Iquitos is one of the jungle regions that I have not yet visited and it had been a long time since Lily had visited, so we decided to take advantage of some slow time at the property and visit Iquitos. Our initial research was not looking very promising though as almost every lodge we could find was over $1,000 USD per-person per-week, which was more than we wanted to spend, so we decided that we would just book a place in Iquitos and see what was available for day trips.
While this did not allow us to get very deep into the jungle, we were able to sped a week in Iquitos, do a 2 day jungle tour, visit several places and overall really enjoy ourselves for just over $500.00 for the whole week, not including airfare. As we generally tend to be more of the budget type travelers this was the perfect balance for us, and we now know that you can visit the Amazon in Iquitos without breaking the bank. So just how do you manage Iquitos on a budget, read on my friends and all will be reveled.
Lodging – Lets start here as I don’t feel like listing lodging for everyday. We booked our accommodation through Airbnb and we found a private room w/private bathroom in a shared house for $20.00 USD per-night, multiply by 8 nights and add the $10.00 service fee and our 8 nights of accommodation cost a total of $170.00 USD. As we had use of the kitchen this also saved us money as we were able to cook some meals ourselves and did not have to eat out all the time.
Day 1 – Our flight arrived late (around 10 pm I think) so we did not do much more than just go to the house. At the airport we got a motto-taxi to the house for S/10.00 Soles.
Day 2 – Today we basically explored Iquitos and checked out tour agencies. We walked to the Plaza de Armas and to Plaza 28 de Julio, taking pictures and in general getting ourselves oriented as to what was where. We also checked out several tour agencies and found that in general, you can get tours into the jungle for about S/200.00 Soles per-person per-day, these of course are to lodges that are not too far away so you are not going to get deep into the jungle with these options. We then took a motto-taxi to the Nanay port to check on prices for a boat to take us out fishing later in the week, while there we also found an agency employee offering multy-day tours for S/140.00 Soles per-person, per-day and we made arrangements to meet him at the office later.
After checking out the port area we took a local bus back to the main plaza for lunch, and we found a nice place about ½ block North West from the East corner of the plaza called “Dulce Gourmet Grill”. They have a S/10.00 and a S/13.00 soles menu with a variety of local dishes, and most importantly they had nice cold beer. Today I tried the chicharron de doncella, which is a nice mild fish with no bones, cut into chunks then lightly battered and fried, the dish was served with beans, rice, salad and fried plantains, total for lunch with beer was S/29.00 Soles. After lunch we went to meet the guy at the tour agency and after looking over their options we decided to check out the 2 day option, The agency is “Amazon Camp” and the total we paid was S/560.00 Soles for the both of us and included all the activities, lodging for 1 night and 4 meals. After booking our tour we went to the store to get groceries for breakfasts and dinners which totaled S/100.00 Soles and then we went back to the apartment for the evening.
Day 3 – We started today off by taking a bus to the Belen neighborhood and wandering through the street market. In the street market you will find a wide variety of goods fruit, vegetables, meats and fish, while there we did try a drink made from the aguaje fruit which is the fruit from the same palm tree they get the grubs we saw the day before from. After wandering through the market and then down into the Belen neighborhood we headed back towards the Plaza de Armas, enjoying the sights and sounds of the streets until reaching the malecon, which is a walkway along the edge of the river area. We followed the malecon to the “Amazon Eco Museo” and checked it out. The museum was S/10.00 Soles each to enter (S/15.00 non-resident rate) and had a variety of interesting displays of tools, textiles and artifacts from a variety of indigenous tribes.
After visiting the Museum (and enjoying their AC) we decided to sit and relax a bit and enjoy a cold beer. We decided to head towards the Plaza de Armas and on the way we saw “The Yellow Rose of Texas” restaurant and bar, between the name and the outdoor seating we decided to check it out, the food prices were a little high and we had planed on trying the local juanes today so we just relaxed and had a beer (or 2) and some fried yuca. After the beer we sot off in search of our juanes but found that it was likely too late in the day as the stands we had seen earlier were all closed up, instead we opted for our menu restaurant again and this time I tried the cecina con tacacho, cecina being a type of cured meat and tacacho is roasted bananas that have been partially mashed and then rolled into balls. We decided to end the day after lunch as we still had to get things ready for our 2 day jungle tour that we were starting the next day.
Day 4 – So today we headed to the tour office with breakfast to go, and boarded to bus to start our 2 day jungle tour at about 9:00 am, the bus took us to the port where we boarded our boat and headed for our first stop of the day. Our first stop was a local village where we saw some dancing, got to try a traditional blow gun and had the opportunity to browse through locally made crafts. After the village we walked to a Kapok tree, a local example of the largest tree species in the Amazon, and then made a stop at an observation tower before returning to the boat. Next we made our way to the lodge where we had a delicious lunch of lagarto (crocodile), fish, salad, rice, pasta, and fried bananas.
The rooms would not be ready until 17:00, so we wandered around the lodge a bit before we departed for our next activity, fishing. The fishing was okay, the only real problem that I saw was that the equipment was well used and I am sure that my hook was not the only dull one there, but there were a few people who caught fish, mostly small ones, but a nice variety. After the fishing we returned to the lodge where we got our room and changed to go enjoy the pool a bit. The room was basic, but roomy, clean and comfortable, the rooms are all laid out in two rows and elevated on stilts, they were all connected by a long walkway with the first row walkway running from the dining room all the way down past the pool, this was the row that we were on and the door opened to a nice view of the jungle. The pool was a very nice amenity and one of the reasons that we chose this agency, as not all of the agencies have pools at the lodges, and after a day of walking around a hot and humid jungle, a dip in a cool pool is very refreshing. After the pool time we had a nice dinner of lomo saltado and then did a night walk that was fairly uneventful, likely due to the noisy people in the group, after which we went to bead as we had an early start the next morning.
Follow my blog or check back later for part 2 of “Iquitos on a Budget”
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