Our Trip to Iquitos Peru
A special guest post by Jay Ingram, with a little help from his friends.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Steve Shepherd and Dave Luecke caught the Peacock Bass. Edson and Bernado were the fishing Guides.
Bob caught a huge 2 pound Piranha. They are usually the size of Blue Gill.
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.
The village children loved us. At this village the children tried to adopt Joe and Ed.
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!
And how could you not finish up a trip to the Amazon without making friends with a 16 foot Anaconda?
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