This is the largest city unconnected to any other by road.
Iquitos is Peru’s gateway to the northern Amazon Rainforest by the Amazon River.
As a port city of the Amazon, Iquitos was a very important trade route for the country. And it’s also the base for you to experience Peru’s Amazon Rainforest.
But how many days do you spend in Iquitos and what’s the recommended time to spend in the Iquitos Amazon?
To answer these questions, let’s have a look at Iquitos itself and the surrounding rainforest.
From Iquitos, you can enjoy incredible cruises into protected areas or tours from Amazon Rainforest lodges.
Explore the Amazon with your professional guide. You will be scouting for many different animals and fascinating plants.
However, as this is a city, the rainforest surrounding Iquitos has been disturbed. And much of the wildlife has fled to live farther out.
This is where you find some of the best protected areas. These include the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and the flooded forest of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
As these areas are far from the city, it takes a few hours to reach the best sections of the Amazon. This will eat into your time exploring the Amazon, which means Iquitos is not a good place for a short tour.
If you’re interested in a short tour of 3 to 4 days, we recommend the lodges from Tambopata near Puerto Maldonado. We will mention these at the bottom of this article.
You really want 5 days at least for an Amazon tour from Iquitos. You can afford a day less on a cruise as you will be heading deeper into the rainforest. But let’s have a look at each protected area a little more.
Iquitos Protected Areas
The best protected areas to visit from Iquitos are the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. These are both quite far from the city and can be reached on organized tours from lodges and cruises.
The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve is the first protected area to reach from Iquitos. This takes about 4 hours of travel time.
The general rule is the longer you spend in the rainforest, the more wildlife and fascinating things you will see. Therefore, you should aim to have as long as possible exploring the rainforest if you want to see a lot of wildlife.
You will arrive at the reserve in the afternoon and will leave in the morning or afternoon after your stay. This means you will have limited time actually exploring the rainforest on a short tour.
The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve
The Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve contains a high diversity of Amazon Rainforest animals and plants. Spot many different monkeys. You can see sakis, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, tamarins and marmosets. There are also the rarely seen uakari monkeys, which were the reason for the reserve’s foundation.
The reserve covers over 420,000 hectares of flooded and non-flooded tropical rainforest. As mentioned, the primate diversity of the this part of the rainforest is spectacular. But there is a lot more to see.
The reserve protects over 600 different bird species. These include many favorites including the colorful tanagers, cotingas, trogans, and king vultures. You can also find the iconic birds of Amazonia, such as the toucans, different macaws and many other parrots.
The Tahuayo Lodge
The Tahuayo Lodges is one of the best lodges for nature from Iquitos.
The lodge is positioned in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and offers private guides and a custom itinerary as standard. Enjoy spotting many different animals and plants. You will explore on guided walking tours, boat tours, and canoe excursions through the Tahuayo Reserve.
The minimum amount of time to spend at the Tahuayo Lodge is 4 days. But to spend time at both the Tahuayo Lodge and their Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center (ARC) the recommended time is 7 days or more.
Have a quick look at the video below for a short introduction.
The minimum required time to combine both of these lodges is 6-days.
The ARC is located in even more untouched rainforest and you can split your time between both lodges.
Enjoy the facilities of the main lodge, such as the largest canopy zipline in Amazonia and better canoeing then visit the research center. The ARC offers a 1,000 acre primate research grid. This is where researchers are studying reserve wildlife. The grid makes it easier to observe different monkeys and other animals showing natural behavior.
Click the tour bubble below to learn more.
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
This is the largest national reserve in Peru at over 2 million hectares.
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is a beautiful flooded section of Amazon Rainforest.
Because of its vast and flooded nature, the best way to experience the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is on a cruise. And there are a few different cruises from Iquitos to choose from.
You can see many different animals in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Enjoy spotting many different monkeys. Head out to see howler monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys and pygmy marmosets. You may even see larger species, such as spider monkeys.
In addition to the many different primates, you can spot a wide range of other animals. These include the favourite and iconic Amazon species. Have chances to see pink river dolphins, toucans, large, colorful macaw parrots, black caiman and anaconda. You are sure to see many colorful birds.
