I have wanted to get on the Rio Apurimac since reading about the non-stop Class III-V rapids in a gorgeous river that runs through an amazing canyon, so I was more than stoked when I secured a spot for myself and a friend on Amazonas Explorer’s 3-day trip May 15th-16th.
The first thing that impressed me about Amazonas was their obvious attention to passenger’s safety and the quality of their gear. I’ve heard some scary stories about cut-rate companies taking groups of up to 20 down this mighty river in shoddy rafts with unexperienced guides without regard to the passengers’ comfort levels or previous experience on whitewater. Paul from Amazonas gave us a detailed description of just how big and strong the river is and asked us about our experience swimming and whether we had been rafting on a river of the same caliber. My kayaker friend got an even more extensive review of his experience and skill level before they agreed to let him paddle the river. None of this was meant to deter us; but it did give a clear idea of what the 3 days would be like and that we would be in good hands.
The night before our departure we had a detailed safety briefing from our guide, and no question was left unanswered. We left the briefing ready for an amazing trip that would be rapid-fire action on the river and a little bit of plush living when we got to camp at night.
The next morning we were picked up at 7:30AM for a five-hour drive through gorgeous (and occasionally burly mountain roads). Along the way we got to know our guide, Alan, and the other passengers. We also stopped for a snack at a beautiful road-side waterfall – not a bad road trip break!
When we got to the put in a delicious lunch of quiche and salad was waiting for us; our first sign that good food was going to be a priority on this trip. We had another briefing on the gear, met the gear boaters and our safety kayaker, and got all suited up in our wet suits, life jackets, and helmets for our first day on the river.
Our first day was shorter, but still awesome. Alan did a great job of making us practice how to handle every situation that could arise on the river. We went through the paddle commands, what to do when if the raft hit a rock (high side!), and even practiced flipping. It was thorough, and made me feel secure about the days of big whitewater ahead. That night we camped on a gorgeous sandy beach and relaxed while our guides prepared an amazing meal and took care of pretty much everything. Their hard work allowed all of us to get to know each other and to trade stories about our adventures in Peru…when we weren’t too busy watching the sun set or the almost full moon rise over the canyon walls.
The second day was full-on, full-time…and probably one of the more fun days I’ve had during my seven months in Peru! We started with a full gourmet breakfast courtesy of our guides who had been up since dawn getting things ready. Another big thank you to Alan, Juanito, Cali, and Efrain for your hard work! We started with walking around a rapid that was too big for us to run while our guides dealt with all the gear and boats. But, as soon as we got in the boat the action started and went all day. We navigated Class III, IV and two Class V rapids – paddling hard and laughing with excitement when the waves weren’t splashing in our faces. We got through all the fast action excitement safe and sound, with huge smiles on our faces. We also traveled through deep, gorgeous canyon walls full of lush vegetation and flowers, and watched birds soar on the thermals above and dive back and forth. When we finished that night we were all exhilarated and exhausted. Our guides once again took care of all the heavy lifting as we enjoyed some well deserved beers and delicious food under the moonlight.
The next morning I think we were all a little disappointed that our time on the river was almost at an end – but not before a few more big rapids! Our river trip finished with 2 Class V rapids…but of course it was all smooth because we were all pros by then.
As we packed up the gear and loaded up in the van I was sad to say good-bye to new friends and such a beautiful place, and was already looking forward to exploring other rivers in Peru sometime in the future. Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a newbie, you will definitely enjoy this trip if you go with a reputable tour operator…and get ready for some big water!