How to get from Iquitos to Manaus is a common questions people ask. Both of these cities are in the Amazon Rainforest and are along the Amazon River. Because they’re located along the river, you can travel between each using various river vessels. If you’re simply interested in getting from Iquitos to Manaus, you may consider a fast boat, which can be organised with your tour operator after you have explored the Iquitos rainforest (scientists consider this side of the Amazon to be the most diverse). There are also various agencies dotted around Iquitos offering the journey and they often advertise this clearly.
Comfortable Journey and Tours while cruising from Iquitos to Manaus
Iquitos is the preferred choice for an Amazon lodge and there are also several good cruises from Iquitos. If you would also like to contrast this with Manaus (something I have done) you can also choose a tour boat that acts as both a way to get from Iquitos to Manaus but also provides guided tours into the rainforest. A vessel providing this opportunity is the Sea Dream.
Basic way of getting from Iquitos to Manaus
If you’re after more budget friendly way of getting to Manaus from Iquitos, you can consider a slow boat. This is the most popular method for budget conscious travelers for getting between cities and is often how locals make the journey. I advise paying a little extra and getting a cabin, as otherwise you require a hammock you tie up with the locals and things can get a little cramped and uncomfortable. It is, however, an experience.
You can pay for your ferry ticket in the morning at the dock and then return for departure. Keep in mind if you’re considering this option, the slow boats are better quality and more comfortable on the Brazilian side of the Amazon. My recommendation is to take a fast boat between Iquitos and Santa Rosa (border town), and then take a slow boat from Tabatinga to Manaus. You will then see the tres fronteras (a place you would have definitely wanted to avoid a few decades ago). Once here, you will need to visit immigration in Santa Rosa to get stamped out and then the police station and immigration in Tabatinga to get stamped into Brazil.
You will take a little water taxi from Santa Rosa (Peru) to Leticia (Colombia) and walk to Tabatinga (Brazil) for your ferry. It’s a lot nicer while you wait for your departure to spend the time in Leticia as there are some nice coffee shops. I find border towns quite fun. You can see the sign where you are welcomed to Brazil and will notice a subtle transition in culture between each place.
Flying from Iquitos to Manaus
Of course, you can fly between cities but this is quite an expensive trip for how far you are traveling, but then again it is by far the quickest option as instead of taking a few days it takes a few hours. The trip is expensive because you don’t just fly from Iquitos to Manaus but have to fly to major connecting cities e.g. Iquitos to Lima to Sao Paulo to Manaus.
Iquitos is my preference for an Amazon lodge, but both Iquitos and Manaus provide exceptional Amazon Rainforest Cruises.