NORTHERN PERU. FIRST PART: SANTA ROSA (TRIPLE BORDER) – TARAPOTO

The north of Peru, much less frequented by travelers than its southern counterpart, has it all too: charming cities and towns, landscapes of all colors and unique archaeological sites of pre-colonial cultures. There are amazing places everywhere, so it is essential to visit its jungles, mountains and coast. Precisely, the fact of being less visited is what makes it more special, since you will have the opportunity to share with the Peruvians in a more intact way and scenario than the one in the southern zone. What beautiful people live in Peru.

 

This first part, purely Amazonian, is characterized by the rhythms of the jungle and fluvial transport. The following points stand out:

 

  • Santa Rosa - Iquitos by boat

  • Iquitos

  • Surroundings of Tarapoto

Santa Rosa - Iquitos by boat

Santa Rosa de Yavarí is a tiny Peruvian community in the department of Loreto located in the Amazonian Triple Border with Colombia and Brazil. This isolated area of the world, on the banks of the Amazon River, is so fascinating because in such a small space there are three different cultures of the jungle... Each one from a different country, with its typical customs, dances, languages/accents (there is a rare mixture of Spanish and Portuguese, with some native intermingled words), and even facial and corporal expressions. It is worth visiting Tabatinga (Brazil) and, above all, Leticia (Colombia) to know its charms. In Leticia there are many things to do, both in the city itself and in the surrounding area (you can also hire a tour to the deep jungle). If you happen to be here by mid-July, you will be lucky enough to attend the Triple Border Fiesta/Festival, which takes place every year in one of the three cities and it is full of events of all kinds. Simple awesome.

 

Santa Rosa is also a port of departure to Iquitos. The starting point for the adventure by boat overcoming the largest river on Earth. The trip is made on a cargo ship, with the top floor accommodated with a few hammocks for the passengers (locals and intrepid adventurers). It lasts around three or four days, crossing a monotonous but dreamy landscape: water, jungle and sky. Along the way small waterside communities can be seen. And from time to time the boat stops at one of them to load/unload) goods, which is a plus for the traveler, who will be able to wander the streets for a while, observe their people and, why not, try the gastronomy. Traveling by boat through the jungle is definitely a highly recommended experience. It does not matter much the specific journey, but the experience itself: a few days of total relaxation, contemplating a dreamy landscape and sleeping in a hammock. And the crew you share a roof with will somehow become your family. Tip: take a diary/notebook with you.

Iquitos

City in the middle of the jungle in which urban chaos mixes with the tranquility of nature. You need to know how to enjoy both the noises of mototaxis and the sounds of the rainforest. A curious fact: this is the most populated city in the world with no land access (you can only arrive by flying or sailing). Lots to see and d in the largest city of the Peruvian Amazon:

 

  • Walk through the beautiful center and along the waterfront, with beautiful views of the Amazon River.

  • Live the culture: observe the locals, chat with them, party...

  • Visit the amazing Belén Market, where exotic and peculiar products are sold (you would rather go and discover them yourself!).

  • Visit the interesting community of Nauta (connected by road). From here boats depart towards Yurimaguas *.

  • Travel to La Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island). It is a Wildlife Recovery Shelter that host primates and various other animals (most of them come from illegal trafficking)... You must pay a fee for the care of these monkeys, so, it is worth it in two ways: not only you will get in close contact with these friendly primates (some of them will climb to your head!), but also you will contribute your bit to the project. To get here, you must take a boat in Productores Port (Iquitos) towards Varadero/Mazan (the trip takes about 25 minutes).

  • Excursion to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm. This butterfly farm hosts a great variety of native butterfly species. To get there you must take a boat in Bellavista-Nanay port to Padre Cocha, then walk one kilometer (it is signposted).

  • Hire a guide for a jungle expedition. There are many agencies, all offering basically the same: hiking and camping in the jungle, wildlife observation, etc. You can choose from two or three days to more than a week.

 

To leave Iquitos and reach a more "civilized" area (that is, with roads) you have two alternative destinations: Yurimaguas and Pucallpa. Both involve an exciting river trip of several days through the warm and humid jungle (including the passage through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve) and through coastal communities.

 

* You can get faster (and cheaper) to Yurimaguas departing from Nauta, in a two-days trip that includes overnight accommodation in a native community.

Around Tarapoto

The most populated city of the department of San Martin does not have much to offer in itself... The surroundings, on the other hand, are full of beautiful places. This area, in the middle of the jungle, houses waterfalls, lakes and tropical vegetation in abundance. Highlights:

 

  • Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon). Approximately one hour south of Tarapoto is this beautiful lagoon. It is a place to enjoy gorgeous landscapes and relax for a whole day (or several). You can take a boat ride on the lake.

  • Ahuashiyacu Waterfall. It is located a few kilometers from the city, in the Cordillera Escalera Regional Conservation Area. Apart from its great beauty must be added that are easily accessible (20 minute walk from the entrance), which makes it a pretty tourist site.

  • Waterfall of Huacamaillo. Beautiful hiking route to reach an equally beautiful waterfall. You will pass through paths surrounded by dense Amazonian vegetation and you will have to cross a river on several occasions. The journey takes about two or three hours (one way), but it is really pleasant, making stops whenever you want for resting or taking dips in the river. You can also cool off in the final waterfall and its deep pool. Unlike Ahuashiyacu, there are not many tourists here, only locals, which makes the place even more magical. It is ideal to spend a night in your tent.

  • Other great waterfalls: Carpishuyaco Waterfall and Puyacaquillo Waterfall.

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