- Try to exchange currency both Peruvian Soles and Brazilian Reals in quito.
- Exchange rates at the river towns are abysmal at best. We got a 3.30 Sol per USD in Quito where as in Pantoja they would exchange for 2.50 Soles.
- Shop for good exchange rates in the Mariscal Area. The exchange rate at the airport was pretty low too.
|Coca (Ecuador) - Nuevo Rocafurte (Ecuador)||Daily at 7:30 AM.|
Different companies operate boats on different dates.
|Estimated: 8 Hrs|
Actual: 9 Hrs
|Long boat with side seats. No toilets.||USD 15 per person.
USD 5 per bicycle (Bargained from 10)
- Boat started on time.
- Better to purchase tickets a day earlier and arrive early if you have luggage.
- Bikes went on the roof of the boat.
- Rain gear recommended during travel.
- One stop for lunch after 4 hours on the boat.
- Bladder management is critical.
- Good to resupply in Coca - chips, biscuits, fruits etc.
|Nuevo Rocafurte (Ecuador)||-||-||-||The two hospedaje's in town cost USD 8 per person a night.
- Couple of small restaurants in town serve basic food.
- Nuevo Rocafurte is bigger than the next town Pantoja in Peru, so it's better to do last minute resupply here.
- Locals can call Pantoja to find out when the next Slow boat is expected and you can schedule traveling to Pantoja accordingly.
- It is possible to make a tour to Yasuni Natl Park from Pantoja. Most locals are guides and boat owners and can provide good pricing for a 1 or 2 day tour.
- Important: Nuevo Rocafurte has the Ecuador Immigration office, make sure to get an exit stamp before leaving this town for Pantoja.
- While in town, its possible to talk with locals and negotiate for a boat to cross over to Pantoja
- No banks or ATM
|Nuevo Rocafurte (Ecuador) to Pantoja (Peru)||Hired boat or unscheduled boat bringing passengers from Pantoja to Ecuador.||Estimated: 1.5 Hrs|
Actual: 1.5 Hrs
|Long boat.||USD 50 per boat. (Bargained from USD 60)
- There are no scheduled boats, one has to discuss with locals to get a drop off to Pantoja.
- There are too many local boats and helps to bargain a bit to get the cost down.
- The cost is per boat and if you can gather more tourists / locals, it might get the price per person down.
- If you are lucky, you might get to take a boat that returns back to Pantoja after dropping people off. They may offer better price.
- Make sure to get a boat with shelter and rain protection.
- Better to start this leg when there is enough daylight.
|Pantoja (Peru)||-||Estimated: A few days.|
Actual: 4 days
|-||15 soles for the only Hospedaje in town. 4-6 Soles for basic food.
- Pantoja is a very small town, much smaller then Nuevo Rocafurte.
- Make sure to head up the hill to the immigration office to get entry stamped.
- The food in town is basic and really meagre for vegetarian diet.
- The few stores in town do not have any decent products, no vegetables are on sale easily.
- Even bananas become rare commodity fast.
- The only hospedaje in town is basic and at 15 Soles per room, it can be cheap if shared.
- When we were there there was no running water in the hotel.
- Pantoja has no Internet and electricity only between 6PM and 11PM.
- Locals seem to know when the slow boat would arrive (seems like its a supply boat) and it helps to ask a few locals and confirm the arrival.
- Exchange rate in Pantoja is very poor (2.50 Soles per USD), Better to have Soles to spend here.
- Slow boats stay in dock for 2-3 days and it's difficult to miss
- No banks or ATM
|Pantoja (Peru) to Iquitos (Peru)||Fast Boat: twice weekly (may be more unscheduled boats)|
Slow boat: Once every 10-20 days (I suspect it's close to 10 days)
|Fast Boat: 1.5 Days.|
Estimated: 3-4 Days.
Actual: 3 Days
|Fast boat: Long boat with multiple rows of seats.|
Slow boat: Cargo boat with a large hold and 2 decks for passengers. It's cramped and really small for the number of people and stuff they carry.
|Fast Boat: 80 USD.
Slow Boat: 100 Soles per person.
15 Soles per Bicycle
- The boat takes 2-3 days to unload and load in Pantoja.
- It is possible to sleep in the boat for a couple of nights before it starts its voyage.
- Best place to hammock on the boat is on the Upper deck in the middle of the shelter.
- Lower deck gets overcrowded (2 levels of hammocking) and the ends of the shelters in the upper deck tends to get rain spray.
- Upper deck can get really warm when the boat is stopped in the sun
- As the boat sails down river, more cargo animals and people fill in and it gets pretty uncomfortable.
- There is limited space to sit or walk about on this boat.
- They serve 3 meagre meals everyday, but the pickings for vegetarians is slim indeed.
- Sometimes there is only meat on the menu, so it's better to carry some snacks or fruits to eat.
- Important to carry enough (and more) drinking water. The only drinking water in the boat is in small bottles (2 soles) or river water (visibly brown).
- There are 2 toilets and depending on the time of day, the cleanliness varies.
