The Black Canyon presents a multi-day “warm up” for the action that lies downstream. The traditional Black Canyon run is a three day 60 km stretch beginning at Nayhua (elevation 2400 meters and finishing Puente Haulpachaca elevation 2275 meters). Puente Hualpachaca is also the put-in for the popular, class 4-5, commercial 3 day raft trip. For directions to Puente hulapachaca see description for “Apurimac”
To reach Nayhua from Cuzco take the good road towards Paruro. On route you will pass Yaurisque. Get directions for turn to Paccaritambo and then in this town get directions for turn off to Nayhua which is about 5 km outside of town. From here the road descends down to the river.
A nice side trip is to visit the ruinas of Maucallaqta near to the town of Paccaritambo. These well preserved ruinas show what many believe to be the birthplace of the Inca civilization. Paccaritambo might be a modification of Pàchacambo which means “birthplace of gods”
Once on the river, the run is basically class 3-4 with one class 5-ish rapid that is often portaged. The large rapid is found within the first 10 km of the run as are most of the other larger rapids of the trip. It is possible to avoid the first 10 km and have a more mellow 50 km long trip, class 3. To do this one needs to put in at Puente Hualpachaca which is reached by taking the road from Cuzco to Yaurisque then turning to Huanoquite. From there it is a three hour hike to the river. The canyon and camping on this stretch is incredible.
An optional class 5 run lies upstream of the tradition Nayhua put-in. This 7 km day run is best after the high water has receded and is usually from mid to late May onwards. Put-in for this stretch is called Tincoj and is close to where the Vellile River enters the Apurimac at elevation 2525 meters.
If you plan to run the Black Canyon and are looking to join a group contact Pepe Lopez of Apumayo Expediciones in Cuzco. Pepe runs commercial raft trips thru the canyon starting each Sunday from Mid May to end of October. http://www.apumayo.com
Kayaks are welcome to join the raft trip and rental gear can be arranged.
Useful 100:000 scale topo maps for river are titled Tambobamba 28-R and Cuzco 28-S