I will start with a little trivia for yâ€™all (please pardon my southern English J): Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is not accessible by road. You can fly into the small airport, or take a boat up the Amazon river to get there. We inquired about the boat option and were told it takes between 2 and 10 days, needless to say there wasnâ€™t room in our 14 day trip for that kind of contingency. Out flight from Lima to Iquitos was delayed about 7 hours; apparently our plane had someone been used to fly some other place. When it came back there was a delay, because at dusk you canâ€™t fly into Iquitos.
There are buzzards on the runway, and itâ€™s two dangerous.
Boys who sell jewlrey on the streets. They followed us everywhere
Finally we arrived at the tiny airport around 8 or 9. Students from the Universidad Particular de Iquitos (UPI)were there to meet us.
Immediately when we stepped outside we were tugged and pulled about a thousand different way by mototaxi drivers. We were flung headlong into the Iquitos experience right away. Luckily, our group had come up with a plan: split up into twos and threes with various drivers, and meet up at the hostel. The first time I rode in a mototaxi is an experience Iâ€™ll never forget. Basically, it's a motorcycle with a bench seat over the back wheel.
On that first night our luggage was pulled from our hands and strapped (rather precariously) to the back of the most ramshackle-looking vehicle that I have every seen. That, of course, gave us no choice but to follow the driver. The fact that he looked about 4 years younger than the legal driving limit didnâ€™t do much to put my mind at ease. I can only describe that first ride with one word: exhilarating. It was a great first experience with the city that I came to love over the next two weeks. Wind blowing in my face, about a million smells wafting past, and a 30-minute scrolling picture of the people and places of Iquitos. Our driver mustâ€™ve been trying to avoid the traffic (at 9 pm?) because he took us on ALL back-roads. About 5% of which were paved. I could have curled up and disappeared in some of the pot holes. But, after numerous stalls and detours we all arrived in one-piece at our hostel.
Riding in these motor-taxis was one of the most fun experiences of Iquitos.
Hotel La Pascana was where we stayed.
I highly recommend it. Clean, very inexpensive and a nice breakfast is provided. Itâ€™s also near the river walk, a very pretty town square, and several good bars and clubs.
This is a typical scene in Iquitos
To sum it all up, I LOVED Iquitos. The city has a very unique feel to it. So isolated, yet so big at the same time. There are about half a million people living there. If you visit be sure to check out the Iron house (designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel tower fame). Iquitos is a jumping off point for many different jungle tours/Amazon expeditions. You can also do the boat tour. One of my favorite things to do: pay ten soles for a mototaxi driver just to drive you around the city. Itâ€™s a great way to get a feel for the atmosphere and absorb all the sights and smells of this truly unique place.