Peru's principal Amazonian port and largest jungle town, Iquitos is a gateway to exploring the country's northern rainforests. Founded as a Jesuit mission in the 1750s and once among the leading rubber boom towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the city is so remote it's accessible only by air or river.
Iquitos is an excellent point of departure for touring the region's pristine nature reserves, staying at a lodge deep in the rainforest, or visiting local indigenous communities. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peru's largest, lies 114 miles from the city and is home to abundant wildlife including the endangered Amazon river dolphin, Arrau turtle, Amazonian manatee and brown woolly monkey. Just 12 miles from the city is the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, an Eden of bird life where new species previously unknown to science continue to be discovered. Native Bora and Cocama Cocamilla communities live nearby and there are numerous lakes and rivers in the area ideal for swimming, fishing and canoeing.
Attractions within the city limits include the historic Iron House and Hotel Palace, built according to the extravagant tastes of local rubber barons, and the rustic floating houses and open-air market of the Belén neighborhood. A great time to visit Iquitos is during its Tourist Week and San Juan Festival, both celebrated in late June.