10 Best Day Trips From Iquitos, Peru

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Nestled deep in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos is a vibrant and captivating city that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking adventure and immersion in the natural wonders of the jungle.

Iquitos is a Peruvian port city and gateway to the jungle lodges and tribal villages of the northern Amazon. Its district of Belén is known for its massive open-air street market and rustic stilt houses lining the Itaya River. In the historic center, the Main Square (Plaza de Armas) is surrounded by European-influenced buildings dating to the region’s turn-of-the-20th-century boom in rubber production.

The city, Iquitos offers a range of cultural attractions with historic buildings, the bustling promenade, street vendors and floating markets where locals sell fresh produce and handicrafts. the city’s vibrant energy and and colourful buildings create a lively atmosphere that is impossible to resist.

The local cuisine, which is a delicious blend of traditional Amazonian flavors and international influences has got to be sampled and there are a multitude of places to try them all.

Moving away from the city, is the Amazon rainforest with a wide range of tours and trips to keep you entertained and amazed for days. Thrilling boat rides along the mighty Amazon River, exotic birds, jungle explorations and wild animals in their natural habitat are all on your doorstep. You can take the opportunity to visit indigenous communities and learn about their ancient traditions and sustainable way of life.

Iquitos is a city that embodies the spirit of the Amazon, with its vibrant culture, incredible biodiversity, and enchanting landscapes. Iquitos promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders and I have provided for you below with the top ten excursions that you should do at least once in your life time.

1. Amazon River Cruise

Total Time – 3 Days

Each day brings new discoveries and thrilling excursions

Amazon River Cruise
Amazon River Cruise

Embark on a remarkable adventure along the mighty Amazon River with an Amazon River cruise. This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers a captivating journey into the heart of the world’s largest rainforest, where nature reigns supreme and every moment is filled with wonder.

As you step aboard the luxurious river cruise vessel, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff and an ambiance of comfort and elegance. Settle into your well-appointed cabin, complete with modern amenities and panoramic views of the lush jungle surroundings. The ship becomes your floating oasis, transporting you through the enchanting landscapes of the Amazon.

Each day brings new discoveries and thrilling excursions. Explore remote tributaries on smaller boats, venturing deep into the rainforest in search of elusive wildlife, such as colourful macaws, playful monkeys, and elusive jaguars. Join expert guides who will share their knowledge and the secrets of the Amazon,

Visit riverside villages, interact with community members, and gain insight into their traditional way of life. Participate in traditional ceremonies, learn about their sustainable practices, and purchase authentic handicrafts directly from the artisans.

Indulge in delectable cuisine inspired by the flavors of the Amazon. Savour fresh, locally sourced ingredients prepared by talented chefs, who skillfully incorporate traditional recipes with a modern twist. Enjoy panoramic views of the river as you dine, creating unforgettable memories with every bite.

At night, relax on deck and gaze at the star-filled sky, serenaded by the sounds of the jungle. Experience the magic of the Amazon after dark, as nocturnal creatures come to life and the forest reveals its mysteries.

An Amazon river cruise is an extraordinary journey and a voyage of discovery, where you connect with nature, embrace local cultures, and forge lifelong memories that will forever resonate in your heart.

2. Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

Total Time – 8 – 10 Hours

Remarkable wildlife in their natural habitat all around me

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Lagunas, Peru
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Lagunas, Peru

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is truly a sight to behold and is hidden deep within the Peruvian Amazon. From the moment I stepped foot into its pristine wilderness, I was taken aback by its sheer beauty and untouched nature that surrounded me.

The journey began with a serene boat ride along the meandering waterways, lined with dense vegetation and towering trees. It didn’t take long to spot the remarkable wildlife in their natural habitat all around me. With each passing moment, I felt more and more connected to the natural wonders of the Amazon.

Exploring the reserve on foot, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, I walked through winding trails that led me through lush rainforests, revealing exotic plant species and hidden lagoons teeming with life. Every step was a chance to spot colorful birds, playful monkeys swinging from tree to tree, and elusive creatures like jaguars and river dolphins.

