Our Trip to Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

Our Trip to Iquitos Peru

A special guest post by Jay Ingram, with a little help from his friends.

The Amazon River

The Amazon River

It is hard to imagine how much water is actually in the Amazon Basin, in Peru, unless you are on the water. This is a picture, from the air, as you fly into Iquitos Peru. You may see lots of green below, but I assure you, there is lots of water, below that green. The river is about 3 miles wide near Iquitos, but this picture was taken during the high water season. The increase in the water is due to melting of the glaciers in the Andes. The water can rise as much as 40 feet. During this time it was up about 25 feet. The water flows into the jungle and may travel as far as five miles, on each side, beyond the low water pool of the river. We are not just talking about the Amazon, but the many tributaries that feed this massive river.

Typical street scene full of motocarros

Typical street scene full of motocarros

So what is a city like Iquitos Peru all about? Iquitos is the largest land locked city in the world? With a population of 350,000, you can only get there by air or by boat via Brazil. Iquitos has very few cars, but there are 25,000 motocarros, a motorcycle connected to a buggy that seats 2 people. You can go anywhere in Iquitos for about 50 cents. The photo shows the massive numbers of motocarros. This isn’t just a busy street, this is what most of the streets look like in the center of town.

Plaza de Armas, Iquitos Peru

Plaza de Armas, Iquitos Peru

This is a picture of the center of town, called “ La Plaza de Armas”. All Peru town centers feature a park like square block, a government building and a church.

Houses built on stilts

Houses built on stilts

So how do the people live in a city like Iquitos? One third of the people live in houses on stilts so they don’t flood during the high water season. Other homes float on balsa wood, a native wood in the Amazon Jungle. Half of the year you would access your house by boat.

Is there a bad economy? Well, the people in these homes don’t notice any different.

The Ayapua, Amazon riverboat

The Ayapua, Amazon riverboat

Our transportation was very comfortable! The Ayapua was from the old rubber era of Iquitos. She was built in 1906 and remodeled in 2005. She came complete with generators for electric and all cabins were air-conditioned. The crew was a captain and his helper, cooks, a nurse, 3 biologists and even a bartender. The food was very good. Every meal had 2 types of meat, always fish and the other either chicken or some other type of meat.

Sleeping accommodations on the Ayapua

Sleeping accommodations on the Ayapua

We were 9 along with our Peruvian connection, Bill and Marmelita, and 2 fishing guides. The crew was 13, which consisted of 3 biologists. The Ayapua is a boat used for scientific explorations of the Amazon. She always went out, on the river, with the biologist. Pablo, one of the biologists, was an expert on primates. Since we were primates, he got along well with us. He was very helpful on our jungle hikes.

Catfish were plentyful

Catfish were plentyful

So what do 9 men from the Cincinnati area do on the river? We fished, we did jungle hikes and we visited villages along the river. We learned about their culture. The villages were self-sufficient. They grew most of their own food. The men cut down trees from the hardwood forest. They would make a raft out of the logs to float down river to Iquitos to sell to the sawmills. Some made thatched roof sections to be sold in Iquitos. All of the villages were full of children. The children would greet us at the dock and surround us as we toured their village. Everybody in the villages fished. Catfish were very plentiful.

Peacock Bass

Peacock Bass

Steve Shepherd and Dave Luecke caught the Peacock Bass. Edson and Bernado were the fishing Guides.

Huge Piranha

Huge Piranha

Bob caught a huge 2 pound Piranha. They are usually the size of Blue Gill.

Making thatched roofs

Making thatched roofs

This man devotes his day to making thatched roofs. He said he made about 40 a day. They would load these on the log raft to float to Iquitos to sell them. We did a 3 hour jungle hike behind his village and he made about 15 sections during that time.

Village children

Village children

The village children loved us. At this village the children tried to adopt Joe and Ed.

The observation deck of the Ayapua

The observation deck of the Ayapua

We managed to be quite at home on the boat. This is a lazy afternoon drinking a beer and Joe smoking a cigar. Life is lazy on the river!

Jay gets a hug from an anaconda

Jay gets a hug from an anaconda

And how could you not finish up a trip to the Amazon without making friends with a 16 foot Anaconda?

Bill and Marmelita in the dining room of the Ayapua

Bill and Marmelita in the dining room of the Ayapua

A very special thanks to Bill Grimes and Marmelita. They were very gracious in setting this adventure up for us. Bill is the owner of a company called Dawn on the Amazon.

Our Trip to Iquitos Peru

By Jay Ingram and friends

Read Bill’s version of this story at; Our Expedition on the Restored Rubber Boom Era Boat, the Ayapua

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tim March 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I think Jay could have used a BIGGER HUG from that snake!!!

2 Ann Ryan March 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm

This article and pictures are National Geographic quality. We need more people to share trips as such with people whom appreciates the beauty of the world and it’s creatures.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: