Peru 2017 – Cotahuasi Rafting trip
Join us for an amazing white water journey through this ancient Incan world and experience the 5* white water rapids of the world’s deepest canyon.
The Cotahuasi is one of the last old-school river expeditions left on earth, with sheer canyons twice the height of The Grand Canyon and ancient Incan ruins accessible only via the river.
On the river for six days, you’ll paddle 80 miles of stunning, intermittent class IV-V whitewater and canyons measuring 11,587 feet from river to rim. On some nights we set up camp near Incan ruins that only a handful of people have ever seen. One night you’ll stay in a typical Andean village and experience life as a local. Be sure to bring friends: The trip requires teamwork, from punching through tough rapids to lifting the rafts around impassable ones.
Come and join us on this absolutely epic trip of a lifetime to deepest, darkest Peru.
- 1 night accommodation in Lima
- Collection from Arequipa airport on arrival
- 6 days of rafting
- Transfer back to Cusco
- Optional day trip to Machu Pichu
The Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest known canyon in the world. It is around twice the depth of the Grand Canyon, with stretches dropping down below 3500m. While the depths of the ravine are only accessible to experienced river runners, the rest of the fertile valley is rich in striking scenery and trekking opportunities. The canyon also shelters several traditional rural settlements that currently see only a handful of adventurous travellers.
The Cotahuasi River boasts many miles of class 4 and 5 rapids, going past ancient Inca and Wari ruins, terraced fields and steep canyon walls. There are many impressive waterfalls, the most famous being Sipia Falls with a drop of 153 m. (502 feet), hot springs, rock and cactus “forests”, and large herds of llamas and alpacas, as well as vicuña and condors.
Very little was known about this area and even less about the canyon until a kayak/raft expedition first ran it in 1994. It is considered one of the most technical rivers in the world with its combination of fast running waters and Class 5 rapids.
Very few people have rafted this river, which makes it that much more of an extreme vacation and an extreme challenge. The river flows from 12,000 ft in the Andes, West to the Pacific Ocean. The Canyon was the only link between Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, and the Pacific Ocean.
The adrenaline rush experienced during a 6-day Class IV-V white water rafting trip on the rapids of the Cotahuasi River will be an experience indeed – a non-stop, heart pounding descent, through 80 miles of continuous class 4 technical whitewater. The class 5’s are scouted before running them and some are walked around.
An added bonus is that the canyon is a place of great natural beauty. As stated above, it is the deepest canyon in the world and yet, just 24kms (15 miles) to the southeast, the Nevado Ampato, a snow-capped extinct volcano, rises to 6,288m (20,630 ft). It is also home to the endangered Andean Condor.
There is also an optional trip extension to take in the magical kingdom of Machu Picchu.
This challenging expedition encompasses real adventure with the natural wonders and fascinating ancient history of the region. If I have given you any ideas for an extreme holiday – bon voyage!
Wednesday 7th June: Day 1 Depart UK
Team OFC will depart London Gatwick on the new direct flight to Lima (flying time 12 hours).
Thursday 8th June: Day 2
Arriving in Lima in the afternoon (midnight UK time) we will stay in a local hotel ready for our adventure to start the following morning.
Included: A night’s hotel accommodation
Friday 9th June: Day 3
Breakfast followed by a short flight to Arequipa.
Today we travel to Arequipa in Southern Peru where we will be met at the ‘White City’ on our arrival. This is a beautiful place for you to begin to acclimatise to the rarefied air of the Andean high plains. You can visit Juanita the Inca ice maiden mummy, or the Monasterio of Santa Catalina, first opened to the public in 1970, which boasts a maze of intricate architecture and a photographer’s paradise. You can also take in the impressive Plaza de Armas with its breathtaking view of Volcan Misti, or sample the delights of Arequipa’s cuisine in a typical ‘Picantaria’. At a convenient time, your guide will hold a full expedition briefing. We stay overnight in a hotel, our last comfortable bed for several nights.
Orientation walk and airport transfer
Included: transport, English-speaking guide, room & breakfast following day
Saturday 10th June: Day 4
Today we drive north along the Pan-American Highway before turning off up a rough road, skirting the majestic Coropuna volcano and head towards the small village of Cotahuasi where we stay the night in a local hostal.
Included: all white-water & safety equipment, Swift Water Rescue trained english speaking guide, English-speaking guide, transport, room & breakfast next day
Sunday 11th June: Day 5
The road has advanced so far now that we can drive to our put in below Velinga. The total distance is about twenty kilometres. We’ll definitely take a short detour to the spectacular falls of Sipia where the river plunges 150m into a deep chasm – an awe-inspiring sight. We continue on to arrive at the highest safely navigable point in the late afternoon, giving us time to prepare the rafts for the following days of adventure. Some serious safety training and white-water swimming practice is taken in preparation for the challenge ahead. If there is time we can visit the small village of Velinga where they make excellent wine!
