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Iquitos - Loreto

The city of Iquitos , capital of the department of Loreto, is Peru's main port along the Amazon River.

Founded in 1757, the city began to boom from 1880 onwards as a result of the rubber tapping industry.

Nanay River

One can still see signs of that economic bonanza in buildings such as the old Hotel Palace, built in Art Nouveau style with materials brought from Europe, and Casa de Fierro, designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel.

These constructions contrast with the rustic homes that line the Belen quarter, where all constructions rest on pilings due to the fact the river rises several meters during the rain season. A boatride along the major rivers and lakes around Iquitos is particularly bewitching for visitors. Native tribes mainly live along the banks of the Amazon, Napo, Ucayali, Marañon and Nanay Rivers.

The most popular beaches are Tunchi Playa, on Lake Quistococha, and Santa Clara and Santo Tomas along the Nanay River, which are ideal for water sports. Some 150 km from Iquitos lies the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest reserve in Peru, the second-largest in the Amazon Basin and the fourth-largest in South America. The area is home to an astonishing biodiversity of fauna and flora.

The Festival of San Juan in June is an ideal time to taste the local cooking at some of the many good restaurants in the city, as well as to buy superb quality arts and crafts and take in the joyful music of the people of Iquitos.

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