The Upper Amazon River, also called Río Marañon, is under threat of being dammed and needs your help to prevent its senseless destruction. Please read more about the issue, sign a petition voicing your opposition to the dams, click on "LIKE", see photos of the river, watch a video showing the river and dam threats, and make a donation to help in the conservation effort.

Río Marañon is the mainstem source of the Amazon and therefore deserves the title of Upper Amazon. It is also one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, passing through a bona fide Grand Canyon of the Andes. Although currently free-flowing, in 2010 then-president Alan García signed a pact with Brazil to provide thousands of MW of hydropower for export, declaring the damming of the Marañon "in the national interest". So various studies were undertaken (and are still being done) to forward plans for 15-20 hydroelectric dams on the river, including several mega projects (>1000 MW) in the jungle. [Read more about the planned dams in this PLOS1 article and a relevant excerpt ].

Basically, one hydro dam is planned after another for the entire length of the river in the Andes, leaving little or no free-flowing river. This will disrupt the major hydrological source of the Amazon, alter normal silt deposition into the main lower river, destroy habitat and migration patterns for fish and other acuatic life, displace thousands of residents along the river, and destroy a national treasure at least as nice as the Grand Canyon in the USA.

Any one of the megadam projects would be devastating for the Marañón, blocking migration of fish and stopping the flow of sediment downstream. Of the many planned dams, many downstream of Puchka are in advanced stages. The Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) for two of the projects downstream of Balsas have been completed:

Chadin2 Dam (part I; and part II).

Veracruz Dam project (a.k.a. "Cumba4"); also here.

Odebrecht (Brazil) intends to start construction on the Chadin2 dam . PRW [a Peruvian firm owned by Endesa(Chile)] intends to start construction on the Veracruz dam project this year.

Join SierraRios in opposing these projects and helping spread the word about the threats to Río Marañon and put pressure to stop plans construct these dams. Our efforts since 2012 have led to a growing movement to save the river. The initial petition garnered >1000 signatures and media attention (e,g. (e.g., MarañónSinRepresas, CuartoPoder) has made an impact. We support the villagers along the river in their fight to keep their homes and land, and financially support activists/organizers of resistance in Celendín, Cajamarca and Lima.

Sign the current PETITION! DONATE! Join a TRIP!

Río Marañon in its current free-flowing state.
Río Marañon with all planned dams.


We found on our 2012 Marañon rafting trip that there is fierce opposition to the dams by the residents along the river. We learned that underhanded tactics are being implemented by the damming companies (and the government) to get approval of the communities and push through the hydro projects. Residents are trying to organze and protest, but certain entities are working against that. Also, misconceptions abound among the residents along the river, especially by the Awajún (Aguaruna) in the jungle areas. Although the dams in the latest stages will not affect them, solidarity is needed to prevent ALL THE DAMS.

SierraRios is requesting DONATIONS to introduce Peruvians to the Marañón via media and raft trips, to provide further information to residents along the river, to help stage a protest, to help train local residents to develop ecotourism along their free-flowing waterway, and to advertise/announce the planned damming and make the issue known world-wide. The word must be spread about this tragedy in the making!

Our efforts have been successful since 2013 when we started to publicize the threat to the Marañón. We have been directly responsible for over 300 people paddling the river to date (by early 2017), and in 2016, Odebrecht has suspended the Chadin2 project . The Veracruz project does not seem to be advancing. Cited reasons include the resistance to the projects from the local population as well as the media exposure that has been forthcoming from efforts of SierraRios (e.g., see MarañónSinRepresas, CuartoPoder). Odebrecht is still trying to move forward with the Rio Grande I and II projects (two megadams planned between Chagual and Balsas), and at least 6 other dams in the Upper Grand Canyon section and Jungle Pongos continue to move forward, so efforts to stop the dams must continue.


