Iquitos, the concrete jungle surrounded by the Amazon Rainforest, is a bustling city full of hidden gems. Many travelers pass through Iquitos while venturing to and from jungle tours, shamanic experiences and Amazonian retreats. A stay in this animated city can be greatly enhanced with access to these mindful sanctuaries. Depending on what you are looking for, the city has plenty of options. Cafes, such as Frutama and Karma Cafe, are fantastic for healthy meals, community and inspiring artwork. Natural Chacruna, a holistic food and supplement store provides an array of jungle medicines. Nature hikes, like the short day hike to the Great Lapuna, allow visitors to experience the jungle energy. The Amazon Within offers visitors lodging that integrates the city and nature. More well-known, a walk down the Malecon is full of art, scenic landscape and culture. Here is your guide to a mindful Iquitos experience.
Conscious cafes with transcendental artwork
In the bustling city of Iquitos, the restaurant choices are endless. Two cafes in particular really stand out. For those looking for conscious dining options, mind-blowing artwork, cozy seating options and live music, head to the Karma Cafe. If you are looking for a more intimate setting with plenty of tasty vegan options, check out Frutama.
Frutama, a small cafe with a fantastic energy, is located at Malecon Tarapaca 584, and is open 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily. Angus, the cafe’s owner, focuses on connecting the traveling community to local healing arts, health-conscious food and inspired collaboration. Stop in if you are looking for a yummy treat. Here, they have an array of vegan options including muffins, brownies, burgers, incredible acai bowls, juices and more. The scrumptious food is not the only perk of this cozy cafe. Frutama fosters an artistic environment. Many of the employees are also artisans who make gemstone jewelry, clothing, notebooks and more. The art doesn’t end here. The walls are covered with transcendental pieces, inspired by plant medicines and jungle energies.
The energy of this space extends to a larger community. Frutama is a place that brings people together for growth, inspiration and brainstorming. The cafe space is home to many mind-blowing conversations full of collaboration and brilliant ideas. The cafe attracts people from a wide variety of backgrounds, making it a beautiful atmosphere for interdisciplinary creation and design. Frutama also consists of other spaces where people from the Frutama community host a variety of classes such as yoga. The classes offered depend on who is passing through at the time you arrive. The fluidity of Frutama offers travelers with skills a platform to share with the community. If you are looking for a growth opportunity and do not know where to begin, Frutama is a fantastic launching pad to begin your journey or get advice on the best places to begin. The network that Angus is fostering is a beautiful opportunity to discover the means you need to go deep and find your true self, your community and your inspiration/passion.
The Karma Cafe, located at Calle Napo 138, one block from the Malecon, offers travelers a place to connect to the spirit of the jungle. Between the food, artwork and energy, a trip to Karma Cafe will help you ground in the chaos of Iquitos. If you have any dietary specialties, like vegan, vegetarian or gluten free, the Karma Cafe will be able to accommodate you. The food is not the only benefit of this eccentric space. The layout is set up for collaboration with a bunch of couch/coffee table style seats. If you want to have a more intimate conversation, there are also standard tables and high tops. To breath in some jungle air, take a seat outside.
The walls of Karma Cafe are covered with ayahuasca inspired artwork. The beautiful pieces are unique, transcendental and transformative. Several nights of the week, there are special events, including live music. Check the cafe’s Facebook and Instagram, linked below, or stop in to find out more about special events and weekly performances. Karma Cafe is open Tuesday to Thursday, and Sunday, 9:00 AM to 12:30 AM, and, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 AM to 3:00 AM. Karma Cafe is a great spot to meet with friends, socialize with fellow travelers and enjoy artistic expression.
Natural Chacruna’s herbal remedies
If you have a soft spot for herbal remedies and medicinal plants, you will love Natural Chacruna. This herb shop, owned by a local woman, Elizabeth, is stocked with items you have never imagined. While Elizabeth provides shoppers with cacao, coconut oil, and maca, here you will also find products that are specific to the Amazon that you may have never heard of before. Walk around and check out all of the options she has to offer and you may find a new herb for your medicine cabinet. If you do not know the uses of these Amazonian medicines, that is alright! Each product has a label explaining what it is, how to prepare it and what its uses are.
