The main reason to visit Iquitos is that it serves as a launch point for trips into the Amazon. Single day or multi-day trips can be booked for around S/.130 Nuevos Soles per person per day (USD45). You are taken out on a boat and can view wildlife such as monkeys, alligators, giant lily-pads, baby caimans (sort of like mini-alligators), anacondas, boas, tarantulas, and more.
Your taxi driver or hotel concierge will be more than happy to contact a tour guide for you, as they get a kickback for the referral. However by using this kickback referral system, you will be guaranteed the highest possible price and lowest possible service. Besides, take note that in Iquitos there are not an official tour guide associations so never pay attention to street guides or freelancer guides; at the best, they are expensive, and at the worst, corrupt and dangerous. It would be best to visit or contact directly a bunch of regular (licensed) tour companies' offices and compare their prices and guides. Usually, their offices are located around the Main Square. Remember, a nice-looking travel agency's office it may be a sign of quality. An unsightly office or an aggressive vendor or guide could not be good or, at worst, scammers. Guides and staff could be friendly but they are sellers expecting your money. Always be aware.
If you need to know regular companies or guides and their record of complaints, feel free to contact iperu, the government tourist information office. Their nationwide service is free and reliable and they may assist you in case you have problems or need to do procedures anywhere over Peru. The Iperu address is 161 Napo street (right off from the Main Square) and they open including on holidays, or contact them by phone (+51 65) 23-6144 or their 24 hours line (+51 1) 574-8000 or they email firstname.lastname@example.org. In iquitos, they work from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. They have an office in the Arrival Lounge of the Iquitos' Airport.
Traveling by yourself
It is possible visit most of the attractions by yourself, except the rainforest and the reserves. iPeru, the official tourist information office, has representatives at the airport and downtown. They are very helpful to any travelers struggling to make sense of their options.
In the case of the indigenous tribes and for visit jungle areas or the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is suggested to hire ONLY a licensed company in their offices, never in the streets. Remember that the closest indigenous tribes live according to modern life customs and only perform a show for tourists, as the Bora tribe in the river Momón (in many cases their show are most expensive than their real value).
Day 1: Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm (early in the morning, except Mondays), Fundo Pedrito and the Amazonas river (afternoon). Budget: Around S/.45 - 55.00 Nuevos Soles, includes transportation in mototaxi, boat and admission fees. You may save around S/.10.00 with a Student Card in the Butterfly Farm.
Day 2: Belén market (optional), the Manatee orphanage, Quistococha and the San Juan handicraft market. Budget: Around S/.50 - 60.00 Nuevos Soles, includes transportation in Mototaxi and admission fees. You may save around S/.10.00 Nuevos Soles if you take a micro (the typical wooden buses of Iquitos) instead of a mototaxi to get the Sea Cow orphanage or Quistococha complex.
Day 3: Monkey Island and the river Amazonas. Budget: S/.65.00 Nuevos Soles, includes transportation in Mototaxi and admission fees. You may save S/.15.00 with a Student Card in the Manatee orphanage and save around S/.10.00 more if you take a micro (the typical wooden buses of Iquitos) instead of a mototaxi.
Day 4 and onwards: Taking a jungle tour. If you have 3 days or more, visit the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, the biggest government-protected natural area in South America's floodable Amazonia and one of the best places to see animals in the wild. If you don't have enough time or money, you may visit the non-government protected jungle. A referential or average budget for a tour in a non-government protected jungle area in a cheap and registered travel agency is around S/.120.00 - 150.00 Nuevos Soles/person/day (around USD40-50), in an Ecolodge is around S/.180 - 300.00 Nuevos Soles/person/day (USD60-100). Prices for the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve are slighty highter tha a regular jungle, these are from S/.200.00 - 300.00 Nuevos Soles/person day (USD65-100). See more information below.
Jungle tours and ecolodges
There are many lodges and resorts which are carefully controlled. The facilities are adequate, with some being very well appointed. You can book in the city or pay for a full package in Lima or through a travel agent. If you buy in Iquitos, is suggested contact only companies registered in iPerú, Tourist Information and Assistance (by PromPerú, the Peruvian Tourism Board). Contact the company offices directly (in their offices, by phone or email) and avoid intermediaries, especially taxi and mototaxi drivers, freelance guides and all the insistent people (remember, they are not your friends, actually they are touts working for the most informal companies).
Be aware of "guides" who solicit on the street. They offer their work for a very cheap fee but they do not have any guarantee. They are not official guides in Iquitos. They will show you an ID of the company they "work" for to gain your confidence. Most of them are scammers.