Everyone needs to realize that Río Marañon is unique in the tropical Americas as a clean long Grand Canyon-style river that is raftable nearly is entire length and deserves protection for its outstanding attributes. Unlike Rios Mantaro, Huallaga, and Urubamba, the upper Marañon river basin has only moderate habitation, leading to little pollution in the river. The water is clean enough to purify and drink at times and little trash is visible on beaches, in eddies, and stuck on branches. The Marañon is also very raftable - it is a class IV river downstream of 2100 m elevation near the Puchka confluence, making it much more appealing from a recreation standpoint than the overtly difficult Apurimac (and Mantaro, Urubamba, and upper Huallaga). Of all the rivers in the Andes (and all of Latin America), the Marañon is the finest in terms of a beautiful clean raftable long river. It should be considered one of the greatest natural resources in Peru, and appreciated and protected, similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States. If only people knew...

The planned damming of Río Marañon is the most important river conservation issue in the world today!! It is of similar magnitude of environmental destruction to the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.

This is all being written by me, Rocky Contos, director of SierraRios. I spent 6 months in Peru in 2012 exploring all headwaters of the Amazon after discovering its most distant source (Río Mantaro). I realized the monumental status of Río Marañón as the true source of the Amazon and am extremely passionate about saving this river if at all possible. I've started organizing and leading rafting/kayaking trips on the river (see GrandCanyonAmazon trip). I will be working intently to make the unique qualities of Río Marañon known to the Peruvian people, the Peruvian government, and the rest of the world (through articles, a book, website, film, guided trips, email and Facebook campaigns). I hope that with the realization of the Marañon's outstanding and unique qualities as a free-flowing river, there will be enough opposition - both from the Peruvian people as well as internationally - to stop the current plans to dam, drown, and destroy the river. Please help by at least signing the petition and spreading the word.

BELOW: Schematic drawing of the planned 580 ft Chadin2 dam to be built downsteam of Balsas. (from the EIS completed in May2012)

From the PLOS1 article:

"More than half (81) of all planned dams are located on the Marañon River and its sprawling tributaries (including the Huallaga, Pastaza, and Zamora Rivers) across Ecuador and Peru (Table 1; Figure S6). Much of the existing hydropower for Ecuador comes from four large dams on two northern tributaries of the Marañon, but the rest of the river complex is free-flowing. However, there are plans for over 60 new dams on these free-flowing stretches. In April 2011, the outgoing administration of President Alan Garcia issued a decree declaring that the construction of 20 of these dams, all located on the main-stem (Marañon), were in the national interest. All 20 of these prioritized Marañon dams would exceed 100 MW, including three new mega dams (Escuprebraga, Rentema, and Manseriche). Also noteworthy is a cluster of large and mega dams slated for the Zamora River and the first large dams for the Huallaga.


Please voice your opposition to the damming of Río Marañon. A PETITION present on The Petition Site allows you to add your name to give weight to a request to President Humala to halt the plans to dam Río Marañon. It needs REPRESENTATION! Please provide your name to sign in opposition to the Marañon dams or better yet - write your own letter!! My first letter is listed below (sent to Humala).

To understand the beauty of Río Marañon, PLEASE VISIT THE RIVER. If you find planning your own trip daunting or don't speak Spanish well, consider joining a SierraRios trip down the river this year (on Upper Grand Canyon Amazon or Lower Grand Canyon Amazon sections). No prior whitewater experience is required - skilled guides will row and captain rafts that you ride on or help paddle. Some photos of the river are shown there as well as at the International Rivers website. Also see an Article about the river at the International Rivers website.


Respectful President Humala,

We recognize the unique attributes of Río Marañon as a cultural, social, ecological, and environmental resource for the people of Peru and the world, and would like to request that it be protected in its free-flowing state rather than drowned under a series of reservoirs created to meet the energy needs of Brazilians. The environmental, cultural, and social impacts of the proposed reservoirs DO NOT warrant their construction. Please cancel all proposed plans to dam the river and instead, enact a law that will protect this Grand Canyon of Peru for the future generations of Peruvians!

Your name.