- It's possible to take a shower, but with the river water pumped in.
|Alternate to Iquitos Via Mazan.||Boats run all day from Mazan to Iquitos||2 hrs.||Fast boats.||Unknown.
- When taking fast boat from Pantoja, it stops overnight before Mazan and arrives at Mazan on the noon of day 2.
- The alternate offers option to disembark at Mazan and cross over to the Amazon and take a fast boat to Iquitos.
- The slow boat arrived at Mazan at night and it made more sense to sleep thro the longer route.
|Iquitos (Peru)||-||0 to a few days.||-||-
- Iquitos is a big town and offers opportunity for tourism and rest after a few days on the boat.
- It might be a good place to resupply for the next leg.
- Boats to many destinations including Yarimaguas, Pulcalpa and the Border town of Santa Rosa / Leticia / Tabatinga.
- Numerous boats depart on a regular basis from this port.
- General feedback on boats to Santa Rosa was negative, but we found a very big ship (3 decks, multiple cabins, ensuite, and great service) called Maria Fernanda II and it was great (Scheduled departures on Saturday).
- Good to resupply water in town and probably visit an ATM / Bank.
|Iquitos (Peru) to Santa Rosa (Peru)||Multiple per week||Estimated: 1.5 days|
Actual: 1.5 days, on schedule.
|Big new ship with 3 decks and large cargo hold.|
Supposedly there are lots of junk vessels on this leg too.
|70 Soles per person for hammocking.
200 Soles for a cabin with 2 beds (2 persons).
200 Soles for a cabin with 2 beds (2 persons) and Ensuite (bargained down from 220).
5 Soles per bike.
- The boat we took, Maria Fernanda II was a brand new, huge vessel and clean and with great service.
- The food was included in the price and was basic.
- Cargo hold was spacious and was nice to keep the bike safe.
- A small store sold coffee, some basic essentials and also custom food
- The boat had a long stopover in a small town called Caballo Cocja. Nothing fantastic, but good to stretch and walk about.
- Spacious deck on board was great to relax and watch the river go by.
|Santa Rosa (Peru)||Small water taxis to ferry people from ship to village.||10 minutes||Long boats.||3 Soles per person.
2 Soles for bicycle, needs bargaining.
- Numerous taxis show up all the time to take people from the ship to Santa Rosa.
- Important: Make sure to go to santa Rosa to get an exit stamp from Peru before going to Leticia or Tabatinga.
- The same boat guy can be arranged to take you across once done with immigration.
- Immigration office at Santa Rosa opens at 8 AM (you have to wake people up).
|Santa Rosa (Peru) to Tabatinga (Brasil)||Water taxi for river crossing||10 minutes||Long boats.||3 Soles per person.
2 Soles for bicycle, needs bargaining.
|Tabatinga (Brasil)||-||Estimated: A few days.|
Actual: 5 days
|-||40-60 Reals for hostels in town. Food is expensive and absolutely rubbish.
- There were 3 boats weekly leaving Tabatinga for Manaus. After a day in town, though it was boring, we decided a few days of forced rest.
- Tabatinga is a pricy town and a lot of rubbish is for sale, typical Port town.
- It has been terrible for vegetarian food and pricy.
- Internet in town is expensive and slow (supposedly bad in Amazonias).
- There are more options for food and coffee and a lot more hostels across the border in Leticia.
- The exchange rates across borders are a bit lousy, so better to carry different currencies or use the local ATM instead of exchanging between Reals and Pesos.
- Crossing between Tabatinga and Leticia does not involve any paperwork and one can freely move about. But if you are heading into Brazil, make sure to get the Brazil entry stamp at the Federal Police station on the main road in Tabatinga.
- If you are taking a slow boat to Manaus, book early (there seems to be a discounted rate, I paid 150 Reals).
|Tabatinga (Brasil) to Manaus (Brasil)||Minimum 2 times a week, morl a week.||Estimated: 3 days.|
Actual: 3 days.
|Mid sized ferry with 3 Decks. Most people sleep in the middle deck.||150 Soles per person.
No cost for bicycles.
- Arrive early to find a good spot to hammock. The boat got cramped quickly.
- The kitchen was the best among all the boats till now. Even had a dining area and reasonably good food.
- A store on top deck sold sandwiches at 6 Reals.
- They tried to put the bikes inside the hold, but we insisted it should be outside and it is ok to stand your ground and find a safe place to lock your bikes.
- There was cold potable water and coffee for free all day long.
- Nice toilets and showers.
- The boat started and arrived on time.
- Numerous inspections for drugs happened on the ride. Keep your bags easy to access else it is a chore to open up every bag (every time) to be inspected.
|Manaus (Brasil)||-||Estimated: A few days.|
Actual: Few days in Manaus, Presidente Figuieroda, etc.
|-||Locals in Manaus are super friendly, Highly recommended to look for Warmshowers or Couchsurfing hosts in town.
- Manaus is a huge town with all sorts of amenities and numerous tourism options.
- Boats leave from Manaus to Santarem, Belen, Porto Velho etc.
- Flights leave from Manaus to numerous destinations in Brazil.
- Here ended our boat journey. Good luck with yours!!