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Iquitos Highlights

Discover the Highlights and Rich Heritage of Iquitos, Peru

Historic Landmarks and Cultural Treasures


Iquitos, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon, is a city brimming with rich cultural history, vibrant communities, and breathtaking natural beauty. As the largest city in the world inaccessible by road, Iquitos offers a unique experience for travelers seeking to explore the depths of the Amazon rainforest. This comprehensive guide delves into the top attractions and excursions in Iquitos, providing detailed insights to help you uncover the many wonders of this captivating city.

Casa de Hierro

The Casa de Hierro, or Iron House, is a large iron residence built during the “Rubber Boom” at the end of the 19th century. This is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of civil architecture in Peru. The walls, roof, and balcony are plastered in rectangular sheets of iron, particularly silver-plated. It is said to be the first prefabricated house in Latin America, designed by the French architect Gustave Eiffel and constructed in the Belgian workshops of L Forjes D’Aisseau. Rubber baron Anselmo del Aguila purchased it at the International Exposition in Paris in 1889. Once dismantled, it was brought in pieces to Iquitos, and the metal sheets were carried through the jungle by hundreds of men and assembled there in 1890. Since 1985, the Iquitos Social Club has managed the Casa de Hierro, contributing to its restoration. Its second floor now houses the finest restaurant in Iquitos, the Cafetería del Amazonas, offering delicious food and the best coffee in the city. Currently, it is owned by Mrs. Judith Acosta Vda. De Fortes and the building is a National Historical Cultural Heritage.

The Amazon River

The Amazon River, with a volume of 300,000 m3 per second, is the longest and most voluminous river in the world. Its banks are home to swamps, marshes, and channels forming labyrinthine networks. The river forms meanders, with widths ranging between 2 and 5 km. It stretches 3,762 km in Peru and 6,762 km from its origins to the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon River spans the largest river basin on the planet with 7,050,000 km², receiving waters from over 1,100 tributaries. The river originates in Nauta, in the Loreto department, at the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers. It is navigable by large vessels, free and international.

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Established on February 4, 1982, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the largest in the country, situated between the Marañón and Ucayali rivers, 180 km from Iquitos. It guarantees the conservation of plants and animals in the tropical rainforest. The Pacaya and Samiria rivers’ courses are connected in their middle and upper sections by lakes and ‘sacaritas’. In the Pacaya basin, there are 20 lakes, while the Samiria basin has 40, along with numerous swamps. The reserve boasts a dense forest with vines, ferns, lichens, and mosses, with an abundance of Uncaria Tormentosa or Cat’s Claw. The aquatic and terrestrial fauna is fabulous, including species like paiche, turtles, manatees, dolphins, spider monkeys, woolly monkeys, river otters, and land tortoises. There are also iguanas and chameleons, anacondas, caimans, and numerous birds such as herons, parrots, macaws, and parakeets.

Native Communities of the Jungle

There are approximately 72 ethnic groups or native communities in Peru, with 65 in the Iquitos region. Some of these include Aguaruna, Bora, Capanahua, Chayahuita, Candoshi-Murato, Huitoto-Meneca, Huitoto-Murui, Napo, Pastaza-Tigre, Shipibo-Conibo, Chamicuro, Huitoto-Muiname, and Huambisa. Most of these groups have been civilized by Catholic missions and maintain many of their ancestral customs such as art, language, dances, and food. Additionally, they have extensive knowledge of the medicinal use of plants, herbs, and hallucinogenic beverages like ayahuasca. They occupy territories along the banks of rivers and lagoons: Putumayo, the Amazon, Pastaza, Napo, Marañón, Huallaga, Yavarí, Yarúa, Purus, and Ucayali. Tour operators usually offer visits to populated centers of these communities.

Natural Wonders and Adventure Activities

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage

Pilpintuwasi, located a short boat ride from Iquitos, is a sanctuary for rescued wildlife and a butterfly farm. Visitors can learn about the life cycle of butterflies and see various species up close. The animal orphanage is home to rescued animals, including monkeys, jaguars, and anteaters, providing a safe haven for them to recover and thrive.

Quistococha Tourist Complex

The Quistococha Tourist Complex is a beautiful natural park located 13 km from Iquitos. It encompasses a large artificial lagoon, a sandy beach, a zoo, and a botanical garden. Visitors can relax by the lagoon, swim, and explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region. The complex also features restaurants offering traditional Amazonian cuisine.

Belen Market

The Belen Market is one of the most vibrant and bustling markets in Iquitos. Located near the Itaya River, this market offers a wide variety of goods, from fresh produce and fish to traditional medicine and handicrafts. The market is divided into sections, each specializing in different products. It’s an excellent place to experience the local culture and cuisine.

Yanamono Canopy Walkway

The Yanamono Canopy Walkway is one of the longest treetop walkways in the world, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. This suspended walkway offers a unique perspective of the jungle, allowing visitors to walk among the treetops and observe the diverse flora and fauna from above. Guided tours provide insights into the rainforest ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Monkey Island

Monkey Island is a sanctuary for rescued and rehabilitated monkeys, located on an island in the Amazon River. Visitors can interact with various species of monkeys and learn about the efforts to protect and conserve these primates. The island provides a safe environment for monkeys to live freely and thrive.

Festivals and Celebrations

Fiesta de San Juan

Celebrated on June 24th, the Fiesta de San Juan is one of the most important festivals in the Amazon region. It honors Saint John the Baptist with traditional music, dance, and feasting. The celebration includes a communal meal featuring the famous “juane,” a dish made of rice, chicken, and spices wrapped in banana leaves.

Carnival of Iquitos

The Carnival of Iquitos, held in February or March, is a vibrant and colorful celebration featuring parades, music, dancing, and traditional rituals. The festivities include the “War of the Paints,” where participants throw paint and water at each other, symbolizing purification and renewal.

Semana Santa

Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is celebrated with religious processions, masses, and cultural events. The streets of Iquitos come alive with colorful decorations and activities that commemorate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Excursions from Iquitos

Amazon River Cruises

Embark on an unforgettable journey along the Amazon River with a river cruise. These cruises offer a unique way to explore the Amazon rainforest, with opportunities to spot wildlife, visit remote communities, and experience the natural beauty of the region. Cruises range from luxury vessels with comfortable accommodations to more adventurous options for those seeking an immersive experience.

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve Tours

Guided tours of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve provide an opportunity to explore one of the most biodiverse areas in the Amazon. These tours often include boat rides, hiking, wildlife spotting, and visits to local communities. The reserve’s dense forests, winding rivers, and abundant wildlife make it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.


Nauta, located 100 km south of Iquitos, is the starting point for many Amazon River expeditions. The town is situated at the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers, where the Amazon River officially begins. Visitors can explore the town, visit local markets, and embark on river tours from here.

Maranon River

The Maranon River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon, offers excellent opportunities for adventure and exploration. River tours provide a chance to see diverse wildlife, including pink river dolphins, and visit indigenous communities along the riverbanks. The Maranon River’s remote and pristine environment makes it a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Iquitos is a city that seamlessly blends historical significance, cultural richness, and natural beauty. From exploring its unique architectural landmarks and vibrant markets to experiencing the breathtaking Amazon rainforest and its diverse wildlife, visitors will find a wealth of experiences to enrich their journey. Join us in discovering the highlights and rich heritage of Iquitos, a destination that promises to captivate and inspire.

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