Traversing Peru: Iquitos, Tarapoto, Piura

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.

Iquitos, Peru, South America, Amazon

Flight over the Amazon – Iquitos to Tarapoto

Iquitos, Tarapoto, Peru, South America, AmazonSuper excited about going on the hour-long scenic flight from Iquitos to Tarapoto. The flight takes us over the immense Amazon River.

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.

plane, Iquitos, Tarapoto, Peru, South America, Amazon

The small plane takes off and it’s not long until I spot the Amazon River.

Peru, South America, Amazon River

Snaking its way whilst cutting across Peru…

Peru, South America, Amazon River

…the Peruvian part of the Amazon is known as the Marañón – the original name by which Europeans knew this river.

Peru, South America, Amazon River

Later the river became known as the Rio Amazonas in Spanish and Portuguese, and The Amazon in English.

Peru, South America, Amazon River

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.

Peru, South America, Amazon River, Andes

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.

Peru, South America, Amazon River

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.

Tarapoto, Peru, South America, Amazon

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…

mototaxi, Tarapoto, Peru, South America, Amazon

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

Tarapoto, Piura, Peru, South AmericaNot looking forward to this overnight bus trip today as it’s scheduled to take 18 hours.

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.

Piura, Peru, South America

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.

Piura, Peru, South America

Different times of the day produce dramatic ever-changing panoramas.

Piura, Peru, South America

Thick low-lying cloud adds to the day’s mood…

Piura, Peru, South America

Wandering around town, it’s intriguing to see the method in which buildings are constructed in Peru – this construction site looks a tad dangerous.

Piura, Peru, South America

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.

Piura pickpocket

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.

Leaving Peru

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.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Peru at Image Earth Travel.

22 responses to “Traversing Peru: Iquitos, Tarapoto, Piura”

  1. Nidhi Gupta Avatar

    Fabulous photos! Thank you sharing… 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Nidhi for stopping by and leaving me this great feedback! 🙂
      Just visited your lovely site but couldn’t leave you a comment as don’t think it’s turned on, sorry.

  2. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    I don’t know much about South America, but after these posts, I’m definitely more interested in it!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      There’s so much to see in SA and cool I’ve got you interested in this incredible continent!

  3. Search&Travel Avatar

    Would love to travel to South America one day, inspired by your journey 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Do it, you’ll have a ball! More posts on South America for inspiration. 😉
      Thank you for your kind words.

  4. ani2727 Avatar

    That’s amazing, I’ll keep in mind the pickpockets though. Hoping to go there next year. I’m documenting my travels on if anybody is interested!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      You’ll have a wonderful time but just be aware of your surrounds more so than other countries. Look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers, Nilla 🙂

  5. Gillian Morris Avatar
    Gillian Morris

    Fabulous Nilla
    .Your photos are brilliant especially the aerial shots of the’s really amazing to see it like that x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback Gill.
      With my small compaq camera at the time, these are the only photos I took and hoped they would do this mighty river justice – it’s an incredible sight from the air!
      Great new profile photo!

  6. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Your aerial views of the river are wonderful and really emphasise its vastness.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you like the photos. I took these with a small compaq camera as this was the widest-angled lens I had in the plane. The river is such a spectacular site, especially from the air!

  7. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

    Fabulous photos, we do not realise how immense the Amazon is and the way it weaves through the countries. You paint a lovely visual with your words filled with good advice especially the bugs and things definitely need repellent.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the great feedback!
      The Amazon is an incredible region and only hope that governments protect this invaluable treasure for future generations, although the mighty dollar is already reaping its wrath!

      1. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

        The mighty dollar has a strong impact on those who believe they have nothing and sell themselves out cheap. I hope the governments do something to protect this magnificent river.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Absolutely agree! Take Quinoa as an example, it’s a staple in the Bolivian diet (just like rice in Asia) and back in 2011, dirt cheap in the markets. Since then, Quinoa has become a health fad and now many Bolivians can’t afford it buy it as it’s exported around the world – tragic.

      3. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

        This is so tragic I agree, people’s fads are a huge problem and they do not consider the consequences for those who depend on food as their staple diet. Greed and selfishness.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It is very tragic and sadly, we see it happening all the time.

      5. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

        All too often.

  8. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar
  9. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar


    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Mohamad!

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