Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Rapid Rafting

150km rafting expedition in Peru: From the Andes to the Amazon

Discover Peru a different way on this once-in-a-lifetime rafting expedition down the mighty Rio Marañón - an almost untravelled wild river that lets you connect with the riverside villagers.

Location

Peru

Fly To

Jorge Chávez International Airport

Perfect for

Anyone with average fitness looking for an epic rafting adventure in a spectacular setting. No previous experience is required.

Difficulty

Moderate

Why it's much better

  • A truly self-powered adventure on one of the greatest free-flowing rivers on the planet: the Marañón River
  • Raft down the exhilarating rapids and soak up the spectacular scenery on calmer stretches
  • Share stories around the campfire as you wild camp on idyllic riverside beaches within the Marañón River canyon
  • Test yourself on rapids up to Grade 4
  • Explore hidden waterfalls and swim in natural rock pools
  • Experience the life of Campesino villagers in the remote Peruvian Andes
  • Witness your host's amazing conservation work, using adventures to help the villagers protect their river from being dammed
  • Hike to an ancient cliff-side archaeological site, only reachable by ropes and ladders.

What's Included

  • Guides Expert, English-speaking local guides
  • Accommodation 5 nights in independent hotels, 6 nights wild camping on the river
  • Meals All meals, plus a selection of alcoholic drinks, during the river expedition
  • Transfers All airport transfers
  • Permits All permits and entry fees
  • Transport A support vehicle is included for the duration of the adventure
  • Equipment All rafting and camping equipment
  • Happiness Guaranteed We're so confident that your holiday will be your best yet, we actually guarantee it
  • Feel Good Vibes We mitigate 4x the carbon emitted by all our travellers and support important conservation projects

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Peru!

After touching down at Lima International Airport, your host will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.

Depending on when you arrive, you may have some free time to explore the many parks, cafes and bars throughout the neighbourhood of Miraflores. Or perhaps hunt down some of the nicest restaurants to see why Peru is consistently recognised as one of the best culinary places in the world.

Day 2: The Hot Springs of Laguna Seca

Today you will have a relaxed morning, to help shake off any jet lag and tiredness from your international flight.

After a lazy breakfast, you'll be taking an 80-minute internal flight on to Cajamarca, either at 11:15 or 15:30 depending on the day of the week. If you're on the afternoon flight, you'll have plenty of time to explore Miraflores.

At Cajamarca you'll check in to Hotel Laguna Seca. Don’t be surprised if it’s steaming when you arrive! Laguna Seca is built on top of natural hot springs and there are dozens of thermal pools around the area to take a dip in.

This evening you'll head out for a welcome dinner to really kick-start this incredible expedition.

Day 3: Your river expedition begins...

After breakfast in Laguna Seca, you'll travel over the Peruvian highlands and then deep down into the Marañon Canyon.

When you reach the river, you'll have lunch and load up the gear. Your expert rafting guides will give safety briefings and begin training the group for the rapids ahead. The journey truly starts when you pass under the bridge and plunge into the Balsas rapid (Grade 3), just a taste of what is to come! A short way downstream you'll complete a set of rescue drills, allowing each raft crew to unite as a team and prepare for the journey ahead.

4hr scenic drive over the Andes and into Marañon Canyon

Rafting distance: 16km | Duration: 2 hours

Day 4: Full day rafting the rapids of the Marañon

Today starts with an optional sunrise hike to the cliff-top ruins at Playa el Cura, overlooking the river canyon.

After the hike (or lie-in if you preferred more sleep) you'll continue downriver, encountering several Class 5 rapids as you wind your way through the geological wonder that is the Marañon Canyon. You are in a remote, wild canyon and you may encounter strong afternoon winds - this stretch is notorious for them.

Today's aim is to reach the village of Mendán where you'll be shown around and have the chance to refuel with some fresh coconuts, seasonal fruits and a cold beer.

You'll enjoy a home cooked dinner in this friendly and welcoming village. Most likely the local kids will be keen for a game of football too!

Sunrise hike distance: 2km | Duration: 1.5 hours

Rafting distance: 29km | Duration: 6 hours

Day 5: Morning rafting to the village of Tupén

After a lazy morning and an indulgent breakfast you'll have a short float, full of fun and continuous Class 3 rapids, until you reach the village of Tupén.

You'll have the afternoon free to explore this area, further away from the river. There are some challenging hikes if you are still feeling energetic and adventurous. Otherwise the village centre is a really interesting place to walk around and explore. Visit the schools and let the kids show off their incredible treehouse!

Rafting distance: 8km | Duration: 1.5 hours

Day 6: Big day of whitewater rafting on the river

Today is a huge day of whitewater rafting. You'll encounter a handful of notable Class 3-4 rapids, including ‘Tupén Grande’, ‘San Lucas’, ‘Playa el Inca’, ‘Shingate’ and ‘Magdalena’.

