Traveling to a foreign country isn’t always the easiest, especially if it’s your first rodeo. Here is a collection of helpful tips to ensure a more enjoyable experience traveling to Iquitos, Peru. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. We also send out a “Welcome Packet” with more details on traveling to our center closer to your retreat date.
Note: We do not accept responsibility for any of the information contained herein. Some information may have changed or is no longer available. This is only intended as a resource, but prudent travel research and gut instincts should always reinforce your travel choices and decisions.
Traveling to Peru
Traveling to Peru is a long process for most travelers. Expect at least a full day of travel to reach your final destination. Most flights also fly red eye, i.e., overnight, which gets you into Lima in the wee hours of the morning.
Many airline carriers have specials throughout the year. LATAM is, by far, one of the more comfortable and pleasant airlines to fly into Peru, but they do cost more. There is also Copa Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, among others. There are also direct flights into Iquitos (where Rainforest Healing Center is located to the south of the city) via Panama City with Copa Airlines. JetBlue and Spirit Airlines have cheap flights to Lima out of Ft. Lauderdale.
KAYAK.com has come with excellent price comparison tools and even a daily lowest price notifier. We’ve seen one-stop tickets from LAX as low as $622 roundtrip and from Chicago as low as $700 roundtrip! As always, a little internet finger-work will help you find a decently priced ticket.
Important Note: Pick Up Your Bags and Clear Customs in Lima!!! No matter what the airline says, you will have to pick up your bags at the baggage carousel and clear customs. All countries require you to pass through immigration and customs upon entry.
Money In Peru
The official Peruvian currency is the Nuevo Sol, but many businesses accept US dollars as well. We recommend exchanging money at banks (rather than casas de Cambio) or using ATMs to acquire cash.
If you bring cash, make sure that the bills you bring look crisp and brand new with no tears, marks, or wear. Otherwise, they will not be accepted. This is no joke. We have seen many people come down with US currency bills that they thought were good, only to get turned down at the banks and money exchanges.
ATMs in Peru dispense both Peruvian Soles and US dollars. Be aware that when using ATMs, fees are often higher for foreign cards, and your bank may also charge an international-use fee each time you use your card. Also, it should be noted that while some (usually high-end) businesses in cities will accept credit and debit cards, they may also add a 5-7% surcharge to your bill.
Traveler’s cheques are another option. However, the exchange rate is much better for US dollars. You may exchange them at banks.
Whatever choice you make, ask for small bills (“pequenas billets”), as breaking large bills can be very difficult. Also, be sure to check for counterfeit bills. The easiest way to do this is to hold the bill up to the light and make sure you see the watermark.
Small tips are always appreciated in Peru and a great way to make a good friend.
Accommodations and Ground Transportation in Lima
If you need to overnight in Lima, we recommend Second Home Peru +51 1 7009832 – Mid to high-priced guesthouse, very clean and cozy.
Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport It’s right next to the airport and has a 24 hr spa. It may be considered a little pricy but if you need a place to spend the night before your flight to Iquitos, it’s a convenient option. Please note, you don’t necessarily need to get a room. Instead, you can choose to pay the spa for 8 hours, shower and relax in one of the spa’s available spaces.
Flying Dog Backpackers Hostel in the Miraflores neighborhood is a cheap option, but if you do not book in advance, you are often left with only a dorm room vacancy.
- We highly recommend Uber as the safest option for ground transportation.
- However, If you are familiar with Iquitos or prefer to take a taxi here’s what you need to know: Taxis are much more expensive in Lima than anywhere else in Peru. Most hotels offer a shuttle service from the airport for roughly $ 20 USD. If you choose to take a taxi, please use extreme caution as the taxi industry is largely unregulated and somewhat of a free-for-all-all. We recommend trying to select a driver who is older in age, as they will be less likely to swindle you or be working in concert with criminals who target tourists. The taxi drivers closest to the airport exit are the most expensive. If you cross the 2-3 curbs immediately outside of the airport and proceed into the parking lot, you should be able to find a driver who will take you into the city for around S/35. If arranging your own taxi is at all unnerving, have your hotel arrange a shuttle for you
Traveling to Iquitos
Iquitos is only accessible by river or by air.
As we mentioned above, there are direct flights into Iquitos from the States, but the dates are still minimal, and the costs are high.
The traditional route is to fly into Lima and then take a domestic Peruvian flight on either Star Peru or Peruvian Airlines to Iquitos. A roundtrip ticket costs just a bit more than a one-way flight, FYI.
- Spirit flies from many locations in the USA cheaply to Lima
- Domestic airlines LATAM, Star Perú and Peruvian Airlines offer flights into Iquitos from Lima and elsewhere in Peru.
You’ll want to plan to stay at least one night before your retreat or course start date. The Amazon is a very different place and takes a little adjustment. Having the time to relax, clean up, and get prepared for your journey is a great pleasure. Plus, you can visit one of the many wonderful cafes with WiFi to let your family know that you’re alive and well!
Airport Transportation in Iquitos
Motorcars are the main means of transportation in Iquitos. Motorcars are basically the same thing as tuk-tuk taxis in Asia. They are a motorized motorbike with three wheels and a bench in the back. The “motorcaristas” can and will try to get you to pay much more than the ride is worth. Do not pay more than S/12 (12 soles) to anywhere in the city from the airport. If you opt not to get on one of these motorcars, there are taxis standing by. They will charge from S/15 to S/20 to anywhere in the city.
Remember, you are entering a third-world country and what we like to call “The Last Frontier,” so do not get frazzled when motorcar taxi drivers swarm you as you walk out of the airport. Choose one, and tell him that you will pay no more than S/10. Make sure your bags are securely tied down if they put them in the back of the motorcar (they all carry some sort of rope), and enjoy the ride into Iquitos!
We will meet you at Dawn of the Amazon Cafe on the morning of the retreat start date at a pre-determined time. Please make sure you have rubber boots and tall nylon soccer/football socks for your trek into the jungle. Please visit What to Bring for more information.
Staying in Iquitos
We currently recommend four hotels in Iquitos at prices suited to a range of budgets:
- Hostal La Casona: +51 65234394 – cheap and central, one block from Plaza de Armas
- Central Bed and Breakfast: +51 65236376 – economic and boutique, central, very clean, great beds, and new (mention you are coming from us, and you will get a 10% discount). We will also meet to depart for the retreat and return to hereafter the retreat.
- Casa Morey: +51 65 231 913 – midrange pricing and two blocks from Plaza de Armas (mention you are coming from us, and you will get a 10% discount). This is where we usually stay.
DoubleTree Hilton: +51 65 222 555 – five star, it is everything you would expect from a Hilton, located on Plaza de Armas. By far the nicest accommodations in Iquitos.
Traveling to Our Center
Our staff will meet you in Iquitos at a pre-determined location (typically Dawn on the Amazon or Chef Paz), date, and time. From there, we’ll take you to Shamanflora which is located one hour’s drive from Iquitos on the highway Iquitos—Nauta.”
From the highway, the walk is ~3km (approx. 40 mins to 1 hour) through some amazing jungle on a wide and friendly path. If it has rained, you will need rubber boots since the path can get quite muddy. You can buy these in Iquitos at the Belen market for roughly 20 soles or purchase them online prior to your trip. We also encourage people to leave their boots after their stay for use by families in need.
Please use bags that can be carried on the shoulders of our workers, e.g., backpacks, shoulder bags (no suitcases). If you are unable to walk this distance due to medical reasons, please inform our staff in advance so that other arrangements can be made.