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Instructions How To Get From Coca To Iquitos By Boat

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The whole trip we divided in three parts according to three boats you have to take.
Coca (San Francisco de Orellana) => Rocafuerte
In Coca you'd better spend one day preparing for the trip. You can read about Bimbino and Bambina's preparations here.
First, you have to find a boat to Nuevo Rocafuerte. There were two companies offering this route.
* Company №1 Company №2
Departures** Mon, Wed, Fri Tues, Thu, Sat
Time Departure from Coca 9:00 6:30
Arrival to Rocafuerte 15:00 18:00
Price $15 $15
Type of the boat A metal boat; rows of seats like in a bus; bigger cargo in front. A wooden boat; benches on the sides; all cargo in the middle.
Where to buy the tickets A building by the river left(if facing the river) from the old bridge. Definitely opened a day before departure. At the harbor. Opening hours weren't clear.
*Before blindly relying on this schedule, check information on arrival to Coca. Things can change with the time. The information was gathered on 10th of December 2013.
** There are no boats on Sunday!
It was really surprising, but the Company №1 offered better quality and speed for the same price. The boat was comfortable and could not be overcrowded, as every passenger had his own place, like in a bus. 
Coca is the last city to buy the most important things you will need for the boat ride, and you can get everything you'd need.
Must have:
  • A hammock ($12, at a little shop owned by an old man on the main square).
  • A rope (up to $1 per meter; you'd need 3-5 meter per hammock depending on the thickness of the rope).
  • Mosquito repellent (Detán is good, $5x240ml). If you don't have it they'll eat you alive...
  • Water (1,5 liter per person per day minimum). Will be a bit more expensive, but possible to buy 5 liter water bottles in Rocafuerte.
Good to have:
  • Sunblock ($11,50x180ml);
  • Slippers ($1,50 cheapest on the market);
  • Antiseptic alcohol. Always keep your hands clean.
  • Alcohol to drink! It makes evenings warm and cosy. And if it is a strong alcohol, can help keeping your stomach in a good mood as well. "Germs, beware of vodka!"
Important! Food!
It is said that the food on the big boat to Iquitos is included. But it is not a food, it a joke! First, it tastes ugly, second, the portions are ridiculously small. Bring your substitute or supplement. Vegetarians must bring their own food. There are no vegetables or fruits on the boat.
Food:
  • Veggies and fruits;
  • Chocolate (snickers or twix are good, if it melts it is still tasty);
  • Snacks.
Drinks:
Just whatever could make you happy. It can be tough on the boat, so take something to treat yourself.
The boat trip from Coca to rocafuerte took around 7 hours with a boat from Company №1. There is a chance to meet other travellers in Rocafuerte who want to cross the border as well. it is always good to cooperate. You can find a cooperation story of Bimbino and Bambina here. There you can find photos and a bit more detailes about Nuevo Rocafuerte.
Rocafuerte => Pantoja
In Rocafurte you need to find a boat across the border. And don't forget to stamp you passport in the immigration office. It is located on the main square and opened a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon.
As it was said, it is good if you could cooperate with other traveller to find a boat. A normal boat is like a boat from the Company №2, wooden bench type. It is quite big, and the boatmen don't agree to make a trip for less than $70. If you are in a big group, you can easily share the costs. But if you are alone, or two people, you have to look for options, and there are at least two.
1. Ask for señor Sifuente. He has a small boat for maximum three people with luggage. He makes a trip for $30. So if you are three it is only $10 per person, and a great experience of riding a traditional small wooden barca.
2. About this option the monkeys only heard. Every time a big boat comes to Pantoja a big wooden bench boat goes to the other side. People do trading there, as well as currency exchange. The passage should cost $10. It might be a good alternative to other options, as waiting on the Ecuadorian side seemed to be more fun than in Pantoja.
The boat trip with señor Sifuente took around 1,5 hours.Here you can find photos and more information about Pantoja.
Pantoja => Iquitos
Don't forget to stamp your passport in Pantoja! The immigration is located a bit outside of the village on a hill to the right if you're facing the water.
In Pantoja the boats don't have a certain schedule. But the locals know approximately when a boat should arrive, but the actual arrival might be quite unexpected. The monkeys were to travel on a boat called Arabela-1, and had to wait two days until departure. A boat usually stays for some time to unload and load the cargo.
The trip on Arabela-1 costed 90 soles. There is an option to get off the boat in Mazan, one day before Iquitos, which must cost a bit less. Mayan is located on a piece of land between two rivers. People say that from Mazan you can take a bus, and then a boat to cross the Amazon to Iquitos, which wuold save you a day of travelling. As their trip took only two days till Mayan, the monkeys could stand the boat for one day more. Yes, the trip from Pantoja to Iquitos took only three days all in. Usually it takes five. But as the boat was totally full not only with people, but with cargo at the end of the first day of the trip, it skipped a lot of stops the next day. In fact, the duration of the trip depends on the level of the river, amount of cargo to load, and frequency of stops.
The boat Arabela-1 had four levels and a roof. Two lowest and the roof were used for cargo: life stock and platanos. Two higher levels were for the passengers. It is better to hang your hammock on the level under the roof, as it is calmer, fresher and cleaner. The lower passenger level has a kitchen and toilettes, so it has all the traffic accordingly. The roof is a nice place to relax if the sun is not burning and it doesn't rain. If the sun is burning. it is nice for getting some suntan. If it is raining, you could take a fresh shower. Yeah, concerning showers on the boat. There were two of them, and two toilettes at the end of the boat on the lower passenger level. The water is taken from the river, as well as flushed into the river with all the shit and trash.
More about the big boat trip you can find here together with photos and impressions of the monkeys.
In this post we have tried to gather the most important information for travellers, which would help them to prepare for this big adventure: crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru via the río Napo. If you are interested to know more and to see some pictures from this trip, please, check out the following stories from Bimbino and Bambina:
Follow the adventures of the Travelling Monkeys! More stories to come soon...
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Comments are welcome! Already (2)

  1. Inga:
    Feb 19, 2017 at 02:56 PM

    Hey guys!
    If anyone have used this instructions, please, let us know about your experience. How well did it work out? Feel free to link to other resources you have used for preparation.

    Reply

  2. Hugh:
    Apr 21, 2017 at 01:08 PM

    Hello, me and my brother are planning to do the same boat trip you did from coca to iquitos in july. How long did it take you and do you think you got a bit lucky not getting stuck in pantoja, would this part normally take longer do you think?. Would you recommend it and do you have any tips to make it more comfortable/ more fun/ quicker. From the blogs I have read about it I'm not sure if it would be an amazing experience or torture but the boats sound very unpredictable. We don't have loads of time so we probably wouldn't want the trip to take more than 7 days.
    Thanks for any advice
    Hugh

    Reply

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