Iquitos is an always-on destination for nature, adventure and experiences. However, the city lights up at many occasions during the year, where locals gather to celebrate, eat and drink, and adventurers from all over the world gather for sporting events. It is best to travel to Iquitos during the months of June, July and August as the temperature is the lowest. Don’t miss out Iquitos’ best events of the year when planning your next visit to Iquitos. These events happen to be during those three golden months.
1. San Juan Feast
Almost six months before Christmas is the birth anniversary of Saint John, patron saint of the Amazon. While most Christian anniversaries commemorate the death of a saint, John the Baptist’s nativity is one of the only three celebrations in Christianity celebrating birth, the other two being the birth of Christ (December 25) and the birth of Mary (September 8). The nativity of Saint John has been celebrated around the world since the fourth century. Christians interpret the birth of John as a preparation to the coming of Christ. The birth of John happens on the same day as the summer solstice Incan “Inti Raymi” as a celebration of the sun, and at a time where daylight hours are at peak. John the Baptist is an important character in Christianity, perceived as a key personality in the path of Jesus, a bridge between Hebrew and Christian scriptures, as well as an eccentric character who highly resonates with children.
Cities and communities of the Amazon jungle celebrate their patron in the upmost traditional way; a feast. In fact, feast days are a Christian tradition in South America adopted from Spain and remains tradition until today. The preparations for the festival are many days’ work for the community to cook rice in gigantic quantities. The festivities begin as of sunset, in the eve of June 23rd. The day that follows, June 24th is animated with festivities and abundant with food and drink. Jungle communities gather in the city of Iquitos to share the food and drink beer and wine. The delicacy specific to this feast is the Juanes (from the name John or Juan), which is a parcel of seasoned rice, chicken and egg wrapped in bijao leaves, usually on a bed of fried bananas. The tradition also includes a soccer game and often a bonfire. The festive atmosphere lasts for a whole week!
2. The Great River Amazon Raft Race (GRARR)
The Great Amazon River Raft Race is not for the faint-hearted, and is considered one of the difficult sporting events in the world. The World Guinness book recognises this race as the longest in the world. The race has been staged in Iquitos annually since 29 July 1999. It covers 118 miles of the Amazon over 3 days. The challenge is for teams of four to build a log raft themselves and paddle one stage each day to complete the astounding distance in the mighty Amazon river. While the event attracted natives only at first, it is now internationally renowned among rafters and sports communities.
3. Iquitos Carnaval
February marks the beginning of carnavales in Peru and all over the region. In fact, Peru is the second famous country for carnivals after the world renowned Carnaval de Rio in Brazil. The carnaval in Iquitos takes place in early February as is a “Limited Edition” Amazonian carnaval with a touch of jungle culture. The celebration includes a street parade in which a number of native communities and thousands of Peruvians of all ages participate dressed in brightly colored costumes and masks. The marching parade performs popular music, chants and dances until dawn. Natives engage in traditional games such as the so-called Yunsa Tree game or “Tree Humisha”. Iquitos also hosts contests for the different parade boats, as well as storytelling competitions and marksmanships with traditional blowguns.