No Buzzards on the Runway, Iquitos Peru
Looking out the window on the left side of the plane on the approach to Iquitos, Peru, I caught a glimpse of the Nanay River winding through the jungle. I could almost see my boats on that river. The woman I love was at the airport to greet me. My body and mind felt the contentment of arriving home after a long journey.
Then the pilot came on the intercom and announced it was raining too hard to land and that we would circle Iquitos until the rain let up. There was hardly a cloud. I watched as we made a few circles over the confluence of the Nanay and the Amazon River. The pilot shattered what was left of my contentment when he announced we were returning to Lima. I was furious. Liar! There was no rain; it was those damn buzzards again.
My experience was two years ago, and thankfully the problem has been fixed.
In the last few years, many travelers have had their visit to Iquitos altered or cancelled, and several businesses have been ruined, because the city dump was located one mile from the airport. Thousands of Black Vultures were attracted to the dump, and to the area of the airport, creating a hazard for planes.
From the time I was rerouted back to Lima, all daylight flights were cancelled. Iquitos went from receiving 12 flights per day to 6 flights; one in the early morning, one in the late afternoon, and 4 per night. The largest city in the world with no road access needs as many flights as possible.
The buzzard problem was a disaster for this third world city. The economy of Iquitos was already in the dump. I saw one estimate that buzzards at the airport cost the Iquitos economy $150,000 to $200,000 per day. Something had to be done.
In July, 2007, Salomón Abensur, was elected mayor of Iquitos partly on a pledge to solve the problem by moving the land fill farther from the airport. Say what you will about Mr. Abensur, he did move the land fill 15 miles from the airport and most of the buzzards went with it.
There are no buzzards on the runway at the airport of Iquitos Peru.
Aviation officials lifted the ban on daylight flights, but no new flights have been scheduled. Iquitos needs more planes bringing tourists, business persons, visitors, and supplies. The tourist sector of the economy needs those flights. In the good old days we had direct flights from Miami. Now I would be happy if we could have one direct flight per day from Cuzco.