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By John McConville

Arriving in Peru after 2 days of bus rides from Ecuador, our team (consisting of Andy McMurray, John Kiffmeyer, and myself) was welcomed with stable weather conditions and endless opportunity. Peru is by far one of the most logistically difficult countries to kayak in, but with great difficulty comes great reward! Hosting some of the worlds deepest and remote canyons known to mankind, Peru is a kayakers multi day expedition wet dream.

Based out of Arequipa, our team was able to successfully complete 2 of the more well known rivers to the area. The Rio Colca which was first explored in 1981 by Jerzy Majcherczyk, and the Rio Cotahuasi which is even deeper than the Colca. Popular with tourist, these two rivers bring in all sorts of outdoor enthusiast such as trekkers, sight seer’s, and even the occasional rafter all hoping for a glimpse into some of peru’s oldest history! According to Majcherczyk, who is campaigning to have the Colca canyon declared a national park, the Colca has the potential of becoming Peru’s top tourist attraction, surpassing Machu Picchu.

The Colca’s canyon is an adventure of a life time! To truly understand the beauty of this canyon, one must explore this amazing place by way of the river. Only then will you appreciate this magical place to the fullest! One way in, one way out, success of this 3 to 4 day expedition is determined by survival of the fittest and being prepared for everything. The Rio Colca is the most remote I’ve ever felt, with canyon walls reaching upwards of 5416 meters (that’s twice the height of the Grand Canyon in AZ), and its quality class 3-4 read and run whitewater will leave your soul wanting more. Though this river may not be for everyone, requiring an 8 hr hike into the Peruvian mountainous desert and probably 4 days on the water, those who do take on the task will be rewarded with out of this world Mars like scenery only found inside the belly of this beast!

Continuing on and stepping it up a bit, the Rio Cotahuasi adds some class 5 whitewater with an even deeper canyon. Accessibly by vehicle as of 2009, the donkey trail portage around Sepia Falls (300 foot waterfall) is no longer an issue with the installation of the sketchiest one lane dirt road ever that has taken its place! Looking back through my journal entries from the trip I found these sweet words… "I started to find my peace looking up at the stars one night, the steep canyon walls boxing in the sky on every side. Even reaching the take out I found life to be simple. A warm breeze was blowing through town, kids were laughing and playing futball in the streets. The sound of running water passing through the irrigation canal and many different farm animals all living in peace in a little village tucked far back in the Cotahuasi Valley… life is good!"

That it was, a good life with only the simplest things to occupy the mind. Reaching a point of peace in the amazing land of Peru, our team had just scratched the surface of all that was possible here. While taking a train ride to Machu Picchu our imaginations went wild yet again as the train provided a perfect view of the entire Rio Urubamba. In the city of Cuzco, which is the other major whitewater hub in Peru, lies rivers like the Rio Apurimac and the legendary 8 day Rio Paucartambo. Peru may be the most logistically difficult place to kayak but the reward waiting at the end of these rivers make this place irresistible. But the up coming rainy season was even close now and our trip more than half over, so it was once again time to pack the bags and head south in search of more water, and from what we’d been hearing Chile had plenty of it…

John McConville

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Cotahuasi Combe ShuttleClick to see larger image

Cotahuasi Down stream Seipa FallsClick to see larger image

Cotahuasi Inca castleClick to see larger image

Cotahuasi Scenic shootClick to see larger image

Cotahuasi Sipea FallsClick to see larger image

Panarama Rio ColcaClick to see larger image

Rio Colca hike inClick to see larger image

Rio Colca Terrace farmingClick to see larger image

Rio Colcas clear watersClick to see larger image

Rio Cotahuasi BoofinClick to see larger image

Rio Cotahuasi day 1Click to see larger image

Rio Cotahuasi day 2Click to see larger image

Rio Cotahuasi dealinClick to see larger image

Rio Cotahuasi walled inClick to see larger image

Rio CotahuasiClick to see larger image

Jackson donkie