White-Water Rafting in Cusco
Cusco Urubamba River (1 day)
Day trips whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River are extremely popular and
easily arranged once you arrive in Cusco. Typical trips depart Cusco daily at
9am and return by 3pm, leaving about 3 hours actually on the river. Trips
usually include lunch, transport and all safety equipment and costs start at
about $25 per person. Some trips combine a visit to the Inca ruins of
Ollantaytambo or Pisac on the way back to Cusco.
There are 3 sections of the Urubamba River
which are regularly visited. They are:-
1. Huambutio to Pisac (Year round)
A good introduction to rafting with short and easy rapids which require no
previous experience or special physical conditioning. It may be a little too
gentle for some people especially in the dry season July-September, but the
scenery is great. This trip is frequently combined with a visit to Pisac market
and Inca ruins.
2. Ollantaytambo to Chilca Class III
Probably the most popular section of whitewater with the water being a bit more
challenging with some exciting rapids. Novices can still make this run though.
This trip is often combined with a visit to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo on
the way back to Cusco. The putting-out point is usually Chilca which is only a 5
hours trek from the start of the Inca trail at Km 82. A few agencies therefore
offer this trip as part of a combined 5-day rafting/Inca Trail package (½ day
rafting, 4 days trekking and ½ day returning by train to Cusco).
3. Huaran Class III + June-September
This section of the river is further along the Urubamba towards Machu Picchu and
provides some sizeable rapids and fast whitewater. Prior experience of rafting
is necessary and this trip is not offered daily. Check with a rafting company in
advance to see if they are offering this trip.
Cusco Apurimac River (4 days / 3 nights)
The Apurimac means 'speaking God' in Quechua and was considered a sacred river
by the Incas. On its way to the mighty Amazon, this spectacular river cuts deep
through gorges, surrounded by steep cliffs and sheer granite walls and slowly
descends into wide pastoral valleys and tropical rainforest, providing some of
the most exciting whitewater in the world. Most of the time will be spent
rafting class III+ and IV rapids, although there are a few IV+ and V rapids
along the way. Amongst the wildlife to be found in this remote and isolated
canyon are river otters, condors, foxes and torrent ducks.
There are several tour companies in Cusco
operating this trip (see Peru Tour Operators), all running a similar itinerary.
Obviously safety is of paramount importance in this 'high risk' adventure
activity, so choosing a professional company should be priority.
Below we've included a typical itinerary and
trip information so that you can compare the various companies.
Day 1. Starting at Cusco, it's a 5 hour
drive west across the gently rolling landscape of the Andes down into the
Apurimac River Valley. The altitude at the start point is in the region of 2000m
so you shouldn't experience problems with altitude as in Cusco. It takes about 2
hours equipment preparation and safety training before putting in after lunch.
You'll raft down to the first nights camp , floating for about 1½ hours amongst
class II, III and IV rapids. The camp is within a narrow gorge with sheer sides.
Day 2. You'll probably be rafting for about
4½ hours today, mostly in Class III and IV rapids. There are some small sections
of the river where you will portage (carry) the rafts and equipment. Arrive at
camp, this time on a sandy beach, between 3 and 4pm.
Day 3. Today you'll experience a couple of
class V rapids with names such as 'Tooth Ache', 'You First' and 'Last Laugh'!
It's the most exhilarating day on the water probably spending a total of 3 or 4
hours on the river before camping the night on another sandy beach.
Day 4. The morning is spent quietly floating
down to Cunyac Bridge and the Hot Springs of Cconoc where the group will have
lunch before packing up the equipment and driving back to Cusco, arriving about
A typical trip includes: Transportation to and from the river, professional
class V bilingual guides with a first aid box (and training to use it) , state
of the art self bailing rafts, all the meals while at the river, waterproof-bags
for personal luggage, helmet, life jacket, paddles, wet-suit and spray jacket,
double occupancy tents, inflatable emergency kayak.