Enjoying Loretano Culture in Iquitos… 

Iquitos is a romantic and seductive city with a rustic charm and unique culture reflecting an intriguing history.  Located 4 degrees south of the equator, the ethnic character is drawn from many indigenous tribes and European and Chinese immigrants who began to populate the area in the mid-1800’s.

The economic heyday of Iquitos was the era of the rubber boom from about 1880 to 1912.  During this time vast fortunes were amassed because the Iquitos region was the world’s foremost source of raw rubber.  Great injustice was perpetrated upon the indigenous people during this time by foreign entrepeneurs who ruthlessly exploited them for labor.  Many tribes were decimated and some eliminated entirely as a result of this exploitation.

A number of buildings constructed during the rubber era, many adorned with ceramic tiles imported from Portugal and Italy, remain in use in central Iquitos, especially along the old riverfront called the Malecon Tarapaca.

The mestizo people are peaceful, friendly and industrious, most with close lifestyle connections to the rivers and rainforests which surround Iquitos for hundreds of miles in all directions.  Loretanos, as natives of the Department of Loreto are called,  work hard by day and enjoy the pleasant, peaceful and relaxed routine of night life in Iquitos.

Accessible only by air or water, the regional Loretano culture remains pleasantly insulated from the harsher influences of the outside world. This is beginning to change however, and much of the old charm is in danger of disappearing with the arrival of 21st century technology and western cultural influence. The urban Iquiteño culture differs dramatically from the rural ribereño and indigenous cultures.

Motokars (three-seat motorcycle rickshaws) and uses are the principal means of public transportation in this frontier jungle city of around 400,000 inhabitants.
Downtown streets are active until 1or 2 a.m. most any night, even later on weekends. The streets of Iquitos are among the safest anywhere in the world.

Located in the Peruvian Department of Loreto, Iquitos is the urban center of a predominantly mestizo and indigenous regional population.The people are generally warm, friendly, hard working, interprising, and content in spite of material poverty.

(left) La Plaza de Armas is the central hub of urban social life in Iquitos.  The plaza is the scene of many cultural, religious and holiday celebrations throughout the year.

You will enjoy free time to explore Iquitos in the company of our guide. You can shop for a wide range of local craft and art along the riverwalk boulevard or at the San Juan Art Center, take a motokar tour of the city, or visit the Belén Indian market.Amazon craft ranges from jungle necklaces and bracelets to elegant but functional decorative blowguns and bows and arrows.  Fine carvings and furnishings made from palo sangre (blood wood) and fired ceramic pottery can be found at good prices.

You will enjoy the pleasant evening street festivities along La Boulevard overlooking the panoramic flood plain at the confluence of the Rio Itaya and Rio Amazonas.The restaurants, bars, dance halls, street theatre, and assorted street vendors combine with the friendly and relaxed attitude of the Loretano people to create a very pleasant social atmosphere.

The streets of Iquitos are extraordinarily safe from violent crime, but confidence crime and petty theft are unfortunately common.

The historic charm, mystery and romantic intrigue of Iquitos is evident everywhere.  Known as “The City of Love” hroughout Perú, it is said that if one is not in love when they arrive in Iquitos, they will be when they leave…

The city’s rich and colorful history, from the natural freedom of ancient indigenous cultures to the European opulence of the 1880’s rubber era, is still quite evident in the cultural and social fabric.

There is no other city in Perú quite like Iquitos which is evidenced by the many Peruvian tourists who visit Iquitos and the surrounding rainforest each year.

More about Iquitos, Peru’s gateway city to the Amazon…

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