Friday, March 13, 2015

traveling to iquitos, peru with kids: belén

Iquitos

{This is the fourth and last in a short series of posts I'm doing on traveling to Iquitos with kids. Here are my posts on lodging, what to do, and Monkey Island.}

By far my favorite part of both trips to Iquitos was visiting Belén, a floating village. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. Getting a glimpse into life on the water was fascinating. And the kids really enjoyed it too. Seeing kids swimming and chickens running around in floating homes. I don't think there's anywhere in the world quite like Belén. 

We also visited the Belén market and like all true Peruvian markets, is quite the experience. With this market being on the river, there were mounds of fish and alligators. Belén is easily the most overwhelming experience of Iquitos, so, with kids, I would not do it without a tour guide. We went with the tour guide from our lodge and a resident of Belén also met up with us to tell us about his village. Having lived in Peru for four years, I don't worry much about our safety here, but this market is the one place you would want to have a Peruvian with you. But as long as you have a good tour guide, I would not leave Iquitos without a visit to Belén.


Belen
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

traveling to iquitos, peru with kids: monkey island

Monkey Island

{This is the third in a short series of posts I'm doing on traveling to Iquitos with kids. Here are my posts on lodging, what to do, and Belén.}

When all was said and done, my kids all agreed that Monkey Island was their favorite part of our trip to Iquitos. It is a bit of work to get there, but it was definitely worth it. The monkeys are all rescued monkeys and living in excellent conditions. They have so much land and forest area to explore in and it's obvious that the owner truly cares for the animals.

One note of caution- there are two "Monkey Islands." We visited the original one, but there is second place that has named itself Monkey Island so that tourists will accidentally end up there. From all that we have heard, the second Monkey Island is easier to get to, but they do not treat the animals well at all. The Peruvian government has shut this place down numerous times. Even though I'm not a huge animal lover, I just can't give my money to a place that is using animals just to make money and providing inhumane treatment. 

There are a few options for getting to Monkey Island. All options leave from the Puerto de Productores port. There is a boat that leaves at noon everyday and takes you to Monkey Island and it is under $5 per person. It is a peque peque (slow boat), so the trip takes about 2 hours. Since we had 4 kids in tow, we decided to hire our own speedboat. The cost was $100 and was by far the most expensive part of our entire trip, but it was where we decided to splurge. With the speedboat you can leave the port whenever you want, get there faster, and leave the island whenever you are ready. I would recommend putting it in your budget if you are traveling with kids.

It was so much fun seeing my kids interact with the monkeys. The monkeys especially loved annoying Ford and Brady and, of course, the boys loved bugging them in return. They are so playful and you get to hold them and interact with them, but in a natural environment where you know they are not being exploited. 

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