Tuesday, March 10, 2015

traveling to iquitos, peru with kids: what to do


{This is the second in a short series of posts I'm doing on traveling to Iquitos with kids. Here are my posts on lodging, Monkey Island, and Belén.}

There are so many family friendly adventures in and around Iquitos. Every day our kids were proclaiming that that day's activities were their absolute favorite. But at the end of the trip we narrowed down our favorites to visiting Belén, a floating village, and Monkey Island, which I wrote about separately because I had so many pictures.

In addition to those two, here are our other favorites:

-Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm
This is a great place to see a variety of animals unique to the rainforest in as natural of a habitat as you can get. All of the animals here have been rescued. Some of the animals live there permanently and other animals come and go as they are rehabilitated. The butterfly farm is also fascinating because you get to see all stages of the life cycle of a butterfly. On our first trip to Iquitos, it poured rain the entire time we were there which just added to the natural feel of things here. On our second visit, as I was coming out of the bathroom, a monkey jumped out of a tree onto my head and scared me to death!


-Manatee Rescue Center
This is a smaller rescue center with a few different animals, but the highlight of definitely the baby manatees. You get to feed and pet them and they are extremely friendly. Some of the other animals we saw being rehabilitated while we were there were monkeys, otters, and sloths. 


-The Amazon River and Bellavista Nanay Market
Of course you have to actually go out onto the Amazon River. We even jumped in and swam in it, which is something I know we'll never forget. This is also where the pink dolphins live. Both trips we were lucky enough to see them. Right by where the Amazon and Nanay Rivers converge is a small market that is fun to visit. You can try different Amazonian fruits and delicacies and get a glimpse into life on the river.


Two places I would recommend leaving off your itinerary:

-Quistacocha Zoo
We went on our first trip and knew we wouldn't go again. You don't travel to the rainforest to go to a zoo, especially a zoo where the animals aren't taken care of well. There are too many other opportunities to see rescued animals in more natural habitats to waste your time here.

-Bora Indians
This is another experience that we did the first time around and decided to skip on our second trip. It does not feel like a "native" experience at all. It's a show and as soon as the dancing is done they hound you to buy their products. They were putting bracelets and necklaces on all our kids and telling us we needed to buy it for them. It was a really uncomfortable experience (and not because the women don't wear shirts). But we will always have this gem, so I don't totally regret it:

Jungle Dancing 2 from Sarah Goodfellow on Vimeo.

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