Iquitos's most fascinating neighborhood lies along the Itaya River. This market sells goods from the area's jungle villages, and you'll find sundry items from love potions to fresh suri (palm-tree worms). Although it's not the cleanest or sweetest-smelling spot, it is worth a visit. Near the center of the market is a port where you can head out in a dugout through the floating Belén District. This slummy area is often called the Venice of the Amazon (a diplomatic
euphemism), but navigating between its floating homes is really a kick. The houses are built on balsa rafts. Most of the year they float placidly on the Amazon; however, during the low-water season (June–November) they sit in the mud and can attract disease-carrying mosquitoes. The area should be avoided then. During high-water season (December–May), you can visit the area on a half-day tour with any Iquitos tour operator. Do not explore Belén on your own—muggings have been reported—and it should be avoided from dusk to dawn. Be wary of pickpockets and bag slashers in and around the market. Stay alert, access your cash discreetly when you need it, and keep your valuables close.
East end of, Jr. 9 de Diciembre, Iquitos, Peru