Expeditions · Peru · Amazon · Things to Do
August 11, 2021 Words: Melissa Klurman

The 8 Best Things to Do in Iquitos, Peru

Discover unique wildlife and cultural wonders in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon

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Known as the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos – home to a bustling population of 1 million people – is the largest city in the world that can't be reached by road. Instead, waterways surround the landlocked city which is at the basin of the Amazon River. There's plenty to see around this fascinating Peruvian city, including European architecture created during a rubber boom at the turn of the 19th century, indigenous cultural highlights, and insights into the unique jungle wildlife that awaits in the Amazon. Iquitos serves as either the embarkation point, or final destination, for some of Seabourn's Amazon expeditions. As you travel with a team of experts you will encounter indigenous populations and discover captivating cultures, as your Zodiac® and kayak adventures take you deeper into this remote, fascinating region.

Here are just eight of the best things you can do in the unique city of Iquitos

Plaza de Armas Iquitos' main square is a lovely spot to spend some time and explore the history of this landlocked town that was once a booming center of the rubber industry, and home to European rubber barons in the late 1800s. Along the sides of the plaza you'll spot the impressive Iquitos Cathedral and the "iron house," Casa de Fierro, purchased during the Paris Exposition of 1889, then transported here to the jungle, it is rumored to be have been built by Gustave Eiffel.

Museum of Indigenous Amazon Cultures Get a deep dive into the culture and beliefs of the residents of the Amazon through artifacts, art, and clothing, of more than 40 indigenous Peruvian Amazonian tribes at this unique and informative museum.

Laguna de Quistococha A soft white sand beach lined with food vendors, this is a perfect perch to watch the water (keep an eye out for the Amazon's pink dolphins!) and relax on a sunny afternoon.

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm A technicolor array of stunning butterflies fills the air at the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm & Amazon Animal Orphanage, making it feel like you've walking into a floating gem store. The butterflies here are sure to delight – especially since this is considered one of the best butterfly farms in South America – and there's also Amazonian animals that are receiving care here to visit, including jaguars, monkeys, and caimains.

Monkey Island Since Iquitos is the launching point for jungle tours, it may not come as a surprise that there's myriad wildlife close at hand, including animals that need protection and care. Monkey Island -- which, as it sounds, is an island full of monkeys, and is accessible by a quick boat trip – is devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating monkeys – most of whom are cage free --with the hope of then releasing the primates back into the wild.

Manatee Rescue Center Another organization dedicated to helping Amazonia wildlife, this one focuses on the endangered gentle giants of the Amazonian waterways, manatees. A bit like underwater elephants, the docile herbivores reside here when injured and in need of care. Not only will you be able to see these calm and peaceful sea animals close up, but the center allows guests to bottle feed manatee babies.

Belen Floating Village The floating city of Belen is a kind of Amazonian Venice, with overhead passageways and boats below. A boat tour can bring you through this residential area, and then to the Belen Market where you can purchase some of the Amazon's unique tropical fruits and to Pasaje Paquito, a famed part of the market filled with local remedies made from the wealth of plants in the jungle said to cure everything from a broken heart to diabetes (we can't vouch for any of these, but it's certainly interesting to look at and hear about).

Sample Amazonian Specialties Peru is well-known for its delicious cuisine, and while you can find favorites such as marinated fish tiradito here, the Amazon's rich plant life introduces another level to the cuisine with a selection of fruit that often doesn't travel beyond the river basin. While you're in Iquitos, look for options such as zapote (Peruvian persimmon), maracuya (a type of passionfruit), carambola (starfruit), guayabana (soursop), and camu, a Vitamin C-rich Amazonian berry purported to have multiple health benefits.

One of the best ways to discover the wonders of the Amazon rain forest is on the ultra-luxury Seabourn Venture expedition ship, designed specifically for exploring in unprecedented elegance and ease in the most coveted and unspoiled destinations on Earth. Unforgettable adventures await, from kayaking over seasonally flooded forests to riding in a Zodiac® and exploring some of the most remote regions and exotic cultures of the mighty Amazon.

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The bald uakari monkey
Amazonian manatee at the Amazon Manatee Rescue Center
Seabourn Venture's expedition crew guiding in the jungle Boca dos Botos, Brazil.
Vegetable for sale on Belen Market in Iquitos, Peru

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