Saturday 19th September 2015
Off I was to the airport for a flight to Iquitos! I arrived there 1h15 before as it was a domestic flight but I freaked a bit out when I saw this huge queue!! Everyone for all flights in the same queue, flights also going to Cusco, Arequipa, other places. I knew that unless they called people out, I wouldn`t make it on time for check-in! They finally asked: People going to Iquitos, raise your hand! And the priority queue was created and everyone dropped off their luggage. Then rush to the departure gate, go through. To realise once in the boarding area that the flight was delayed of an hour. Right..Anyway.
The flight finally took off and here was some of the landscape, but again nothing as striking as the Lima-Cusco flight!
When I saw those 2 turquoise lakes at the bottom, that would probably be gigantesque when near them, it made me think of the Santa Cruz turquoise colour lakes too and I thought hey, I could also do with going to check these ones out too…if I had more time!!!
It was handy to have this board giving more information about the flight. Iquitos is about 1,000 kms north-east of Lima. It is the Peruvian entry point to the Amazonian jungle and can only be reached by boat or by flight, but not by road!
The flight route
In the last 10-15 minutes, we started seeing from the window the Amazonian rivers and forest. So exciting!
What an incredible snake river!
Getting closer to Iquitos
Got to the Iquitos airport.
Disembarking. Whooo!!! What a sticky humid hot place!! I started sweating as soon as I was out. Felt like being in Brisbane early or mid-January when the weather is super hot and humid, tropical jungle style!!
Military jungle helicopter.
Welcome to Iquitos, a crazy noisy tropical sticky hot humid weather city where the tuk-tuk rules!
I took a taxi from the airport and it dropped me at the Flying dog hostel where I asked if they had a room with air conditioning. I had not booked anything for that evening! Lucky they had a bed left, so I dropped the bag in there. Then I asked at the hostal if they recommended a company to do a 4-day or 5-day tour to the jungle. I had also contacted by email Tuqui Tuqui that Paul and Emmanuelle had used but they were only going 4 days and had no one else going the next day so it was not really working. (If you can`t remember them, they are the French couple I met during Ciudad Perdida trek in north Colombia at the beginning of my trip who are also travelling south for 6 months and who have the awesome blog in French Tasquoisoustonponcho to which I am linking from the blog and that I highly recommend checking out!).
The hostal told me about something called Expedition Trip and Diego a guy from that agency came to chat to me about it. He suggested we go to his office nearby so he could show me the big map and all. I said ok, and within a second, I was on the back of his motorbike, with no helmet of course. Crazy things happen when you travel ahah. 10 minutes later we were a few blocks away at his agency. He was very vague though about all the details, and kept talking like a talking machine. I was hesitant but it was 4pm and I wanted to go to a jungle tour the next day. He said 2 Canadian girls were going the next day with them, they were also staying in the same hostel, so I thought alright, let`s book it. Let`s hope it is good! And I signed up for it. I withdrew some more cash from an ATM nearby and paid for the 5-day tour.
Walking back, I got a Claro sim card so I could have mobile data and not only rely on WiFi. I had also done that in Colombia. Until now I had not really needed it in Peru, but it made sense to get one now for the next 2 weeks I would spend in Peru. Here is the view from the river front when walking back in the direction of the hostal. I stopped in a small place where I had food and caught up with emails on the phone.
I started being bitten around dusk so I went back to the hostal. Another view, from one of the streets.
At the hostal, there was an Israeli girl in my room who was going to the supermarket to buy some food to make pasta with an Israel travel mate of her she had just met in Huaraz. I joined her and we went grocery shopping. Then the three of us cooked and met an American girl I can`t remember where from exactly who joined our cooking party. We ate at the central table and chatted all evening with a German couple, some Canadians, other people from who knows where. We were 10 people, the evening was cool, and the magic of travel was that the next day I was off to Iquitos and didn`t even stay in touch with any. Travel is that, you are constantly meeting people and sometimes unless you travel with them for a few days, you don`t alway stay in touch. You meet such a diverse crowd of different type of travellers from everywhere going different directions, it creates very magical funny moments and dinners you would rarely have that naturally in your everyday life.
After that, finished packing a small backpack for the 5 days in the jungle! Next morning, pick-up at 5.45am! Funny thing all evening I asked girls, hey are you from Canada? No, I am from the States. Hey, are you from Canada? No, I am from England. Oh, ok. I could not find the 2 Canadian girls I was about to go on a tour for 5 days so I just hoped for the best that they would be cool to travel with!!!
The next day, off to the Amazonian jungle for 5 days!!