This oxbow lake sits 7 km northeast of Pucallpa and is the main tourist drag in the area. In Puerto Callao, Yarinacocha’s main port, there are lots of bars and restaurants line the waterfront. If looking for peace and quiet, stay somewhere on the lake. Internet is available at Restaurant Latino, but it is slow and better options exist in town 5 minutes away. On the lake itself you can see sloths, a variety of bird life, iguanas, and pink and gray river dolphins. The Jardin Etno-Botanico Chullachaqui (Botanical Garden) is about 9 km (30 minutes) from Puerto Callao. It is a stop on many boat tours of Yarinacocha. Admission 2 soles. Open 8am-4 pm. Many come to San Francisco for a quick visit and end up staying for a week. It is just a simple Indian village connected by road and water to the outside world. There is a central craft market where the local Shibipo Indians sell their wares. If looking for a place to stay just ask in town or a boatman in Puerto Callao and someone will direct you to a small hospedaje or a home stay with a local family. Expect very basic accommodations. There are shamans in the village who often conduct ayahuasca ceremonies for tourists. The nearby village of Santa Clara is only accessible by water and therefore more isolated than San Francisco and more traditional.
Where to Stay in Yarinacocha
El Pescador – Basic run down budget hotel, but it is cheap, on the waterfront, and close to the local nightlife.
La Maloka – 596-072. Eco lodge built on stilts at the end of the malecon. Rooms and amenities are basic. Good restaurant.
Albergue Pandisho – 57-5041. Located about a half hour from Puerto Callao by boat. It is a nice relaxing spot that overlooks the lake, has a small restaurant/bar, and even a mini zoo. The six rooms have bathrooms and electricity is available most of the day.
La Perla – 961-6004, www.welcome.to/laperla. A ten-minute ride from Puerto Callao. Three doubles and one family bungalow. Shared baths and showers. Solar power. German English-speaking owner offers a variety of tours on the lake.
Tours in Yarinacocha Peke-pekes (wooden launches) can be rented for about $10 an hour and will go to desired locations around the lake. Make sure to let the driver know which stops you want to make before getting on the boat. A few recommended guides include: -Achilles with his boat “El Patron” and the boats “Henry”, Antony”, and “Pedro Martin”.
-Gilber Reategui Sangama runs Normita tours (www.sacredheritage.com/normita) He offers 1, 5 day, and 15-day tours on his boat La Normita. Multiple day tours include gasoline, food, water, and tents with mosquito nets and mattresses. Gilber can also arrange visits ceremonies with a shaman and home stays in the small village of Nueva Luz de Fatima.
Shopping in Yarinacocha
Maroti Shobo, at Aquayatia 443 on Yarinacocha’s main plaza, just up from Puerto Callao. It is a small market of stands that features the art and crafts of many area tribes. Prices here tend to be higher than in the villages, the quality here is generally superb.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.