The buzz of mosquitos at dawn in the jungle is a pretty scary thing, especially when you look up into the mosquito net and realize they are swarmed all above you in an uncountable mass. Despite coating myself in two types of DEET ridden repellant, I came home with 25 mosquito bites. Some things I learned: mosquitos are attracted to body heat, so don't wear black. Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks at all times if you want to minimize bites. Dawn and dusk are mosquito hour. Check your mosquito net for holes -- ours had some in the corner of the roof and luckily we caught it. If you tend to get bit back home, get used to the fact that you will be eaten alive here and there's not much you can do about it. Our guide said the jungle around Iquitos is not a malaria zone, but his rationale was that they set 2 tracked monkeys loose there and they didn't catch malaria, which is a really scientific test. So, yah. Bring your malaria pills.
Oh, but don't get me wrong. Seeing the jungle was definitely worth the 3 subsequent weeks of itching. Ok, that sounded totally sarcastic, but it's not. It's really that cool.
I've been told by many that petty crime is the only problem in Iquitos. I am used to being very careful when traveling anywhere -- minimal cash stored in a zippered or sealable pocket in the front of my pants, no jewelry, and constantly aware of my surroundings -- and have never had a problem or felt threatened. I keep a tight grip on my camera or video camera with the strap usually wrapped around my wrist. Violent crime in the central part of the city seems to be nearly non-existent. I've walked all over at all hours of the night and never noticed anyone paying any attention to me. The one exception is reportedly in Belen, though I've never been concerned there, either, though I've never been there after dark.
Besides the unavoidable mosquitos, there are plenty of bugs here, all sizes and colors, so if you don't really like this animals, pay attention. The spider you see in the pic (about 15 cm diameter) was at the ceiling in our restaurant hut in Cumaceba Lodge, though none in the crew looked really worried about her!
You're very likely to be harassed as a woman in Iquitos. We were three women there and within 10 days had a variety of experiences from the usual cat calls to a thirteen-year-old groping my colleague between her legs to robbery.
If you decide to go (and go without male company) then I suggest you don't go in January when they have their carneval. The favorite game is throwing water balloons at people, sometimes with full force. I can guarantee you, as soon as the young guys see a gringa (or several gringas) walking along the street, you'll be the only target of every one. Sounds funny, but it isn't, when you can't walk one block without being pelted.
There are all kinds of interesting food to try in Iquitos, including crocodile meat and suri (huge grubs from the jungle, shishkebobed and barbecued). Some of it's really good and interesting to try, and if you really want to, by all means do. Just remember that often restaurants don't sell much crocodile meat, and so what they do have can be a bit old. Thus, you are more likely to get sick from this kind of meat than other, more common foods. Lots of tourists haven't have problems from these (myself included), but quite a few have.
So know what you're getting into, and be careful. (But don't be TOO cautious - vacations are for trying new things, right?)
If you are unlucky enough to have health issues in Iquitos, your best bet for a hospital is probably La Clinica Adventista Ana Stahl, on Avenida de la Marina. (I suppose I'm biased because I worked there some, but that's what the guidebooks say too...)
I've seen most of the doctors in action, I'd trust most of them to take care of me, especially for small-to-medium sized problems. Even if you need surgery for appendicitis, you'd be fine. For bigger problems and surgeries, including orthopedics, you might want to get back home. But for most emergencies, La Clinica is fine.
The one caveat is, very few people there speak much English. Bring a translator.
we stopped on the river to give some fuel to another boat.... to thanks us they handed us a bucket with a tipical drink made with a chewed root.... well felice sipped from the bucket then he handed it to me.... while I was sipping I really enjoyed the panic in my friends eyes!!!!
please do not hand it to me!!!!