Rio Cotahuasi kayak/raft expedition: 7 days, 101 miles, class IV+; JOIN US!

RÍO COTAHUASI: Deepest Canyon of South America

164 km (101 miles), class V, 7 days

launches: May24 (2017) RESERVE
OTHER TRIPS

Río Cotahuasi is a coastal river in Southern Peru that runs through the deepest canyon of South America in the heart of the Atacama desert. On this kayak trip (possibly with 1-2 rafts along), you'll be challenged by nearly continuous class III-IV rapids and enjoy soothing hot springs, amazing side hikes, beautiful clean camps, and pre-Incan ruins. Spread the word about the consequences of a dam planned to drown the lower section of Río Cotahuasi! Consider also paddling nearby Ríos Colca and Tambo as well.

INTRODUCTION
CLIMATE
ITINERARY
COST / RESERVATIONS
PAYMENTS
TRIP LEADER
FOOD, ALCOHOL, WATER
CHORES, TOILET, BATHING
WHAT TO PACK
WATER LEVELS
PARTICIPANT COMMENTS
-----------------------------
OUTFITTING SERVICE
PAYMENTS

GENERAL TRIP INFORMATION:

Río Cotahuasi was first descended by Kurt Casey and crew in the mid 1990s and has since held the aura of one of the best multi-day river expeditions in the world. Our group will challenge the desert rapids of the river during its lower stable flow period over the course of 8 days. We will paddle for several days near Cotahuasi before embarking on the multi-day portion of the journey starting at Velinga. This main journey through the "Cañón Profundo" section is ~90 km long and ends at Iquipi. It may be possible to continue down the rest of the river to the ocean. Most days will be class IV, but there will be some class V as well (portageable). You might also consider a longer stay to paddle the neighboring Colca (about the same difficulty - also with a claim to be deepest canyon of South America) and possibly Tambo (less challenging). [discount provided if sequential trip done.]

Dam threat: Even though Río Cotahuasi is one of the best multi-day river expedition trips in the world, it is not recognized nor protected, possibly because of a lack of tourists visiting it. In the past few years, dam survey crews have descended into the canyon assessing various sites for the construction of hydroelectric dams. One dam in particular is planned just past the confluence with Río Maran. If constructed, it would flood much of the main Gran Cañon section popular with paddlers. This river deserves much more visitation than it currently sees and more folks expressing the opinion that it should be protected for future generations to enjoy.


COTAHUASI SECTIONS:
The Cotahuasi has several sections. You can read a bit about them at Kurt Casey's www.PeruWhitewater.com website.

section km days class note
Headwaters 60 3 IV (P) starts as hike from 5000 m mountain source; ends with portages
Chulea 24 2 V (P) very steep; some portages
Antabamba 21 1 III just upstream of eponymous town; several hot springs
Aimaña Gorge 16 1-2 IV-V (P) stout rapids in gorges with one tough portage
Flatwater Canyon 10 1 IV-V from Sipia Falls to Velinga; rappel or hike in required
Lower (Profundo) 95 4 IV-V the standard run; deepest canyon of South America
Ocoña 68 2 III watch out for camarón traps

====================================================================================

Antabamba
class III
22 km (14 miles) ; 1 day
Antabamba (2800 m) to P.Coyota (2550 m) [9200 ft to 8400 ft]
11.4 m/km (63 ft/mile)

The Antabamba section of Río Cotahuasi is a fairly low gradient class III section (with maybe one IV) easily accessible from the town of Cotahuasi. It serves as a great warm-up before tackling the tougher sections downstream. Any boat adjustments you might have to do are best assessed and addressed this initial warm-up day. Highlights of the run are three separate hot springs that can be visited (diffrenent quality grades: Termas Tarhuara, Alca, Luicho, and Conecc). Extra action can be added on at the start by putting in a bit further upstream. Rafters can paddle this section with enough water.