One of the highlights of the day was a peaceful canoe ride through the tranquil blackwater creeks, where the mirror-like surface reflected the mesmerising beauty of the surroundings. The gentle paddling allowed me to fully immerse myself in the tranquility of the reserve, listening to the soothing sounds of nature and marveling at the vibrant flora and fauna.

As the day drew to a close, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to experience the wonders of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. It was an unforgettable day in a remote paradise.

3. Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage

Total Time – 2 Hours

Hundreds of butterflies gracefully flutter around

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

Visiting the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage is an enchanting experience that immerses you in the vibrant world of butterflies and provides a unique opportunity to observe and interact with rescued wildlife. Located very close to Iquitos in Peru, this sanctuary is a haven for various species of butterflies and other animals that have been rescued from illegal trafficking or precarious situations.

Upon entering the butterfly farm, you are greeted by a multitude of colours as hundreds of butterflies gracefully flutter around in a lush tropical garden. Expert guides provide insightful information about the life cycle, behavior, and conservation efforts related to these delicate creatures. You can witness the different stages of metamorphosis, from tiny caterpillars to stunning adult butterflies, and even have the chance to release a newly emerged butterfly into the wild.

Beyond the butterflies, the animal orphanage is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, birds, and reptiles. The knowledgeable staff educates visitors about the importance of conservation and the efforts being made to protect these vulnerable species. You can observe the animals up close, learning about their natural habitats, behaviours, and the challenges they face in the wild.

A visit to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage offers a unique blend of education, conservation, and hands-on experiences. It is an opportunity to appreciate the delicate beauty of butterflies, support wildlife rehabilitation efforts, and deepen your understanding of the importance of preserving our natural world.

4. Quistococha Lagoon

Total Time – 4 – 5 Hours

Crystal-clear turquoise waters

Laguna Quistococha, Peru
Laguna Quistococha, Peru

Located just a short distance from Iquitos, on the boarders of the lush Amazon rainforest, is the enchanting Quistococha Lagoon. It is must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike on the look out for a perfect day trip. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing its beauty and tranquility on a guided tour.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the lagoon, shimmering under the sun’s rays. The serene atmosphere and the surrounding tropical vegetation created a picturesque setting that felt like stepping into a paradise.

One of the highlights of my visit was exploring the lagoon by boat. The calm waters allowed for a leisurely ride, offering breathtaking views of the vibrant flowers, and diverse bird species that call this place home. As the boat gently glided across the lagoon, I felt a sense of peace and harmony with nature.

Quistococha Lagoon also offers various recreational activities to suit every traveller’s preference. From swimming in the refreshing waters to kayaking and paddle boarding, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy water-based adventures. The lagoon is also surrounded by walking trails and I chose to do one which allowed me to immerse myself in the beauty of the rainforest and encounter unique flora and fauna along the way.

For those seeking cultural experiences, Quistococha has a cultural center that showcases the rich traditions and customs of the indigenous communities in the region. I had the chance to learn about their traditional crafts, music, and dance performances, which added a deeper understanding of the local culture.

Whether you are seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Quistococha Lagoon offers it all.

5. Iquitos City Tour

Total Time – Full Day

the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Amazon region

Plaza de Armas de Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru
Plaza de Armas de Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru

A day trip to Iquitos, the gateway to the Amazon rainforest in Peru, offers a fascinating blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. The Iquitos City Tour allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of this unique city while exploring its most iconic landmarks and attractions.

The tour starts with a visit to the historic district of Belén, known for its colorful floating market and bustling streets. Here, you can observe the local way of life and browse through an array of fresh produce, traditional handicrafts, and medicinal plants. The Belén Market is a sensory feast, with the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Amazon region.

Next, the tour takes you to the beautiful Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city, where you can admire the grand architecture of the historic buildings and the ornate façade of the Cathedral of Iquitos. Nearby, you’ll find the Casa de Fierro, a famous iron house designed by Gustave Eiffel. This unique structure is a symbol of Iquitos’ rich history.

Another highlight of the city tour is a visit to the Manatee Rescue Center, where you can learn about the conservation efforts to protect these endangered creatures. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to observe manatees up close and discover the center’s initiatives to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild.

