Kayakers Guide to Whitewater of Peru

Apurimac

Apurimac means “the voice of God” in Quechua and has been an important part of the Andean landscape for centuries. There is a 2-3 day stretch of whitewater on the Apurimac that has become a popular raft trip for visitors to Cuzco. It is a classic trip that is run from May to October. The easiest way to get there is to ride in with a raft trip starting in Cuzco or to hire a private vehicle.

The road from Cuzco is paved to the town of Anta. From there it is a 3 hour switchback road that climbs up the divide and down into the Apurimac drainage en route passing the town of Chinchaypujio. The put in is at Puente Hualpachaca which in Quechua means rooster bridge. I ran this stretch in mid August 1993 and at the put in we had 1800 CFS of emerald green water. The vegetation is very arid with cacti and leafless trees. The black walls of the canyon have gothic looking spires while the floor of the river is littered with large granite boulders.

One hour downstream is the first portage. At reasonable flows the second part of the drop can be run in kayaks. Further downstream lies another portage for rafts called “purgatory”. Kayaks can thread their way through holes and at the bottom enter a 20 meter long, 1 meter wide crack.

The second day has another long class 5 rapid with huge granite boulders and numerous class 3 and 4 rapids that come and go as the canyon opens and closes. The takeout (1770 meters) is at the town of Curahuasi where a new bridge was installed in the early 90’s on the Abancay-Cuzco road. It is good to have a vehicle waiting for you at the takeout but if you do not enough cars pass to hitch a ride to either Abancay or Cuzco.

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