Iquitos is a popular jungle destination in Peru. As a gateway to the Amazon, Iquitos is the largest city in the world that’s unreachable by road transportation and hosts an abundance of the region’s natural diversity and traditional cultures. To ensure you make the most of your Amazon adventure, here are my recommended top 5 things to do and see in Iquitos.
Top 5 things to do in Iquitos
1. Unconventional outdoor shopping in Belen Market
2. See how Indigenous Indians live at the Yagua and Boras villages
3. Swim with pink dolphins
4. Explore the Amazon from a vantage point – the canopy walk
5. Monkey around on La Isla de los Monos
Unconventional outdoor shopping in Belen Market
Before embarking on your journey into the jungle, visit the Belen Market. This is a one-of-a-kind gigantic outdoor “super” market that covers 20 blocks. You will be exposed to an array of unique local jungle products that are sure to spark your interest.
Just about anything can be purchased at the Belen market, including (but not limited to) tropical fruits, vegetables, coca leaves, various kinds of meat, fish, herbs, diverse animal parts, and an array of natural medicines. Visiting the Belen market will open your eyes to an unexplored world of culinary and cultural diversity.
Once you trek deeper into the untouched jungle around Iquitos, you have the opportunity to explore the culture of two indigenous Indian tribes: the Boras and the Yagua. Visiting the tribes provides an exclusive insight into how Indians have lived in the jungle for thousands of years. Both of these tribes sell products extracted from local materials and sell handicrafts. You can see the Boras perform traditional dances, while the Yagua can give you a lesson in shooting a blowgun.
Most visitors are intrigued by the tribes’ efforts in preserving their culture and traditions on the edge of civilization.
One of the most interesting animals you can admire in Iquitos is the pink dolphin. These legendary creatures are unique in physical appearance, social and friendly. There are 2 areas where the pink dolphins are frequently seen and you can set out on a boat excursion to try your luck in spotting them.
For those craving adventure, there is the option to get into the water, and swim with the dolphins. Our tour guide recommended that we splash around in the water, as it will make the dolphins believe that you want to play, and they’ll be more likely to approach you.
Iquitos is home to one of the largest canopy walks in the world at a height of over 114 feet (35 meters) and length of more than 1640 feet (500 meters). The canopy walk provides a perfect viewpoint from which to see the lush rainforest and experience its unforgettable beauty. You will be immersed in the Amazonian biodiversity and marvel at the rich natural surroundings.
Above the treetops is the perfect place for jungle birdwatching. This is not surprising seeing that Peru is home to approximately 20% of all the bird species living on earth. Look out for diverse types of hummingbirds, kingfishers, macaws, and toucans to mention only a few.
The canopy walk is a dream for animal and nature lovers alike.
Last but not least: a visit to la Isla de los Monos is an unforgettable experience. Easily accessible by boat, the island is home to a wide variety of monkeys, including spider monkeys, the Uakari and the woolly monkey. These monkeys roam around the island freely, and they can be seen playing, climbing on visitors, and basking in the sun.
The island is also covered in stunning nature, which you can enjoy on a wonderful walk around the perimeter.
Diversity at its best
Iquitos has something to offer for everyone. Regardless of the adventure you choose, the breathtaking diversity is captivating. Iquitos is full of variation, in nature, wildlife, and cultural tradition.
Discover Iquitos on your own tour
Hendrika is Belgian but she considers herself a citizen of the world as she has lived in many different countries before moving to Peru. She fell in love with South America after her first visit to the continent in Bolivia, and has since then spent a lot of time traveling in the area. She especially enjoys Peru for its diversity, delicious food, and rich history.