Iquitos is only accessible by air and water. It sits in the far East of Peru just down river from the Amazon’s headwaters. You can take a boat and reach the sea – the Atlantic Ocean 6,000 km away through Brazil.
Iquitos was originally founded as a Jesuit mission and didn’t do much until the late 19th Century when a 25-year rubber boom turned the place into a goldmine for those in charge. Huge fortunes were made and then disappeared when someone smuggled the seeds of rubber trees out and rubber plantations grew up in other, more accessible, locations.
A lasting memory of the boom times is the Iron House. Created by Gustav Eiffel as a pre-fabricated house it was bought in Paris and transported all the way to Iquitos where it stands still today – an unlikely testament to what vast wealth can achieve in even highly unlikely places.
Today Iquitos has a population of over 300,000 and is the regional centre for the Peruvian Amazon. It is also our staging post where we spend the night before setting out tomorrow morning by long-boat 150km upriver to our lodge.