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Pantoja is in Loreto, Peru.

Understand[edit]

Pantoja is a small town situated along the Rio Napo, a tributary of the river Amazon. Pantoja is next to the Peruvian - Ecuadorian border, and as of such, is larger than the surrounding towns. There is an army, navy and coastguard base alongside the town.

Get in[edit]

The thick jungle makes any travel overland extremely hard. The town is cut off from the world, apart from the river, the Rio Napo. It is a fairly large river, navigable by lancha (cargo boat), paddle boat and speedboat.

Coming in from Nuevo Rocafuerte in Ecuador, you will have to pay for a private boat to take you down the river. This is easy to do but can cost around $90 or less, dependant on your bargaining skills. You may decide to paddle the distance, which isn't hard, but remember that if you're going downstream, Pantoja is on the left, it's a hard paddle if you realise too late. The paddle would probably take a 3-4 hours. Don't forget to stamp out of Ecuador in Nuevo Rocafuerte and into Peru in Pantoja.

Coming from downstream in Peru, in towns such as Santa Clotilde or Iquitos, will take a few days to a week by slow boat. You're travelling upstream, and so the current adds some time onto your journey. The slow cargo boats themselves are in cramped and dirty conditions, but that's just something you'll have to put up with.

There are 2 weekly rapidos (fast boats) to Pantoja from Mazán, a small village before a big bend in the river about 45minutes by mototaxi and speedboat from Iquitos. These rapidos take 2days from Mazán to Pantoja, with an overnight stop in Santa Clotilde halfways (you can sleep for free in a hammock or on the padded boat seats - a mosquito net (mosquidero) is a good idea. The captain of the "Llorlli" Jeorge Perez Tamani will also invite you to sleep in his house in Santa Clotilde for free. The fare is S/. 200, the boat companies are Fluvial Vichu (phone number Mazán office is (+51) 965-800-468) and Transporte Rapido Llorlli (+51 947 527 193 / 968 299 850 / jepeta_75@hotmail.com ). As of February 2016 Fluvial Vichu leaves Fridays and Transporte Rapido Llorlli Saturdays. It is possible that Fluvial Vichu may have other boats to/from Mazán and Pantoja to Santa Clotilde on other days of the week, contact them for more info.

To Nuevo Rocafuerte on the other side of the border there are daily fast boats from Coca, taking about 10hours ($15). Getting a boat across the border can prove to be difficult, however. Some tourists who are in a hurry to catch a boat on the other side have been forced to pay up to $50 for this service, a ridiculous price for the 1hour journey. Bargain hard, pretend like you are in no rush until you get a price more to your liking. Peke-pekes (dug out canoes with tiny engines) may take up to 3hours for this short trip and should be cheaper. Transportes Rapido Llorlli may depart from near the immigration station in Nuevo Rocafuerte on Monday morning - the boat captain Jeorge sometimes drops passengers across the border after making the trip up from Mazán, depending on demand.

Get around[edit]

Fifteen minute walk from one side of town to the other.

See[edit]

The thick jungle is beautiful, but hard to wonder around in as it is thick and easy to get lost. The military base is an interesting site, so too are the fringes of the town.

Do[edit]

Not a lot to do in Pantoja, people mainly use this as a point to cross the border and restock on food and water before heading off along the river.

Some travellers have decided to modify local boats and paddle the 330km to Santa Clotilde (2°29'22"S 73°40'45"W). The paddle should take around seven days and you can stop off at the communities along the side of the river to stock up on food and sometimes bottled water. These communities will also provide you with a place to sleep if you are polite, respectful and offer them some food, such as garlic, onions or other items they can't access very easily. Make sure you have fitted you boat with stabilisers, to stop the boat flipping over. Without them there is an extremely high risk of flipping in the current, don't under estimate how dangerous it can be.

Buy[edit]

There is a small shop which sells basic food and water alongside tools such as fishing gear, pot and pans and machetes.

Eat[edit]

There is a restaurant which will cook you a good meal and doubles as somewhere you can put up hammocks to sleep.

Drink[edit]

Bottled water is available, but not in great supply and expensive.

Sleep[edit]

There is a nice hotel in town with toilets and clean, smart rooms. The price is S/. 15 a night. For anyone who is on a tight budget, you can ask to put a hammock or tent up in the restaurant, and they usually let you use their toilet, but you must ask very politely. If there is a slow cargo boat in town you could also pitch up your hammock on that. If you came on Transportes Rapido Llorlli the captain Jeorge will also let you put your hammock up on the boat overnight, or you can sleep on the seats.

Connect[edit]

There is a public phone in the village and even mobile reception. .

Go next[edit]

To get out of Pantoja there are cargo boats which leave irregularly and some speedboats (2 per week to Mazán). Alternatively, you may decide, as mentioned above, to paddle down the river to Santa Clotilde, the next stop. This is easy enough, and can be done without a map or guide, but you should carry enough supplies for ten days and inform the local coastguard officer.

From Nuevo Rocafuerte on the other side of the border there are daily fast boats to Coca departing at 5am and taking about 11hours ($15). Getting a boat across the border can prove to be difficult, however. Some tourists have paid up to $50 for this service, a ridiculous price for the 1hour journey. Bargain hard, pretend like you are in no rush until you get a price more to your liking. Slower boats (peke-pekes) may take up to 4hours for this short trip. The immigration station is theoretically open 24/7, but it is lightly staffed, so you might be waiting for a few hours to find an immigration officer to give you your stamp.

There are 2 weekly rapidos (fast boats) between Pantoja and Mazán, a small village before a big bend in the river about 45minutes by mototaxi and speedboat from Iquitos. These rapidos take 2days from Pantoja to Mazán, with an overnight stop in Santo Clotilde halfways (you can sleep for free in a hammock or on the padded boat seats - a mosquito net (mosquidero) is a good idea. The captain of the "Llorlli" Jeorge Perez Tamani will also invite you to sleep in his house in Santa Clotilde for free. The fare is S/. 200, the boat companies are Fluvial Vichu (phone number Mazán office is (+51) 965-800-468) and Transporte Rapido Llorlli (+51 947 527 193 / 968 299 850 / jepeta_75@hotmail.com ). As of February 2016 Fluvial Vichu leaves Mondays and Transporte Rapido Llorlli 10am Tuesdays. It is possible that Fluvial Vichu may have other boats to Santa Clotilde on other days of the week, contact them for more info.

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