Peru – Iquitos to Lima, 09 June 2011

We had half a day left in Iquitos, but we just ended up chilling in the compound of La Casa Fitzcarraldo, drinking several jugs of jungle juice, as we went down the list. Camu Camu was B’s favourite, so it ended up being a repeat. To date, I still have no idea what it is. Once again, it is entirely possible to just hang out at La Casa Fitzcarraldo, as the compound is just that awesome. And if you are a fan of four-legged friends, there are a couple of dogs, and one little kitten, who hangs around the compound, too (and no, I am not being paid to write this).

We decided to head for the airport earlier (it’s about 30 mins away), though the staff at La Casa Fitzcarraldo were kinda bemused. Turns out to be a good decision. Once again, the time of our flight was changed without our knowledge, and this time round, it was departing 30 mins early. So when they say call to confirm, it’s a pretty good idea. We just got lucky that we didn’t miss our flight.

The plane journey back was pretty amazing, looking out of the window. The mountain chains beneath looked really spectacular, and sometimes, I saw the peaks of some of the Andean mountains poking out of the fluffy clouds beneath. It was breathtaking.

On a note about domestic travel. We actually did our flights and bus bookings (but not our train bookings) with Go2Peru . Their prices are actually cheaper than the websites of the airlines sometimes, and they make the booking hassle-free. A few emails can settle your transportation problems. Also, if you are determined to check out the websites of airlines themselves, it also gives a good summary of all the options and timings available. Peruvian domestic airlines are actually pretty decent (well, compared to American ones). I don’t know about their safety record, but you can check in your baggage for free, and even on short flights, they do give you a snack and water. So that is nice.

After getting back to Miraflores, it was kinda late. So it was time for dinner. We were determined to have famous Latin American grilled meat for dinner, so we headed to Kennedy Park to survey our options, picked a grill house, and had a grill set for two. It was pretty delicious, and filling! Try it! After our filling dinner, there was a little night market in Kennedy Park, so B went shopping, and got some stuff.

The inviting pool of La Casa Fitzcarraldo

Mountains peeking out of the clouds

Amazing dinner of grilled meats


Peru – Amazon River, Iquitos, 08 June 2011

We had a huge breakfast with warm bread, eggs, lots of fruits and fruit juices, and then, it is …

Amazon River day trip! We signed up with Dawn on the Amazon, which brought us to Belen market, the floating market and up three rivers, including the Amazon.

Belen market is like a huge wet market, where they sell meats, like fish they just caught, and all sorts of jungle produce, like love portions, and jungle fruits. It has quite a reputation. Our guide and our boat guy actually protected us, and constantly reminded us to keep our bags in front. They seemed to be on the lookout for trouble; apparently, there are many pickpockets.

After our little market tour, we headed to our boat. We walked through areas, which are usually covered by the river, when the rainy season comes. When we got to our boat, I think we were just gonna cruise around in a sampan, which would have been ok with me. But it turns out, we were paying the extra money (compared to some other tours), because the sampan was just a vehicle to bring us to our real boat parked out in the river. Our boat was actually very sturdy, had proper seats with cushions, could comfortably fit six people, and had a canvas shelter, that protected us from the sun.

We cruised down the Itaya River, and along the way, we saw kingfishers, abandoned boats, logs waiting to be sold. It was an interesting journey on the brackish Itaya River. After a while, we turned back, and turned towards the Amazon, which was the main reason for the trip to Iquitos – to see the mighty Amazon River and the rainforest. The water colour definitely changed visibly, and as an added bonus, we also saw pink dolphins. Our tour included another river, and we tried sailing that way, but as our boat kinda broke down, the mission was aborted. Our guide brought us on a motokar back to Iquitos, ending our adventure on the Amazon.

Fried by the heat, we spent the rest of the evening in La Casa Fitzcarraldo, and had our dinner there as well. Walter started up a fire for BBQ, so we had some grilled goodness. (the fish dishes are huge, btw)

Belen Market

Some produce sold in Belen market

Belen floating village

Amazon River

Treehouse in La Casa Fitzcarraldo

Peru – Iquitos, 07 June 2011

Our trip to the airport was kinda scary. The guy at the hostel was convinced it wouldn’t take too long to get to airport, so we pushed things a little. But we got stuck in a massive traffic hold up, and when we got to the counter, it was like 40 mins before take-off. One nice thing about Peruvian domestic airlines? They change timings without letting you know. Thankfully, we got the good end of this – our flight was delayed without our knowledge, giving us ample time to grab some breakfast.

The flight was pretty amazing – usually flying above stuff, all you get to see is clouds. But as our plane was descending, I got to see the mighty Amazon. Looking down, it does impress upon me, what a diverse landscape Peru is. We started out from the mountainous Andes, and ended up in the forested Amazon.

Iquitos is a town in the middle of the Amazon river, and it was quite a trade town. Before the rubber boom in Malaysia, it used to be a huge rubber boom town. This was reflected in the architecture of the town. There were lots of cool, abandoned buildings in the downtown of Iquitos, with very elaborate designs. It’s almost as if you wandered into a early-twentieth century theme park.

In Iquitos, we stayed in the La Casa Fitzcarraldo, which was where the film about the rubber baron of Iquitos, Fitzcarraldo stayed during filming. It is run by Walter, who lives there, and consists of about three rooms and one bungalow. Rates start at about 60 USD for the small room. I highly recommend staying here. It is about 5 mins by motokar to downtown, but it was an oasis of calm from the bustling and noisy Iquitos. The grounds of La Casa Fitzcarraldo is pretty amazing. They have several pavilions  surrounding the beautiful pool, and even a three-storey treehouse. The rooms are also very comfortable, and come with a huge breakfast.

After settling in, we headed to downtown for a short walk, and also settled our trip to the Amazon with Dawn on the Amazon. After that, we settled in La Noche restaurant on the Promenade for dinner, jungle juice, and sunset on the Amazon. I had grilled fish, which had a texture closer to chicken, and we just sat and enjoyed the sunset before going back to our guesthouse.

Amazon River

Elaborate buildings of Iquitos

Camu Camu juice

Sunset on the Amazon

Grilled fish

Yikes, and a New Trip – Peru! (1-13 June 2011)

So, once again, I have forgotten to update all my older trips, have gone on a few more since then, and am embarking on another adventure. Tsk tsk me!

Anyways, what’s up? Peru!

It is going to involve an Amazon river cruise, an overnight bus ride, domestic airplanes, and two epic rail journeys.

01 June: Getting ourselves to Peru!

02 June: Lima, Peru

03 June: Lima – Cuzco

04 June: Cuzco

05 June: Cuzco – Machu Picchu – Cuzco (scenic train journey)

06 June: Cuzco – Lima (surfing!!!)

07 June: Lima – Iquitos

08 June: Iquitos

09 June: Iquitos – Lima

10 June: Lima – Huancayo (epic rail journey on the second highest railway in the world)

11 June: Huancayo – Lima

12 June: Lime (surfing? paragliding?)

13 June: back to Seattle