The History of Quistococha

Translated by Lalo Calderon from an old parchment...

According to the local natives who lived here a long time ago there was an island full of trees and many brightly colored parrots living on an island in the middle of the lake. Whenever something bad happened near the village the parrots would all start squawking and the island would move.

The terrified villagers brought in a priest who performed a mass and afterwards he threw a crucifix into the lake. The waters suddenly became agitated and the earth shook as the frightened villagers looked on. They all ran away and shouted “Cristo Cocha” (which means Christ’s lake) at the same time a gigantic black snake came up out of the water and began swimming away. As the giant snake swam away the people could hear the snake crying with a whistle like shriek. In the passing of time the name Christo Cocha became Quistococha. This is the enchanted lagoon that you can visit and swim in its warm, dark but clean waters.

Quistococha was first opened in 1979 as Quistococha Zoological Park. It is a National Tourist Park under the National Tourist Park System. The land area is more than 369 hectares and the lagoon is 56 hectares, the zoo area is 8 hectares. Quistococha is located some 6.5 klms. outside of Iquitos just off the Iquitos - Nauta Highway. The zoo houses many animals indigenous to the Amazon Basin and includes, jaguars, tapirs, pumas, monkeys, jungle rodents, alligators, giant otters, snakes and a large collection of macaws and other birds found in this area. There is also a troop of wild monkeys living in the large trees surrounding the lake. And in the evening time the troop of monkeys actually come down to the zoo to visit their captive friends! And they feed on the various fruit trees inside and surrounding the park. Various types of trees abound along with medicinal plants.

Lalo and Isabel Calderon rowing a canoe on Quistococha Lake

Within Quistococha Zoological Park there are local restaurants serving many local dishes. The park also has a beautiful beach called Tunchi Playa (Ghost Beach). Here you can rent boats and paddle out to explore the other side of the lake. A hiking trail takes you to the Itaya River a few klms. away.

A visit to Quistococha is an excellent aperitif before staying in a jungle lodge or traveling on the rivers. A quick visit could be done in about an hour, but to do justice to the Park, allow at least 3 to 4 hours, particularly if you want to digest all the local legend information that is displayed, walk the jungle trail (don’t forget your repellent) and have time for a refresco by the artificial beach (Tunchi Playa) after swimming and enjoying the view from one of the two maloca round houses. To fish on the lake (56.5 hectares), arrive early (say 0700 when the park opens) for best results and to avoid the heat.

You can travel to Quistococha by combi (collective or micro) from the centre of Iquitos (departing irregularly throughout the day from the block bordered by Alfonso Ugarte, Prospero, Jose Galvez and Arica) or in similar style from the comer of Bermudez with Moore just off the Plaza 28 de Julio (behind Colegio San Agustin) for S/2.00 Soles but a personal motocarro should be no more than S/.l2.00 soles for two or three passengers (one way) and you may feel it worth paying the extra for the convenience. Same for the return journey (take your time in the park, you will find motocarros waiting at the exit when you want to leave). The road is tarmac all the way, the distance is southwest down the Nauta Carretera Highway, being just over 8 miles (13 kilometres). During the week you will have the park practically to yourself, during the weekends it is more crowded. On arrival you will be greeted by an official guide from the park offering to show you around, full of information, an excellent guide named Vladimir Mafaldo Grandez. Halfway round you may be joined by Frederico the tame monkey of Quistococha.

Have a "Chevere Time!"

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