I originally visited Iquitos as part of the research for my book, but I couldn’t be so close to the Amazon without taking a day off and venturing into the jungle. Most travelers tend to organize their itinerary based on the sights and then sample the local cuisine when they can. For me, it’s the other way around. On my last full day in the Selva, I decided to take a day trip from Iquitos to see a glimpse of the Peruvian Amazon.
Amazon tours depart from Iquitos and are highly customizable. You can easily find a tour that fit your time frame. Common tour lengths are 1 day, 3 day, and one week. The longer you have, the deeper into the Amazon you can go. The Amazon is far from homogenous; the wildlife changes as you get deeper. More time in the Amazon also gives you more time for jungle walks and other activities.
Overnight tours make use of Amazon lodges located at convenient locations that follow the course of the river. The lodges serve as basecamp for expeditions and is where you will eat most of your meals. These lodges are all-inclusive and include food.
I only had one day but found that it was enough time to get a glimpse of the wildlife and how people in the jungle live. It was nice to just have one day where I didn’t have to plan every hour.
The tour left in the morning from the dock next to Ninay market. We had enough time to give the market a quick walkthrough. I also finally got a chance to try the most famous Suri (Amazonian grubworms).
A Day Trip from Iquitos
I can’t stress enough how beautiful it was to in the midst of the these incredible trees. It was like being in nature’s cathedral.
We weren’t really ever that far from civilization. This road was really well-paved and connected the villages in this part of the jungle. The only problem was that carts sped through, and there was no such thing as pedestrian right-of-way!
Both before and after lunch, we strapped on our boots (provided by the lodge) and walked around while Junior shared his knowledge of the plants and wildlife. The people of the jungle have a harmonious relationship with the plants.
It wasn’t all tree-hugging. They cut branches and make use of the leaves of the trees around them but do so in a sustainable way.
I learned that surviving in the jungle requires a deep knowledge of your surroundings. There are tools, water, and food all around you if you know where to look.
Luckily, we were only a couple hundred meters from the comfort of the lodge and didn’t have to worry about survival. Since I was the only one on the tour, the pace was relaxed. It was like Junior was showing me around his neighborhood which in a way I guess he was.
The people living in the Amazon are a bit shy but friendly. The villages we came across were very well-kept. There was even a paved “highway” that linked villages.
The Journey Back
Before I knew it, it was time to head back. We saw more people in boats on the ride back. We arrived back in Iquitos late afternoon and some time to watch the famous pink dolphins.
This wraps up my series on How to Eat in the Selva. Admittedly, this post has the fewest food photos of probably anything I’ve published, but you can check out my previous posts to learn about the ingredients and traditional dishes of Iquitos and the Peruvian Amazon:
- A Jaunt Through a Jungle Market (Belén Market, Iquitos, Peru)
- How to Eat in Iquitos and the Peruvian Amazon
- Peruvian Food, A Cheatsheet (summarizes food across Peru with a section on the Selva)
Upcoming on the blog-we’ll make a quick stop in Lima and then go to the Northern Coast of Peru to sample ceviche. My goal for this trip was to learn about the food in the sierra, selva, and coast. One more region to go!