The City of Iquitos’ Plaza de Armas is a mix of modern and rubber-boom style homes that boast Italian-style palaces with mosaic tiles and French-style mansions. One of the most famous homes was designed by Gustave Eiffel and built form metal sheets carried through the jungle to the Port of Iquitos. The Plaza can get busy during the weekends with street performers and Saturday-night crowds.
Visitors to the Port of Iquitos will want to visit the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Covering over two million hectares, the reserve is home to abundant and diverse wildlife and aquatic life communities, including many threatened or endangered species like the jaguar, manati, the giant river otter, black alligator, four different species of primates, and two species of rare turtles. The wide variety of plants in the reserve includes medicine plants like the “lupuna” that can reach heights of 45 meters. The reserve also contains rubber trees that remain from the days of rubber exploitation almost a century ago.
The Port of Iquitos’ La Casa de Fierro (the Iron House) on the Plaza de Armas holds craft shops and restaurants today. However, it was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) for the Paris Exhibition of 1889. Rubber tycoon Anselmo del Aguila purchased the creation and shipped it piece by piece to the Port of Iquitos. Today, the bar upstairs is run by the British consulate, and it serves as the consulate’s office as well. The Iron house is a must-see in the Port of Iquitos.
The Port of Iquitos’ Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage is a unique experience. The owner, Gudrun Sperrer, is devoted to his winged beauties and the animals of the Amazon forests. The farm has 42 species of butterfly as well as the leaves, flowers, and fruits they need to live. In addition to butterflies, the farm is home to many “orphaned” jungle animals that the Sperrer has adopted to save them. The animals include Pedro Bello, a jaguar a man was trying to sell for a pet; Rosa the Giant Anteater; Chavo the endangered species red-faced Uacary; black Huacary monkeys Zeke and Florian; and Lolita, the orphaned tapir. Pilpintuwasi is a 15-minute walk (dry season) or 20-minute boat ride (wet season) from Iquitos’ Padre Cocha village on the Nanay River.
At the Port of Iquitos’ southern end is the barrio of Belen, a canal during the wet season but full of people at other times. This poverty-stricken area is a big floating market where you can find anything you want. The floating city was featured in the movie Fitzcarraldo. With homes on balsa-wood rafts or stilts, visitors are recommended to take guided tours of the area from boats found at the waterfront.