The Iquitos Culture: everything you need to know before going there

iquitos culture

This post is also available in: Español

Peru is a multi diverse country. On the one hand we have the largest ancient empire in America, the Incas. On the other hand, we have its natural attractions: the jungle, the Andes and the desert.

This cultural and scenic diversity makes Peru a must visit country, and one of our recommendations if you are traveling to Peru is to visit Iquitos, you can do it in a simple way with a 3 days tour of Iquitos.

Here we are going to tell you about the Iquitos culture, the Peruvian Amazon, which finds its maximum expression in Iquitos, the largest city in the region and the largest in the world without road access. So, if you decide to include it in your trip, you will know all about the native community before you arrive.

The Iquitos culture is unique

The indigenous community located around the Peruvian Amazon is unique. Here we find a fusion of different cultural influences such as Inca, Amazonian and western. According to experts, the Iquitos culture is the result of a hybrid between different communities.

With elements of western culture and Amazonian communities, Iquitos still retains traits of its past combined with modern life. Its more than 500,000 inhabitants, according to the national census of the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics, give the city a cultural variety that makes it a living museum.

Characteristics of the Iquitos culture you should know about

Lifestyle and customs

Referred to as the Loreto region, the Iquitos lifestyle is characterized by a fusion of harmony with nature and a western lifestyle. Its simple lifestyle, without large avenues or vehicles, but with great speed aims to take advantage of the resources of its environment.

streets iquitos

Among the customs that stand out here are the religious festivals because the city of Iquitos has a strong Catholic tradition. The festivities of San Juan, Corpus Christi and the Carnival of Iquitos are the most popular festivities in the Peruvian Amazon.

Arts

Despite not being a large city and being relatively isolated due to the lack of infrastructure, the arts are really important for the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon. Proof of this are the great sculptors that this city has produced such as Agustín Rivas, Luis Sisley and Milagros Ojer.

iquitos market

Painting and visual arts are another popular expression of the Amazonian indigenous people. In the Belen market you can find unique paintings made with coffee from the region. In addition, the local music, a mixture of European and Amazonian instruments, is a cultural expression worth visiting.

Traditional dress

Although there are no typical costumes as such due to the westernization of the Loreto region, we can find some unique features. An example of this is the use of thin and fresh fabrics being cotton fibers the most popular.

It is common to find brightly colored clothing with long skirts and polo shirts being the most popular, as well as unadorned blouses. Another thing is the clothing of certain indigenous populations of the Amazon River, who continue to use in their traditional ceremonies very simple and traditional clothes, going practically half-naked, and feather ornaments.

iquitos culture

Dialect

Another feature of the culture of Iquitos is its dialect, a mixture of the dialects from around the world’s largest freshwater river and Spanish. That’s why you may notice that the locals use some of the region’s own words.

The dialect is not only reflected in the way they speak, especially the indigenous culture, but also in their traditional literature. Even though most of them already speak Spanish, we can still find that some older people try to preserve their dialect by sharing it and speaking it with the young people.

Ayahuasca ceremonies

Ceremonies that seek to unite the spiritual with nature are something typical of the Amazon River area. A perfect example is ayahuasca, a plant used to elaborate a drink with very intense psychotropic effects with which they seek to reach a spiritual journey.

Although there are tourists who visit Iquitos in order to try ayahuasca, learn how it is made and experience its spiritual ceremonies, you should always be careful. This is because ayahuasca is a drink with a substance, DMT, with serious effects on the cerebral cortex. The hallucinogenic effects can be very strong and long lasting, and there are cases in which they are irreversible.

Why visit Iquitos?

There are many reasons to visit Iquitos. Its unique location makes it an incredible city at the foot of a unique river and a jungle full of life. The vast amount of flora and fauna will make you vibrate and help you connect with the land.

In addition to witnessing the local culture, its unique customs and traditions resulting from the fusion of different cultures, you will be able to do many ecotourism activities. So, now that you know the main features of Iquitos, it’s time to plan your trip!

Lily

Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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