Pucallpa, a city nestled at the entrance of the Peruvian Amazon, on the northern end of the country, is your first stop if entering the jungle.
A rarely visited part of Peru, we were lucky to be given the opportunity to live and volunteer in San Francisco de Yarinacocha, a small village hidden from the world.
Primarily Shipibo, a native and indigenous tribe to that region, in our opinion, here is the best place to experience ayuawashka, or simple to visit and learn about jungle life.
To read about our experience working as two English teachers to seven Shipibo children, and sharing the home of an incredible shaman known as Wïsh – click here.
In the meantime, here is the most cost effective and quickest way to reach that neck of the woods, (or should we say neck of the jungle?) from Lima.
From Lima to Pucallpa:
There are very few companies who journey from Lima to ‘la selva’ (the jungle region) and even less who run an overnight service, which leaves us jungle feverers with limited choices.
All busses heading towards the different jungle regions that are scatted across the east of the country, Pucallpa, Iquitos etc. leave from the northern end of the Avenida 28 de Julio in Victoria, the transport hub of Lima.
The company, Transmar run day busses, but we suggest you take an overnight as this journey is long one.
Overnight busses depart from Transmar bus depot at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 10pm. Depending on what time you choose, it costs roughly between 40sol (€10.50) – 60sol (€16.00) and takes minimum 20 hours. Always expect delays.
Note: This bus does NOT have a toilet on board, but there are regular stops and sure worst case, just dance infront of the driver.
When you reach Pucallpa, the bus will drop you along a main road outside the centre, walking isn’t ideal but you can take a tuc tuc for 2sol (€0.50) to the Plaza de Armas.
From Pucallpa to Yarina:
There are a number of Shipibo villages you can visit, all with homestay options. But first, you need to travel from the big(ish) city of Pucallpa to Yarina.
Yarina is the closest “city” for those living in the jungle and here is where you will need to stock up on food and any necessities. When we say city, we mean a big town full of markets (like, everywhere!), eateries, pharmacies etc. It has all you need, and is quite cheap.
So, how to get there? First of all, jump either the local bus, or a collectivo car (a shared taxi) from outside the market in Pucallpa.
From the Plaza de Armas, facing the church, take the road leading from the top right corner, next to the “fancy” Incan named hotel (we cannot remember what it’s called but it’s the only hotel on the plaza).
Head straight down this road until the market is in your sights, it has a green roof. Pass the first street of markets, as you are looking for the corner where they sell phones and phone covers. Or simply ask any local for the bus or collectivo to Yarina. Most car collectivos will have Yarina displayed on their windscreen.
The bus costs 1sol (€0.25) and will take at least 40 minutes. The car collectivos take less than 20 minutes and only cost 2sol (€0.50).
From Yarina to the Jungle:
The bus will drop you near the park in Yarina, from here walk with the park on hour right, and keep going straight until you reach a number of shops and a bakery (all with no doors).
Car collectivos should drop you directly outside the shops we’re talking about, but worst case ask the driver for collectivos to San Francisco de Yarinacocha.
Again, depending on which jungle village you plan to visit, you need to ask around for the right collectivos. However, the ones we took to San Francisco de Yarinacocha pass through majority of the villages such as San Jose and San Juan etc.
The white and green striped taxis, called the Yarina Express, are the worst conditioned collectivos we’ve ever taken but when you see the state of the roads, you’ll understand why. Broken doors, cracked windscreens, no seatbelts, no air con and always opened windows (because they’re broken), on first sight, it looks like a death trap.
Also, it’s not unusual for at least 6-8 passengers to squeeze into the 4 passenger vehicle. Majority of the time, I had to sit on Luke’s lap, unfortunate for him and my future babies. Just know that the journey is safe and the driver a pro, so don’t let it deter you.
The collectivos have a flat fee of 4sol (€1.05) and take 20-30 minutes, to San Francisco. If it’s raining, or has rained cars are unlikely to run as the roads suffer from flood. Always.
Like always, if you any questions or we can help in any way, pop us a comment or an email.
Now, go get your Tarzan on! The jungle awaits….