Blue Morpho’s Retreat Center is located on a 180-acre private reserve in the jungle surrounding Iquitos, Peru. Our office and meeting point is located a few kilometers outside the city center. This page contains relevant and helpful suggestions for organizing travel arrangements to and from Blue Morpho. We cover here the key elements to help make a comfortable, informed and safe trip:
- Guidelines on flights and your arrival to Peru
- Information on travel insurance
- Recommended items to bring
- Logistical details for the first day of the retreat
- Information on the local climate and culture of Iquitos
- Hotel and restaurant recommendations
If you have already reserved your retreat, you can find a more expanded version of the information contained here in the 30+ page Journey Guide that you would have received via email. If you did not receive the link to this document, or if you have any other questions related to travel, please contact us at your convenience.
This is intended for informational purposes only; all final decisions are to be made at one’s own discretion._
All of our ayahuasca and dieta retreats begin and end in Iquitos, Peru. Incoming international flights will first fly through Lima, Peru before transiting into Iquitos via one of the Peruvian domestic carriers. For international flights, we recommend checking aggregate search engines such as Kayak, Skyscanner and Mobissimo in addition to more common search engines like Priceline, Orbitz or Expedia.
It is best to arrive to Iquitos at least 1 day before the retreat begins. This extra day can help buffer any potential flight delays or cancellations, which do happen on a regular basis when traveling through Peru and South America. You are free to book return flights for any time after 12 pm on the final day of the retreat.
EARLY DEPARTURE: If you do book a flight that leaves before 12 pm on the final day, you will need a taxi earlier in the morning to ensure that you will arrive at the airport on time. If your flight is between 12 pm and 1 pm, we can drop you off at the airport on our way back to the hotel. Transportation costs are included in the retreat price for those who leave at the regular departure time.
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS: There are several airlines that fly through Iquitos from Lima, so you will have some options for planning a schedule that works for you. Make sure to confirm your flights with your airline before you depart, especially your Lima – Iquitos flights!
The three main domestic carriers in Peru are LATAM, Star Peru, and Peruvian Airlines. You can also get flights in and out of Iquitos with Avianca and Viva Air. If you book with LATAM or Avianca you may be able to get a cheaper ticket all the way to Iquitos from your departure destination; otherwise it is often cheaper to buy one flight into Lima and a separate domestic ticket from Lima to Iquitos. The national carriers Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines are usually cheaper than LATAM, as is Viva Air; however, they have less flight options.
Star Peru: www.starperu.com
Viva Air: www.vivaair.com
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Please check with your airline, travel correspondent, agent, or other provider for information on obtaining travel insurance. We strongly advise taking out travel insurance at the time of booking that will cover any financial losses incurred should you have to cancel your visit for any reason; or in case of any unforeseen incidents while in Peru. Here are a few websites we recommend for guests who prefer to shop online for travel insurance:
- Always pick up your bags at the baggage claim in Lima and re-check them at the ticket counter after passing through customs. No matter what the airlines tell you, pick up your luggage at the baggage claim in Lima and re-check them with the appropriate airline. We have had several guests arrive in Iquitos without their luggage because they didn’t pick up their bags in Lima.
- Make sure that your passport does not expire within 6 months of your departure date. Peruvian immigration may require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months after the date you plan on leaving Peru. Please check online at peru.visahq.com or with your domestic government for information regarding your Peruvian visa requirements.
- Please do not book any flights until you have submitted an application and received notification that it has been approved.
WHAT TO BRING
Iquitos and the surrounding area are typical of a tropical jungle climate: hot and wet most of the year, so pack accordingly. The average high temperature is around 90ºF (32ºC) and average low is around 70ºF (21 ºC), although it can get colder in the evenings. It is a good idea to bring some layers, as body temperature can fluctuate considerably during the ceremonies. Here are some necessary items to bring and a few others that are recommended:
Headlamps are needed in low light conditions at night. We recommend the Energizer, Petzl, Princeton Tech, or LED headlamps with a red light option, as red light is less afflicting to the eyes during ceremonies.
Alarm clock and/or wrist watch: Please bring an alarm clock or wrist watch to help ensure you don’t miss any important activities throughout the retreat.
- Lightweight pants, quick drying
- Lightweight longsleeved shirts
- Light jacket or sweatshirt for wearing at night
- Comfortable quick-dry or athletic shorts
- T-shirts or tank tops
- Pants/shorts with elastic waists or very simple ties (no buttons or zippers or belts) for use during ceremony
- Bathing suit
- Sun hat
- Sunscreen and mosquito repellent (we also carry a stock for your use)
- Pen or pencil for filling out immigration forms at the airport
- Rain poncho or jacket
- Socks, sandals, and athletic shoes
- Journal and reading material (we have a diverse library of books)
On the morning the retreat begins, we will meet at Blue Morpho’s Office in the city of Iquitos at 8:30 am. Once oriented and all together, we will head out to the retreat center by bus. Transportation from the meeting point to the center and back to the city on the last day is included in the retreat price.
