Pucallpa’s decent-sized airport is 5km west of town. The best connection is with Star Perú with a direct flight leaving from Lima at 7:15am – the flight continues to Iquitos. For Pucallpa–Lima, the time is 12:15pm. Another option is LAN with three daily (but pricier) flights to Lima.
Other towns and settlements – including Atalaya (on the Río Ucayali), Contamaná, Tarapoto and Yurimaguas – are served by small local airlines using light aircraft; ask at the airport.
Pucallpa’s port moves depending on water levels. During high water (January to April) boats moor at the dock abutting Parque San Martín in central Pucallpa itself.
As water levels drop, the port falls back to several spots along the banks, including Puerto Henry and eventually to about 3km northeast of the town center, reached by mototaxi (S3). The town port stretches some way: different boats for different destinations depart from different areas, usually referred to by the name of the nearest intersecting road.
Wherever the port is, riverboats sail the Río Ucayali from Pucallpa to Iquitos (S80 to S100, slinging your own hammock and with basic meals, three to five days). Cabins with two or four bunks and private bathrooms come with better food service and cost anything from about S150 to S400, depending on the quality and indeed your powers of negotiation.
Boats announce their departure dates and destinations on chalkboards on the boats themselves, but these can be 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 − come here to check for the latest reliable sailing information. 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 is one of the better-equipped outfits, with a 250-passenger capacity.
This is not a trip for everyone. Come prepared − the market in Pucallpa sells hammocks, but 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.
When negotiating prices for a riverboat passage, ask at any likely boat, but don’t pay until you and your luggage are aboard your boat of choice, then pay the captain and no one else. Always get to the port well in advance of when you want to leave: it can take hours hunting for a suitable vessel. Most boats leave either at first light, or in the late afternoon or evening.
The river journey to Iquitos can be broken at various communities, including Contamaná (about S30, 15 to 20 hours) and Requena, and continued on the next vessel coming through (although there’s precious little to do in these villages). Alternatively, ask around for speedboats to Contamaná (about S100, five hours), which depart at 6am most days. The return trip (six to seven hours) goes against the current.
Smaller boats occasionally head upriver toward Atalaya; ask at the Capitanía or the town port.
Jungle ‘guides’ approaching you on the Pucallpa waterfront are not recommended. For jungle excursions, look for a reliable service in Yarinacocha.
The sprucing up of Pucallpa's center hasn't been quite so sexy for bus companies – all of which now depart from disparate terminals straggled along the airport road around 4km from the center, after Parque Natural. One or two companies still have central booking offices. For departures, get a taxi (about S5) out to the relevant bus terminal.
A direct bus to Lima (S65 to S90) takes 18 to 20 hours in the dry season; the journey can be broken in Tingo María (S20, six hours) or Huánuco (S25, eight hours). The road is paved but vulnerable to flooding and erosion. This journey has become safer since the posting of armed police units along parts of the route: still, it’s better to do the Pucallpa–Tingo María section in daylight.
León de Huánuco, with a central booking office, serves Lima at 7:30pm, stopping at Tingo María and Huánuco. It's often best to get a taxi out to Km 4 of the airport road and do the rounds of the offices for the service best suiting your schedule.
Minibus & Taxi
The reorganization of Pucallpa's transportation has seen all the colectivo taxis and minivans to all destinations from Pucallpa bundled together so that they arrive and depart from the same terminal, 8km outside the center: Terminal Terrestre Pucallpa.
Warning: Puerto Bermúdez
Although it is possible to travel via Puerto Bermúdez to Pucallpa from La Merced, we do not currently recommend it.