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“Row Your Own”Rio Marañón

September 24 to October 8, 2017 (15D/14N)

October 14 to October 28, 2017 (15D/14N)

We invite you to join us on this remarkable journey into the upper Amazon River. Our travels will take us into one of the deepest river canyons in the world, with miles of red vertical walls rising directly from the riverbed. On this 15-day journey one of the many incredible spots is Cascada Muro Poso, a 400+ meter waterfall coming almost directly into the river. We also explore a pre-Incan pueblo complex, which includes spectacular overlooks. This trip offers swimming in an intriguing series of bedrock waterfall pools at Quebrada Aguablanca. The majority of camps are on expansive white sand beaches. As time allows we will also take excursions to verdant creeks, scenic grottos, and slot canyons.

The Marañón River is a major tributary of the Amazon River. This alone makes it one of the most important rivers in Peru and the world. The Marañón has been declared a biodiversity hotspot of global importance as it has one of the highest levels of endemism in the world. It is alarming to realize that the upper Amazon River, with its unique dry-forest, the flora and fauna and the people whom support themselves from its nutrient-rich waters are all under threat, due to mega-dam projects. When you join this trip, you’ll be supporting the communities that we visit.

An additional benefit is that this expedition is fully supplied by professional Peruvian outfitters. We employ Peruvian guides and local Peruvian companies. Our expedition strives to maximize the positive effects of tourism on the host communities and minimize any negative effects; this includes ensuring that tourism does not divert resources away from Peruvians or the local communities.

A unique highlight of this expedition is the opportunity to interact with the remarkable inhabitants who live alongside the Maranon and maintain a lifestyle deeply connected to nature. We’ll learn about their history, customs and lifestyle. We will also hear of their struggles with dam builders. This trip passes several of the 20 dam sites proposed for the Rio Marañón; Chadin Dos (a mega-dam) is in the latest planning stages. If the dams are built, the section of the river that the villages of Tupén and Mendán are located will likely be the first to be drowned by reservoirs.

An expedition on the upper Amazon is all about great expeditionary rafting. If you have recent class IV rowing experience you will have the opportunity to row a raft part of the time with one of the other participants or one of the professional Peruvian guides; you’ll be part of the team in camp and on the river, invited to participate in all activities and camp chores.

The average river volume this time of year is 5,000 CFS, but with rain it can double. We drop 2,500 feet, so it can be a wild ride. The first week has fairly mellow water, mostly class I and II, with a few class III´s, and one tougher rapid (Samosierra, a long class IV). There is more whitewater action in the second half of the trip (after Balsas), including a very exciting class IV+ (Linlin). A couple of these rapids are quite long, making them a bit more difficult than the toughest rapids on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.


Day 1: Arrive, Welcome Dinner (D)

Hotel in Huanchaco

Fly into the city of Trujillo, Peru. Connections through Lima are available from many gateway cities. Our group will gather for a welcome dinner, introductions and pre-trip information. All participants will be provided a shared room at a hotel in the seaside community of Huanchaco, just outside of Trujillo. The double occupancy room is included in trip cost.

Day 2: Peruvian Andes, Rio Marañón River Canyon (B+L+D)

Beach Camp at Chagual

We arise early and make our way to the put-in at Chagual. This transport leg of the adventure will take all day and into the early evening. We climb up some of the tallest mountains in the world, the Peruvian Andes. To then wind down into one of the deepest river canyons in the world, the Marañón. During our drive you will get an idea of the scale of this immense river corridor as we travel through several distinct zones, cloud farmlands high on the mountain, down into the dry forests of the Marañón River. A truck for the gear and a bus for our group. ~4 hours to Huamachuco and ~8 hours to Chagual.

Day 3: Rigging Rafts, Launch (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Unnamed (III), Suchaca (III)

Rigging boats and getting on the water is the order of the day. The morning is spent inflating rafts and rigging; then we launch in the afternoon, and raft approximately 7 kilometers to camp. There will be an evening orientation to familiarize everyone with the schedule and camp procedures. .

Day 4: Cañon Asconta and Sinchibin (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Hualango (III), Gansul (IV)

The Rio Marañón is also known as “The Serpent of Gold” because its sediment is heavy in gold. Today we float past a 30+ year old gold mine. Maybe not the most scenic, but interesting history. There are few roads or bridges crossing the river and we may be lucky enough to witness a cable car in use. On several past trips we have seen the locals transporting mules across the river, the animals are slung onto the cable car – quite the sight! Camp in the beautiful Cañon Asconta, across from the tall cliffs of Sinchibin Canyon.