The petition is followed by the more detailed letter (to be delivered in the Spanish form below). The goal is 100,000 signatures - you can see on the Petition Site how many have signed so far. Please get as many freinds/family to sign as possible!

The petition will be delivered to President Ollanta Humala, perhaps in person. I would appreciate hearing directly from you as well, so send Rocky an email.


So please take the following actions:

(1) Sign the Petition against the dams, "Like" it, and forward the link to all your friends.

(2) Write and send your own letter to President Humala and various ministers in the government (such as what I wrote below): for list of addresses, see below.

(3) Write and send your own letter to Odebrecht voicing your opposition to their projects. For address, see below.

(4) Make a donation to SierraRios.


29 Ene 2013

Dear President Ollanta Humala,

I and these petition signers would like to call your attention to the dams planned for Río Marañon, which are NOT in Peru's best interest to construct. Río Marañon is still free-flowing and is one of few beautiful Grand Canyons of the world. Like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River the United States, the Grand Canyon of Río Marañon deserves to be protected and enjoyed by the Peruvian people rather than destroyed by foreign companies seeking to make profits by exporting the energy to Brazil. The river's residents including the Aguaruna also depend on the river for their livelihoods and traditional ways of life. Please halt all plans to dam Río Marañon. Peru need not be an energy exporter to other nations and there are other sustainable ways to meet the energy needs of Peru.

Consider what will happen if the plans for the hydroelectric dams are actually implemented on Río Marañon.

(1) Catastrophic environmental impacts. Currently, the Marañon provides a huge amount of silt to the jungle areas and the Amazon River. Dams will disrupt this normal flow pattern and lead to beach erosion and altered habitat for multitudinous species. Fish migration up and down the river will be blocked by the dams, altering the normal ecological balance. Similar dams in the Pacific Northwest wreaked havoc on salmon populations, reducing runs of the fish from millions to a few thousand per year!

(2) Devastating social impacts. Thousands of people living along the river will be displaced by the reservoirs created behind the dams, leading to resentment of you and the Peruvian government for allowing such crass actions by foreign investment companies over the rights of Peruvian citizens.

(3) Negative historical/cultural impacts. Archeological sites that have yet to be excavated and studied of the Inca and Chachapoya cultures are dotted along the river where reservoirs are due to extend. The drowning of these cultural artifacts is uncalled for, especially before proper assessment of the sites is completed by archeologists. Furthermore, are you to allow a complete destruction of the cultural heritage signified by Ciro Alegria's best-selling novel "La Serpiente de Oro", which took place along the banks of Río Marañon in its Grand Canyon? This is part of Peru's pride and heritage. Will nobody be able to visit the villages and relate to the characters and landscapes in the book anymore?

(4) Recreational treasure loss. The Grand Canyon of the United States was in a similar state to the Grand Canyon of the Marañon before several dams were constructed at its end and just upstream. Few had experienced the majesty of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon before the dams were put in, but now, it is the most sought-after river trip experience in the world, with 22,000 people floating through the canyon each year and prompting wait lists of over 20 years to obtain permits to experience it.

I personally descended the entire 1750 km length of Río Marañon in 2012 in kayak, raft, and passenger boat over the course of about 2 months. I also discovered the most distant source of the Amazon River last year, and did a reconnaisance of that area during a National Geographic-sponsored expedition. I have also paddled all the major rivers in North America and the other headwater streams of the Amazon in Peru (Rios Mantaro, Apurimac, and Urubamba). I can say definitively that Río Marañon is by far the most precious of all these rivers: it is beautiful, unpolluted, raftable, holds monumental stature as the hydrological source of the Amazon, and is an extreme joy to experience.

Since 2013 when I started organizing expeditions for others to become aware of the wonders of the Marañón, more than 250 tourists have come to know the river and navigate its rapids. The tourism on the river is continuing to grow and it draws visitors from afar specifically to visit and see the river. All agree this is a place worth preserving in its free-flowing state and not to be dammed. The people along the river also are happy to see tourists coming down, as we bring economic benefits to them and friendships that they would never otherwise obtain.

