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White water rafting Peru

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White water rafting Peru

Peru has more than a dozen rivers that bathe its diverse regions in coast, mountains and jungle. The five most extensive rivers cover almost 7,000 km within the country. The strength of the water of some rivers allows the practice of white water rafting Peru, a sport of pure adrenaline. Internationally, rapids are classified on a scale from I to VI according to their difficulty.

For the canoeing, the best known rivers are the Apurímac (class II and V), the Cotahuasi (class V) and the Tambopata (class III and IV).

The canoe arrived in Peru from Poland thanks to the adventurer Yurek Majcherzyck and his fellow travelers, who, after repeated attempts, managed to overcome the torrential Colca River and its 300 rapids in one of the deepest points of Arequipa.

This sport is practiced on inflatable rafts or rafts, driven by rowing and usually steered from the stern, through the turbulent waters of the rivers.


Classification of rivers

  • Class I - Easy: Water in motion, with small waves, clear passages, almost no obstructions.
  • Class II - Rookies: Rapids with wide and clear channels that are evident without exploration. The waves, rocks and other obstacles are easily avoided.
  • Class III - Intermediate: Rapids with high waves, irregular and constant, able to submerge an open canoe. Narrow steps that often require complex maneuverability in fast waters and good control of the boat.
  • Class IV - Advanced: Intense, powerful but predictable rapids that require precise handling of the boat in turbulent waters.
  • Class V - Experts: Long, very violent rapids, with a large gap. They require a high level of training.
  • Class VI - Extreme: These rapids are unpredictable and very dangerous. For teams of experts only.

White water rafting Peru

Family trip: Río Mayo, Tarapoto

It was here where I did my rafting baptism and I have all the tests here. The Mayo River is the perfect setting for fun and a first experience. If you like adrenaline, opt for the free jump at the beginning of the route: jump into the water from the oroya about 6-7 meters above the river. The river is gentle and the guides expert. You will spin in the small whirlpools. You can download a part floating with your life jacket. And you arrive at a sandy beach, where you rest for a while and play at being Tarzan with the ropes. It is the necessary dose to start with a river from level II to III.

Accessible from 5 years. 70 soles the rafting trip, half a day.


Complete: Lunahuaná, Lima

Few know that near Lima Peru, you can go on a tour with landscapes, fun, adrenaline and a pinch of pisco. The people of Lima come here on weekends or special dates to Lunahuaná, where the weather is sunnier. Here there is something for everyone. From Lima, you travel to Cañete and from there in combi to Lunahuaná.

The Lunahuaná bridge route is the most familiar. The level of the river in this section is from II to III and children can take risks from 5 years. Here you will find fun first of all (2h40, 60 Soles). If you want to save a little you can start from Catapalla (1h40, 40 Soles). The section Paullo-Socsi is a little shorter and similar, from 8 years (1h30, 40 Suns).

The Lunahuaná-Paullo route is the busiest. Huge waves and pulsating heart by a river with level III - IV +, during the 8 kilometers of route. Only for over 18 years old (1h50 and 100 soles). There is also the Catapalla-Lunahauná route a little shorter (80 soles).


Moved: Santa María, Cusco

As the first time it was great, I went up one level and tried the swirling Vilcanota in Santa María. Santa María is stage 1 on the Jungle Trail (alternative route to Machu Picchu, without taking the train). Many times it is another option on your tour. After a day of cycling, it is the richest. Eye, yes, the river is more mobile (it goes from level II to IV), the big waves submerge you completely but you are in good hands and for more than 1 hour you forget the effort you did to enjoy it, see here. Checked! They leave from the Chaullay bridge. Beware when the river is high, it can be more dangerous. Recommended outside of rainy seasons: from June to October.

In this area they also propose a full day of softer level II Urubamba river rafting between the Cuispata section and an even more moved one between levels III and IV in the Chuquicahuana section.

From US $ 40 the additional 2-hour tour to the Inca jungle trek


Expert: Apurímac, Cusco

Cusco has several scenarios that allow you to go up in level. In Ollantaytambo a level II awaits you and in Quiquijana a level III that becomes IV during the rains (December to May), but what became fashionable among travelers is the 3-day tour through the depths of the canyon of Apurímac. The first day of Apurimac river rafting, you leave Cusco to the Apurímac region, 5 hours away. The first descent is between level II and III. The second day you will row all day between levels III and IV. There is a part of level VI that you have to walk by. The third day you go up another level with class V rapids. The nights are camping. For seasoned adventurers.


Expert: Tambopata

This route is more physical because it is a route of 9 to 10 days inside the jungle in Amazon white water rafting. Sales from Juliaca (near Puno) to Putina Punko where the route begins that will take you to the macaw colpa located in the heart of the Tambopata National Reserve. You will then cross two reserves: the Bahuaja Sonene and the Tambopata, going down from 4500 meters to 250 meters in mini-van and then in rafting. In this high part the Tambopata river is of level III to IV but the privilege is in being able to see (with luck) tigrillos, pumas, monkeys, alligators or river wolves. The nights are in camping. Some end up in the comfort of the Rainforest Expeditions TRC lodge, the furthest away from the city of Puerto Maldonado. Ojo, this route is only operated from June to October when it is requested more and the river is more accessible.


When is the best time to practice rafting in Peru?

The best season is during the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi 2020 Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes. 


Other destinations for white water rafting Peru

  • Ríos Mayo and Huallaga. The tours of these two rivers start from Tarapoto and descend through the high jungle, skirting beautiful Amazonian landscapes. Their rapids are of classes II and III.
  • Colca River. The Colca River is famous for its 300 rapids and for traveling one of the deepest canyons on the planet: the Arequipa colca canyon. The most well-known route starts from the locality of Chivay and goes through the area of Cabanaconde and Tapay, along approximately 40 km. Account with rapids of degree II to IV for specialists and connoisseurs.
  • Cotahuasi River. Scenario of several adventure sports, which are practiced in the Ecoportport Festival of Adventure of Cotahuasi (first week of May). The Cotahuasi River runs through one of the deepest canyons in America, which presents grade III and IV rapids only for experts. It is possible to fish in the high areas, such as Alca. In Cotahuasi, the offer of tourist services is still under development.
  • Cañete River. Boating destination very crowded by locals thanks to its proximity and easy access. The recommended sector is located in the fruit and wine town of Lunahuaná. Includes grade II and IV rapids.

Other Adventure tours in Peru

Many are the adventure tours in Peru, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.


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