Water-locked Iquitos can be reached only by airplane or boat. For most travelers, air is the only practical option.
Iquitos's Aeropuerto Francisco Secada Vigneta, Avenida Abelardo Quiñones, Km 6 (tel. 065/260-147), was once an international airport, receiving flights from Miami, but those were suspended several years ago. LAN (tel. 01/213-8200; www.lan.com), and Star Perú (tel. 01/705-9000; www.starperu.com) fly daily to Iquitos from Lima and from Pucallpa and Tarapoto, other cities in the Loreto department. Flights from Lima start at $112 one-way.
The airport is usually chaotic when flights arrive, with dozens of representatives of tour operators, and countless touts and con men competing for your attention. Do not let anyone take your bags, and don't let anyone you don't know hop in a cab with you. Definitely wait before even discussing Amazon lodge packages. To downtown Iquitos, an automobile taxi costs about S/10; a motocarro costs S/7. If a taxi driver offers to take you for less, he will certainly take you directly to a hotel where he can earn commission, not where you necessarily want to go. (The difference could be a lot more than the few soles you save on the taxi fare.) City buses (S/1) are available outside the gates of the airport on the main road (they travel along Ocampo/Tacna/Grau), but unless you have a very manageable backpack as your only luggage, it's not worth the hassle.
Arriving by boat is an option only for those with the luxury of ample time and patience. It takes about a week when the river is high (and 3-4 days in the dry season) to reach the capital city of Loretos upriver along the Amazon from Pucallpa or Yurimaguas.
To travel to Colombia or Brazil (Manaus, Santarém, and Belém) by boat, your best bet is by river cruise. The Iquitos port, Puerto Masusa, is about 3km (1 3/4 miles) north of the Plaza de Armas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.