Aimaña Gorge
class IV-V (P)
15 km (9 miles) ; 1 day
P.Coyota (2550 m) to Cascada Sipia (2000 m) [8400 ft to 6600 ft]
36 m/km (202 ft/mile)

The Aimaña Gorge section of Río Cotahuasi passes by the town of Cotahuasi where a footbridge (Puente Chapito) descends directly to it. This is a very high gradient section of class IV-V that is a bit more challenging than the main Cotahuasi Gran Cañón run. If the first 4 km of class IV+ from Puente Coyota to Puente Chapito seem too difficult for you, it is easy to abort the descent and walk back up to the pueblo of Cotahuasi. If it feels good to you, then you can do the long 1 km portage around the class VI Aimaña Gorge proper and continue through another 7 km of class V- to Puente Ullao road bridge. If you're feeling ultra confident, then you can continue up to another 3 km of class V all the way to the lip of Cascada Sipia, which is a ~100 m unrunnable waterfall into a gorge. Thus, a day tackling the Aimaña Gorge section will really challenge kayakers. This section is too steep and small a river for raft. Folks who don't paddle this day can instead visit additional Ccocsla hot springs and Uskini waterfall or find other activities like setting up a rappel into Flatwater Canyon. Usually if this section is planned for a day's paddle, we will return to Cotahuasi and stay in a hotel.

Flatwater Canyon
class IV-V
10 km (6 miles); 1 day
Cascada Sipia (1900 m) to Velinga (1700 m) [6300 ft to 5610 ft]
20 m/km (110 ft/mile)

The Flatwater Canyon section of Río Cotahuasi starts at the base of Cascada Sipia and continues for 10 km down to Velinga. It was named "Flatwater" due to the beta some locals gave to the first descent crew - that the river in this section was filled with "flatwater". Much to their surprise, it was actually filled with class IV rapids - one section of which is easy V. There is no easy access into Flatwater Canyon. Either you have to rappel into the canyon and gorge at a gully just downstream of Cascada Sipia, or you have to hike ~2 km into teh river at Chaupo (about 3 km downstream of Cascada Sipia). Just downstream of the Chaupo put-in is the toughest part of the section - a nearly 1-km long rapid named Barro Rojo. The scenery in the first 3-4 km of the gorge is spectacular, and the whitewater is intense. It makes a great day of kayaking. Rafters would do something else this day - perhaps just the rappel into the gorge, another hike, and/or a visit to Velinga.

Lower (Profundo)
class IV+
95 km (57 miles) ; 3-5 days
Velinga (1700 m) to Iquipi (550 m) [5610 ft to 1810 ft];
12.0 m/km (67 ft/mile)

The Lower Canyon or "Cañon Profundo" (Deep Canyon) section of Río Cotahuasi flows through the deepest canyon in South America and is filled with nearly continuous class III and IV rapids, as well as several Vs. Although it is now possible to drive into Velinga from Cotahuasi (about a 2 hr drive), overall this is a section without road access so you must carry camping gear and plan on roughly 3-5 days to get through. Rafts can make it through this section but it is very challenging and requires lots of stops and scouts and possibly up to several portages. Kayaks fare better in the small river since they can take easier narrower channels in places. The biggest rapids in here are at Broken Neck, Cable Dancer, Meter Canyon, Centimeter Canyon, HighSideForYourLife!, Embudo, and Necktie. Centimeter Canyon has a big rock blocking the narrow passage and making a very dangerous class V now and will usually be portaged. All the touger passages can be portaged. But another hazard is the often continuous nature of the rapids in the river. On our trips, we may arrange it self-support kayak or we may have 1--2 small rafts along that can carry the group camping gear. Kayakers should always plan to carry personal camping gear, though it may be possible for some to put it on a raft. Although this section is very challenging, with skilled class V raft guides, anyone can join this expedition on a raft. Additional highlights of this section are numerous pre-Incan stone terrace ruins, other ruins with pottery and bone remains, several interesting hikes into side canyons, a hot spring at the start, and a village with local wine at the end (Chaucalla). The section continues past the confluence with Río Maran (a river that doubles the flow) and ends at Iquipi, the first large village with regular bus service out to Camaná. On SierraRios trips, we will plan on taking 4-5 days to paddle through this section - enough time to stop, scout and photograph/video thoroughly, do plenty of hiking and exploring, and enjoy camps and the canyon.

