Traveling to Peru
Travelers from many countries including U.S.A, Canada, the Eurpean Union and Australia (and many others, check the nearest Peruvian Embassy) do not need a visa for visits to Peru for up to 183 days. However, everyone is required to clear customs and immigration upon arrival.
If you’re changing flights at the Lima airport, you must pick up your check-in luggage and pass through Peruvian customs.
When you check in at the airport in your home country, your luggage will at most be checked in only up to Lima, and not all the way to Iquitos. Regardless of what the airline might tell you (usually just the local airline LAN), once you arrive at the Lima airport, you will need to pick-up your check-in baggage at the luggage carousel and then clear customs before checking in and boarding for your flight to Iquitos.
We suggest you read these very useful tips for Navigating the Lima Airport and Arriving in Iquitos.
Traveling to Iquitos
You should plan to stay at least one night in Iquitos before the start of your retreat at East West Lodge. The Peruvian Amazon is very different from anywhere else on Earth and takes a little time to adjust to. You’ll want to have at least a little time to relax and acclimate to the local environment before you start your Ayahuasca journey.
After arriving at the Iquitos airport, you can take a motocar or taxi into the city. For anywhere in Iquitos, the motocar should cost around S/ 13 to S/15, and a taxi should cost no more than S/ 25. For more information on Iquitos, check out the Wikitravel Guide and also this article.
We recommend you always have a couple hundred US$ cash in addition to what you are planning to spend in case of any emergencies. Bill Grimes of Dawn on the Amazon has an excellent article on Important Information For You About Carrying Cash In Iquitos Peru.
We recommend you change only a small amount of US$ into the local currency (Nuevo Sol, Soles) at the Lima Airport, since you will get a lousy exchange rate there as well as at any bank. You can get a better exchange rate in Iquitos outside of the banks, for example at Ari’s Burger. There are money changers along the streets near Plaza de Armas in Iquitos, but we do not recommend going to any of them since you might be given fake bills.
Inspect your US$ bills carefully before leaving home. Make sure your currency is crisp, clean and new. Your cash might be refused even with the tiniest imperfection. If the bills have been stamped, written on or marked, you will get a worse than usual exchange rate, or might not even be able to change the bills at all.
Also, avoid bringing any US$100 bills where the first two letters of the serial number begin with CB. You will have a difficult time exchanging these since many of bills with serial number beginning with CB are counterfeits.
Split up and hold your cash and ATM/credit cards into at least two different places on your person, for example your wallet/purse, pockets, waist pack or security money belt. If you’re holding your cash close to your body (like a security waist belt), put it in a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet with sweat.
As an extra precaution, keep an old wallet with some small bills and a few expendable photos in your pocket to distract any pickpockets.
You can find ATM machines readily available in Iquitos. Visa and Master Card are widely accepted, but last we checked Visa charges 7% and Master Card charges 6% service charge in Iquitos. Inform your credit card companies in advance that you will be traveling to Peru, otherwise your card might be automatically locked when you try to use it outside of your home country.
We recommend not using Travelers Checks. They aren’t practical in Iquitos, Peru.
Staying in Iquitos
There are dozens of hotel and hostel options in Iquitos, from budget to upscale. We recommend that you find something not too far from the city center, Plaza de Armas.
There are lots of restaurants near Plaza de Armas serving Peruvian specialties as well as foreign food. While not the best food in town, Ari’s Burger is a popular choice since it has everything from Peruvian food, ice cream, burgers, pancakes and breakfast, and perhaps most importantly, it also has a picture menu, a big plus if you can’t read a Spanish menu. There are several riverfront restaurants near Plaza de Armas that serve Ayahuasca Diet food. Dawn on the Amazon Cafe is a popular choice, both for its Ayahuasca Diet Menu and its stunning view of the Amazon. Here are some other restaurant suggestions.
The first day of your Retreat, we will meet you and the other guests in Iquitos at a pre-determined time and location near the city center, Plaza de Armas. From there, we’ll take a speedboat down the Amazon river for 1 hour and 50 minutes until we reach the shore of East West Lodge. We will arrive directly at the lodge, so no need to trek through the jungle after getting out of the boat.
East West Lodge is located in the humid tropics. Year round, it’s hot and humid and rains a lot. Although the coolest time of year in Iquitos is February, the temperature is pretty much the same year round. The average temperature ranges from 77°F up to 95°F with high humidity most of the time.