Pucallpa is a city in the Peruvian Amazon.
Yarinacocha is about 5km outside of town, on the lake "Yarinacocha", a more relaxed place to stay and a good destination for a day trip. [ Temporary warning, November 2015: In July 2015 restructuring works have started on the malecón of Yarinacocha. Access to water is completely blocked. This does not affect the floating restaurants, although it is not yet clear how they will be reached in high water season. Tours on water start from the restaurant area, at S/.1.50 from the market area by motokar in dry weather. ]
You can fly in on one of Peru's national airlines (which are often going in and out of business) - Star Peru or LAN, a more stable South American airline. LAN is more reliable as far as timing and service, but only offers a 5 am flight. StarPeru is currently the only airline that offers daytime flights to and from Pucallpa (mid morning, and early evening, assuming that the flights are on time). Also, LAN has drastically different fares for Peruvian residents, and visitors can't get the reduced fares (which require a Peruvian ID). StarPeru's fares, on the other hand, are the same for nationals and guests. You can book flights directly through the airlines, or you can use a Pucallpa-based travel agent, like Amazon World (011-51-61-57-5539). The advantage to using a travel agent (my only experience is with Amazon World) is that if a flight is delayed or canceled, they will go out of their way to notify you, or even to make arrangements if a cancellation causes you to miss another flight.
Its possible to travel by boat south from Iquitos on the Rio Ucayali all year round and possibly north from Puerto Bermudez or other ports along the Rio Pachitea depending on the time of year and river height. It's also possible to come from the south, nearly all the way from Cusco by smaller boats along the Urubamba and Ucayali river.
Buses from Lima take about 18 hours or more (about S/.50 - S/.100; "Transmar" and other companies). Be aware that there a two streets called 28 de Julio in Lima. One in central Lima (there is Transmar) and one in Miraflores (no Transmar there).
The road past Huanuco is very foggy at times, with little visibility. Past Tingo Maria landslides have devastated the road in sections, you can get through but its muddy and slow going in small sections.
Mototaxis are motor-tricycle taxis that are the standard mode of transportation for Pucallpa. Expect to pay about S/.2.00 for a trip within downtown, S/.3.00 for a trip in from the outskirts of town, and as much as S/.6.00 for a trip from one of the suburbs (you might need to switch mototaxis). About S./4.00 to Yarinacocha.
Collectivos are normal passenger cars that run set routes (like buses). They are a cheaper option for travel (especially if you are alone - S/.1.00 per person). Note that the collectivos can get crowded - two people in the front seat and four across the back seat. Pucallpa to Yarinacocha is S./1.50.
Downtown Pucallpa is small enough that you can get to many places just by walking. If you don't know where something is located, ask directions, but be aware that the directions you are given are not guaranteed to be correct. People feel compelled to give an informative answer, regardless of whether or not they know the right one.
There is not very much in the way of sightseeing in Pucallpa itself. That said, most attractions are water related. Pucallpa is situated on the shores of the Ucayali River, and there is a lake near the city called Lake Yarinacocha. In the middle of the lake is an island called La Isla de Amor. This is a nice place for a day trip.
If you need a very good english speaking guide for showing you around, see Richard, a local guy who is in local shipibo artscraft and guidance. He is trustworthy, and knows almost every interesting place in and around Pucallpa. If you like his services pay him a breakfast or a little fee. Call him: 961692118
- Recreation Center. There is a recreation center about 15 miles from Pucallpa. At this center is a restaurant, a pool, and several waterslides. This is a relaxing way to spend a day, and the food won't break the bank. If you travel here when the weather is warm (as it often is) you may find that an ice cream from the stand there hits the spot. edit
- Parque Natural. Pucallpa's zoo is called the 'Parque Natural'. The tour operators will try to sell you a trip to the zoo with a trip to Lake Yarinachocha, but this is not necessary. Ask any motocarro operator and they will take you there. You can also take the bus from near the Plaza de Armas. Do not expect to see animals in enclosures like North American zoos. The animals are in small cages and in many cases, you can get quite close to the big cats with only a fence between you. You will be able to pet or feed some of the animals (please fruit only) and see animals you will not be able to see in the jungle. Make sure you see the historical part of the zoo as well. edit
- Animal Park. There is also another park on the other side of the river where you can have your photo taken with an Anaconda. They have a giant swing and you can hand feed Toucans and eat(!) crocodile. edit
- Yarinacocha beaches. There are two beaches on the Yarinacocha lake, with a muddy, dirty sand beach and basic food & drink stalls. One being a 30min walk east from Yarinacocha, the other one a short boat ride from Yarinacocha (S./2.00). edit
- Boat Tours, Yarinacocha (Around the main port). There are several possibilities for boat tours in Yarinacocha. These boat tours can sometimes serve as the beginning leg of a jungle excursion (minimum of 1 full day starting at 5 am until far past dark, normally 2-3 days). During the wet season, you can take a tour all the way to the Ucayali River wherein you can see pink dolphins. You can also fish for piranha's in certain parts of Yarinacocha if your guide knows where to take you. edit
There are a number of markets within Pucallpa. These markets are filled with booths that are manned by vendors selling all sorts of wares. Hammocks are best bought at the market nearest to the Ucayalli River (Mercado numero 3), and you can buy any number of artifacts/crafts from many of the surrounding indigenous tribes. There are also pharmacies, banks, travel agencies, and 3 grocery stores with imported projects. Los Andes market is a delight for anyone looking for European or North American products. Fisa is the smallest of the three, but carries some Asian products that can't be found elsewhere. Valdivia (Near the plaza de Armas) is your best bet for many other imports, and has a wide selection of liquors and wines. If you are looking for a specific product, and have some time on your hands, you can ask the proprietor of the store to order it for you. You can get inexpensive, custom made furniture from a place in town called "El Huecito".
