The highlight of Iquitos is getting out on the rivers. Reimagining ourselves as a modern day “The African Queen” Bogart and Hepburn, we took a one-day personal tour along the Amazon and Itaya rivers. OK, so it wasn’t Africa and only one of us is talented enough to be Bogart, but you get the idea. It was still a bit queeny. Our expert guide was Orlando of Jungle Explorer OE. He took us to a few educational and interesting sites to see flora and fauna that didn’t feel super touristy. It provided us a great opportunity to see and interact with the wildlife, and I made several new furry friends. The native tribe visit, on the other hand, was a bit forced. While interesting to see the native dances, tribal customs and handicrafts, it was sad to see commercialism and reliance on tourists superseding what was once a proud and interesting way of life. The spot Orlando guided us to for lunch was a restaurant floating right on the river. They served up some tasty dishes, the view was spectacular and we heard some great stories about touring the jungle from Orlando. Overall, an excellent day – just cruising down the expansive Amazon River was beautiful and relaxing but it was good to make new friends and learn about the area as well.
Other stuff to do in Iquitos was not as exciting but still worthwhile. The museums in Iquitos are, like the city, pretty laid back. That’s not to say they aren’t interesting. The Museum of Historic Boats provides good background on the development of the area through the rubber trade. It also has some great old books and maps. Along the malecon you will come across the Museo de Culturas Indigenas Amazonicas, which does a superb job displaying and describing the life of jungle tribes across the continent.
There is an art gallery on Jirón Nauta we wanted to see but missed. We noticed it on Sunday evening and decided to go back the next day. Monday we walk up the steps to where two women were sitting. We asked if we could go in and they said sure. Interestingly there was no real art save for some random children’s artwork and there were a lot of school kids in uniform saying hello to us. Apparently it’s a school during the week and art gallery on the weekend.