Please don't let greedy foreign corporations destroy this natural treasure in Peru. Instead, protect Río Marañon for future generations to appreciate and enjoy, as President Teddy Roosevelt did for the Grand Canyon of Arizona. I assure you, if you do, you will be admired and respected for generations to come!! I personally invite you or your family members to come see for yourself how amazing and special the river is on a SierraRios raft expedition (gratis).


James Contos, Ph.D
Director, SierraRios



Estimado Presidente Ollanta Humala,
Los firmantes de esta petición quisiéran llamarle la atención al asunto de las represas planeadas para el Río Marañon, cuya construcción no está en el interés del Perú. El Río Marañon se ha quedado uno de los únicos ríos libres de presas en el mundo, con un “Gran Cañon” equivalente a los otros cañones más espectaculares del mundo. Como el Gran Cañon de los Estados Unidos, el Gran Cañon del Marañon merece ser protegido y disfrutado por la población del Perú y no destruido por empresas extranjeras que solo buscan exportar energía a otros países y enriquecer sus propios bolsillos. Las personas que viven al lo largo del río, incluso los del pueblo Awajún, dependen del río para su modo de vida. Le suplicamos que pare todos los planes de tapar el Río Marañon con represas. El Perú no necesita ser exportador de energía si va a causar la destrucción de sus lugares más magníficos. Por favor, considere Ud. lo que va a pasar si los planes del las represas son realizados:

(1) Impactos medioambientales catastróficos.  Ahora el Río Marañon proporciona la mayor cantidad de limo a las áreas de la selva Amazónica. Las represas van a interrumpir el flujo normal de este limo con consecuencias de erosión de playas y hábitat alterada para muchísimas especias. La migración arriba y abajo del río estará bloqueada por las represas, alterando el equilibrio ecológico normal. Tome como un ejemplo la situación en el Noroeste del Pacífico, donde represas en los ríos redujeron las migraciónes (y las poblaciones) de salmones desde millones por año a unos pocos miles por año.

(2) Impactos sociales devastadores.  Miles de personas – incluyendo a muchos del pueblo Awajún – estarán desalojados por los lagunamientos formados por las represas. Causará resentimiento hacia el gobierno peruano si permiten que las preferencias de las empresas extranjeras tengan preferencia sobre los derechos de los ciudadanos peruanas.

(3) Impactos históricos/culturales negativos.  Sitios arqueolójicos de los Incas y Chachapoyas a lo largo del Río Marañon - que todavía tienen que ser excavados y estudiados – estarían perdidos para siempre por las represas. No debe Ud. permetir el ahogamiento de estos artefactos culturales, especialmente antes de que se les haga un evaluación arquelógica. Por otra parte, la construcción de las represas traerá la destrucción del patrimonio cultural depictada en la famosa novela de Ciro Alegría, "La Serpiente del Oro", que tomó lugar a lo largo de las orillas del Río Marañon en su Gran Cañon. Esto es parte del patrimonio cultural del Perú. ¿Desea Ud. Que en el futuro, nadie podría visitar a Calemar y así relacionarse a los personajes y los paisajes descritos en el libro?

(4) Pérdida de un tesoro recreativo. Se encuentra el Gran Cañón del Marañon ahora en un estado similar del Gran Cañón del Río Colorado en los EEUU entre los años 1920-1965, antes de que varias represas fueron construidas en sus extremos. Poca gente había bajado el Río Colorado y por eso pocos llegaron a conocer la majestad del río en esos años. Pero ahora, la bajada del Gran Cañon del Colorado en balsa es una de las experiencias aventureras más buscada en el mundo, con 22,000 personas flotando a través del Cañon cada año, e inscribiéndose en listas de espera de 20 años para obtener los permisos para descenderlo.
Yo personalmente descendí todos los 1750 km del Río Marañon en 2012 en kayak, balsa, y barco pasajero, un viaje que duró alrededor de 7 semanas. Eso formó una parte de mi expedición “Fuentes del Amazonas” porque el Marañon el la fuente principal del Amazonas.  También descubrí el origen más distante del Río Amazonas, por cual motivo conseguí una beca del National Geographic. Además de hacer estas expediciones, he remado todas las fuentes del Amazonas (los ríos Mantaro, Apurimac, y Urubamba) y todos los ríos de Norte América (incluyendo el Gran Cañon, que he descendido siete veces). Digo definitivamente que el Río Marañon es el más precioso de todos estos ríos que yo he conocido: es hermoso, sin contaminación, es navegable por balsa, y tiene la distinción de ser la fuente principal del Amazonas.

