Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Monday Escape: Iquitos, Peru

Plaza de Armas, Iquitos, Peru

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.


22 thoughts on “Monday Escape: Iquitos, Peru

  1. Nice article about Iquitos, though far from complete -obviously. I suppose I am one of the ‘rugged ones’, as I have made Iquitos my home. To me, it feels more like ‘home’ now than my own country does.

    Too bad you would single out the Yellow Rose of Texas as the only recommended restaurant. Apart from the obvious question, why anyone who visits an ‘adventurers town’ would want to eat the same old grub he gets at home, instead of the delicious Peruvian cuisine at some of the dozens of excellent regional restaurants, there is the question of Gerald Mayeaux, the owner of the Yellow Rose.

    Gerald Mayeaux is an absolute pig. Everybody here hates his guts. There was even a “Gerald, Go Home” picket line outside his bar, after he beat an 8 year old child to a pulp with his belt, for some trivial reason. He did not get arrested; he bought off the cops. He buys off everyone, including judges.

    Mayeaux terrorizes local entrepreneurs and extorts “commissions” from them. He bullies and slanders people who refuse. He makes their lives miserable and their businesses fail. Don’t take my word for it; just google his name; gerald mayeaux. See what comes up!

    Back in Texas -where he isn’t from; he’s from Louisiana- people get shot for less. I hope Gerald Mayeaux goes to Texas. Or to hell, where he belongs.

  2. Aristide,

    Thanks for the information and opinion about our review on Iquitos. You’re right, there are a slough of great places to eat in Iquitos with more local cuisine. ‘Yellow Rose’ was singled out in particular only because of the restaurant’s theme, which may offer some familiarity to the Western traveler. However, you’re right– if you’re truly interested in expatriating or traveling to Iquitos, it’s best to be more adventurous and try out the native cuisine.

    Also, thanks for your opinion about Mayeaux– these were unknown opinions when the review was written, and I’m sure that future readers of our review will take them into consideration and do some of their own research before embarking.

  3. Thanks Aristide for not being afraid to mention what you did. About 27 years ago we moved to the USA from Europe. With the deception that followed, we were looking for a nice quiet town in South America to lead a friendly life with neighbors. Iquitos was one of our hopes, but once we read about Gerald it has deceived us quite a bit. Where can we find a quiet place in this world to live in peace & love? Despite everything, if anyone knows of a house or apartment for sale in the city, let me know. What kind of price would something like this sell for?

    My greetings go out to Aristide and the honest citizens of Iquitos.

  4. @Dennis Thanks for your comments. Fortunately, Gerald Mayeaux is the exception here; most gringos here are friendly people. The ‘expat’ community is quite close. Most foreigners here run their own business, or work for large international companies or organizations. Many choose to socialize with other expats, but some, like me, don’t. Personally, I feel more comfortable socializing with the locals and steering clear from the gringos. It’s what I came here for. After all, if I wanted to hang out with middle-aged white men, speaking English all day, I could have stayed home.
    If you are looking for peace, love and quiet, as you say, Iquitos may not be the best choice, unless you are rich and can afford to buy a nice, peaceful haven in the city. Iquitos is a very noisy, lively town. There’s always something going on. I have lived here for three years and have moved nine times (for all kinds of reasons), but I haven’t found that peaceful spot yet. I am trying to get used to living with the noise of loud music, traffic and barking dogs. But then again; I am not rich, I make an Iquitenho salary and pay Iquitenho rent. And again; if I wanted to make a lot of money, I should also have stayed home.
    I love Iquitos and I plan to stay. I took a 92% pay cut to come and live here, so I guess that means something. Every place has its ups and downs and so does Iquitos. But it’s certainly one of the better places I have lived in and overall it has been a rewarding, fascinating experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Despite quite a few setbacks and disappointments, I have never regretted my move here for a minute.
    My advice to you would be; yes, give Iquitos a try, but only if you can afford to buy a really nice house that is well-protected against theft and burglary. You can buy a house for 500 dollars. That’s not the kind of house you want, though. But starting at 40,000 dollars you will find something really decent and for 200,000 dollars you will buy yourself a palace, or have one built from scratch.
    In any case, if you decide to make Iquitos your home, spend some time here first, to check the place out. I can’t tell from your comment if you have actually been here or not. And make sure you talk to some of the gringos here about their own experiences, how to go about things like buying a house, setting up a business, or whatever your plans might be.
    If you have more questions, or need advice or contacts here in town, leave your e-mail address here and I will contact you. And check out the website I included, it has a lot of info about Iquitos.

    Best wishes!

  5. I have been travelling to Iquitos since 1990. Finally moved there and bought a house with a nice setting. I spend most of my time with family and speak spanish more than english and cruise the river in my boat and basically enjoy the lifestyle…. but cannot get by previous investment banking career out of my blood so I do periodic consultancy from time to time to keep busy. I have known Gerald Mayeaux for years. This chap Aristide paints a one sided picture that is based on more rumour and innuendo than fact. Gerald is not perfect but he is far from the individual this Aristide paints him to be. I know I have dealt with him when he was Director of tourism in the early 1990’s and I am a regular customer at his restaurant so I see the young thieves that try to steal customer belongings and Gerald’s efforts to prevent them from doing so. I have had a front row seat on Gerald’s life for years. As per the Macbeth soliloquy…”tis a tale told by an idiot…full of sound and fury..signifying nothing”.

