If you are coming to Pucallpa for a visit, here are a few things that will help you out(in no particular order):
The current exchange rate in Pucallpa is about 2.57 soles = USD$1.00 (March 2013)
- Taking a Motokar – Don’t get taken for a ride, listen to how much they are charging other people. The minimum fare is 1 sol. For example from the airport to downtown, you can expect to pay about 4 soles. Hotels usually offer private transportation as part of the room cost. From downtown to Yarinacocha about 3 soles. You can figure on paying about 3 soles per 5-7 kilometers. Sometimes you can negotiate a lower fare by asking for a round trip. We do this when we need to go pick up several things from one place. Most motokar drivers will help you carry heavy items into your house.
- Taking a colectivo- A cheap(and somewhat dangerous) way to get around but not if you have kids or enjoy your personal space. 1 sol will take you just about anywhere. Keep in mind they cram about 5-8 people into a 4 passenger car.
- Hiring a driver: I have never done this but you can expect to pay about 10 soles and hour, or about 100 soles for a day.
- Going by boat. You can hire a boat in Yarinacocha to take you to some of the villages down(or is it up) the river. San Jose and San Fransisco are popular places to visit. Rates vary and you will have to negotiate with them.
- You can arrange tours through most hotels. They charge a premium of about 40-50% over hiring a guide directly. I recommend you use a guide for more remote adventures, or if you do not speak Spanish well. Post a comment and I can get you in touch with a guide.
- Need to pickup some snacks, household supplies, toiletries, wines or beer? The best place to go is Los Andes. It is the closest thing to a supermarket Pucallpa has to offer. They charge more than if you were to go to a smaller shop, but they offer the convenience of being a one-stop shop for most people. An alternate is Fisa, it is not as big as Andes, but offer a nice selection and has better prices on many items. Both offer the occasional Gringo treats imported from the US. This week Andes has Betty Crocker Brownie Mix again and a few other goodies.
- Produce and meat: If you are staying in Pucallpa long term and want to do your own cooking, there are a few choices. Pucallpa has several outdoor markets #1-4 around the city and the biggest of them all: Bella Vista. Bella Vista is not like the name implies, it is ugly and smelly. It is the cheapest place to shop for produce and meat. They offer everything from Aguaje to Camu Camu, Fish, Beef, Bush Meat(Sajino, Majse, Monkey, etc.). It can be a bit dangerous, so don’t take bulky purses or big cameras. It is always very crowded and while I have never been robbed there, the potential exists for those who do not take precautions!
- Meat Only: Halley(Jr. 7 de Junio #400 – Tel: 57-4259) is the best place to purchase Pork, Beef or Chicken. They offer fresh cuts for fair prices. They have many cuts of beef and pork. Chicken prepared for BBQ and frying. They even offer wings to take home and cook!
- Clothing: Polvos Azules(a mall of sorts) is located downtown and offer a good selection of clothing.
- Souvenirs: Take a trip to Yarinacocha and go to the Shipibo Center, or just wait for one of the nice ladies selling their wares to find you. You can’t miss them, they dress in traditional native clothing and are easy to spot. You can bargain with them, but most of what they sell is ridiculously cheap to start out with so why bother.
- Inka Farma is the biggest, BTS(both offer many locations) is the best. They offer just about any medicine you could buy in the States. If you are one of ‘those’ idiots into drug tourism, don’t bother, they don’t sell narcotics. The hardest thing about getting meds you may be used to taking in the States or elsewhere are the names. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what requires a prescription and what does not. Expect this to be somewhat random. Here is a link to MINSA, the Ministry of Health. The link allows you to type any med and see if it is available and how much it costs in Peru. If you don’t find something with the brand name, google it and get the generic, 90% of the time it is in there.
- I have a few favorites: Orlando’s if you are the meat and potatoes type. Golf for great but expensive Ceviche. Mey Lin for good but expensive Chinese food. Che Maggy for pizza. Pollo a la Brasa: Buen Sabor(Saenz Pena #469) 8 soles for a 1/4 and the best fries in Pucallpa.
- If you are on a budget, try a menu for 3 soles. You get soup, main dish and a drink. Some people say it is not safe to eat this ‘cheap’ food. That is a load of crap! I have eaten at 5 star restaurants with worse quality food and safety. You can also get a decent Ceviche for 5 soles. I guess it all goes to your sense of what is clean and safe versus the reality of life in Pucallpa.
- If you are more adventurous, post a comment and I can recommend some more exotic locales. I will try JUST about anything except monkey and turtle liver. Why those two? Monkeys are just too close to people to eat and turtle liver, not sure why. The Bizarre Foods guy has nothing on me.
Where to Stay:
- I don’t have much input on this, other than to say, there are some really nice and inexpensive places and some really mediocre expensive places. There is a new hotel in Pucallpa, 5 Star. It’s very expensive with rooms start at 200 soles a night, yes, almost $80 a night!
Going to the Doctor:
- If the need to go to the doctor here should arise I would suggest:
Clinica Monte Horeb
Jr. Inmaculada 529
Pucallpa-Calleria – Coronel Portillo
- Post a comment if you are interested in learning more about Pucallpa, where to stay, where to eat, where to play! I have a fairly comprehensive list of things to do/places to see.