Very fortunately for us, our flights from Cuzco to Lima and then from Lima to Iquitos were on time and without incident.
So, we arrived at the Iquitos Airport at around 5:00 p.m. on May 15 and were collected by a representative of our hotel — Hostal Ambassador. It turns out, the representative was actualy an employee of an Amazon jungle lodge company called Paseos Amazonicos. Upon arriving at the hotel after the 30 minute ride from the airport, Jesus (the rep.) briefed us on what his company could offer us. We didn’t want to leave the next day (Tues.) but did want to go for a five day adventure beginning Wednesday the 17th. His lodge seemed good and off the beaten track. You see, the jungle lodges that are actually on the Amazon river itself aren’t as good for viewing wildlife because the Amazon river is like a highway for the locals. So, the Paseos Amazonicos lodge was on the Yarapa river about 140km from Iquitos. This was a good location and the price was only $45/person/day. Unfortunately, Jesus could not promise us they would have a guide availible for us on Wednesday. We really wanted to depart on Wednesday and come back on Sunday so Jesus was good enough to refer us to a couple of other companies he thought were reputable.
Well, after two hours of talking with Jesus about jungle lodges, we finally checked into our room and headed out to find dinner. Itquitos has a realy unusual atmosphere that’s kind of difficult to describe. Our first impression is that it is a cross between Africa and Thailand. It doesn’t really appear to be set up for tourism (although there are tons of street touts trying to earn commision from jungle lodge sales) and most of it isn’t very attractive. Really, most of the buildings look very industrial. Below is a picture of one of the main streets with the primary modes of transportation shown. (There are very few cars in Iquitos.)