yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

The majority of people who come to Peru to experience ayahusca each year make their way to Iquitos where most of of the Peruvian retreat centers are located. Of course, it’s also possible to experience ayahuasca in places such as Pucallpa, Tarapoto, Puerto Maldonado and even Cusco in the mountains. However, Iquitos is where we’re based and it’s the city we know well.

We’ve created this guide to be useful to anyone who wants to visit Iquitos, no matter which ayahuasca center you intend to visit. After reading this guide you should know what to expect when you arrive here and feel less apprehensive about visiting this somewhat crazy, chaotic, exotic but also very charming city.

 

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

A City Like No Other

Most people who come to Iquitos say it’s like nowhere else they’ve ever been. It is a city completely surrounded by jungle and it is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road. Your only way to get here is by boat or by plane.

Iquitos originally began as a Jesuit missionary settlement in the early 17th century. In 1870, just before the so-called rubber boom, the population was believed to be around 1500 people.

The rubber boom period which only lasted about 40 years brought people and prosperity during that period and the population increased significantly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before boom turned to bust as demand for Amazonian rubber collapsed due to the fact that rubber plantations in Malaysia were producing far greater quantities at much lower costs. This caused a big depression in Iquitos which lasted some time.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

The Iquitos of today has a much healthier economy. The region exports timber, fish and their products, oil, minerals, and agricultural crops. It also derives considerable revenue from tourism, which has increased significantly since the Amazon was named one of the seven wonders of the natural world in 2012.

Iquitos is a vibrant, colorful and energetic city and is a fascinating tourist destination in itself. Make sure you give yourself a bit of time to see some of the sights either before or after your ayahuasca retreat. The rest of this guide will tell you where to stay, where to eat and what to see.

How to get to Iquitos

As stated, there are no roads to Iquitos. You have to fly or take the boat!

Unless you are an experienced traveler with a love of adventure, taking the boat is not advisable. It usually takes about four or five days from either Yurimaguas or Pucallpa. The food provided on the boats is often pretty bad and not something to recommend straight before an ayahuasca retreat. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you fly to Iquitos. The direct flight takes about 100 minutes from Lima. There are currently five domestic airlines running daily flights between Lima and Iquitos. These are LATAM, Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines, VivaPeru and Avianca.

You can usually book your flights all the way to Iquitos using a travel agent or flight-booking website such as Expedia. However, please be aware that almost all travel agents and flight booking websites use LATAM and Avianca as the airlines for the Lima to Iquitos leg of the journey and they both have the highest prices for tourists.

If you are on a tight budget and want to save money, then explore the option of only booking your international flight to Lima with your travel agent and then booking your flight from Lima to Iquitos separately with Peruvian Airlines or Star Peru. Usually, the best deals are with Peruvian Airlines, where you can sometimes book a round-trip from Lima for less than $100 (average price is about $150 when booked inside Peru).

NOTE: Please be aware that some airlines do not make clear whether there is a stopover in Pucallpa or in Tarapoto. You may get the impression you’re booking a direct flight to Iquitos, and then accidentally get off the plane too soon. A direct flight takes about 100 minutes, while a flight with a stopover can take up to 250 minutes.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

Arriving in Iquitos

When you arrive at the airport in Iquitos, you will need to take a taxi to the city center. The ride takes about twenty minutes. It is wise to make a hotel or hostel reservation before you arrive so that you know exactly where you are going. We’ll give you some hotel recommendations later.

Your first impression of Iquitos is going to be a little chaotic and slightly annoying. As you walk out of the airport you’re going to be accosted by around 30 taxi drivers vying for your attention and business.

It’s come to our attention that many people are getting ripped off by the taxi drivers, so it’s important you know what you ought to pay. Always agree on the price before you get in the taxi. We’ve heard of people being charged as much as $30 for a ride into the city. This is more than 3 times what you should be paying.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers
yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - The Ultimate Guide to Iquitos for Ayahuasca Travellers

There are two types of taxis in Iquitos. There are car taxis and three-wheel motorcycle taxis (like the Tuk-Tuks common in Thailand). Don’t pay more than 15 soles (about $5) for a motortaxi and don’t pay more than 30 soles (about $10) for a car taxi.

Pro-tip: When you exit the arrival section of the airport, ignore the throng of taxi drivers and walk to the left to where the departures are. You will never have to wait long to get a taxi who is dropping someone off at the airport. These guys will usually charge less (no more than 10 soles). Or even better, get your hotel to arrange a pick-up for you.

A final annoyance to deal with is that many taxi drivers will often try to recommend other hotels (where they get a commission). Just say a polite but firm ‘no’ to their recommendations and insist they take you to where you want to go.

Where to Stay

Like any city, Iquitos has a large variety of hotels and hostels to suit all kinds of budgets.

Before booking a hotel it’s always a good idea to check the ratings and reviews on sites like TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Here are some of our recommendations

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