We will also pass by the proposed Chadin II dam site where you'll learn first hand the story of how local people - with some help from your host - fought hard to keep this iconic river running beautiful and free.

Tonight you will camp on a stunning deserted beach in the heart of the canyon, deep between canyon walls.

Rafting distance: 27km | Duration: 6 hours

Day 7: Raft the LinLin rapid

Today you'll raft the deepest and most isolated part of the canyon. Keep your eyes focused on the scenery as vegetation and rock around you morphs into lush jungle. Soon you'll arrive at LinLin, the largest rapid you'll encounter on this section of the river.

After the adrenalin of LinLin, you'll bounce through several more rapids before arriving at Marañon Libre Conservation Area. Here you can relax after an epic day of rafting and enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets and vistas of the trip.

Rafting distance: 38km | Duration: 6 hours

Day 8: Wild swimming in Las Cascadas

After breakfast you'll explore the geological phenomenon that is ‘Las Cascadas’. Dozens of natural pools and waterfalls form as small creeks which cascade toward the Marañón. You can swim in the pools, enjoying a wide view over the Marañón Valley.

Late morning, you'll travel downstream to visit the Carrasco family farm and stop in for a hearty lunch. Roy and his family have been staunch defenders of the river and are incredibly happy to share this place with others.

In the afternoon you'll enter into one of the most scenic sections of the entire Marañón Canyon. Red walled sandstone and lush green shrubs, clinging to the cliffs, give an unmistakably prehistoric feel. You'll visit ancient rock paintings that Roy and his family discovered in a pocket of their land in 2019. These rock paintings helped to block the creation of a dam on the river at Veracruz.

Tonight you'll camp in the heart of the Red Canyon under the stars.

4 hours hiking and exploring waterfalls & natural pools

Rafting distance: 9km | Duration: 2 hours

Day 9: Raft the final rapids to Puerto Malleta

After navigating the final rapids of your journey, you will arrive at Puerto Malleta for a celebratory lunch in the local restaurant and a final goodbye to your river guides.

As victorious adventurers, you'll take private transport for 4 hours to the village of Cocachimba. On the drive will be plenty of views of the Shipago and Colan mountain ranges to keep you occupied, as we leave the dry forests of the Marañón behind.

Once in Cocachimba, you'll arrive at your beautiful lodgings surrounded by native cloud forest. Cocachimba will be your base for the next 3 nights as you explore the Kingdom of the Clouds.

Rafting distance: 17km | Duration: 2.5 hours

4 hour scenic drive to Cocachimba

Day 10: Hike to Gocta Waterfall

Wake up to the sounds of the dozens of colourful cloud forest birds and prepare for your hike to the 2531ft tall Gocta Waterfall. The hike has two options: the longer and more challenging circuit beginning in San Pablo, or shorter direct access from Cocachimba - which can also be completed on horseback.

There are chances of spotting native birdlife including the Andean Cock of the Rock, Peru’s national bird, who lives in the ravines that you cross on the way to Gocta.

The afternoon will include some well earned down time, though there are more optional hikes for the super energetic!

Hiking distance: 12-14km | Duration: 6-8 hours

Day 11: Sarcophagi del Tigre

Today you'll make an early start to try to reach the upper levels of El Tigre, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Amazonas. The Sarcophagi del Tigre are rarely visited due to the adventurous nature of the trip - and the fact it was only discovered in 2013!

Leaving at 6:00, you'll drive for 1 hour to San Jeronimo where your local guide will be waiting. From here you'll begin hiking into the impressive cloud forest, taking in the native birdlife and views up the valley. Before midday you'll reach the first level of the sarcophagi, passing skeletons and ruined tombs along the way.

Arriving at the second level is an adventure in itself! You'll be utilising ropes and ladders to climb up through the steep valley to arrive to the upper level of Sarcophagi. The ancient and mysterious Chachapoyan people mummified their dead, much like the ancient Egyptians.

You'll hike back down to San Jeronimo in the afternoon, feeling like Indiana Jones! Tired and happy after a full day of adventure, you'll return to Cocachimba for the evening.

2 hours driving

Hiking distance: 12km | Duration: 6 hours

Day 12: Return to Lima to fly home or stay on in Peru!

Wake up in the peaceful surrounds of Cocachimba, with the option to take an early morning stroll and enjoy your last views of Gocta waterfall, soaking up your final moments in this incredible cloud forest. But you will have to get up early! You'll depart at 8:30 to arrive at Jaén airport in time for the 15:48 flight back to Lima, with arrival scheduled in Lima for 17:21.

You are welcome to fly home from there, or speak with your host to arrange an additional night's stay in Lima with airport transfers.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

Accommodation

You'll be riverside camping for 6 nights and staying in independant hotels for 5 nights.

Riverside camping is one of the highlights of this adventure and your knowledgeable guides will take you to the best beaches and campsites along the Marañón River. Accommodation is based on two people sharing three-man tents, ensuring plenty of space for a comfortable night’s sleep. Food is prepared for you using fresh, local and often organic ingredients whilst you relax and enjoy the surroundings or swap stories around the campfire. A portable camp toilet ensures a minimal environmental impact.