Day 5: Muro Poso Waterfall, Red Wall Canyon (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Crisneias (III)

Today we arise early because we need to cover many kilometers. We continue with mellow water for the majority of the day and float by many interesting and alluring sights: busy pueblo of Calemar, Red Wall Canyon, Rio Choclo and Chon Chon. We aim to cover enough kilometers to camp in sight of the 400+ meter drop at Muro Poso.

Day 6: Deepest Section of Canyon (B+L+D)
Rapids of Note: Llanten (III)

After many photos of Cascada Muro Poso we head toward the deepest section of the canyon. The Llanten rapid area is one of the deepest sections of our 15-day expedition, astoundingly measured at a depth of 3050 meters (~10,000 feet). We stop to scout Llanten rapid the first technical rapid of our trip. Camp this evening will be close to the fun and challenging Samosierra rapid.

Day 7: Samosierra Rapid (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Samosierra (long IV) Unnamed (III)

Stop to scout Samosierra rapid. One of the biggest and longest technical rapids of the entire expedition. Samosierra entrance is class III, which then turns into a long class IV (large waves and “must-make” moves), which then slowly mellow into a class II rapid. The entire length of this action-packed rapid is a little over 3 miles! Camp before Balsas.

Day 8: Balsas, Pre-Incan Ruins at Playa El Cura (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Bridge (III), Wall Move (III)

A short visit to the town of Balsas where we may resupply with fresh fruits and vegetables. We may also stop at the regional headquarters of Odebrecht (Brazilian dam builder). Last we heard, the office in Balsas had been closed; let’s find out! In the afternoon explore the Pre-Incan archeological site of Playa El Cura. These are ruins of ancient adobe houses, stone structures, and a guard tower high on a bluff overlooking the river. It would be a shame to lose this remains of ancient history to a reservoir before it has even been fully unearthed and studied by archeologists and academia. Camp just past “wall move” rapid.

Day 9: Whitewater, Playa La Mushka (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Two Channels (III), El Choclon (III), Yangas (III), Mendan (III), Hoodoos (III), unnamed (III), La Mushka (III)

One of the busiest whitewater days, seven named class III’s (if the water is up may even be class IV’s) There are also many class II’s. We will have whitewater action a good part of the day until we arrive at our charming beach camp close to the pueblo of Tupén Grande. Camp tonight on the inviting white sands of Playa La Mushka.

Day 10: Visit Pueblo Tupén Grande, Fruit and Cacao Plantation (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Tupén Grande (IV), Chipche (III)

Short morning hike to town through picturesque fruit and coca plantations and trees heavy with oranges, mangos, bananas and coconuts where we will be welcomed into a pueblo for a locally made lunch of soup and cassava (yuca). The children of the village may enjoy a soccer game with their exotic visitors (us gringos). After lunch, return to our rafts to continue through fun class III’s and one class IV rapid to end our day on the beach of Playa San Lucas.

Day 11 Whitewater, Chadin Dos Dam Site, Magdelana (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: San Lucas (IV), Playa El Inca (IV), 3 unnamed (III’s)

The day starts with a bang at San Lucas rapid. Once the water slows the canyon walls narrow as we float through the proposed Chadin Dos dam site. Marvel at the beauty, yet be dismayed by the potential dam site! Whitewater action starts up again at Playa El Inca and continues to our camp alongside Magdelana Rapid. This evening learn about the Peruvian and International conservation movements to save this fabulous river corridor from the proposed dams.

Day 12: Whitewater, Linlin Rapid (B+L+D)

Magdelana (IV), unnamed (III’s), Wall (III), Linlin (IV), Totora (IV), Saura (III)

The day starts with the whitewater rush of the class IV Magdelana rapid. Next run several class III’s and by mid-afternoon we arrive at the most challenging rapid of the entire trip, the long class IV+ Linlin rapid. We stop and scout our line. Everyone has the option to take photos or walk this rapid if they do not feel comfortable running it. More fun technical rapids lie downstream. By early evening we arrive to the scenic camp alongside Cerro Cunarnia creek.

