During the taxi ride from the airport to my hostel in Iquitos, the driver suggested an Amazon tour and gave me a brochure. A few minutes later, we stopped off on the side of a street and some guy approached the window of the taxi. The guy started talking to me about the Amazon tour. I was really annoyed and unimpressed that the taxi driver had set it up. The guy was being really pushy and I couldn’t tell if it was annoying, but harmless, or if something shady was going down, but it did not feel right. Iquitos does have a really bad reputation and it’s known for Amazon tour scams. I was fully prepared to flee the taxi and ditch my luggage, if necessary. He asked me twice to go to my hostel with me so he could wait for me while I dropped off my things. As much as I wanted to tell him to fuck off, I tried to remain calm and polite, but firm, for safety’s sake.
This was my first impression of Iquitos.Luckily, I got rid of him, went to my hostel and started exploring Iquitos. My God, that town is a complete shithole. It’s filthy, there’s nothing there and it feels dirty because you get leered at and hollered at constantly as a western woman. It wasn’t touristy at all, which is usually a good thing, but not in these places where less tourists means a major increase in danger.
I didn’t find any tour companies, so I went back to the hostel to ask about Amazon tours. I didn’t even mention the shady taxi guy, but they told me he was a scammer and that it was a fake tour, which was common in Iquitos. They also said that two girls from the hostel booked a tour a while ago and they got raped on it, so they recommended two companies to me.
Fast forward to leaving the shitty Amazon tour 2.5 days earlier than planned (because it was that shitty).
I had two days left in Iquitos before flying back to Lima and I was happy to be in Iquitos in comparison to the terrible Amazon tour because at least I had freedom, so I was going to give it a second chance since my first impression was not a good one.
Nope. Iquitos was still a complete shit hole. The town is just so seedy, it’s unbelievable and disgraceful. It got to the point where I thought it best to not leave my hostel anymore because I got not just eye-fucked, but aggressively eye-raped, by every boy and man between the ages of 7-70 years old. Yes, 7 year old children were eye-raping me. It was extremely excessive, inappropriate, uncomfortable and disgusting and I didn’t feel safe there. I didn’t see any other tourists anywhere.
Iquitos is the kind of place where you get ripped off everywhere by fake tour agencies selling fake amazon tours and a place where you have to be careful about where you stay because, according to the Peruvian girl on my Amazon tour, prostitution and STDs are very common in the hotels and they don’t clean the sheets or toilets properly (obviously they don’t, because why would they?), so you can get STDs from the sheets and toilet seats.
Out of all the indigenous places I’d been in Peru and Bolivia, I had never been so rudely and excessively stared at by so many men and women before. I went to get ice cream at a big, busy restaurant and I had to take my ice cream to go because the entire restaurant of about sixty people was staring at me and they weren’t friendly stares.
The next day I went to the market and there were vultures feasting on a massive pile of garbage, rotting produce and meat. It was repulsive.
All in all, the Amazon was a bust. I guess the universe was trying to stop me from coming here with all the natural disasters that had occurred, but I had been determined to see it. On the bright side, I don’t regret coming because I would’ve felt like it was a huge mistake had I not gone and that I missed out on an incredible experience.
You win some, you lose some.