Peru offers jungle (selva) along with the coast and mountains. If you have never been in the jungle, it is worth to make at least short trip to Iquitos. There are very often good flight deals from Lima to Iquitos, so if you will find one, do not miss your opportunity! I started my adventure with Peruvian jungle from visiting Iquitos – the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and also the fifth-largest city of Peru (population around 422,055).
Iquitos is actually the largest city on the world which cannot be reached by road or by train. You can only get there by boat or by plane.
Our travel decisions in Iquitos
After arriving to Iquitos we had to decide what to do. We were not prepared for this trip, because we decided to visit Peruvian selva at the last moment. We had only 6 days for discovering the jungle and we lost some time for searching what to do and where. Finally, because we did not know to much about this region, and we did not want to lose more time, we decided to buy the trip to National Reserve Pacaya Samiria, a 3 days/2 night journey.
And here we did another small mistake. During the trip we realized that we could do it by ourselves for much less money which we spent. I think that we paid 200$ per person for the tour. If you will go on your own I think it is possible to do the same trip for more or less half of this price. It all depends how good will you be in bargaining with locals and for sure how many people go with you. The most expensive costs are the cost of the petrol on the boat. What means: more people, less money to spend.
So advice for all of you who are not afraid of organizing everything on your own and who want to save quite a lot of money. Do not buy any trip to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Go directly to Nauta town and hire a boat with a driver, who will take you everywhere where you want for much less money than you will spend on a tour. Every company organizes the same trails, so all boat drivers know perfectly where to take tourists. And if you will ask the locals, they will tell you in which village in the park you can find a local tour guide. This kind of tour guide will be the best option for you. No one knows the jungle better than its residents.
Some words about 3 day/2 nights trip to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
In general our trip to Pacaya Reserve was perfect. We had a very nice tour guide, whose name is Marden. Moreover we were only 2 people, so it was like a private tour.
We saw on the way a lot of similar tours, full of people on boats, who paid the same amount of money like we. In those moments we felt very lucky. It was very nice to have the boat only for us with so much space. And we could do everything that we wanted, because the guide was very flexible and he organized everything. When you go to jungle, you use the boat which is not too big, in which you will stay some hours every day. So it is really nice to have some extra space on board.
Day by day in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
First day of our adventure started at 6 in the morning. By private bus we went from Iquitos to Nauta town. This part took 2 hours.
In Nauta we had a breakfast, our tour guide organized food and the boat and around 10:30 am we were on the river called Maranon (Rio Marañón).
After around 2.5 or 3 hours, we arrived to the check point of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, where we registered our entry, bought the tickets and then continued out trip into the reserve. On the way we passed some small villages and finally we arrived to the village where we stayed for the night. I loved that place.
Our lodge was very comfortable.
Around 15 minutes walking from the house, we found a small shop, where we went several times: to buy some things and to charge batteries to phone and cameras. The electricity in that village was only some hours per day. I expected less than that, so it was a nice surprise. In our house there was no electricity, what was perfect for me. I felt more connected with the jungle :-).
After lunch we went by boat to see some other places and we made an excursion to observe the gray and pink dolphins. We also took a bath in the river. I was afraid of piranhas but finally I jumped into the river and it was a wonderful experience. The sun was going down, very warm water and me with the dolphins around. Nice, nice, nice…
During the second day we went more into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. We observed monkeys, birds. We were fishing around 2 hours.
First time in my life I saw piranhas and so many of them. I even caught some.
We did also nice trekking into the forest to see important plants, birds. It was incredible experience. I found a lot of very important plants such as cat´s claw (uncaria tomentosa, popular in Spanish as uña de gato or as Indian name vilcacora) or chuchuhuasi.
During the evening we also did another small trekking. I saw incredibly huge spiders. I am not big fan of them, but it was nice to see them in their natural environment.
And after quite a long day finally we went to sleep in our small tents, unfortunately with special guests – insects, a lot of insects. Even moskitiera did not help, they just wanted to visit us and they did not care too much that no one wanted them in the tent. I love guests but these were exceptions.
The last third day was even more interesting. We came back to the village where we slept first night. We did another great trip with the tour guide who was leaving in that village.
We bought some fresh fishes from the local person, which we ate later for the dinner.
We tasted coco. I bought a lot of this fruit during our trip. The coco juice was so fresh and delicious that I did not want other beverages.
To sum up: my first experience with jungle was very positive. I did not suspect that I will like the jungle so much.
Below you will find short video from our 3 days adventure 🙂