Really looking to escape? Well you can’t get much more remote than Iquitos, Peru, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. In fact, Iquitos is the largest city in the world that isn’t connected by road to anywhere else. The only way in and out is via the Amazon River, or by air.
The city is remarkably self-sufficient– with the feel of a bustling frontier town– being a nexus on the river for goods and products being peddled throughout the Amazon basin. Thus, the city’s demographics are diverse, and represent a mix of Amazonian, Peruvian and, of course, thriving expat communities.
Undoubtedly, it takes a certain kind of person to feel at home in Iquitos; adventurers, explorers, novice anthropologists, the rugged among us. But if you do fit the mold, Iquitos is one of the few places left in the world for you.
One of the most notable draws of the town is the floating marketplace of Belén (it’s floating during the wet season), where goods are exchanged, bartered and sold from throughout the Amazon. Be careful for monkey pickpockets! Of course, Iquitos is the ideal launching point for any Amazonian adventure. Go camping in the jungle, take a river cruise and watch for wildlife, or even get spiritual and psychedelic– find yourself a local shaman, who with the help of the Amazon’s many hallucinogens, can take you into otherworldly realms you’ve only dreamed of before.
Also swimming in the Amazon’s waters all around Iquitos are the majestic botos, or pink river dolphins. That’s right– they’re pink.
Within town you’ll find all the basic expat necessities, even including one of the most popular gringo hangouts– a restaurant owned by Texan expats called The Yellow Rose of Texas. It’s the only place for hundreds of miles around where you can still get a good burger… or alligator nuggets. Here you can also find a comfortable room with games and cable TV in english, so home never seems too far away.
As said, this adventurer’s city isn’t for everyone, but it’s got a shantytown charm that’ll be sure to channel the inner Indiana Jones in anyone.