Ya he ayudado más de 250 personas para conocer el Río Marañón por viajes en rafting y kayaking en varios viaje desde el año 2013 hasta 2017. Me parece que está aumentando mucho y va a ser algo muy popular para el turismo en el futuro. La gente a lo largo del río nos desea visitar más porque traemos beneficios económicos a ellos por la comida y servicios que pedimos.
Favor de no dejar que corporaciones extranjeras codiciosas destruyan este tesoro natural del Perú. Al contrario, Ud. como Presidente de la República tiene la oportunidad de proteger al Río Marañon y su Gran Cañon como un parque nacional para que las futuras generaciones del Perú puedan apreciarlo - como hizo el Presidente Teddy Roosevelt con el Gran Cañón del Colorado. Le aseguro que si usted lo hace, ¡será admirado y respetado por las generaciones en las décadas que vienen! Les invito personalmente a usted y a los miembros de su familia que vengan a conocer lo asombroso y especial que es el Río Marañon en una expedición de SierraRios.

James ("Rocky") Contos, Ph.D,
Director, SierraRios



Presidente de la República
Pablo Pedro Kuczynski - Presidente
Palacio de Gobierno, Plaza de Armas, Lima 1

Facebook: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

# CEO, Odebrecht
Marcelo Odebrecht
# Ministra del Ambiente
Elsa Galarza Contreras

Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo
Eduardo Ferreyros Küppers – Ministro
Calle Uno Oeste N 050 
Urb. Córpac, San Isidro – Lima, Perú
Tel: 513-6100
para e-mails:

Ministerio de Energía y Minas
Eleodoro Mayorga Alba – Ministro 
Av. Las Artes Sur 260 
San Borja – Lima, Perú
Tel: 411-1100

Ministerio del Ambiente
Elsa Galarza Contreras – Ministra del Ambiente
Av. Javier Prado Oeste 1440
San Isidro – Lima, Perú
Tel: 611-6000

Marcos Gabriel Alegre Chang – Viceministro de Gestión Ambiental

Willian Fernando León Morales – Viceministro de Desarrollo Estratégico de los Recursos Naturales

Luiz Antonio Mameri – CEO Odebrecht América Latina e Angola
Av. Luís Viana, 2841. Edifício Odebrecht Paralela CEP 41730-900 
Salvador, BA - Brasil
PRW Contact Webpage

Luiz Antonio Mameri – CEO Odebrecht América Latina e Angola
Av. Luís Viana, 2841. Edifício Odebrecht Paralela CEP 41730-900 
Salvador, BA - Brasil
Odebrecht General Contact Webpage

(ENDESA es la casa matriz de Generalima S.A.C, la que tiene los proyectos hidroeléctricos Veracruz y Marañón 1, 2, 3 y)
Ignacio Blaco Fernández – Director General
Calle Tnte. César López Rojas #201
San Miguel – Lima, Perú
Tel: 561-2001
Mas datos:

Experience first hand what massive destruction the damming of Río Marañon will be. JOIN A RAFT/KAYAK TRIP DOWN THE RIVER THIS YEAR and support the effort to block the dams. Action must be taken now - two of the dams are in very late stages of planning and construction may start next year!

You also may wish to financially support SierraRios' effort to educate and inform the world of the impending destruction of the Marañon. PLEASE MAKE A DONATION: DONATE!