In the mood for some action? Rafting is a sport that mixes adrenaline with fun. In Peru, you can find your own level of happiness based on your expectations. You just can´t be scared to get a little wet.
1. For the Family: Mayo River, Tarapoto
The Mayo River is the perfect place for fun and first time experiences. If you like adrenaline, dive in at the start of the trail: jump into the water from about 20 feet above the river. The river is calm and the guides are experts. You’ll do laps in the small whirlpools. Float in a part of the river with your life jacket. And arrive to a sandy beach, where you can rest a while and play Tarzan with the ropes. A class II- III river is a great way to start.
5 years in the running. Half day rafting tour, 70 soles.
2. Complete: Lunahuana, Lima
Few know that near Lima you can go on a tour with beautiful landscapes, fun, adrenaline and a dash of pisco. People from Lima go to Lunahuana, where the weather is warm and sunny, on the weekends or special dates. Here, there is something for everyone. From Lima, travel to Cañete and then take a bus to Lunahuana.
The Puente Colgante- Lunahuana (the Lunahuana suspension bridge) is well known. The river, class I- II, is dangerous for children 5 years and under. Here, you will find lots of fun (2hr40, 60 Soles). If you want to save a little, you can start from Catapalla (1hr40, 40 Soles). The Paullo- Socsi is a little smaller and similar, 8 years and up (1hr30, 40 Soles).
The Lunahuana- Paullo route is the roughest. Huge waves and a fast beating heart, classify this river as a class III- IV+, 26 feet long. 18 years and up (1hr50, 100 soles). Catapalla- Lunahauna is a slightly shorter route (80 soles).
3. Swinging: Santa Maria, Cusco
Since my first time was great, I went up to the next level and tried the rapids of Vilcanota in Santa Maria. Santa Maria is stage 1 of the Jungle Trail (an alternative route to Machu Picchu, without taking the train). It is often included as another option in your tour. After a day of biking, it’s perfect. The rougher the river, the more exciting it is (going from a class II river to a class IV river). The large waves immerse you completely, but you are still in good hands and during more than 1 hour of rafting, you´ll forget the effort you´re making and you´ll be totally enjoying it, check out. Depart from the Chaullay bridge. Take caution when the river is high, it can be more dangerous. Recommended during the dry season: June to October.
In this zone, they also offer a full day of calmer rafting at Cuispata and a full day of class III- IV rafting at Chuquicahuana.
A 2 hour tour, from $ 40 extra when going on the Jungle Tour.
4. Expert: Apurimac, Cusco
Cusco has several places that let you go up a level. A class II river in Ollantaytambo and a class III river in Quiquijana that converts into a class IV during the rainy season (December to May), but what has become popular among travelers is the 3-day tour through the depths of the Apurimac Canyon. On the first day, depart from Cusco, heading to the Apurimac region, 5 hours away. The first spot is classified as a class II- III river. The second day, you´ll raft all day in class III- IV rivers. There is a part of the river that is classified as a class V river that you will pass by foot. On the third day, go up a level to class V. Camp for the night. This is for the brave adventurers.
3 day/ 2 night tour, $355.
5. Extreme: Tambopata
A more physical route: a journey of 9- 10 days, rafting in the jungle. Depart from Juliaca (near Puno) to Putina Punko, where you will start the route that takes you to the macaw clay licks located in the heart of the Tambopata National Reserve. Then, you will cross two reserves: the Bahuaja Sonene Reserve and the Tambopata Reserve, going down from 14,000 feet to 850 feet by mini-van and then rafting. In the high area, the Tambopata River is classified as a class III- IV river, but the real treat is seeing (hopefully) ocelots, pumas, monkeys, alligators and river seals. Camp for the night. Some stay in comfort at the TRC Rainforest Expeditions Lodge, the farthest from the city of Puerto Maldonado. But keep in mind that this route only operates from June to October. There is a two day hiking tour through the jungle for more reasonable price ($297 with Mayuc).
9 day/ 8 night tour, $1,597.
Guide: River classification
Class I – Easy: Moving water, small waves, and clear routes, almost totally unobstructed.
Class II – Rookie: Rapids with wide, clear channels, evident without scouting. The waves, rocks and other obstacles are easily spotted.
Class III – Intermediate: Rapids with higher, irregular and constant waves, capable of immersing a raft. Narrow channels that often require complex maneuvering against the rapids and good control of the raft.
Class IV – Advanced: Quick, powerful but predictable rapids that require precise boat handling in turbulent water.
Class V – Expert: Very large, powerful, bumpy rapids. A high level of training is required.
Class VI – Extreme: These rapids are unpredictable and very dangerous. For teams of experts only.