Amazon travel tale: Along the Ucayali River in Iquitos
Today we follow the journey of Laura, a native of New Hampshire who has extensive traveling experience in Amazon Travel and now works as a travel advisor for Latin America For Less.
In the fall of 2010, Laura was in Peru studying on exchange at La Universidad del Pacífico. During one of her breaks she decided to embark on a 4 Day / 3 Night tour to a lodge near the jungle city of Iquitos, which serves as a main port city in northeastern Peru and is only accessible by boat or air. The region is known for its rich culture and history, exotic foods, but above all else its proximity to the Amazon River and tropical jungle, boasting one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world.
Laura’s adventure began in the lively city of Iquitos where she immediately felt enveloped by the warm moist tropical air. It was noisy and somewhat manic, as the roads were filled with three-wheeled rickshaws and moto-taxis all competing for clients. Her destination was a remote lodge four hours outside Iquitos.
She and her party took an exciting drive down a road, which cut through the lush and super green Amazon jungle dotted with small houses to the left and right on her way to her first stop, Nauta, a remote village along the Ucayali River. Upon arriving, they immediately boarded a boat where they were served lunch with delicious Pitaya (also known as Dragon fruit) juice which grows only in tropical rainforests. The picturesque journey lasted two hours before Laura arrived at her lodge. In the evening a guide took Laura and her party on an exciting night hike for a spider hunt where they searched for and found tarantulas near trees and held them fearlessly.
The following day Laura went on a day hike into virgin rainforest. It was, as she describes, challenging because of the hot and humid climate, but it was worth it. She cooled off by swinging from Tarzan vines, an opportunity only experienced in the jungle. Her guide was very knowledgeable in identifying plants and their medicinal purposes, birds, and insects – encountering a large mound in the ground which turned out to be an ant hill the size of a car. The guide also pointed out maggots that, when consumed, were good for curing belly aches, and termites that, when smashed into paste, were a natural and edible bug repellant!
It is a good idea to bring bottled water when hiking in the jungle. However, should you run out do not worry, there is plenty of water around if you know how to find it. Laura discovered she could quench her thirst by drinking from a vine saturated with rainforest water. In fact, the rainforest is known for its many large trees. She recalled they were humongous. “We tried to circle around one tree… there were at least 10 of us and we couldn’t get around the trunk of a tree.”
The rainforest is an excellent spot to go bird watching as Laura learned on her third day. There were so many species of birds that she lost count. You will be amazed at the flora and fauna in the river such as the Victoria, a water lily with pads so large and buoyant they can hold up to 70 pounds. Go fishing for piranha as Laura did, who caught five and cooked them. From the Ucayali River you can also spot the mysterious freshwater Pink Dolphin that swam away when Laura and her companions entered the water. After a long hike in the jungle the day before, Laura appreciated relaxing on a boat at the river. One thing she will always remember is the strength of the river. While the river looks calm in the middle it was actually very strong. She recommends if you are not a strong river swimming to stay close to the banks.
The evening of her final night there was a demonstration of a native dance by boys between 13 and 15 years of age. She was asked to dance with them, and while she was reluctant at first, she was glad she decided to join them. The evening ended with plenty of local music, food, and local beer. The following morning she woke for the return to Iquitos with unforgettable memories of her Amazon trip.Learn more our Amazon travel packages. For any questions about how we can help you organize your Amazon trips feel free to contact our expert travel advisors at Peru For Less who can assist you with any of your questions and concerns.
Salvador is a contributing writer for our travel blog.