Ocoña
class III+
68 km (42 miles) ; 2 days
Iquipi (550 m) to the mouth (0 m) [1810 ft to 0 ft];
8.1 m/km (44.5 ft/mile)

The Ocoña section is named for the town at the end (Ocoña) and the main river's name here: Río Ocoña. This is one of the most voluminous Pacific drainages in Peru (after Ríos Santa and Tumbes). On this section, the river flows through beautiful Atacama desert with occasional villages along the way and irrigated crops. Although the riverbed area is wide, you are still in canyon and it is scenic with the low clouds and fog (garua) that burn off during the day. There are nearly continuous class II rapids and some IIIs, as well as some unusual hazards of fish and camarón traps to avoid. Camps are possible almost anywhere, and resupply is possible at various villages along the way. Although not as challenging with whitewater, this is still a fun section to boogie down and actually paddle to the river's mouth at the Pacific Ocean, which can be a very satisfying feeling. It is always possible to avoid this easier section and take out in Iquipi or other towns and get back to Arequipa. On SierraRios trips, this final paddle to the ocean is optional and would add an extra day (Day8) onto the trip if desired.

====================================================================================


PRIOR DESCENTS::

Río Cotahuasi has had many descents over the years:

Kurt Casey et al., 1994: Paddled Flatwater Canyon and the Lower Canyon section from Velinga to Iquipi. On a subsequent trip the following year with a larger group, many paddled the Aimaña Gorge. Kurt, the Vellutinos, and others from the 1st descent crews recently celebrated the 20th anniversary in July 2015 by gathering and running it again.

Other private trips: At least a dozen other private kayak groups have descended the river (e.g., see HERE), including Kurt with groups on 4 other occasions. These trips are rare due to the difficulties and expenses of getting kayaks there and organizing logistics.

Commercial trips: Commercial outfitters only run raft trips. Generally the river has seen about 1-2 per year since 1999 when the first one was done. Outfitters include Amazonas Explorer, Bio Bio, Expediciones y Aventuras, and Cusipata - each charging ~$3000 for the trip of 8-10 days. Outside has listed the trip as one of the top 10 rafting expeditions in the world. To date no company caters specifically to kayakers on the river.


Personality/Experience/Leadership:
You should be comfortable camping and you should have an easygoing attitude in order to get along with a diverse group on a multi-day trip for an extended period. If you are concerned about this issue, consider arranging a private trip through our Outfitting Services. All participants should be in good physical condition. We welcome competent boaters. This trip is primarily geared to experienced class IV kayakers who have adequate class IV experience and a solid roll. Some passages are class V on this trip but all such rapids are portageable. Kayakers are responsible for themselves on the water - every participant must sign a liability waiver.

We may accommodate some oarsmen or raft passengers/paddlers in 13' rafts on the section from Velinga down. Those wishing to row must be class V rafters and have significant exprerience on similarly difficult small continuous rivers and willing to carry some group gear. Passengers with limited experience are welcome to join, but the pricing may be a bit higher due to the need to employ guides who can safely assure your passage.

Everyone joining SierraRios trips should have an interest in river conservation and help us on our mission to document the river further, talk to residents, and publicize the planned dams. You should plan to help facilitate the trip in any way possible, including transport of some gear down to Peru and to the river if necessary. You don't need to be bilingual but it is helpful and more fulfilling to communicate with local residents when we meet them.