The tour also includes a visit to the Amazon Museum, where you can delve into the region’s rich biodiversity and indigenous cultures through informative exhibits and displays. You’ll gain insights into the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage of the Amazon rainforest, deepening your understanding of this incredible ecosystem.

To top off the day, a relaxing boat ride along the Itaya River offers a chance to appreciate the lush greenery and tranquil waters of the Amazon. You can soak in the natural beauty and spot wildlife along the riverbanks, keeping an eye out for birds, monkeys, and even river dolphins if you’re lucky.

Overall, the Iquitos City Tour provides an immersive experience, allowing you to discover the history, culture, and natural wonders of this vibrant city on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. From bustling markets to historic landmarks and serene river rides, this day trip offers a glimpse into the unique charm of Iquitos and its surrounding natural treasures.

6. Monkey Island

Total Time: 2 – 3 Hours

Greeted by the sight of mischievous monkeys

Office of La Isla de los Monos, Loreto, Iquitos, Peru
Office of La Isla de los Monos, Loreto, Iquitos, Peru

I recently had the opportunity to visit Monkey Island in Iquitos, Peru, and it was an incredible experience. Located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Monkey Island is a sanctuary for various primate species and offers a unique experience, observing all the fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

To reach Monkey Island, there is a scenic boat ride along the winding Amazon River. The lush greenery and sounds of nature surrounded me, creating a sense of anticipation for the adventure ahead. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the sight of mischievous monkeys swinging from the trees and playfully interacting with each other.

Walking along the island’s trails, I encountered different species of monkeys, including capuchins, tamarins, and howlers. It was captivating to observe their agile movements, curious expressions, and unique behaviours. The knowledgeable guides provided interesting insights into the monkeys’ characteristics, habits, and conservation efforts.

One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to interact with the monkeys up close. Under the supervision of the guides, I had the chance to feed them fruits and watch as they eagerly reached out their tiny hands to grab the treats. It was a magical moment that created a deeper connection and appreciation for these intelligent creatures.

Aside from monkeys, Monkey Island is also home to other Amazonian wildlife, such as colourful birds, reptiles, and butterflies. It was an educational and awe-inspiring experience that reminded me of the wonders that await in the heart of the Amazon.

7. Amazonian Cooking Class

Total Time – 4 Hours

Charming cooking studio surrounded by lush rainforest

Amazonian Cooking Class
Amazon Cooking Class

I managed to book on a usually sold-out Amazonian cooking class to create and learn all about the flavoursome food that I had been eating during my visit to Iquitos. Led by a knowledgeable local chef, the experience took place in a charming cooking studio surrounded by lush rainforest where I could start to immerse myself in the rich culinary traditions of the region.

The class began with an introduction to the unique ingredients and flavours of the Amazon. From exotic fruits and vegetables to indigenous spices and herbs, the chef shared fascinating insights and I was captivated by the vibrant colours and enticing aromas that filled the air.

Under the guidance of the chef, I learned how to prepare 3 traditional Amazonian dishes from scratch. From hearty fish stews to mouthwatering grilled meats marinated in local spices, each recipe showcased the diversity and freshness of the ingredients sourced from the surrounding rainforest.

Throughout the class, I discovered the importance of sustainable and ethical practices in Amazonian cuisine. The chef emphasized the use of locally sourced ingredients, supporting the communities and preserving the delicate rainforest.

It was then finally time to savor the fruits of our labour. We gathered around a beautifully set table and indulged in a feast of flavours. I was impressed by my own culinary skills!

Not only did the cooking class provide me with valuable culinary skills, but it also deepened my appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the Amazon. It was an enlightening experience that allowed me to connect with the local traditions and flavours in a meaningful way. This is a must-do experience.

8. Amazon Canopy Walkway

Total Time – 1 – 2 Hours

Allowing visitors to walk among the treetops

Amazon Canopy Walkway
Amazon Canopy Walkway

Deep within the lush rainforest, you can explore the Amazon Canopy Walkway. This elevated pathway offers a thrilling and immersive experience, allowing visitors to walk among the treetops and see the Amazon from a different perspective.