Monday 12th June: Day 6
After full comprehensive training we set off to explore the one hundred kilometres of class IV and V rapids. All forwards!
Tuesday 13th June: Day 7
Plenty of time will be allocated for scouting the major rapids and obstacles. The emphasis will always be on safety, as we will be extremely isolated at the bottom of a vertical canyon for much of the journey.
Wednesday 14th June: Day 8
Rapids such as “Highside for your life”, “Canyon del Metro” and “Canyon del Centimetro” need to be inspected carefully before being run or at times portaged. Hopefully there will be time to explore the impressive pre-Inca terraces, to trek up side canyons or to hike up to small villages that are famous for their friendliness, river shrimp and good wine. Cooking over firewood, rough camping on the banks of the river and knowing that only very few people have been lucky enough to visit this place, is just part of the adventure that is the Rio Cotahuasi.
Thursday 15th June: Day 9
Hopefully there will be time for a rest day to explore the impressive pre-Inca terraces, to trek up side canyons or to hike up to small villages that are famous for their friendliness, river shrimp and good wine.
Friday 16th June: Day 10
Cooking over firewood, rough camping on the banks of the river and knowing that only very few people have been lucky enough to visit this place, is just part of the adventure that is the Rio Cotahuasi.
Saturday 17th June: Day 11
We float the final section of fun rapids to our take-out point above the small town of Iquipi, where we will meet our support vehicle and celebrate our descent with some cold beers and a final night camping.
Sunday 18th June: Day 12
Iquipi is famous for its excellent river shrimp and even has a three metre sculpture of a shrimp as its town’s centre piece. We pack up the gear and set off for the full day’s drive back to Arequipa and civilisation. Hot showers, good restaurants and bars, and a well-earned night in a hotel await us.
Included lunch, room and breakfast the following day
Sunday 18th June: Day 13
Today you can enjoy a free morning in Arequipa before a transfer to the airport in time for your internal flight back to Lima to connect to your international flight.
OPTIONAL ADD ON: We transfer to Cusco from Arequipa where we will stay in a hotel for the night. The afternoon is free to start acclimatising to the rarefied air of this beautiful city (3,326m). We recommend taking a short walking tour of the centre of Cusco to familiarise you with the main sights, restaurants and a chance to stretch your legs and experience hiking at 3,300 metres. At a convenient time our Machu Picchu guide will arrange a full briefing for the days ahead.
Monday 19th June: Day 14
Machu Picchu ‘Lost City of the Incas’ Tour : A bus transfer takes us to the train station where we take the early morning train to Machu Picchu. The journey follows the impressive Urubamba river to the base of Machu Picchu itself.
Our private English-speaking guide escorts us for the short bus ride direct to the ruins. Once there, we enjoy an extensive walking tour of the ruins and full explanation of this fascinating site. If time permits we can explore further to the Inca bridge, Watchman’s hut or try the strenuous climb to the sun gate – Inti Punku. Alternatively you may prefer to just relax and take it all in.
After a full day to explore the site, we descend to the waiting train to enjoy one of the great train journeys of the world back along the Sacred Valley.
Included: train ticket, English-speaking guide, transport, entrance fees, bus ticket, Machu Picchu entrance, room & breakfast next day
Tuesday 20th June: Day 15
Cusco Airport Transfer : We transfer to Cusco airport in time for your onward flight to Lima. From Lima we head back to the UK.
- All camping equipment including tents, shelters, air mattresses, sleeping bags, tarps, personal tents, toilet.
- All meals and water whilst on the river. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juice will also be provided.
- All equipment, including helmets, splash jackets, throw bags, dry bags, pelican boxes, wetsuits, paddles, etc. All equipment is international standard and regularly checked
- All staff, including highly qualified & licensed Guides and professional Safety Kayakers, are fluent in English and hold up to date First Aid training.
The cost also includes;
- Gear Raft support
- Extensive medical kit
- Trip photos – make sure you bring a USB stick along with you
What’s not included:
- Flights from the UK to Lima & Lima to Arequipa (and Cusco if applicable)
- Unrelated travel, visas, insurance, travel documents etc.
- Items of a personal nature (toiletries, personal medication, clothing, cameras etc)
- Personal insurance
- Alcohol and additional snacks
- Optional tips for guides
Travel insurance. To travel with us you are required to have adequate insurance for the activity
The cost of the rafting trip is £2,550. The cost does NOT include flights. These flight will be approximately £850 return.