From the different cruises, explore the waterways of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
Let’s go over some of the different cruise options available.
The Delfin II
The Delfin II is a luxury Amazon River cruise from Iquitos in northern Peru.
You will be treated to luxurious comfort. Your suite features large picture windows to keep you connected to the Amazon and an en-suite bathroom. You then have a large, comfortable beds fitted with the finest Peruvian linen.
The Delfin II vessel offers a lounge, bar, lecture room, library, massage room and an elegant dining room lined with windows. With views of the Amazon Rainforest, enjoy delicious cuisine prepared by the vessel’s team of expert chefs. You will enjoy a range of delicious dishes on your voyage. The meals are inspired by the rainforest, Peruvian classics and international favorites.
Led by some of the Amazon’s best guides, explore the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve on skiff expeditions and forest walks. You will be scouting for several different monkeys, very colorful birds and pink river dolphins. You will also have chances to see some rarer rainforest animals and plants.
The Delfin II Amazon cruise offers itineraries of 4 days or 5 days. You will be collected from the international airport in Iquitos and driven in comfortable coach to the port of Nauta. This is where you will board the Delfin II vessel.
Click the tour bubble below to send your request direct to the Delfin II.
The Delfin III
The Delfin lll is one of the Amazon River’s most affordable luxury cruises. Enjoy very comfortable suites, spacious living areas and delicious cuisine. In addition, you can also enjoy the massage room. indoor and outdoor lounges, a sundeck with plunge pool, gym and bar.
Enjoy the Delfin III’s very comfortable suites and facilities. You will then head out into the Amazon Rainforest with your highly trained guide. On skiff expeditions from the main vessel, explore the rainforest to find a range of Amazonian animals. Find many different monkeys, river dolphins, toucans, macaw parrots and colorful birds. You will have a few excursions in the evenings to find caiman crocodilians.
The Delfin III offers itineraries of 4 days or 7 days. These focus on different areas around Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. For more details, contact the cruise using the contact bubble below for an itinerary.
How Long to Spend in Iquitos City
The majority of visitors to Iquitos are collected from the airport and are escorted back to the airport after their cruise or tour.
However, you may choose to spend some time in Iquitos itself. You can add a day or two before or after your Amazon Rainforest experience. Given the minimum time to spend on tours and cruises is 4 or 5 days, to explore Iquitos as well we would recommend a minimum of 7 days.
Things to do in Iquitos include:
- Visiting the different museums
- Enjoying some delicious restaurants
- Visiting different lakes
- Exploring the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve
- Visiting the boulevard for rainforest views
Of an evening, the boulevard is where you can find different bars to enjoy a drink overlooking the river.
Where to go for short Amazon tours of less than 5 days?
For Amazon tours for less than 5 days, Iquitos is not the best choice to make the most of your experience in the Amazon Rainforest. This is because of the time it takes to reach the areas of high wildlife, which are farther out from the city.
This time eats into your time available exploring the rainforest. Often, the tours that offer short tours will take you areas of highly disturbed Amazon Rainforest where most of the animals have left long ago. This won’t give you a good experience or image of the Amazon.
For the best experience of the Amazon Rainforest on a tour of 2 to 4 days, we recommend a few different lodges from Puerto Maldonado. This is in southern Peru, which will take you into the nearby Tambopata National Reserve.
The Tambopata protected area is part of one of the world’s largest areas of protected tropical forest. As you can imagine, the wildlife is incredible. And you can arrive at the reserve after only 30 minutes of travel time. This means you spend more time in the rainforest and more chances to find fascinating animals, plants and beautiful scenery.
Recommended Lodges for Short Tours from Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Lodges we recommend for a short Amazon tour are the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge and the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
From Posada Amazonas, enjoy lake tours to find giant river otters and hoatzins. You will visit a canopy tower to spot toucans and parrots. There are also cultural activities for a balance of nature and Amazon culture.
From the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, enjoy the canopy tower, macaw clay licks and wildlife walks. The lodge is in the buffer zone of Tambopata Reserve in wildlife-rich rainforest .