Amazon Explorer257 Loreto street, corner with Fitzcarrald streetEmail: email@example.comPhone: (+51) 965-828888 (Spanish) and (+51) 989-897784 (English; Dutch & French)Hours: 24-hours by phonePrice: From EUR59 (US$80) / person / dayAmazon Explorer is a licensed company operating since 2004 that organizes expeditions to the Amazon rainforest, to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (a RAMSAR site and the largest government protected area over the South American floodable Amazon basin, with twice the area of the Yellowstone National Park in the USA); to remote indigenous tribes as the Matses (known also as Mayorunas), the Shuar people (known also as Jibaros), the Urarinas and so on, all these tribes keep their traditional customs and heritage (expeditions to remote indigenous tribes requires as minimum 12 days, because that it is advisable to contact at least two weeks in advance); expeditions for scientific research or students; expeditions to unexplored areas in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest; and jungle survival training courses. Also, Amazon Explorer offers day trips and boat tours to the nearby tourist attractions in Iquitos (Peruvian Amazon): Quistococha, the Manatee Orphanage, the San Juan's Handicraft fair, the nearby Yagua native tribe, the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm, the Allpahuayo Mishana Nat. Reserve, the Monkey Island, Pedrito (a farm of alligators, victoria regia & paiches), and the rivers Amazon and Nanay. Curassow Amazon LodgeEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: +1 704 237-0506 / +51 942-139785Hours: Booking in advance is strongly advisable, expeditions last at least 3 daysPrice: PEN1,023-2,331/person, discounts for groups and children available.Curassow Lodge is located 140 km (87 miles) upriver from Iquitos, Peru and about 1 hours by speed boat via the city of Nauta. This lodge is located in primary rainforest which is exceedingly rich in species of both plants and animals. This ease the observation of birds (the area has almost 500 species), monkeys, sloths, pink and grey dolphins, piranhas, tarantulas, frogs, caimans or alligators, scorpions, rodents, the giant water lily (the biggest aquatic plant in the world), medicinal plants, swim in lagoons where dolphins live, camping, hiking, canoeing, visit local villages, eat exotic foods, navigate in the Amazon River, etc. on its natural scenery. Curassow Lodge is located inside the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve (322,500 hectares or 796,914 acres) and the the buffer zone of The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (2'080,000 hectares or more than 5'000,000 acres). Tapiche Ohara ReserveCalle Ricardo Palma 540Phone: (+51) 986 039 061Tapiche Ohara's Reserve is deep inside the jungle where one sees primary rainforest and an abundance of wild life in a natural setting. Far away from the city where few humans travel. Don't miss it! Jangala Retreat CenterFeatures five secluded bungalows and a picturesque yoga pavilion set on the banks of the Amazon River. Offers yoga techniques, massage therapies, reflexology, spa treatments, and activities that release tension from the body, mind and spirit. Mirror of the Amazonshttp://impressiveiquitos.blogspot.com/Phone: +51 965-323-416Rosendo is an experienced and reliable guide who can be counted upon for competitive rates and interesting tours. He knows a lot about the nature reserves, native medicinal plants and animals, and has many contacts all around Iquitos. Maniti Camp ExpeditionsJr. Huallaga 240, Floor 2Email: email@example.comPhone: (+51) 1-705-8903 (Spanish/English)Hours: 24-hours by phoneManiti Camp Expeditions is a fully licensed and registered tour operator and Ecolodge located on the banks of the Amazon River, about 1.5 hours downriver from the city of Iqiutos city. We organize custom all inclusive jungle expeditions, amazon riverboat cruises, trips to Pacaya Samiria Reserve, indigenous tribe encounters (Matses, Yaguas, Boras, Huitotos, Ocianas), shamanic retreats with ayahuasca and more. Offering very competitive rates and the best customer reviews in the area. All excursions are led by local, professional, certified, multi-lingual guides with many years of experience in the Amazon Rainforest. As a leader in sustainable adventure travel in and around Iquitos, Maniti Camp Expeditions works with local communities, businesses and individuals to develop sustainable ecotourism opportunities that help the local economy while minimizing negative environmental and cultural impacts. Maniti Expeditions is an internationally recognized Iquitos Jungle Lodge & Iquitos Tour Operator that specializes in custom tailored Guided Jungle Excursions. We provide itineraries from 1 to 10+ days, depending on each and every travelers particular interests and time available.
Party and nightlife
If you want to party, there are dance clubs all over the city. All Iquiteños love to party in their own way. That's non-stop partying all year round!. Beer and other cold beverages are cheaper than in Lima (subsidized by the government). Often times clubs will not let men in if they are wearing sandals or unbuttoned shirts.
Renting a vehicle
Renting a motorcycle and driving around the city and out towards the airport is a cheap and an exhilarating way to experience Iquitos and the surrounding area. Only do so if (1) you are an experienced motorcycle driver, and (2) you can handle the manic traffic. A nice drive is to Nauta about 90 km away from Iquitos (pass the airport) on a nice calm road trough the jungle. The police have been known to target foreign-looking drivers, since they can often pay larger bribes. One way the police make extra money is to stand by the side of the road and flag over most everyone who drives by. The ones who do pull over will often pay a small fee for the privilege (perhaps to help the police "fix the crack in their windshield.") If you can tell that no one will come after you if don't pull over, consider pretending not to see them and continuing to drive on.
Taxi NormaEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: (+51) 965-964819Hours: M-Su from 6AM to 10:30PM (including on holidays)Price: Transfer between Iquitos' airport to downtown from S/.15-20 Soles (around US$6 to 8), S/.20 to 25 Soles per hour (around US$8 to 10)Mrs. Norma Arzubialdes offers safe taxi service and reliability. Her car has capacity for 4 people confortable (it can holds up to 5 people tight). She offers transfer from the Iquitos' airport to your hotel or downtown and vice versa, city tours, and short land tours to Quistococha Tourist Complex, the Manatees Rescue Centre, and Handicraft Market of San Juan. Pilpintuwasi Butterfly farm and Fundo Pedrito alligator farm are available upon request. She only speaks Spanish. Advisable to contact in advance (1 or 2 days or more in advance).
Visión Motos, Nauta 309 (tel. 065/234-759). Rates for 1 and 3 hours are 10 and 20 soles respectively.