The policy we will take on the trip is that the trip leader will have main authority when it comes to decisions for the group regarding river progress, camp, etc. If a participant has overestimated their ability to row or kayak, he/she may be mandated to ride on a raft and or be assessed other penalties and in severely incompetent situations, not allowed on the multi-day part of the trip. Trip leader decisions can be vetoed by a majority vote of the group. Any participant always has the right to leave the trip if they so desire.


RENDEZVOUS POINTS/TRANSPORTATION

AREQUIPA: The main rendezvous point at the start of the trip will be Arequipa. You should arrive 1-2 days before the launch date. To get to Arequipa from Lima, you can fly (1.5 hr) or take a bus (15 hr). Flights are operated by STAR, LAN, PeruvianAir, and/or LC Peru. We will arrange transportation for the ~12 hr drive to the pueblo of Cotahuasi, to be driven the day or night before 1st paddling day.

Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city at 2200 m elevation in the Atacama desert but high enough to get a bit of precipitation. You might consider doing several days hiking/trekking before the trip, such as up one of the nearby volcanos. You can also test your kayak and make modifications to it by running Río Chili (class III-IV), the popular commercial raft run that ends in the city. There are other things to see/do in and around Arequipa. Consider visiting the plaza and churches/covents/museums in the main city [one of which houses a mummified pre-Incan "Juanita" woman found at the top of one of the local volcanoes (Ampato)], paddling a day trip on Río Chili, climbing some of the many volcanoes in the area (Misti, Chacani, Corpuna, Sabancaya), or visiting the most distant undammed source of the Amazon (Mt. Mismi). You should also consider lengthening your stay to do another expedition before or after this trip - on the Tambo and/or Cotahuasi (special lower rates if two trips are done sequentially). Furthermore, Arequipa is fairly close to two very popular destinations in southern Peru: Puno (6 hr by bus) - a charming colonial town on the shores of Lago Titicaca where most tourists visit the floating islands of Uros and other sites in the area, and Cusco (10 hr by bus or <1 hr by flight), the former Incan capital near the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.


TENTATIVE ITINERARY (standard):
Day 0: rendezvous in Arequipa; meet trip leader; hotel Arequipa
Day 1: take bus and/or van to Cotahuasi; hotel in Cotahuasi
Day 2: Antabamba section; hot springs; hotel in Cotahuasi; class III; 22 km

Day 3: Flatwater Canyon; ride toward Velinga; visit Cascada Sipia; hot springs; class IV+; 10 km
Day 4: Cañón Profundo: Broken Neck Canyon; side canyon hike; Ruinas Toccec; class IV+; ~15 km
Day 5: Cañón Profundo: Cable Dancer; Meter Canyon; Centimeter Canyon; more hikes/ruins; class IV+; ~15 km,
Day 6: Cañón Profundo: Embudo; Necktie Canyon; more ruins; to Maran confluence; class IV+; ~20 km
Day 7: Cañón Profundo: visit Chaucalla; continue to near Iquipi; ride back to Arequipa; class III-IV; ~45 km

POTENTIAL ITINERARY (strong group; no rafts):
Day 0: rendezvous in Arequipa; meet trip leader; overnight departure to Cotahuasi
Day 1: Antabamba section; hot springs; hotel in Cotahuasi; class III; 22 km

Day 2: Aimaña Gorge; hotel in Cotahuasi; class IV-V; 15 km
Day 3: Flatwater Canyon; ride toward Velinga; visit Cascada Sipia; hot springs; class IV+; 10 km

Day 4: Cañón Profundo: Broken Neck Canyon; side canyon hike; Ruinas Toccec; class IV+; ~15 km
Day 5: Cañón Profundo: Cable Dancer; Meter Canyon; Centimeter Canyon; more hikes/ruins; class IV+; ~15 km,
Day 6: Cañón Profundo: Embudo; Necktie Canyon; more ruins; to Maran confluence; class IV+; ~20 km
Day 7: Cañón Profundo: visit Chaucalla; to near Iquipi; class III-IV; ~50 km
Day 8: Ocoña: optional boogie water to ocean; ride back to Arequipa; class II-III; ~60 km