There is an optional 2 day extension from Cusco at the end of the trip that includes a day trip to Machu Picchu which costs £495 extra plus internal flight.
The deposit for the trip is £500 with the balance payable 90 days before travel. Clients are responsible for arranging their flights, however, we will have an appointed travel agent that will advise you of the group’s preferred flights.
Costs are based on 2 people sharing a room
If high octane adventure is your thing, then JB is your man. If testing yourself, pushing your body to new limits and expanding your mind to embrace new cultural horizons is what rocks your boat/raft, then JB is most definitely your man. And if meticulous attention to every detail, with plenty of fun and laughter thrown in along the way is what you’re looking for, then yes, you’ve guessed it, look no further than Mr Jonathan Bramley!
This is my first rafting trip – is it safe?
Our professional guides will teach you everything you need to know. Before each activity, we provide a full safety briefing and demonstration, making sure everyone on board knows exactly how to follow the guide’s instructions and how to actively participate as a team. We will also teach you how to be rescued by our safety kayakers in case you fall out of the raft. With years of experience our guides are the best in the industry and they will take very good care of you!
Of course, every adventure activity carries an element of risk which is what makes it exciting. With our intensive international training, state of the art equipment and comprehensive emergency preparedness, we have reduced the risks as much as possible and feel extremely confident in operating fun, exciting and safe adventures.
How are the rivers rated for their rapids?
Water volume and technical hazards determine a rapid’s grade.
- Class I-II are small and simple waves.
- Class III/III+ are exciting, but not too difficult or technical.
- Class IV/IV+ provide a great adrenaline rush with the chance of falling out or flipping the raft.
- Class V is extreme, challenging, potentially scary and usually requires a great deal of scouting and is the highest level we run in Peru with only our absolute best guides in charge.
Please understand that Mother Nature makes the rules in all outdoor pursuits, and often rivers, trails, roads change making rapid levels constantly fluctuate from season to season.
What kind of food can I expect when out rafting?
We are very proud of our crew’s culinary ability! We offer both Western & local dishes with both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. Treated stream drinking water is always provided.
Breakfast includes tea, coffee & hot chocolate ready early as well as cornflakes with powder milk and sometimes yogurt. Then we have full cooked breakfast with a variety of options ranging from eggs, toast, breakfast potatoes & veg, pancakes, porridge, fruit etc.
Lunch includes a combination of bread, cheese, salami, tuna, sardines, baked beans, variety of salads, fresh fruit and biscuits etc.
Once we arrive at camp we have tea, coffee & hot water prepared as quickly as possible, followed by snacks such as popcorn.
Dinner includes a combination of pasta , curries, steamed or stir fried vegetables,the option of local dishes and even the odd BBQ.
What happens with my luggage?
We will provide you with a stuff sack to pack what you wish to bring on the river with you. Once we arrive at the put-in point, we will put all stuff sacks in our 99% water proof dry bags. Any valuable items, or things you wish to have access to through the day, such as cameras, medicine, extra eye contact lenses & sunscreen etc, will be packed in smaller waterproof bags.
Your extra luggage can be left at our hotel in Arequipa.
How fit do I have to be?
A basic level of physical fitness is required on all of our trips.
If you have any other questions you would like to ask then please do not hesitate to contact us.
On this expedition we will be experiencing all extremes of Peruvian climate, from freezing Altiplano to extremely hot desert sunshine. Not all equipment you bring with you will be needed on the trekking and rafting portions and any excess gear can be sent back to Arequipa. Bring an extra bag or daypack to store this gear in.
Comfortable clothes for journeys
Smart clothes for Arequipa
Sleeping bag (-5’C) – Bivi-bag
Water bottle & purification tablets
Sunglasses with attaching string
Torch & Spare Batteries
Suntan lotion Factor 15+ / After sun
Trek & Drive:
Zip- off Shorts
Warm fleece or down jacket
Warm hat, gloves, scarf
Raincoat / Poncho
Socks / underwear
After trek trousers
Well worn-in walking boot
Wetsuits, Splash jackets, helmets and wetsuit boots are supplied.
Both on and off the river, we recommend you wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid the strong tropical sun and persistent sand flies.
Thermal top for under wetsuit
A complete set of warm clothes & shoes for nights
Personal toilet kit
Camera & spare battery
Book, Notepaper & Pen (optional)
Spare Glasses / Lenses
Plastic bags for inside rucksacks
Hold-all for storing spare clothes
Personal first aid kit to include:
Re-hydration salts & personal medication
We will also bring an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only