In Iquitos there is plenty to experience. Experience, among other things, Gustave Eiffel’s artwork “Jernhuset” or the fantastic and colorful butterfly farm “Pilpintuwasi”, run by the passionate Austrian woman Gudrun.
You can also sail around the floating city of Bélen, and experience how the people here receive their supplies in an alternative way. Last but not least, there is plenty of amazing history to soak up in Amazon’s neighbor Iquitos. .
To get to Iquitos, you either have to go sailing or up and fly. Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is not reached by road. This is due to the very special location of the exotic city, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest in northeastern Peru.
Iquitos has about 396,000 inhabitants, making the city the sixth most populous in Peru. Furthermore, the capital of Iquito operates in the Loretto region. The city’s special location attracts many tourists. In 2012 alone, 250,000 visitors were registered in Iquitos.
Experiences in Iquitos
Casa de Fierro
The 19th century was an eventful time for the exotic city of Iquitos. During this period, rubber extraction was wasted and the city’s economy boomed. In step with the rising prosperity, those in power in Iquitos began to demand decoration for the city streets.
Gustave Eiffel – the man who also designed the Eiffel Tower – was therefore hired to design a majestic piece of art for Iquitos. From here came the Casa de Fierro , also known as the Iron House, due to the building’s construction in iron.
Probably not everyone will be equally impressed by the visuals at Casa de Fierro , but the story behind no one can take out of the building. The Iron House was built in Paris back in the year 1860, and was shipped to Iquitos piece by piece. It was a long process and the building was therefore not completed until 1890.
The nuanced Belén district is, if anything, Peru’s answer to Venice. About 700 people live here. The city consists of cottages, which are built on rivers. These are chained to the bottom of the river. During the day, vendors sail around and supply the city with fresh goods from the Amazon jungle.
Like a chameleon, the floating barracks city changes expression depending on the season. During the dry periods of the year, the water disappears and the rafts get stuck on the muddy ground. This is a bit boring to look at. In summer, on the other hand, Belén is a colorful and exotic sight.
Pilpintuwasi, Butterfly Farm
Does your heart beat for animals and animal welfare too? Then you have something in common with Austrian Gudrun. She is a bubbly fiery soul who has devoted her entire life to fighting for animal welfare, and that struggle she has chosen to take up in Iquitos.
That is why she has opened Pilpintuwasi – a butterfly farm with the most beautiful butterflies in all kinds of colors. Here she informs tourists, as well as locals, about the butterfly’s development process. In addition, a number of other animals live on the farm, including monkeys, jaguars and sloths.
The animals have all suffered a sad fate, and many of them have lived in captivity. That is why Gudrun has adopted the fantastic animals to give them a dignified and better life. However, some have taken advantage of Pilpintuwasi’s great success.
A group of former employees have set up a small butterfly farm right next to Pilpintuwasi. They stand by the shore and offer you to sail you to the butterfly farm. In reality, you end up on the small modest laggard where there are only a few species to be seen and no other animals are. Therefore, be careful not to get cheated.
Just 15 kilometers south of Iquitos is a small modest zoo. The park has a varied plant life, which is without a doubt a beautiful and colorful sight. Quistacocha’s facilities are also used for fish farming. Among other things, the life-threatening fish species Paiche is bred here – a river fish that can grow up to two meters long.
The lake is surrounded by a delicious hiking trail, which invites for long walks in the enriching nature. Laguna Quistacoccha is generally a good area to relax in. It is also possible to rent a boat and sail out on the lake. When hunger strikes, you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the area’s many restaurants.
Al Frio y Al Fuego – The floating restaurant
From the pier at Avenida La Marina, you can board a longboat for free. However, it is not just any terminus that the boat has ahead. Out in a small part of the Amazon River, the very unique gourmet restaurant “Al Frio y Al Fuego” floats around.
The restaurant consists of two floors, of which the lower deck consists of a bar, as well as a swimming pool which the restaurant guests can freely use. On the upper deck you will find the restaurant itself.
Al Frio y Al Fuego has an open cooking island so you can see when your food is being prepared by the skilled chef. The dishes are as if lifted out of the Amazon jungle. Here all kinds of tastes are mixed together. The taste experiences here are without a doubt culinary and fantastic.
Like the other parts of Peru, Iquitos was under Spanish rule in its day. The date of the European takeover is another mystery. However, Spanish historical documents have been found, indicating that the event took place around the year 1757.
Rubber boom and European footprints
At the end of the 19th century, Iquitos became a central hub for the export of rubber, which was extracted from the rubber trees of the Amazon. The rubber boom attracted thousands of European traders, whose footprints can still be seen in the city.
It is especially through architecture that the city’s European past shines through. Furthermore, a number of cultural institutions were set up during the occupation to serve the settled Europeans. Some of these are still found in Iquitos.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city’s economic opportunities developed. Both exports of fish, minerals, oils and agricultural crops became good earning opportunities for Iquitos. Later, tourism, crafts and bakery also became a major industry in the city.