Expected Progress:
We will generally paddle from ~9 am to 4 pm with some stops for side excursions. The current itinerary includes up to 3 days of paddling based out of Cotahuasi (Antabamba section, Aimaña Gorge and Flatwater Canyon). The remainder of the trip will be from Velinga down to past the confluence with Río Maran. We may or may not have a raft along for support. Although lighter loads in kayaks can be desirable, a raft will take much longer to get through the section and has higher potential for problems. If we do not have a raft, you will be advised on packing camping gear and food into you kayak. Depending on the group's goals, we may or may not paddle all of the lower Ocoña section to the Pacific Ocean (km 164). In all cases on Day7 or Day8 we will finish paddling and get a ride back to Arequipa.


Maps:
Members can access printable map guides of the river HERE with appropriate pass codes. Topo maps span the entire river with roads, rapids, features and potential beach camps marked. If you would like access to these, you can sign up as a member of SierraRios specifying you're interested in the Cotahuasi map/book/video, and you'll receive immediate access to the maps (book/DVD later). [also note links at top left column of this page and at TOPO MAPS on the main www.SierraRios.org homepage.]


CLIMATE AND BUGS:
The trip occurs at tropical latitudes in desert country and at high to low elevation. Average annual precipitation is <150 mm (5 in) from the start at Velinga and decreases to almost nothing at the coast. The elevation at the Velinga (standard put-in) is 1700 m (5600 ft), so expect cool to warmish days and cool evenings on most of the trip (highs of 22oC/72oF and lows of 14oC/56oF are common), with humidity and fog increasing close to the ocean. Although there is almost never any rain at 2000 m elevation and lower, higher elevations may have a little rain in the rainy season (Dec-Apr). On most of the river the water is usually cool (15-18oC) and clear so a drytop is recommended. Rafters will be comfortable with splash pants and a paddle jacket or drytop which can be removed when hot out. NOTE that for kayaking trips where we start at the higher elevation of Antabamba (upstream of Cotahuasi) at 2800 m elevation (9200 ft), the water and air are several degrees cooler, but we generally will not be camping at those elevations.

CLIMATE: The climate averages for Arequipa (2400 m elevation), Ica (400 m elevation) and the flow of the river at Ocoña (about 2X on most of the Cotahuasi) are shown below.

AQP (2400m) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Avg
AvgHigh(F) 71 70 71 71 71 70 70 71 72 73 73 72 71
AvgLow(F) 48 48 47 44 43 42 42 42 43 44 44 46 44
AvgRainDays 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
AvgPrecip(mm/in) 1.1 1.4 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1 3.7
ICA (400 m)
AvgHigh(F) 85 85 84 81 75 72 70 70 72 73 75 79 77
AvgLow(F) 68 68 68 64 59 57 57 57 57 59 61 64 63
AvgRainDays 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0
AvgPrecip(mm/in) 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.1
Río Ocoña
AvgFlow(cfs) 3800 8500 7000 3500 2100 1700 1500 1400 1300 1200 1150 1700 2950

BUGS/UV: UV rays from the sun are intense so it is recommended that you use sunblock liberally. Note that in many camps there are annoying biting gnats and sometimes larger biting flies. Use repellent or wear light clothes that cover your body. Mosquitos are almost non-existent. Other critters to beware of are spiders, scorpions, snakes, and centipedes. You should especially be cautious of the assassin bugs which can bite and trasmit Chagas Disease, a malady endemic to the area (i.e., best prevention is to sleep in a tent!).


