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Getting there & away




A direct bus to and from Lima (US$13) takes 20 hours in the dry season; the journey can be broken in Huánuco (US$8, nine hours) or Tingo María (US$5, nine hours).

León de Huánuco (57 2411, 57 9751; Tacna 655) serves Lima at noon and 5:30pm, as do Transportes El Rey (57 5545, 57 6793; Raimondi at 7 de Junio) at 11am and 11:30am; Transmar (57 4900, 59 2264; Raimondi 793) at 1pm and 4:30pm; and Trans Amazonica (57 1292; Tacna 628) at 5pm daily.

Turismo Ucayali (59 3002; 7 de Junio 799) has cars to Aguaytía (US$8) and Tingo María (US$14, six hours) leaving about every hour all day and night. At the same cross street, small companies have cars and minibuses to Aguaytía and Tingo María.

Transportes Palcazu (57 1273; Raimondi 730) has trucks and buses to Puerto Bermúdez and Puerto Zungaro.

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Pucallpa’s port moves depending on water levels. During high water (January to April) boats dock at the town itself, abutting Parque San Martín. As water levels drop, the port moves to about 3km northeast of the town center, reached by minibuses from the center (US$0.50).

Wherever the port is, riverboats sail the Río Ucayali from Pucallpa to Iquitos (US$18 to US$30 including basic meals, three to five days). Cabins with two or four bunks cost an extra US$1.50 per bunk per day, and come with better food service. Boats announce their departure dates and destinations on chalkboards on the boats themselves, but these can unreliable. Talk to the captain or the cargo loadmaster for greater dependability. They must present boat documents on the morning of their departure day at the Capitanía (57 2517; M Castilla 860). Many people work here, but only the official in charge of documents knows the real scoop and can give you accurate sailing information. Passages are daily when the river is high, but in the dry season low water levels result in slower, less frequent passages.

The quality of the boats varies greatly both in size and comfort. Choose a boat that looks good. The Henry V when it is in port is one of the better-equipped outfits and can take up to 250 passengers.

This is not a trip for everyone; see p523 for more details on traveling by boat. Come prepared – the market in Pucallpa sells hammocks, but the mosquito repellent may be of poor quality. Bottled drinks are sold on board, but it’s worth bringing some large bottles of water or juice.

Jungle ‘guides’ approaching you on the Pucallpa waterfront are usually unreliable and sometimes dishonest. For jungle excursions, look for a reliable service in Yarinacocha. For a riverboat passage, ask at any likely looking boat, but don’t pay until you and your luggage are aboard the boat of your choice. Then pay the captain and no one else.

The river journey can be broken at various villages, including Contamaná (15 to 20 hours) and Requena, and continued on the next vessel coming through. Or ask around for speedboats to Contamaná (US$23, about five hours). The return trip (US$29, six to seven hours) goes against the current. Boats leave daily about noon in each direction.

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Pucallpa’s pleasant and decent-sized airport is 5km northwest of town. It currently only handles two flights daily to/from Lima. LC Busre (57 5309; Tarapaca) has direct flights to/from Lima (US$75) leaving midmorning, while Star Perú (59 0586; 7 de Julio 865) has an alternative direct flight for around the same price leaving early afternoon. Luggage on these flights is limited to 10kg. You’ll have to pay around US$1.30 for each excess kilogram. Departure tax is US$3.57, payable at the booth in the concourse lounge before check-in.

Other towns and settlements (including Atalaya, Contamaná, Juanjuí, Puerto Breu, Purus, Sepahua, Tarapoto and Yurimaguas) are served by small local airlines using light aircraft. Aero Andino (59 2072; fax 57 2291) sometimes flies to Tarapoto, among other destinations; North American (57 2351; fax 57 3168, Aeropuerto) flies to Contamaná daily and sometimes to Tarapoto. Note that luggage on these flights is limited to 10kg per passenger.

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