Want to go to the jungle with little time, on a tight budget? Don’t worry. Read Christelle’s post on the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve and find 3 day/2 night packages from 145 USD.
I always heard that the only reserve worth visiting in Iquitos is the Pacaya Samiria, because it is larger, deeper in the jungle and more rich. It’s true, it is unique, but you have to venture out and sometimes there isn´t enough time and there is a low budget to abide by. Daniel (Italian) and Carmen (originally from Iquitos) offer a homely spot in the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve, available for travelers to come and visit the jungle. They offer an adventure: travel by bus, walk among the trails and sleep in the woods. They have some nice rustic cabins and delicious homemade food.
Camping Out in Nature
Get off the bus at Km 22 of the highway that connects Iquitos to Nauta. From there, walk about one hour greeting soft bearded saddleback tamarins on the way to the Nueva Esperanza community, where Daniele and Carmen have created a dream spot called Allpahuayo Mishana Bed & Trees Pathways: huts literally in the trees. The first hut has two floors. Below there are hammocks, upstairs there is a small room and outdoor mattresses (with mosquito nets). The second, is a new “suite”: a single, spacious cabin with a double bed and a hammock on the terrace. There is a dry bathroom and a bucket of fresh water for showering. The idea is that everything is natural and rustic, much like typical life in the jungle. The dining room is located in the last hut, where Pedro (who lives here all year long) prepares his picadillo de paiche and mixed salads with fresh chonta. Within walking distance, Mrs.. Magnolia offers local drinks and find another family that raises paiches (the largest and finest fish of the Amazon) in a fish farm.
A Dip and an Evening Stroll
Since we arrived a little late with a fairly strong sun, the first thing we did was take a dip in the Quebrada Tamichi. A few steps from the cabins, find small, reddish fresh water pools. Don´t panic, at the bottom of the pools, there is soft sand. At sunset, the sky is colorful, reflecting the colors on the ponds used to raise fish. After nightfall, we had a candlelit dinner (there was no electricity) and then we went in search for frogs. They were heard everywhere, interrupting the silence of the night. But the biggest surprise was crossing a rainbow boa, that posed for a picture.
Within the forest
The proximity of the Nueva Esperanza village doesn’t ´t make you feel so isolated. Wake up at dawn the next day and dive into the primary forest right behind the cabins. There you can climb on the fallen trees, walk on the wet ground carpeted with leaves and let yourself be enveloped by the scent of humus. Johnny, Carmen´s brother, guided us and pointed out different trees, each with a unique story to tell: that is the “lechecapsi” that creates a creamy sap and transmits its good energy, this is the “palo rosa”, the other is the “siete raíces”. You can climb the vines or sit in a natural made chair. This 3-hour tour ends at the Quebrada de Santa Cruz, where you can swim and fish. If you are lucky you will see friar monkeys or electric blue morpho butterflies. The most beautiful part of the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve is that the forest is “tall” with some hills and is available to visit all year. These areas are not flooded like other spots near Iquitos. Now you know: they lend you the boots and you just have to walk.
The Farewell Boat
To enjoy the river experience, the trek on the last day will take you to the community of San Martin, to the Nanay River. Walk 2-3 hours along a white sandy path through the forest for a fresh fish lunch in the community. Here you can also fish and return by boat up the Nanay River to the small port of Ninarumi. If you want to see more of Iquitos, the Allpahuayo Mishana team can take you on a city tour to visit Belén and its market or visit the Amazon River.
An Additional Tip
If you want to visit the Allpahuayo Mishana Reserve without staying overnight, at Km 26.5, go to the Centro de Interpretación (managed by the IIAP) where they offer four different excursions through a typical varillal forest (a low, wet and sandy jungle). There you can spot numerous species of endemic birds, like the newly discovered “Perlite of Iquitos.” They open at 8am. The earlier the better.
Prices: 3 days/2 nights all inclusive tours, trekking and transport, from $145 for 3 people or more and $175 for 2 people. Children under 6 are free and 50% off for children from 6- 8 years old. Since the reserve is nearby, there is also a 2 day/ 1 night package from 105 USD for 3 or more people.