- Cafe Elixir, Av. Yarinacocha 513 (One and a half blocks from the plaza de armas Yarinacocha, where Av. Yarinacocha meets Tupac Amaru), ☎ +51 968 222 474, . Tues-Fri 8am - 8pm. Sat-Sun 10am - 10pm. Monday closed. Cafe Elixir Pucallpa is a new beautiful cafe in Yarinacocha, Pucallpa.According to the customers it has the best coffee in Pucallpa with a large selection of smoothies, juices, milkshakes, freakshakes, toasted sandwiches, loaf cake and much more. It offers free wifi and air conditioning with friendly helpful staff. Cheap. edit
- Portal Chicken, Jirón Independencia, 510, ☎ (061) 571-771. Their specialty is Pollo a la Braza, a Peruvian favourite. Also on offer, Anticuchos, Brochetas, Chicharrón de pollo and salads, too - 1/4 quarter chicken with french fries $4 USD. The frozen lemonade is excellent. They deliver for the price of round-trip motocarro fare from the plaza to your location. edit
- Mijanos, (About 2 km from the airport, on Calle Alamedas). A Seafood place only open for lunch (noon to 5 pm). It serves imaginative dishes with seafood that is as fresh as can be gotten in Pucallpa. Their chef had culinary training in Lima, and it shows. The downside is that it's pricey by Pucallpa standards (nearly $30 USD for two, including a shared appetizer and 2 beverages). edit
- Restaurante Vegetariano, (Plaza de Armas). This vegetarian restaurant serves clean set meals, breakfast and has muesli and other vegetarian products for sale. almuerzo menu S./8.00, S./10.00. edit
- Chez Maggy. Although there are other pizza restaurants in town, this one is the best pizza cooked in an Old School Wood-Fired Oven. edit
- Tropitop, (Plaza de Armas). Gringo friendly place for fruit juice, breakfast and real coffee. edit
- Helados Don Alejos, Jiron Ucayali # 656 (1/4 block from Plaza de Armas), ☎ 965821378. Best place for ice cream & sorbet (dairy free) - classic flavours and innovative use of local tropical fruits! edit
- Restaurant Anaconda, (Floating on the Laguna). until 6PM. Considered by some as the best seafood restaurant in the Amazonas, this floating restaurant serves a variety of local fish. edit
- Parilladas Orlandos. A hidden gem, a block off the plaza, they sell a wide selection of barbecued meats, and the quality and price is excellent. edit
There are cheap hostels all around the Plaza de Armas, starting at about S/.25.00 per bed.
- Hostal Richard, Calle San Martin. Loud premises and loud clientele, ineffectual ceiling fans, grotty dark singles from S/.40. edit
- Hotel Happy Day, Jirón Huáscar 440 (2 blocks from Plaza de Armas), ☎ (061)57-1940. checkout: 1:00. Decent rooms with and without airconditioning. Wi-Fi single/double S/.35/50; with aircon S/.60/70. edit
- Hostal Barbtur, Jirón Raymondi 670, ☎ (061)57 2532. checkin: 6 AM; checkout: 12 PM. Clean rooms and cold shower, friendly staff. Double S/.35. edit
- Park Plaza, Jirón Tarapaca 637 (On Plaza de Armas), ☎ (061)50 6615 (email@example.com). checkin: 6 AM; checkout: 12 PM. Clean rooms and tepid shower, friendly staff. WiFi gratis, Cold Beer S/6. Situated amongst restaurants and bakeries, 2 blocks from market. S/.70/90/110. edit
- Hostal el Delfín, Jiron Aguaytia 117, Yarinacocha (four blocks from Plaza de Armas, opposite the entrance of Electro Ucayali.), ☎ 061485736. Six large but slightly worn rooms in a garden setting, bath en suite, shared kitchen w/ fridge, 2 blocks from market, free WiFi, laundry service S/.5 a load. Four new rooms recently added. Attentive family, good info, a favourite w/ Euro and South American travellers. S/.25 per room. (-8.35211,-74.57836) edit
- Hostal los Delfines, Yarinacocha (jr. circunvalacion con ruperto perez maynas Mz 5 Lte 5, entrando por ELECTRO UCAYALI), ☎ 061485517. Comfortable rooms in a concrete building with private bathrooms in a garden setting. Used to be one property together with El Delfín, so mostly comparable with it. S/.35 per person. edit
- Hotel Los Gavilanes, Jr. Ipuatia 370, . Without doubt the best hotel in Yarinacocha, WiFi and a pool. From US$28. edit
- Sambo Shipibo Ayahuasca Retreat, (Just outside Yarinacocha in San Jose. Ask mototaxista for Sambo in San Jose S/.4.00), ☎ (51) 961-09-7008 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Cabañas in a large mango garden (daily/monthly rates), Bath en suite, Free WiFi. Ample garden space for pitching a tent. Ceremonies available en site with renowned (80 y.o.) Shaman Olivia. Super helpful staff. http://blueperu.com/contact.html edit
The road between Tingo Maria and Pucallpa is infamous for robberies. Particularly buses are prone to suffer, as some of the robbers get on as paying passengers and then stop the bus while more robbers get on and strip the passengers of all valuables. It is much safer to use a plane from Lima. If you have to use the road, try organizing a taxi or lorry from Huanuco. Avoid travelling when there are special events in Pucallpa (or Christmastime), as the robbers are known to be more active then. And don't ever travel this road at night. Pucallpa is particularly dangerous around Christmastime. Many robberies occur during December, and police corruption is at its worst then, too. The situation seems to have improved since the road between Tingo Maria and Pucallpa is mostly paved now (as of 2011).
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