Traversing Peru on a flight from balmy Iquitos to remote Tarapoto over the mighty Amazon, followed by an uncomfortable 18-hour overnight rustic bus journey to Piura.
Sadly it’s almost the end of the South American adventure.
After a spectacular trip on a rustic barge for 3 days down the expansive Amazon, a speedboat to the seedy last frontier Tri-border where Peru, Colombia, and Brazil meet, and the return speedboat up the Amazon, it’s now time to return to Iquitos and civilisation.
Leaving the seductive pull of the jungle behind, we arrive in the hustle and bustle of steamy picturesque Iquitos once more.
Flight over the Amazon – Iquitos to Tarapoto
Taking a mototaxi to the airport, I can’t but help to reminisce about the bizarre flight a few months back in Bolivia. Our aged plane was re-diverted during the flight from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Trinidad. Didn’t think we would reach Trinidad on this scary and unusual flight!
Walking across the runway in Iquitos I spot this delightful antiquity, which seems to be a common occurrence in South America as saw another sad looking relic in Trinidad, Bolivia.
The small plane takes off and it’s not long until I spot the Amazon River.
Snaking its way whilst cutting across Peru…
…the Peruvian part of the Amazon is known as the Marañón – the original name by which Europeans knew this river.
Later the river became known as the Rio Amazonas in Spanish and Portuguese, and The Amazon in English.
At over 1,000 kilometres in length, the Amazon originated in Peru’s Andes Mountains. Traversing from west to east through Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Brazil, the Amazon finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s an incredible feeling peering down from the tiny window on such an extensive river system, which can also be seen from space – awe-inspiring.
Having travelled down and up the Amazon for 5 days but still only within Peru, perhaps a trip from west to east next time is another challenging travel chapter.
Landing in Tarapoto after the amazing one-hour flight and being in the jungle for a week, feels as if we’ve hit civilisation.
Enjoying a great time exploring Tarapoto a couple of weeks’ ago, quite happy to arrive for the night in this remote town once more.
Love the vibe of Tarapoto and mototaxis. Hundreds of noisy vehicles vie for business and compete with the motorbikes in the town’s narrow streets…
Just a couple of strolls through the town on this visit as not enough time to explore Tarapoto – heading west to Piura on a bus tomorrow. At least it’s cooler here than in the sultry and steamy jungle.
Overnight bus to Piura
Without much scenery to take in on this overnighter, it’s a very long journey. Although we’re warranted a little respite from the loud music and movies blaring out continuously in Spanish, when the bus stops. Take ear plugs and definitely take your own music – you’ll be over the Pan Pipe music after a couple of hours.
The seats on this bus are quite small with the added bonus of being eaten alive by something. Judging by the bites, it must be fleas feasting all night on my partner. I’m spared for once. It’s a horrible feeling but this isn’t the first time or on other transport in Peru.
Take insect/flea repellent on any bus or boat journey in South America – you’ll thank me!
Located on the Piura River in the arid Sechura Desert, which runs along the Pacific Ocean coast before creeping inland to the foothills of the soaring Andes Mountains, Piura is South America’s oldest Spanish city.
The Spaniards arrived in 1532 and left their mark of captivating colonial architecture in town. Centuries later in 1821, Piura declared its independence from Spain.
The expansive vista from our hostel over the battered corrugated rooftops and out to the Andes is special.
Different times of the day produce dramatic ever-changing panoramas.
Thick low-lying cloud adds to the day’s mood…
Wandering around town, it’s intriguing to see the method in which buildings are constructed in Peru – this construction site looks a tad dangerous.
As Piura is only a stop-off, we give a stroll around the Plaza de Armas a miss although I hear this public space is quite impressive. As are museums, beautiful cathedrals and monuments, art exhibitions, and great shopping.
If you’re into surfing, take a day trip from Piura to the nearby northern coastline of Peru for excellent waves, warm waters, and steady cooling breezes.
Leaving the bus station and walking into the crammed market place for only 5 minutes, I spot an interesting guy with live chickens hanging from his shoulder.
About to take my camera from my day pack, my partner mentions that the zipper is open. My heart sinks, especially after being properly robbed in Chiclayo only a month ago.
My gorgeous leather coin purse my friend just bought me from Peru a couple of weeks ago and a few Australia coins are stolen from my day pack. Worse part is that I miss the chicken guy photo opportunity.
On our bus to Piura, we met an Austrian guy that landed in South America three weeks’ ago. Only two weeks into his trip he was robbed at gunpoint.
In my Chiclayo post, I mention that during 9 months of travel in South America, we haven’t met a traveller that hasn’t been robbed or pickpocketed. You do need to be aware of your surroundings whilst travelling through this continent. I think it’s a little different on organised tours but as we’re independent travellers, then situations can be a little riskier.
Where to sleep
The very clean Hostal San Jose offers a comfortable cosy room with a private bathroom in an excellent location.
Staff are very friendly and the hostel is safe.
With a flight booked to return to Australia next month and so, cutting the South American adventure short, it’s time to push ahead to Ecuador with a bus to Loja next. Also catching up with travelling friends we keep bumping into…last time relaxing in Los Organos ended in too much alcohol, card games, fun, and a wonderful time!
I’m hoping that the short couple of weeks in Ecuador will be as spectacular as the last 2.5 months in Peru.