Iquitos Travel Blog

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RIDAY 15th OCTOBER 10:00am Brisbane time
THURSDAY 14th OCTOBER 7pm Peru time

We are on a small speed boat on a tributary of the Amazon River surrounded on all sides by jungle. It is pitch black except for occasional bolts of lightening in the distance.
We are on our way to a remote jungle lodge where we will spend the next 4 days.
We should have already got there, however earlier we experienced our first taste of Peruvian airline efficiency and arrived in Iquitos (the remote jungle town accessible only by air or a very long boat journey) 6hrs late.

We set out for the lodge at 3pm. The boat trip usually takes about 3hrs but there were a few problems:

1) The Amazon jungle close to Iquitos is being heavily logged. Logs frequently fall off the transport boats into the river, so our speed boat has to slow down freqeuntly to navigate around them

2) Petrol is often spiked with water - as happened in our case - therefore the boat conked out frequently and a lot of time was spent just drifting while the carburetor was cleaned.

3) Water lettuce from the river often got snagged on the boat propeller which led to more conk outs.

Since we set out so late, by 6pm we are in total darkness. Because of the many branches, semi submerged logs etc, our speed has dropped to a mere put put.

The mood on the boat has changed. Earlier everybody was cheery, pointing things out to us, but now it is a lot more tense. Our guide is now up the front of the boat next to the driver, standing up with a torch, scanning the area in front of the boat for branches, and also scanning the river bank searching for the narrow entrance to the Yarapa river where our lodge is. In the dark this could easily be missed.

There is no light on the coat so we´re sitting in the dark. I´m trying to remain relaxed, however the dark is so suffocating, and we are so remote. I also become aware of the life jacket I have on and wonder why they insisted we wear them. I mean, theres no chance of going in there is there??
My mind is starting to wander about the Hollywood-ised version of the Amazon - anacondas, alligators, snakes, piranhas (they are all in there but we later learn that they aren´t as dramatic as made out in the movies)

A bit over 4hrs after we set off, we are at the Yarapa River Lodge. It is quite nice - owned by an American Opthamologist, but run entirely by local Peruvians, and built entirely by local people as well.
(check out its web site at

The next 4 days are great. They feed us vast amounts of food (too much for the heat though). We take trips out into the rainforest or on the river about 4 times per day 6-8am, 10-1pm, 4-7pm, and 8-9:30pm.
We either go hiking in the jungle, or take a small boat out onto the tributarys or back out to the Amazon river spotting wildlife such as different varieties of monkeys, birds, snakes, spiders, sloths, toucans, peccaries (like pigs), and pink dolphins.

We spotted Capybaras which are part of the rodent family but weigh 60kg (ie. one big rat). One morning a 4m long boa constrictor was lying asleep on the path we were walking on. One of our guides almost stepped on it. It was angry!! But the guide (a local ´river´ person) wrapped it around a branch and brought it back to the lodge to show everybody else.
After is stopped hissing and striking at anything withing 20m, it slithered off back into the jungle.

One night we took the boat to an area with a lot of reeds and using a spotlight saw the red eyes of alligators. We also went to a spot on the Amazon were lots of pink dolphins hang out feeding on the abundant fish in the area.

Another afternoon we went fishing for Piranha with fishing line on sticks, and beef for bait. We (well not I) caught a few little ones and 1 big one (you should have seen the teeth on it)
The chefs back at the lodge cooked it up for us that night. It tasted just like any other fish, but the scramble egg coloured roe all through it kind of put me off a bit (I don´t think Piranha caviar is that sort after)

We also canoed to a spot with giant waterlillies that a child could sleep on without sinking.
Our guide, Usciel, was excellent. He has lived in the Amazon all his 35years and speaks perfect English. He had the eyes of an eagle, and could spot birds and animals high up in the trees with his naked eyes. However we needed binoculars to see them. Having a guide like that made a huge difference as the jungle is teeming with life but it could easily be missed. The key, he said, is to listen as well as look.
He was so knowledgable with all the names of the animals and birds (which he showed us in a reference book, and was spot on), and lots of interesting stories about them all.
He was assigned to us only, so we never had anybody else with us on our expeditions.

He also told us of a tiny barbed fish common in the Amazon river (but not so much in the tributarys, called Candiru. People who swim naked in the river (which is a lot of the river people as we saw on our journey) run a real risk of this fish swimming `upstream´ and getting lodged in ´places´. The barbs mean that they stay there and the infections that results are pretty bad news. But as Usciel said, "If you wear a bathing suit, theres no problem"
You just have to watch out for all the other wildlife lurking below.

The heat of the jungle was stiffling. Around 38 degrees and 100% humidity. Sweat poured off you, but since the jungle teems with malarious mozzies, you have no choice but to cover up entirely.

We flew out of Iquitos on Sunday and are now in the capital of the former Inca empire, Cusco. Macchu Piccu is near by and we will visit it early next week after hiking the Inca trail

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photo by: Ileamel