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Peru Iquitos market

Famous for being accessible only by air or boat, Iquitos lies in Peru's distant north-eastern Amazon with a distinct frontier vibe to match. The city itself is a lot of fun to explore, particularly the jungle markets, the lively riverfront boulevard and ramshackle stilted neighbourhoods. But its main draw is as the departure point for trips to remote jungle lodges and luxurious river cruises on the mighty Amazon River.

Iquitos became an important jungle settlement in the late 1800s, when the rubber boom brought Europeans to this part of Peru. The rubber boom days have long since ended, but people from across the world still come to Iquitos to explore the surrounding jungle. Luxury river cruises depart on a daily basis, and jungle lodges are dotted all across the surrounding jungle. Iquitos is also an access point to Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Peru. Many foreigners come to Iquitos to take ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic jungle vine that has long been part of traditional Amazonian rituals and medicine.

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Small-ship luxury cruise with Machu Picchu
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