COST
This trip is being run because it is one of the most incredible in the world and more paddler visitation is needed to help raise awareness. More ecotourism income to the region and appreciation of the natural resource will help stop the river's destruction with dams.
This trip is primarily for kayakers but some rafters are welcome to join as well. Note that if you join a sequential trip based out of Arequipa you will get a significant discount on the second trip. Our general pricing guidelines are found at the following link: Contribution guidelines: General


RESERVATIONS
Once you get the go-ahead from Rocky, you will need to provide a deposit to reserve your place on the trip ($500). Full contribution must be received before the trip. See PAYMENTS for payment options and cancellation policy. Trips may be cancelled 3 months before launch if there is not enough interest (6-8 paying participants will assure a trip occurs).


TRIP LEADER AND TEAM MEMBERS:

(1)
Rocky Contos (scheduled trip leader on first trips of 2015), kayaked all of Río Cotahuasi and Colca in 2014 and did the first descent of the neighboring Río Tambo in 2013. In 2012, Rocky paddled all of Ríos Mantaro, Apurímac, Urubamba, and Marañon as part of his Headwaters of the Amazon expedition. He discovered the most distant source of the Amazon [see articles C&K, Outside, Nat.Geo, FoxNews, LaRepublica]. He has explored nearly every river in Mexico including >100 first descents covering ~8,000 km of river and ~55,000 m of drop. Rocky is fluent in Spanish and has organized many Grand Canyon length trips. Several articles have featured Rocky (American Whitewater; Kayak Session; Canoe & Kayak). While attaining his Ph.D. in neuroscience (see CV), Rocky worked as a kayak instructor and guide for UCSD's Outback adventures from 1993-1996 and gained valuable trip planning skills for large groups. Although primarily a kayaker, Rocky started rafting in the mid-1990s in order to introduce more people to the wonders of river travel. Since then and throughout his years as a postdoctoral research associate, he organized and led numerous large group raft and kayak expeditions, including five through Grand Canyon (18-22 days), three on the Salmon River (4-10 days each), two on Río Mulatos-Aros (8-11 days), eight on Río Usumacinta (7-8 days each), eight on Río Marañon (14-30 days each), and dozens to destinations such as the Salt, Kern, Rogue, Deschutes, John Day, Thompson, Similkameen, and Baja California (2-6 days each). Rocky founded SierraRios with the goal of conserving the rivers of Latin America, and hopes that increased awareness and enjoyment of the resource will lead to protection. He is organizing all aspects of the trip. He likely will be kayaking but may row a raft.

(2) Other guides/trip leaders are to be decided, but likely will be selected from Rocky's Peruvian guide friends - Pedro Peña, Julio Baca, Victor Baca, Alonso Campana, Victor Memdivi (Bacteria), others from Apurimac Explorer, or possibly Daniel Rondón, Gustavo Rondón or others from Expediciones y Aventuras.


(3) All oarsmen will be experienced river runners and raft captains guides with extensive experience. Non-experienced and less-experienced participants are welcome to inquire about joining as raft paddlers/passengers.


FOOD/ALCOHOL/WATER
(click here)

CHORES, TOILET AND BATHING
(click here)

WHAT TO PACK
(click here)

SAFETY/HEALTH
A major aspect of safety on this trip is prevention of sickness and accidents. It is of utmost importance that you take all precautions necessary to avert sickness and complications while on the trip. For example, it is a good idea to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus [however, no vaccines are required].

All participants must assume responsibility for themselves and sign a liability waiver before the trip. We cannot guarantee against accidents. If you're an inexperienced boater, the trip leader and guides will advise you on saftey issues. If you are an experienced boater in control of your craft, you must accept the responsibility for what happens to you on the river. It is the experienced boater's responsibility to make appropriate decisions whether to run the rapid or not and to stay close to someone who can watch and oversee you. A certain level of freedom will be provided, but each such person must abide by trip leader requests, which may mandate not paddling certain rapids. If an accident occurs, we will do all in our power to help you, see that proper care is rendered, or evacuate you if need be.

