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Manaus vs Iquitos -
which is better?

They are the top two tourism gateway cities in the Amazon. Manaus is in Brazil, Iquitos is far upstream in Peru (see map above).

I've been to both. Iquitos easily wins. The Amazon river there is substantially narrower - and the tributaries are more remote, eco-diverse, and interesting. But this is not to say that the Manaus area isn't captivating. It is.


A few basics

Iquitos has no external roads. You get there from Manaus by river boat (1400 kilometers or 800 miles) or from Lima, Peru by plane (2 hours).

The town itself is of little interest to travelers. The highlight is a cruise to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

The average local Amazon cruise boat is appreciably smaller than its counterpart in Manaus. Typically they accommodate only a dozen or so passengers.

And the eco-lodges around Iquitos tend to be more intimate.


A few basics

Manaus is the most popular gateway for Amazon visitors. Most fly in or sail 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) up the Amazon from the Atlantic coast on river ferries or ocean-going cruise ships.

Contrary to popular opinion, Manaus is not on the Amazon River. It's on the Rio Negro.

There's scant visitor appeal in Manaus, except for a 19th century opera house.

Manaus' glory? You can take river cruises here to the nearby Amazon River and various tributaries. You can also book stays at remote eco-lodges.

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