As the orange-gold sun smolders over the Amazon River our boat makes its way slowly back to the lodge. We spent the day exploring the river and seen so many birds and wildlife. Pink dolphins splash, Blue-and-yellow macaws screech from the rainforest trees and Squirrel monkeys squabble over a position on a branch as they settle for the night.
From Iquitos, we travel to Amazon Yarapa River Lodge. The remote eco-lodge overlooks the Yarapa River, a pristine tributary of the Amazon River. It is a two-hour drive to the town of Nauta. Here a boat takes us far up the Amazon River and eventually the Yarapa River. The total trip from Iquitos takes 4 hours.
Pink dolphins splash around and jump out of the water. Yes, they are pink! It’s not until we see them up close, that we realise how huge they are. They are the largest freshwater dolphin in the world with some as big as 2.5 metres and weighing up to 180kg. Intelligent and curious some are known to interact with humans in the area.
On the Amazon River, the birdlife is immense and wondrous, and only improves on the Yarapa River. It is a bird lover’s utopia. Blue-and-yellow macaws, Blue-winged macaws, Amazon kingfishers and Toucans to name a few.
Yarapa River Lodge
Upon arrival at the lodge, Jorge our guide, Ruben our chef and Angelo one of the lodge staff meet us. We have a welcome drink and the first of many simple but delicious meals inspired by the local cuisine. Ruben puts so much effort into the meals and even though the vegetarian food isn’t that common on the Amazon River, he puts together some scrumptious and tasty meals. All dietary requirements are catered for, and guests can request their favourite food and meals.
Built using local materials and concepts, the lodge is rustic and comfortable. Roofs are thatched which provides a natural cooling system and the lodge is run on solar power. The wooden furniture is hand-carved by locals and the beds in the huge bedrooms and the bar in the restaurant are extravagantly carved portraying wildlife and local culture.
We meet the local wildlife and the most adorable group of resident monkeys at Yarapa. There is no need for an alarm because Shebaca the resident Howler monkey wakes us every morning at 6.00 am. It’s a loud guttural sound and carries up to a distance of 5 km in the jungle. Howler monkeys make this noise in the morning and at night to check out where their competitors are.
Shebaca is a rescued monkey and is best friends with Eduardo the Spider monkey. The unlikely pair share a strong bond and adore each other. The rescue monkeys are free to come and go as they please and love human company.
We visit local villages, hike in the rainforest, river cruise in a little traditional boat, look for birds, sloths and primates and learn about the medicinal plants.
It’s exciting to see a Two-toed sloth in the wild close to the village. Notoriously slothful and slow they only descend from the tree canopy when moving from one tree to the other. Squirrel monkeys, one of the smallest primates and Capuchin monkeys play on the riverbank and we watch them from our boat.
At night we meet Simba, a rescued Ocelot, also known as the Dwarf leopard. The lodge raised her from a baby and she is free to come and go as she pleases too. Simba spends her days out in the jungle and regularly returns. Sleek and adorable, with a dappled coat she has huge luminous yellow eyes. She has a few battle scars and Jorge tells us she has all the boys in the jungle after her.
Activities at Yarapa
The activities at Yarapa are flexible and tailored to the guest’s interests. Whether its bird watching, searching for pink dolphins, visiting local villages, night walks in the jungle, and so much more. Surrounded by rainforest and noises from the wild, this is one place guests can immerse themselves in a real jungle experience. The staff go out of their way to try and meet guest’s expectations and make it a trip of a lifetime.
When we depart the lodge Eduardo runs along the riverbank chasing our boat for as far as he can. We don’t want to leave and wish we were staying for longer. Our four days at Yarapa River Lodge were entertaining and moving. We feel privileged to have spent time here with the monkeys and other wildlife.
We only had an overnight in Iquitos but it looks like an interesting city and we would love to come back one day and explore it more.
There are some great day trips from Iquitos.
The Manatee Rescue Centre Orphan and injured Manatees are rehabilitated and introduced back into the wild. If very young manatees are in care visitors can bottle-feed them and feed the older ones water lettuce.
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Rescue Centre Great informative tour on the butterflies with tours that show their life cycle including their eggs and cocoons. The star of the show here is the awesome Owl butterfly which has enormous yellow eyes to make him look like an owl and scare away predators.
La Isla de los Monos/ The Monkey Island Injured, orphaned and captured monkeys are cared for, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. The monkeys are free roaming and visitors can mingle freely with them.
While in Iquitos we stay at the Dorado Isabel Hotel which is near the main square, Plaza de Armas and the historic cathedral.
Vegetarian food in Iquitos is scarce, but we found this gorgeous little café a little further up from the hotel, closer to the main square. Karma Café has lots of delicious vegetarian options. We just love the bean and cheese tortillas and the carafes of sangria with fresh fruit.