In Lima, Cajamarca and Cocachimba you will stay in comfortable ensuite hotel rooms in a twin share basis unless you have requested a double room or private room upgrade.

Private Room Upgrade

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for £240 per person (subject to availability).

Location

This adventure takes place in the heart of the Marañón River Canyon in Peru. This spectacular canyon is known as the ‘Grand Canyon of South America’ and it most certainly lives up to the title. It is almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in USA and is becoming known as one of the greatest rafting locations on the planet.

Along its course, the scenery of the river offers an ever-changing plethora of dramatic vistas from the majestic expanse of the Andean Mountains at its source, through the vibrant rock walls of the Marañón Canyon and into the lush Amazonian Rainforest where it feeds into the mighty Amazon River. This is the perfect setting for an epic raft journey and a true adventure.

The Marañón River is one of the largest tributaries to the Amazon. It is home to an incredible array of plant and animal life, many of which are only found in this region, and the sediment it carries is a vital source of nutrients for the Amazon Rainforest. It is also a fantastic river to raft with numerous rapids from Class II to IV.

Your local host works closely with the Marañón Waterkeeper Alliance and your adventure will help to conserve this globally important ecosystem.

Meeting Point

Start Point

Your trip starts at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. Transfers are included if you arrive on the start day, so please let your host know your flight times.

Finish Point

Your trip ends at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, where your domestic flight from Jaén airport is scheduled to land around 17:20. This should allow for any onward international flights that evening. You can ask your host to book an extra night in Lima if you are staying on in Peru.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, your guides are highly qualified, experienced and internationally certified to ensure your safety throughout the trip. Your guides will thoroughly plan and prepare for this expedition and always have a back-up radio if needed.

You'll experience a great mix of different kinds of rafting. There are moments of calm water at times, but you can also expect exciting rapids from Class 2 to 4.

Class 4 rapids are usually classified as long, difficult rapids or narrow passages with turbulent water that require precise manoeuvring that send your heart racing.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Travel to/from Lima
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Meals whilst in Lima.
  • Meals on days 10-12
  • Alcoholic drinks

This trip will run with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 16.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (35+ litres)
  • Drybags for the river
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag/rucksack

Footwear

  • Shoes for wearing on the river (Water shoes or sandals)
  • Lightweight hiking boots or hiking shoes for side hikes
  • Sandals or flip-flops for around camp
  • Socks
  • Neoprene or wool socks for the river (optional)

Clothes

  • Long-sleeved shirt & long trousers for off river
  • Long trousers (or shorts + leggings) & long sleeve shirt for on river: important for sun and bug protection
  • Medium weight fleece, sweater or jacket
  • T-shirts and/or lightweight quick-dry tops
  • Board shorts
  • Swimwear
  • Sun hat, cap or visor
  • Something to sleep in
  • Waterproof jacket

Other

  • Water bottle with a locking carabiner, to attach to raft
  • Sunglasses with securing strap
  • Headtorch
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellant - DEET free if possible
  • Suncream - Eco-friendly if possibly
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre (2 of these if you have room)
  • Quickdry towel
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system

Throughout the main rafting season (May-Nov), the weather is perfect for this kind of trip.

The section of the Marañón you'll be rafting on is warm and dry with daytime temperatures ranging between 23-35 degrees Celsius and water temperatures of between 18-23 degrees Celsius.

The river travels through desert-like canyons and dry forests for the majority of the journey. Throughout the day, it is advisable to have lots of sun protection as the raft can be very exposed to the sun.

The area is very unlikely to have any rain throughout the dry season (May-Nov). In the rainy season, (Dec-May) it is much more likely to experience several days of rain, humid weather and possibly high water levels.

No problem. Any additional luggage can be transported for you to the finish point. Your host will deliver these to Hotel El Bosque when we arrive in Jaén.

We've teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

You'll need to have ok fitness levels for this trip. There are days with up to 6 hours paddling the river, though the fast sections are more adrenaline inducing than they are physically demanding. Some of the hikes are steep, so you'll need a decent level of hiking fitness for those. No previous experience is necessary, so people who are generally active will be fine on this trip.

Host Reviews

Looks like this adventure doesn't have any reviews yet...

Dates & Prices

Bespoke trips only

There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.

Request a Quote

Similar Trips

From

Why Us?

Here’s why we’re rated the UK’s ‘Best for Experiences’

PROPER
ADVENTURES

All our adventures get you out of the city to explore the wilder side of our world

EXPERT LOCAL
GUIDES

Get places you wouldn’t yourself. Our guides know where to go, what to do and how to stay safe

HASSLE
FREE

Route planning? Transport? Accommodation? Equipment? It’s all taken care of

SMALL GROUPS
OF GOOD PEOPLE

Join a diverse global community, bound by a shared love of the outdoors