Day 13 Scenic Wonders of Bedrock Waterfalls, Amazon Cave, Sandstone (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Palaguas (III)

Have your camera ready today! Up early to rig the boats and get on the water headed for additional striking natural scenery. In the cool of the morning hike to the geologic phenomenon of Quebrada Aguablanca. The creek drops off the plateau above, forming a series of waterfalls perfect for swimming and wading. After spending time at the cascadas we row to another fabulous wonder of the upper Amazon River (a spectacular river level cavern). Continuing down river it becomes apparent we are entering the transition zone between Andean dry-forest and Amazon jungle. Witness red sandstone walls lined with lush riparian vegetation and trees filled with birds. Camp will be on a scenic sandstone river bend, perfect for reflecting on our river journey.

Day 14: Take-out, Farewell Dinner (B+L+D)

Rapids of Note: Chinuña (III)

Hotel in Jaén

We arise early for a short row to take-out at Puerto Malleta. We will clean, de-rig, break down and load all equipment into the cargo truck (this will take several hours). After the equipment is taken care of we ride for three hour to Jaén. A shower awaits you at the hotel in Jaén. In the evening enjoy a farewell celebratory dinner with everyone. All participants will be provided a shared room at a comfortable hotel in the city of Jaén. The double occupancy room is included in trip cost.

Note: Do not book airline tickets home for today, as we will not arrive to Jaén in time to catch flights.

Day 15 Departure from Jaén

Make your travel arrangements back home for today. If you have to return home quickly, then make arrangements to fly out of the city of Jaén today (making a connecting flight through Lima). An alternative route home is to purchase a public bus ticket from Jaén to Chiclayo (approximately 4 hours), where you can then catch a connecting flight through Lima to home.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather, river levels and terrain conditions.

Further Excursions in northern Peru:

Consider extending your stay in northern Peru. You can travel east to Cuispes (reserve a room at La Posada de Cuispes) and take a trek through the cloud forest to waterfalls. In Chachapoyas, you will find excellent accommodations, restaurants and tours. I recommend a full-day tour of the Pre-Incan ruins of Kuelap. Don’t miss the hike to Cascada Gocta. Maybe you’re interested in the Amazon Jungle? Then head further east to Tarapoto and Yurimaguas. Or how about some R&R in the beach town of Chiclayo. These are just a few of the things to do in northern Peru!


  • High quality rafting equipment and self-bailing rafts
  • Safety and professional river procedures
  • The best Peruvian class V river guides
    • Internationally trained, Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness First Responder courses
    • last year one was even a trained chef!
  • Peruvian safety kayaker
  • Professional First aid kit
  • Satellite Phone and rescue procedures
  • All arrangements in the field and on the river by professional river guides
  • 2 hotel nights (double occupancy)
    • Huanchaco
    • Jaén
  • All meals during the expedition which are identified in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Welcome dinner in Huanchaco
  • Farewell dinner in Jaén
  • Ground transportation
    • Trujillo to Chagual (put-in)
    • Puerto Malleta (take-out) to Jaén
  • Personal river gear:
    • PFD
    • Helmet
    • A shared large dry bag (3.8 L) for every 2 customers
  • Personal camp gear:
    • A shared 3 / 4 man tent for every 2 customers
    • Sleeping pad
    • Camp chair


  • Dedicated Peruvian gear raft to help carry some of the expedition equipment
    • so your raft load will be a bit lighter
  • Experienced English speaking facilitators and bi-lingual guides
    • who will facilitate your entire adventure
  • Your entire trip arranged!
    • no stress, just arrive and enjoy the ride!
    • everything from transport, to meals, to local knowledge is taken care of
    • a percentage of trip cost goes to support local communities
  • Know that you are important to the local riverside communities we visit
    • through your involvement in river conservation
  • We employ local
    • outfitters, guides, additional support services
    • in order to support the Peruvian tourism industry
  • Know that you are accompanied by a passionate and dedicated team of Peruvian guides
    • who are trained to international standards
    • who don’t just paddle for work – they paddle for the love of it!


  • Sleeping bag
  • Insurance of any kind, including medical evacuation insurance
  • Hotels in Lima or other cities not on itinerary and meals not identified in the itinerary
  • Tips and extra spending or services not described in the itinerary


This trip is fully supported by Peruvian owned and operated companies founded in 1978! For over 35 years they have explored, accomplished first descents and opened several Peruvian white water rivers to the world.


Lacey Anderson is a river guide with over 20 years’ experience guiding the rivers of California, the USA desert southwest, Mexico, and Peru. She has rowed the Rio Marañón many times over the last five years. She is an ambassador and contributing author for NRS . A number of articles have been written about Lacey; check them out in Canoe & Kayak, American Whitewater, Paddling with Purpose, and NRS

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