Peru has a reputation for containing some of the most epic whitewater rapids in South America. The raging rivers here offer quite a challenge for thrill seekers and experienced rafters. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or want to test your whitewater mettle, you’re sure to find something that’ll push you to your limits.
A trip through Cotahuasi Canyon is a 10-day adventure that winds through some of the fiercest Class IV and V rapids in Peru. Fifty miles of pummeling water pushes you at a gradient of 60 feet per mile across beautiful desert scenery in one of the deepest canyons on Earth. Getting there is a journey in itself. The put-in is located at the end of an Inca footpath that travels across hundreds of stunning ruins. A guided tour is the best way to raft the river if you want to learn the true historical context of the canyon.
Río Apurímac winds through the 3000 meter deep Granite Canyon past pristine sandy beaches and some of Peru’s rarest wildlife. It’s not unusual to spot otters, puma, and even the Andean bear while pushing your way through the endless Class IV and V rapids. The tropical forests and stunning valleys make for excellent stop offs when your arms need a break. A trip along the Río Apurímac will take at least three days, so come prepared to pitch a tent along any of the scenic vistas and enjoy a night out under the crystal clear skies.
The consistent Class IV rapids of the Río Tambopata make it one of the wildest and reliably great rafting options in Peru. The route begins near Lake Titicaca and passes through the Tambopata National Reserve, offering some of the Amazon’s most impressive landscapes, before ending in Puerto Maldonado. The 10-day trip is exhausting and challenging but also offers a great opportunity to explore the myriad of beaches along the way. The regions houses 1200 species of butterfly to discover, along with over 200 mammals and 800 species of birds. There’s no shortage of epic wildlife to discover here.
The Río Cañete near Lima offers varying degrees of rapids throughout the year. Peak season from December to April regularly sees enough rainfall to create Class IV and V rapids that’ll give any seasoned pro an exhilarating experience. The foaming whitewater here hides dozens of boulders that’ll you need to quickly elude. The tumultuous waters here are often so demanding that they tend to distract from the region’s natural beauty. However, if you’re more interested in testing your body’s limits than taking in the scenery then the Río Cañete won’t leave you disappointed.