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Iquitos Peru

Iquitos Peru - the Gateway to the Upper Amazon

by Scott Humfeld of Greentracks

Iquitos is the gateway for tourism on the upper Amazon. There are some excellent jungle lodges - varying from rustic to upscale - a few hours by boat away from Iquitos.






It is possible to take riverboat trips to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a place that abounds with wildlife, either on an upscale riverboat or on one of the two restored rubber boom-era riverboats (now fitted with modern amenities).

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Iquitos Peru - History

Iquitos is the farthest inland deep-water port in the world and receives ships coming up 2300 miles from the mouth of the Amazon on the Atlantic Ocean.

There is only one road in/out of Iquitos and it only runs 60 miles to the small town of Nauta, so Iquitos can only really be reached by river or air.
Iquitos, located on the Amazon River in northeastern Peru, was originally one of the numerous Indian settlements organized by the Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, and was known as San Pablo de Napeanos.

Its population dispersed, but a community was re-established around 1760. Since the majority of the population was Iquitos Indians it became known as the village of Iquitos.

In 1864, three years after President Ramon Castilla had established the Departamento de Loreto (State of Loreto) port facilities were built and this is generally considered as the founding date of Iquitos.

Iquitos - Rubber Kings

At the end of the nineteenth century Iquitos, along with Manaus, Brazil, prospered greatly from the exportation of rubber.

Plaza de Armas Iquitos Peru 1886
Plaza De Armas, Iquitos 1886

During this period of grandeur many fine buildings were erected, including the "Iron House" designed by Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, which was purchased at the Paris World's Fair by a rubber baron, disassembled and brought to Iquitos where it was re-assembled in 1886 and still stands on the Plaza de Armas.

Hotel Palacios Iquitos Peru
Hotel Palacios Iquitos Peru

The center piece of the Plaza de Armas, the Iquitos Cathedral, was completed in 1911.

The Hotel Palacios was built from 1908-1912 and is one of many buildings faced with ceramic tiles imported from Italy and Portugal.


Iquitos - The Decline and Rise

With the end of the Rubber Boom, around 1910, Iquitos fell into a deep decline and it wasn't until the discovery of oil in the mid-twentieth century that Iquitos began to prosper again.

Plaza de Armas 2008 Iquitos Peru
Plaza de Armas 2008 Iquitos

Today Iquitos has a population around 400,000 and depends on exports of oil, wood, plant products, and tourism.

Article by Scott Humfeld, Iquitos Operations Manager for Greentracks, an ecotourism company that provides the finest nature and culture-oriented trips into tropical regions of Latin America.

Founded in 1992 by prominent tropical biologists, GreenTracks has delivered memorable adventures with expert guidance to thousands of vacationers.  www.GreenTracks.com





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Next on the Peruvian rainforest: Pacaya Samiria National Reserve






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