Analysis of the mud of the Amazon shows its origins in the weathered rock of the Andes and can also be used to study climate change, revealing whether erosion is happening at a faster or slower rate. The study of mud cores in the Amazon Basin, where the offshore sediment is 10 km deep, also provides a climate record going back millions of years.
Peru – Been There

Peru's muddy and chaotic version of Venice

Photo by John Cancalosi

Peru – Been There Peru's muddy and chaotic version of Venice

“This is the real Iquitos,” Marcel shouts back to me above the roar of the motor as our boat beats against the current, navigating through an obstacle course of stilted houses and ramshackle vessels at an alarming speed.

Luke Waterson
Luke Waterson Travel Writer

I am in the steamy Bajo area of Iquitos – the largest city of the Peruvian Amazon. Bajo (“below”) is less a district than the name given to the ramshackle buildings strung along the steep, stinking and silty banks of the Río Itaya. At the mercy of river level fluctuations of up to ten meters, water-born disease and currents that have been known to carry away entire communities, the citizens of Bajo live in a state of flux: extremely erratic flux.

But there is no denying that, despite the risks involved, Bajo is the center of everything that matters most here. Iquitos is the largest city in the world not connected by road, so everything that happens happens through the river, and therefore through Bajo. We are headed to one of Peru's biggest and most bizarre markets, Belén, and Marcel wants, as with everything he does, to do it the interesting way.

This is Peru’s muddy and chaotic version of Venice, where the streets are sludge-heavy waterways flanked by wooden huts perched on precarious-looking tree trunks. It is a community built on rickety stilts and, further out, anchored floating platforms where houses, school and church rise and fall at the whim of the river.

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Iquitos, with its population of 490,000, is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by car. Isolated in the Amazon Basin, everything has to come in by boat or air. In Belen, the port is busy with goods such as charcoal, bananas, fish and other essential supplies brought in mainly by canoe and unloaded by hand. Photo by Romina del Castillo

Romina del Castillo

Romina del Castillo

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Iquitos, with its population of 490,000, is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by car. Isolated in the Amazon Basin, everything has to come in by boat or air. In Belen, the port is busy with goods such as charcoal, bananas, fish and other essential supplies brought in mainly by canoe and unloaded by hand.

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