Natural Chacruna is located at B37 Calle Tarma. When taking a mototaxi it is best to request Jiron Putumayo Cuadra 24 (24th block) and walk the rest of the way, making a right down Calle Tarma, as many of the moto-taxi drivers are not familiar with this small side street. The shop is on the right and painted a lovely green color. You will have to knock or say Buenas! to enter, as upon arrival the door may be closed. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
Hike to the Great Lapuna
If you are looking to connect with nature near the city, head to the Great Lapuna, a jungle tree that is more than 200 years old. The large tree has a trunk far too large to hug and is surrounded by an assortment of ecosystems and plants, including plenty of vines. While the tree is a tourist attraction, there is a good chance of visiting and having time in solitude with this awe-inspiring jungle native. The energy of the Great Lapuna is powerful and incredibly grounding. Grab some Mapacho from the Bellin Market and bring it to the tree as an offering. To get directions to the tree, go to the tourist office near the Plaza Del Armas. Here they can tell you boat schedules, which boat to take, and can even set you up with tour companies if you are looking for a more organized trek. No matter how you chose to get there, a visit to this old lapuna will make you feel a bit like George of the Jungle.
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The wonders of the Malecon
Similar to many ocean cities, this great Amazon city has a boardwalk, called the Malecon. The Malecon is a fantastic place to experience local culture, discover fabulous artists and enjoy the Amazon River. During any time of the day, the Malecon is swimming with local and traveling artists and street performers. Crystal jewelry makers, tarot readers and native women selling hand-stitched Shipibo-Conibo patterned clothes, you can find everything here. The variety and authenticity of artwork on the Malecon makes it a wonderful place to scope out gifts for friends and family back at home.
Another amazing benefit of the Malecon is the fantastic view. Situated along the Amazon River and full of benches, you can grab a seat and admire the immensity of the Amazon and the nature that surrounds it. You may even see a pink dolphin in the water if you look carefully enough. Here you can watch beautiful sunsets, as well as starry-night skies. At any time of the day, you are likely to find somebody playing a musical instrument. Grab a seat, enjoy the view and the live performances.
Aside from the view and the art, the Malecon is full of local street-food. At any time of the day you can eat like an Amazonian while walking down the Malecon. While the day-time provides many of the perks, the nighttime energy is elevated. Even more artists, even more street performers and even more food vendors head to the Malecon, enhancing the experience.
Stay at The Amazon Within, a hostel that integrates city and nature
If you are seeking a grounding place to stay while you spend some time in this concrete jungle. Check out The Amazon Within for a homey hostel that bridges the gap between the jungle and the city. This versatile hostel offers visitors plenty of outdoor space. Between a garden, a hammock hideaway, a shell-shaped pool, and a community deck, The Amazon Within will give you an opportunity to enjoy the plants, sun and heat of the Amazon. This unique hostel has a jungle garden available to its guests. Grab a starfruit, turmeric or a coconut and prepare a locally inspired meal in the hostel’s fully equipped kitchen. The hostel has both outdoor and indoor dining spaces, and guests are often found sharing meals and recipes. This hostel has a comfortable energy as the owners’ intention is to foster the feeling of sharing their home with their guests. This hostel offers mixed dorms with both 6 and 3 people as well as an economy private room for solo travelers. The prices are affordable, 16 PEN (5 USD), 18 PEN (5.5 USD) and 30 PEN (9.5 USD), per night, respectively. For more information about this homey hostel, check out the article linked here. The Amazon WIthin is the perfect way to integrate your jungle experience and the heightened energy in the city of Iquitos.
Solace in the real concrete jungle
Despite the loud, moto-taxi filled streets, Iquitos can offer visitors plenty of inward space and reflection. Cafes like Frutama and Karma Cafe create a space for community, collaboration and conscious food. Natural Chacruna provides travelers with a wide array of jungle plants that can be used in herbal teas, in recipes and as medicine. The city is closely situated to many nature getaways like the hike to the Great Lapuna Amazon tree. The Malecon offers visitors a more traditional, yet culturally enriched view of Iquitos. Lastly, if you want to enjoy all of these wonders from the comfort of a quiet, peaceful accommodation, check into The Amazon Within. Find peace, community and nature during your next Iquitos visit.
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