile rainforests. Exhibits are displayed in a period house on two floors and in line with international museum standards. The museum is located on the riverfront in the historic district of Iquitos at 332 Malecon Tarapaca and is open daily from 8am to 8pm.

Reviewed By Matty B

This is a very nice museum if you want to learn more about indigenous tribes, their habits, clothes, weapons and location. Many different objects to be seen, with a focus in clothes, pottery and weapons. The guide was very good and I would really recommend it.... You would miss out on some very interesting details otherwise. After the tour there is the possibility to watch a movie about a certain tribe, interesting!

6. Museum of Historic Boats

Raimondi Street | Riverbank below the Ramon Castilla Square, Iquitos 16000, Peru +51 65 235809
Excellent
46%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 110 reviews

Museum of Historic Boats

The museum is in the historic steamboat "Ayapua" and exhibits Amazon navigation, discovery of the Amazon, missionary outposts, old Iquitos, explorers of the Amazon, rubber industry, atrocities of the Putomayo, and making of the Fitzcarraldo film. The museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm, and includes a 30 minute excursion in a historic launch.

Reviewed By Yosef B - nyc

This is a gem: an original, restored steamboat, complete with wood-burning engine room of pressurized steam. Pay once and you may return later in the week.
The liner notes in English are very readable on the link between the steamboat and the rubber trade. In a word, rowboats and even steamships could not fight the Amazon current, but steam could. Thus, rubber could ship down river from Peru through Brazil to the Atlantic, and boats could return for more cargo.
On the boat, you can watch the gothic movie (filmed locally) 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God,' of Werner Herzog. Lurid but enchanting.

On the IIAP compound at KM 4.5 of the highway to Nauta, Iquitos 16000, Peru
Excellent
72%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 81 reviews

ACOBIA-DWAzoo

Reviewed By Katie L - Toronto, Canada

We loved the educational information provided by the organization and learning about the programs they offer local schools and children regarding animal and plant protection. Petting the manatees was great, and feeding them was so much fun. Definitely pay the extra 5 soles to do this. The only part we wish could be improved is the time spent with the animals - we were rushed past the monkey enclosure (for recovering primates, plus one healthy one that comes and goes as he pleases), and the manatees. Our tour guide walked off on us while we were still with the manatees and we weren't sure if we were allowed to stay longer or follow him. So we followed, but I could have spent another hour there.

8. Fundo Pedrito

Sobre Amazonas, a 15 minutos de navegacion, Iquitos 16000, Peru
Excellent
32%
Good
52%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 163 reviews

Fundo Pedrito

Reviewed By Mario M - Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile

Worth stopping by to see local animals such as the impressive paiche, or crocodiles and turtles. It is a short circuit where you can have the experience of feeding piranhas, turtles, or the impressive paiches

9. Plaza de Armas de Iquitos

Iquitos, Peru +51 65 223215
Excellent
28%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
30%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 530 reviews

Plaza de Armas de Iquitos

Reviewed By rapha_y_nici - Canton of Zurich, Switzerland

Not the nicest plaza ever but quite central and close to Malecon. Around the plaza you can find the Cathedral which seems the highest building of Iquitos and the casa de fierro, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Tourist information is around the corner on the right on the way to the Malecon. For those who like to travel further by ferry to the three borders (Santa Rosa, Leticia & Tabatinga) the ticket office of the ferry company is based 2blocks to the north from the north eastern corner of the plaza de armas. Mototaxi from the plaza to the harbours where cargo boats leave cost us 4soles one way.

10. Catedral de Iquitos

Center Iquitos, Iquitos 16000, Peru
Excellent
29%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
23%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 135 reviews

Catedral de Iquitos

Reviewed By kmalivuk - Iquitos, Peru

As South American cathedrals go, this one is in the lower-middle of the pack. Other than a different roman numeral use on the bell-tower clock, not much unique going on. But PLEASE! this is a working church. Take of your hats folks! Show respect. I don't know how many dolts I saw just wandering through ignoring the fact that to the residents this is a place of worship.

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