Please note that it is best to be in Iquitos the evening before the retreat begins at the latest. Morning flights into Iquitos are often delayed or canceled by weather. If you do arrive late or after the buses leave, you will have to arrange for transport directly to the retreat center via taxi. This typically costs around S./100 ($30). We can help organize a taxi to pick you up from the airport, or you can find one at the airport yourself upon arrival. If you are traveling directly to the retreat center, please make sure to take a passenger car and not a three-wheeled mototaxi.
Our retreat center’s address is “Km 52.5 Iquitos-Nauta Rd” (also known as la carretera).
Please contact Blue Morpho via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you won’t be in Iquitos the evening before the retreat begins or as soon as you know that you’re going to arrive late.
HOTELS IN IQUITOS
Be sure to book a hotel for your stay in Iquitos, both before and after the retreat. You will be fully accommodated for the duration of the retreat at Blue Morpho. There are many hotels and hostels to choose from in Iquitos. Sites like Tripadvisor and Lonelyplanet offer reviews from previous travelers as well as booking options. Below are 3 hotels that we recommend. The simplest and our top recommended option is to stay at Victoria Regia since this is where we will be dropping guests off on the last morning of the retreat.
Victoria Regia Hotel (our recommendation): www.victoriaregiahotel.com
Hotel Acosta (another great option): www.hotelacosta.com
La Casona (popular budget option): www.hotellacasonaiquitos.com
These hotels typically provide airport pickup on request; otherwise you can take a mototaxi from the airport to the city center for around S/.15 (about $6 US).
IQUITOS & THE LOCAL AREA
Iquitos is a bustling jungle city located on the left bank of the Amazon River in northern Peru. Situated between the Rio Nanay to the north and the Rio Itaya to the south, Iquitos is built on a land formation known as a fluvial island
. Both rivers flow into the Amazon, and this geography creates a natural boundary containing the expansion of the city. It is reported that Iquitos now has more than 400,000 inhabitants, but a large part of this population is spread outside the city center.
Iquitos was initially established as a Jesuit mission in the 18th century. As the northern most Peruvian city, Iquitos was originally a remote outpost to the indigenous people living in the area. Over time the settlement began to grow and was eventually named the capital of the Loreto Region of Peru. During the 19th century rubber boom, Iquitos was a sought after destination for foreigners seeking to make a fortune. Many of these newcomers settled here and Iquitos grew considerably.
The Amazon River system remains the city’s lifeblood. To this day, there are no roads leading into Iquitos and the only way for goods or people to reach the city is by air or boat.
Mototaxis – three-wheeled, open air rickshaws – are plentiful in the city and are the main mode of transportation to get around town. Relatively safe, but seemingly “crazy” driving is inescapable. This is of course part of the adventure of visiting a place like Iquitos.
For going to and from places in the center of town, fares shouldn’t be more than S./3-4 (3 or 4 Peruvian Soles). Fares to the airport from the center of town typically cost S./10-15. If you are going to walk around the city, take note of where you are as many intersections do not have street signs and buildings can look very similar. The city is generally safe, though going in pairs is advisable!
There are ATMs and money exchange services located throughout town. Some ATMs allow you to withdraw US Dollars and Peruvian Soles. Note that some businesses will accept US Dollars, but only if the bills are in pristine condition and do not have any rips and are not worn down and old looking. We don’t advise using the street vendors who attempt to exchange money, as they are often quite skilled at sleight-of-hand and are known to leave travelers short changed. We recommend exchanging funds at the Interbank money exchange located at the corner of Sargento Lores and Prospero.
Blue Morpho facilities do not have any money changing services, so please be sure that you have the cash you need once you arrive at Blue Morpho’s office on the first morning of the retreat. Retreats are all-inclusive, though guests typically like to offer tips to the shamans and staff, or purchase mapacho tobacco and souvenir items during their stay.
There is an abundance of restaurants in Iquitos that cater to both foreign and local dining preferences. Make sure not to drink the tap water! Here is a short list of popular restaurants nearby the Plaza de Armas and the city center:
- Antica Pizzeria: great pizza and salads. Nice environment. A guest favorite.
- Chez Maggy: another good pizza place, with pasta and other baked dishes.
- Kiki Riki: chicken and fries. Cheap and good, and always packed. Open for dinner.
- Dawn on the Amazon: great food and view of the river. Excellent smoothies and juices.
- Amazon Bistro: French inspired cuisine and ambiance. Great coffee.
- Yellow Rose: restaurant and sports bar. A quirky joint with a large menu and popular among travelers.
- El Carbon: come here to get a good steak or barbecue.
- Fitzcarraldo: located along the Boulevard with a nice selection of sandwiches, steak, salads, and more.
- Huasai: A nice, small restaurant that serves local Iquitos fare for an affordable price.
- Fusion: more traditional Peruvian cuisine. Fusion offers a rotating fixed lunch menu at great prices.
- Al Frio y Al Fuego: probably the best food and overall ambiance in Iquitos, to get here you take short boat ride out to this “floating restaurant”. High prices, excellent fare.
FINALIZING YOUR TRAVEL
As part of the booking process, we will provide each participant with additional travel information relevant to the retreat that you’ve signed up for. This correspondence includes a professionally made Journey Guide document that serves as a veritable travel companion for all things Blue Morpho, Iquitos, and the ayahuasca experience.
We are always here to answer specific questions, so feel free to contact us at anytime. We look forward to seeing you soon!