The canopy walkway is a marvel of engineering, constructed high above the forest floor and extending for several hundred meters. As I stepped onto the suspended walkway, I was slightly nervous but there was no need as a sense wonder washed over me immediately.

With each step, you feel a gentle sway beneath your feet, reminding you of the sheer height and grandeur of the rainforest canopy. As you ascend, the views become more breathtaking, revealing a tapestry of towering trees, colorful orchids, and exotic bird species soaring through the air.

The walkway provides a unique vantage point to observe the diverse flora and fauna of the Amazon. You may spot playful monkeys swinging from branch to branch, colorful macaws soaring overhead, and elusive creatures camouflaged among the leaves. The symphony of sounds—bird calls, monkey chatter, and insect hums—creates an enchanting ambiance that immerses you in the heart of the jungle.

Each step on the canopy walkway is an adventure, a chance to connect with nature and appreciate the incredible ecosystem that surrounds you. As I slowly descended, I thought to myself that the Canopy Walkway is both exhilarating and humbling and I am so glad I experienced it.

9. Dolphin Watching Trip

Total Time – 2 – 3 Hours

Their acrobatic leaps and playful antics.

Pink Dolphin Tour
Pink Dolphin Tour

Welcome to the enchanting world of dolphin watching in Iquitos where you have the opportunity to have the incredible experience of encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Setting off on a dolphin-watching trip takes you to the Amazon River where you navigate through winding waters, surrounded by the lush greenery of the rainforest. The air is filled with anticipation as you scan the horizon, eagerly awaiting the sight of playful dolphins breaking through the surface.

As the boat glides along, your expert guide shares fascinating insights into the life and behaviour of the river dolphins. The Amazon is home to two species of dolphins—the gray dolphin and the pink river dolphin, known as the “bufeo” in the local language. These graceful creatures captivate your attention with their acrobatic leaps and playful antics.

Spotting a group of dolphins swimming alongside the boat is a moment of pure magic. Being able to see up close their sleek bodies gliding effortlessly through the water, their dorsal fins slicing through the surface with grace is just magical. Their playful nature shines through as they leap and splash, seemingly as excited to see you as you are to see them.

The encounter goes beyond mere observation as you learn about the dolphins’ social structure, communication methods, and the challenges they face in their ever-changing environment. You gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of protecting these beautiful creatures and the delicate ecosystem they call home.

As you bid farewell to the dolphins and make your way back to shore, a sense of gratitude for these incredible animals and the realisation that the memories of this extraordinary experience will forever be etched in your heart and mind.

10. Indiginous community visit

Total Time – 4 – 5 Hours

The forest becomes a living classroom

Indiginous community visit
Indiginous community visit

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and rich heritage of the indigenous communities near Iquitos as you embark on a transformative visit to one of these enchanting villages. This excursion gives you the privilege of experiencing the warmth and authenticity of the indigenous way of life.

Upon arrival, you are warmly welcomed by the community members, who graciously share their traditions, customs, and ancestral knowledge. The community opens its doors, allowing you to gain a glimpse into their daily lives and age-old practices.

Engaging in interactive activities, you learn traditional arts and crafts, such as pottery, weaving, or carving. The skilled artisans guide you through the intricate processes, unveiling the stories and symbolism behind each creation.

You have the opportunity to create your own piece, a tangible reminder of this meaningful encounter. This was my favourite part of the experience and will keep it forever.

Guided by community elders, you embark on nature walks, discovering medicinal plants and their traditional uses. The forest becomes a living classroom, teaching you the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of sustainable practices.

Sharing a communal meal prepared with local ingredients, you have the opportunity to taste the traditional cuisine flavours. The simple yet delicious dishes leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

Through conversations and storytelling, you gain insights into the history, spirituality, and challenges faced by these resilient communities. You listen to their tales of resilience, preserving their cultural heritage amidst a rapidly changing world.

As you bid farewell, you carry the spirit of their hospitality and wisdom with you. The visit to the indigenous community in Iquitos reminds you of the importance of cultural preservation, mutual respect, and the incredible diversity that enriches our world.

Continent: South America

Iquitos, Peru