We will have an Inmarsat satellite phone ($1.50/min for calls) and possibly a SPOT device. Anyone can see the latest SPOT position of the SierraRios trip if we utilize it.


WATER LEVELS
Río Cotahuasi has its highest levels from Jan-Apr, which is the rainy season when the river often floods from rains in the mountains. During May through November the river is generally stable and slowly dropping. The flows on Río Cotahuasi are ~45% that of Río Ocoña at the mouth - the rest being contributed by Río Marán (~45%) and Río Chichas (~10%; by Chaucalla). In general, all groups paddling the river have done so in the lower stable water months of May-Dec. It is possible to paddle the river at high water in the rainy season but it can be extremely dangerous. The Cotahuasi generally has about 2X the flow of the Tambo and 1/2 the flow of the Colca.

river Ene Feb Mar Abr May Jun Jul Ago Sep Oct Nov Dic - Avg
Cotahuasi (estimate) cms 50 112 90 45 30 23 21 20 18 16 14 21 - 38
cfs 1750 4000 3200 1600 1050 800 740 700 650 560 500 740 - 1340
---------------------------- ----- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- - --------
Ocoña (near mouth) cms 110 250 200 100 65 50 45 40 38 35 32 50 - 85
cfs 3800 8500 7000 3500 2100 1700 1500 1400 1300 1200 1150 1700 - 2950

BOATS AVAILABLE IN PERU:
[current list available]
Some boats currently in Bolivia may also be available: Mamba8.1, Diesel80, FlyingSquirrel85.

A FEW COMMENTS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS:


"The Marañón resembles the Grand Canyon of Colorado in many ways with its rapids, beaches, side canyons and deep cacti-studded gorges.  Both rivers offer numerous side-hikes and waterfalls.  Like the Canyon, the Maranon is ideal for a long multi-day boat trip where a person can forget the grind of everyday life... However, the Maranon offers much more.  Unlike the Grand Canyon, the Maranon is free flowing and its character can change overnight by the whims of nature. Its navigable section is much longer than that of Colorado and its canyon is deeper. Some Maranon beaches are big enough to accommodate small villages. The Maranon offers more and greater variety of rapids that are overall more challenging to navigate. Its continuously strong current makes it possible to easily cover 30-40 miles per day in a raft, assuming one does not stop for side hikes. The jungle area of the lower Maranon has no equivalent on the Colorado... I cannot think of another river in the lower 48 States that offers the same kind of experience."

Boris Trgovcich, class IV rafter/IKer and former raft tour operator in N.California. [2013Sep Marañon trip participant]
See Full Comment


"I found the river trip labeled the "Grand Canyon of the Amazon" to be completely comparable to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in most respects, and it exceeded my expectations in every way... In the 1980s I paddled the Bio-Bio as a participant on one of the first commercial kayak trips in Chile [with] Chris Spelius. While [the Bio Bio's] destruction was abominable both environmentally and culturally, the size and importance of the Bio-Bio's destruction was but a small warning shot compared to the potential disaster planned for the Marañón/Amazon."
Kelly Kellstadt, class III-IV kayaker and former guide/instructor in New Mexico. [2013Sep Marañon trip participant]
See Full Comment

"I need to do another expedition!!!!! I'm already jonsing for one .... The Marañon trip was one of kind that I will never forget ... the perfect combination of big water, gorgeous scenery and a taste of rurual Peruvian lifestyle! ...  I would do this trip again in a heart beat ... It really is amazing how helpful some people have been along the way. Going way out of their way in order to help..."
Amie Begg; class IV kayaker on 2012 Marañon trip


"The Marañon trip was a magical journey. Big, clean water; big canyons and expansive natural beauty; and big-hearted, friendly people who made us feel welcome along the way, while sharing with us their fears of imminent dams, mines, and petroleum drilling. I hope we can find a way to help them protect this incredible treasure and their ways of life."
Barbara Conboy; SierraRios board member and rafter/kayaker on 2012 Marañon trip