Iquitos Centre Travel Tourist InformationLOCATION, EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Loreto is located in the northern part of the Peruvian Jungle. It limits to the north with Ecuador and Colombia, to the south with Ucayali, to the east with Brazil, and to the west with Amazonas and San Martín.
Iquitos, the most northerly department in the country, takes in 30% of the national territory, and comprises parts of the High and Low Jungle. The weather is warm and humid with an average temperature of 17ºC (63ºF) to 20ºC (68ºF) during the months of June and July, and a highest up to 36ºC (97ºF) from the months of December through March. Even if the weather is hot during those months, that time of the year is conceived as winter. The average humidity is 84%, with strong rains all year round.
Loreto has an extension of 348,177 km² (134,432 sq ml) and a population of over 650,000 people.
The capital is Iquitos. Other important cities are Requena, Contamana and Nauta.
BRIEF HISTORIC OUTLINE
The first settlers in the region were grouped in small tribes that expanded in a very primitive way through the various oriental slopes of the Andes. Many of these tribes settled in the Purús, Turúa and Yaraví river basins, receiving names different from those of their lineage. They were merely family clans, who adopted the name of their chief or curaca. During Colonial times, up to 800 of these groups were detected.
It is hard to determine the number of natives in the region when the first explorers and missionaries arrived. Numbers given by chroniclers indicate that only in the first century, 100,000 natives were baptized. Presumably, when the Spanish arrived, they were almost 300,000. Later on, however, they were seized by diseases acquired in the contact with the Spanish, among others, smallpox, diphtheria, malaria, yellow fever, and whooping cough.
On February 12, 1542 and after a search of several months, Spanish conqueror Francisco de Orellana discovered the Amazon river, an adventure that began in the Sierra.
Even if the colonization had started several decades before, the city of Iquitos was founded in the year 1864. It is well located between the Nanay river and the left margin of the Amazon river, which makes it an obliged starting point when traveling to other regions.
During Colonial times, the Jesuits and Franciscans evangelized and founded different towns. All those years, they contributed by opening routes and cutting down distances between tribes and villages.
When the missions fell, a long period of ostracism followed, taking on most part of the nineteenth century. Nonetheless, this was the time when the foundations of the future political organization were being set. Also, the time when the navigation on steamboats, the rubber heyday and the foreign immigration was starting.
The Golden Age of Iquitos started at the end of the last century with the rubber fever. Since the region was very rich in this species and its price went so high, it turned into the center of all looks and ambitions in the world. This period lasted 25 years and gave way to a gigantic development once the rubber fever passed.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN THE CAPITAL CITY
Parque de Quistococha. This park has a zoo site with exotic animals and various species of serpents.
Laguna de Moronacocha. A lagoon with a paiche breeding center. The paiche is a very big species of Amazon fish (one or two meters long).
Amazonas, Itaya, Yarapa and Manatí River Banks, in which several lodgings have been built.
Nineteenth Century Mansions. Sumptuous and exquisite, they display the opulence of the rubber heyday. Most of these mansions are located in front of the river sidewalk. Most outstanding among them is the Casa de Hierro (Iron House), the so called first prefabricated house in America. It was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel, brought from Europe in parts (bolts and nuts included), and assembled in the site in which it currently stands.
Barrio de Belén, also known as The Venice of the Jungle. This quarter is located in the center of the city and built over the waters of the Amazon river. Transportation must be done in canoes or by swimming.
Cruise Services offer navigating through the Amazon river for a whole week. These cruises include visits to the cities of Leticia in Colombia and Tabatinga in Brazil; walks into the Jungle; visits to native settlements; and night excursions and fishing.
Ecotourism. The Amazon region offers a great opportunity to enjoy this type of tourism. It is the biggest and most assorted natural reserve in the world. It houses no less than 25,000 species of plants already classified; approximately 4,000 species of butterflies; and 2,000 species of fish.
Camping over the Sucusari River. This is considered one of the most attractive Ecotourism sites worldwide. It holds the first aerial corridor in the continent, which offers visitors a privileged view of the abounding fauna and flora. This wire-net corridor is made of a hanging bridge 200 mt (656 ft) long, located at 30 mt (98 ft) high.
Reserva Nacional del Pacaya-Samiria. This natural reserve is the biggest in the country, with an extension of 21,000 km² (8,108 sq ml). It was created to preserve the distinctive fauna and flora of this enormous extension of Low Jungle territory. Access and guided visits can be done setting off lodges located at a four-hour distance by glider boat.
TYPICAL DISHES AND BEVERAGES
The typical dishes in Loreto are very similar to those of other places in the Amazon region. It is not strange then to see that they consider the motelo or turtle meat soup or the juanes (rice tamales with chicken or fish) as typical Loreto dishes. However, what is strange to see is that vendors in the local markets offer fried or steamed monkey or lizard meat that, according to the local people, are exquisite.
Other typical dishes include, cecina (pork, dried and smoked), the tacacho (coal cooked bananas, pork, and chopped onions), the chonta salad and the palometa (fish soup).
To drink they serve the mazato, natural fruit juices, such as aguaje, maracuyá, cocona, or a refreshing aguaje ice cream.