A few weekends ago, while I was still in Iquitos, I finally finished a time-sensitive project, and my co-workers and I fled to the Amazon for an overnight journey into the jungle.
Among the highlights:
Swimming with river dolphins
Climbing trees and vines
Seeing monkeys (three species!)
Cutting down a tree with a sloth in it (because the tree was in a rice paddy) and then holding said sloth
Accidentally scaring an iguana so badly that it flung itself into the river and paddled off downstream
Catching and eating pirhanas
Finding a baby boa constrictor (this photo has nothing to do with that)
There’s really no way to describe the entire journey: the river banks laced with tangling ribbons of butterflies and the kingfishers dive bombing low over the water, the soupy air under the trees and the squealing chatter of monkeys as they race through the treetops ahead of our twig-cracking footsteps. That night, we drifted down a tributary in a dug out canoe, with no light but the clouded-over moon scattering across the chocolate water. Also, it’s very sweaty.
Iquitos, if you go:
Huasai (Fitzcarrald 102) – this cheap lunch place is your typical menu: lunch with a starter, a main, and a beverage for s/10 or s/12. There’s a nice variety of dishes, including the typical and ‘safe’ Peruvian favorites like lomo saltado (stir fry beef with tomatoes and potatoes) and chaufa (fried rice) and some more interesting dishes, like chicharrón de lagarto (fried alligator) and venado asado (roast venison). All of the food is very tasty and well made; we came here two days in a row.
El Sitio (Sargento Lores 404) – for dinner, you pick out which brochetas (skewers or shish kebabs) you want, and then they are grilled over tropical charcoal and delivered to your table. There are typical brochetas like chicken and steak, some more interesting, like anticucho (beef heart), and a nice assortment of vegetables and cheese and fruit skewers. (The grilled cheese is awesome!)
My Amazon Tours ( Jr Putumayo 155/http://www.myamazontours.com/) – an excellent tour company that will put together a personalized tour for you on short notice. We saw them the afternoon before we wanted to leave, and they were organized and ready for us at 7am the next morning (14 hours later). Very reasonable prices, great guides, and a nice little lodge up one of the Amazon’s tributaries. The guides speak English or Spanish.