Iquitos is the most important and interesting city in Peru’s Amazon jungle, a port for large ocean-going vessels headed or coming from the distant Atlantic. Iquitos was founded in 1764 but began to thrive from the 1880s onwards thanks to the rubber industry boom.
Iquitos has become the launching point for excursions into the Amazon rain forest but the town is interesting in its own right. There are some fine examples of late 18th century architecture like the Casa de Fierro, designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel. A visit to the buzzing market offers visitors an array of tropical fruits, herbal remedies and jungle animals. The Puerto Belen shantytown, where until recently the Amazon joined the Rio Intaya, features often-tumbling wooden huts raised on stilts. Iquitos also offers lively nightlife, with an array of clubs and discos.
Jungle lodges are generally situated on the banks of Amazon tributaries. The lodges located the farthest from the city are best for viewing exotic flora, birds and other wildlife, including dolphins playing in the river. There are also short day trips, including one to the Barrio Florida alligator farm.