Kayakers Guide to Whitewater of Peru

Santa River kayaking

Located in the department of Ancash, the Rio Santa drains the majestic peaks of Peru’s ominous Cordillera Blanca. It runs in a Northerly course for most of its journey before turning west towards the ocean. It is best to run the river in the heart of the rainy season from December to March when several thousand CFS is pumping through the river corridor. The runs dries up and is pretty bony from June through November.

There are multiple sections of the river one may chose to run depending on time and ability. The fact that a paved road follows the majority of the river allows for easy access and unlimited bail out opportunities. In the Canyon Del Pato 100 km below Huaraz the water is taken out of the river for a hydroelectric project. This 10 km dewatered stretch is a mandatory portage.

The town of Huraz lies at 3000 meters. From this point one can put on at just about any point along the river’s descent to the Pacific Ocean. A description of the length and gradient (highlighted in green) of each section follows:

To airport at Anta 25 km to 2791 meters 9 m/km

Anta to Carahuasi 10 km 2600 meters 18 m/km

Carahuasi to Mancos 15 km 2450 meters 10 m/km

Mancos to Caras 20 km 2200 meters 12.5 m/km

Caras to Sucre 16 km 2000 meters 12.5 m/km

Sucre to Bocatoma (exit pipes) 15 km 1850 10 m/km

Canyon Del Pato 10 km 1200 meters Portage 65 m/km

to Rio Tablachaca 65 km 500 meters 11 m/km

to Pan American Highway 65 km 15 meters 8 m/km

Usefuls maps:

Santa 20-H, 19-H, 18-H, 18-G, 18-F

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