Iquitos is the capital city of the Department of Loreto, and the Amazon River´s main fluvial port in Peru, as well as the Peruvian jungle´s largest city. In the past, the area was inhabited by different ethnic groups, such as the Cocama, Huitoto and Bora. Then, jesuit missionaries founded the city, and it was at the end of the 19th century that Iquitos lived its maximum apogee, with the exploitation of rubber. At that time, that financial bonanza allowed the construction of luxurious buildings, such as the Art Nouveau style Palace Hotel and the Iron House, designed by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel.
Contrasting with these extravagant constructions, the rustic houses of the Belén neighborhood, rest on barges and piles, to protect themselves from the river´s rising waters. One of the maximum attractions nearby Iquitos, is navigating on rivers and lakes, as well as enjoying its beautiful beaches.
The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (2,080,000 ha.) is the country´s largest protected reserve, and is situated 183 km. from the city of Iquitos. It is a refuge for numerous animal and plant species, many of which are endangered, like the charapa turtle, giant river otter, black caiman and river dolphin.
On the other hand, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve (58,000 hectares), protects the greatest concentration of white sand forests or “Varillales”, known in the Peruvian Amazon, and it is one of the best destinations for bird watching.
Besides these beautiful and so important national reserves, there also are numerous private reserves, in which lodges for all tastes, have been built.