  6. i have lived in iquitos 12 yrs., i have seen a lot of changes here and i like iquitos a lot. i also have seen gerald mayeaux, steal a barge from an american that died in iquitos. him abd his wife are birds of a feather. his restaurant is a good place to meet people that are traveling through iquitos, but i get tired of geralds lies, he tells the tourist that dont know him. his food is not bad, but there are many other restaurants in quitos, that are better. well, thats my comment.

  7. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, Abraham. Gerald is no saint but again he is not the monster that people portray him to be. It is unfortunate that your comments about Pamela attempt to paint her in the same light as those through which you portray Gerald. Pamela is a business woman from the same family who own the restaurants near The Yellow Rose. In business, you sometimes have to be serious but I can tell you that she is a beautiful person with a big heart. I say let people form their own opinions……those who offer opinions generally have an agenda or a grudge of some sort.

  8. hi jim richardson, i who u r, you recently married a young lady and built a house in punchana with a zoo in your backyard. news gets around in iquitos fast. i know pamelas 2 brothers that have restaurants in iquitos. pamela is from lima. i think you are a good man, but i think you have to face the truth about gerald and i will keep pamela out of this. there is no grudge, but i do not like to see someone take advantage of people so much. gerald is always in court. the golf club. the floating river barge from the american that died. gerald is a liar and a crook. if he played for tx univ, he would have pic all over his restaurant of him. your front row seat has missed a lot. he only recommends places to his customers that give him a comission.

  9. What can I say, Abraham. Glad to see you back-track on your statement about Pamela. As for Gerald, my opinion is based on knowing Gerald since 1990. I feel that as an ex senior officer in the military, a former banker and businessman I am able to form a balanced opinion. You have your opinion that differs from mine…so be it! Iquitos is a beautiful city and people should explore it as they see fit and form their own opinions of people and restaurants!!!

  10. well sorry i gave the opinion that i back-tracked on pamela. who cares if you were an officer or banker. i know gerald was your best man at your wedding, and he is your friend, but that dosent excuse him. i will not continue this with you. you are right, iquitos is a beautiful city and gerald is the exception with the ex-pat community.

  11. i am a young colombian woman. i came down the river from leticia, colombia by river boat {36 hours }. i went to the yellow rose for breakfast and had a conversation with the owner and took a side trip he recommended. i then came back for luch and more conversation with the owner. i then became very sick at my stomach. a few days later i told him about this, he told me i didnt get sick at his restaurant and he became a bit angry. i will never eat there again. i only wanted that he tell his kitchen help to be careful. well this is my experience there.

  12. i have been hanging around iquitos for about 10 yrs. and have eaten at the yellow rose several times and thought they had pretty good food. the owner gerald m. was always a staright shooter with me and kept away the thieves from his customers, which they didnt like. he gave the tourist good info to. another american has just opened a restaurant called the dawn on the amazon over looking the river and has good food. his name is bill grimes. i wish the ex pat community could get along, but that will not happen. come to iquitos and enjoy a diiferent kind of place. no where else like it. edward hammond.

  13. i have been hanging around iquitos for about 10 yrs. now and i have eaten at the yellow rose and i think they have pretty good food there, also gerald m. the owner was always a straight shooter with me and gave out what i thought to be honest info to the tourist. he also kept away the thieves from his customers, which is a job. also a new restaurant called dawn on the amazon overlooking the river has good food, with an american owner named bill grimes. i would like to see the ex-pat community get along, but that will not happen. come and enjoy iquitos as it is a really different and nice city. edward hammond

  14. Hey there. Can anyone tell me what Iquitos would be like for a woman? My husband may be working there and we’re trying to decide if I should go with him or not… From what I’ve read, it’s not much of a family location 🙁

  15. Dear LVV….I love Iquitos. The only challenge I see would be getting use to the heat. The city is not as modern as one you would find in North America but it is a nice place. I would be pleased to provide you with any additional information you may require.

  16. how do i know if im paying for a good shamam. my friend has been on a healing journey and she spent alot of money to go on a jungle trip. who can i trust in Peru who advertise healing journies and the lawful and unlawful persons involved.

  17. There seems to be a lot of hate amongst the ex-pat community in Iquitos. I am an american working in tourism. The food at the Yellow Rose of Texas is quite good, it is an excellent place to watch a ballgame, and the beer is cheap and the coldest in town. I will say that Gerald is a character, I can see why some people don’t care for him but he has always treated me well.

  18. Hi Guys,
    Great website for someone who’s considering packing up shop and moving to Iquitos in early 2012. I’m a tropical ecologist/writer and some work yips would be handy unless I can find that right spot in the outlying jungle? Any clues please let me know.

  19. The ” Yellow Rose of Texas ” is absolutely magic ! Great food and atmosphere every night.

  20. Time for the cold hard truth! I lived in Iquitos for over a year and if you are going there for just a few days to see and experience the jungle and it´s food then it is fine. But for the most part it´s a shithole. All of the ¨gringos¨ that live in Iquitos permanently are either scumballs, lowlives, fugitives, pedophiles, drug addicts or just old geezers looking for women that they can´t get back in there own countries. All of the guys above who have posted here, are just tying to say good things about Iquitos to get more tourism to Iquitos which is pretty much the only income Iquitos gets. And the locals are even worse…Thiefs, wannabe con men and LIARS, these Cholos can Lie, lie, lie. You could hook these cholos up to a lie detector test and they would pass the test and STILL be lying like a mofo. Anyway there are far better Peruvian jungle towns to see then Iquitos which is flat jungle and mostly a swamp. Try Tarapoto or even the central jungle in the district of Chanchamayo. Towns like La merced or San Ramon. These are highland jungle places where you have a better climate, less hot and more beaUtiful natural formations like waterfalls, ect..

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