Iquitos is Peru’s gateway to the Amazon. A city that sits at the very beginning of the river, there’s a sense of the wild that comes with a place that’s only accessible by boat or plane. A favourite of Gringos for its Ayahuasca culture – a local tribal ceremony (that is either deeply spiritual or deeply hallucinogenic depending on who you ask) – there are many hostel options in the city of 400,000.
You only need to know one.
The Flying Dog is a chain of hostels that stretch through Peru. The first started in Lima in 2000, and they have since opened in Cusco, Arequipa and finally in 2011, in the jungle frontier of Iquitos.
Marcel owns and runs the Iquitos operation, and has found the perfect location on the Malecon (Spanish for waterfront) which overlooks the old port of Iquitos, a tributary off of the Amazon proper. Despite the massive tourism that the town attracts, there aren’t a huge amount of touristy areas in the city. The Flying Dog is the only hostel that sits on the Malecon, close to the nicer restaurants and main plaza.
The building itself is a cute little 2-storey colonial style number that sticks out from the crowd with the help of a sweet yellow paintjob and the picture of a flying dog that represents, in logo form, The Flying Dog.
The next thing you’re gunna notice on entry is the friendly face of Marcel, smiling over the front counter and welcoming you to his abode.
Marcel is the antithesis of what a hostel owner should be – unbelievably friendly, honest and genuine, super attentive, and most important of all, fun. He realises that backpackers come to Iquitos to have a good time, and goes out of his way to make it happen. The Flying Dog could not have asked for a better dude to represent them in Iquitos.
The hostel’s foyer is an open communal area with a reception desk in the corner and a lounge area in the middle. It gives the place a great sense of openness that is invaluable in a place as hot as Iquitos – when you find yourself cramped into small spaces in a town where 35C and 100% humidity is normal, you start to feel like the walls are sweating on you.
The foyer connects with the kitchen/bar area out the back, which is again an open and airy space, with natural light feeding down through the buildings. Here a free breakfast is served every morning, which includes one of the most bangin’ tropical smoothies I’ve had the pleasure of inserting into my mouth.
The dorms and privates are located mostly on the second floor, and while not all of the rooms have air conditioning, they do have fans. If you’re looking to net a room with AC, be sure to book ahead and mention the request. All of the rooms, however, come with both a sharp cleanliness and a relaxed cuteness.
The place is well thought out, has the exact feel that you want in the frontier/hippy/regional town of Iquitos, and is just a great place to be. The benefit of staying in a franchise style hostel is you know they have the knowledge to get the layout and facilities right. The only worry with franchised hostels is if the staff will be as good as the building. With The Flying Dog Iquitos, I can give an emphatic yes.
Marcel is brilliant, and is keen to meet you. If you’re drifting towards Iquitos, hit him up via The Flying Dog website or his Facebook page.
You won’t regret it.