Is Iquitos and the Kapitari Center safe?
To people who have never visited before, much of South America appears to have a reputation for being a somewhat volatile and unsafe place to visit. However, virtually everyone whose spent much time here knows differently. I remember when I first told people I was moving to South America I had friends worried I would be eaten by cannibals, kidnapped by guerillas, or robbed or murdered by all the criminals who live here. What a joke! I once had an mp3 player stolen from my hotel room (by someone who I invited in there) and that’s been my only experience of crime in the last (almost) 2 years I’ve been living in Peru. That could easily have happened in any country.
To be honest I feel safer walking around Iquitos than I did walking around much of London when I used to live there. Violent crime towards tourists is almost unheard of here and you never see gangs of youths roaming the streets looking to stir up trouble like you do in many western cities. However, it is a poor city and opportunistic theft is quite common. If (while in the city) you don’t keep a close eye on your bags and valuables they may go walkabout!
We totally recommend that retreat participants spend some time in Iquitos either before or after the retreat. It’s a unique city and deserves to be experienced. Just take sensible precautions that you would in any place you visit for the first time. Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry, always keep bags and valuables close to you or within eye sight (or locked in your hotel room), don’t walk around by yourself late at night, and always be respectful to the locals.
We think you’ll find Iquitos to be a fun, safe and friendly place to hangout.
The Kapitari Center is extremely safe. It’s a 40 minute walk to the nearest village (also a safe place) so it’s fairly isolated.
What do I need to bring?
We’ve answered that on our What to bring page.
Should I take anti-malaria medication?
While it is theoretically possible to get malaria in the Iquitos area, it is incredibly rare. I don’t know a single person who lives in Iquitos that takes anti-malaria medication, but backpackers and travellers passing through briefly often do so because of advise from their doctors back home.
Ultimately the decision rests with you, but keep in mind that anti-malaria medication often has nasty side-effects and really ought not to be taken with the Ayahuasca medicine.
There are usually very few mosquitos at Kapitari and all tambos and beds are protected by mosquitos netting so it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will come into contact with malaria.
What about Yellow Fever?
There is currently no yellow fever in the Iquitos area. Â However you should consult your physician about any other vaccinations you may need to take.
Can I stay longer and do more ceremonies?
Absolutely, we can help you arrange to stay longer and take part in more ceremonies. You will be pretty much on your own but in a safe environment.
What language is spoken in Peru?
The first language of Peru is Spanish. A number of indigenous languages such as Quechua are still spoken in Peru, but almost everyone speaks Spanish. Very few Peruvians speak English, so for a better experience, we recommend that you at least try to learn some basic phrases before you arrive, maybe even take a few classes.
What is the climate like in Iquitos?
The jungle is very hot and humid, but usually not unbearably so. However, it can take a few days for people to acclimatize, particularly if you’re coming from a cool and dry location. Nights in the jungle are usually cool, but rarely cold.
The average temperature is pretty much the same all year round. Between December and April there is a little more rain than average, but rain showers are usually brief.