11 Day Journey

Heart of the Marañón

Heart of the Marañón

11 days rafting from $2500 per person

The Marañón River is unique on a global scale. Endemic birds & ecosystems, isolated riverside communities and stunning Andean canyons.  It is also one of the most endangered rivers in the world.

This trip offers a one-of-a kind blend of scenic river journey, cultural experience and brilliant whitewater.

We will take you to the heart of the Marañón.

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Trip Details

Tour Season: May – November
Trip Length: 11 Day journey, 9 days on River.
Trip Price: From $2500 per person based on dbl occupancy.
Activity Level: Moderate
Arrival City: Cajamarca, Peru
Meeting Place: Fuundo San Antonio, Cajamarca

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Marañón River 11 Day Journey

Heart of the Marañón

This section of river is the heart of the Marañón. From Balsas to Puerto Malleta it is characterised by regular class III and IV rapids past the villages of Tupén and Mendán. The local people will take you in and show you exactly why they are fighting to save this place. You can taste local organic fruits, cacao and coca, eat traditional meals in the hike up to visit a local Hacienda and cacao plantation.

In the final days of this journey the landscape drastically changes, from the characteristic ‘dry forests’ of the Marañón to a lush ‘pre jungle’ featuring dozens of scenic waterfalls and rock pools to explore.

One of the most unique yet endangered river journeys in the world. 

Every person who has floated through this isolated section of the Marañón River is moved by the unique blend of breathtaking scenery and heartwarming cultural exchange. This is a diverse, changing landscape, you will not just be travelling through, your presence here will leave a lasting impact on what the future of this river will become; similarly the humble, inviting local people and stunning vistas will leave an  indelible mark on your memory.

Experience a true wild river, sit by the campfire at night on deserted sandy beaches swapping stories. Taste Peruvian and international culinary delights, sample local wine and beer. Fall asleep listening to the sounds of the Marañón flowing timelessly by, and wake to the sound of a hundred different species of bird, many of which are endemic to this valley alone. We are working with some of the most talented outdoor guides in the world, to offer you the Marañón Experience.

More than an incredible river journey.

Aside from being one of the world’s premiere expedition style river journeys, there are few places on earth where you can see so clearly how rapidly the world is changing around us. This is a rich, thought provoking cultural experience. This is an endangered journey, but with your help it can become a protected one.

Day 1: Fly into Cajamarca, Peru. Enjoy group welcome dinner, overnight hotel in Cajamarca.

Day 2: Stunning drive through the Peruvian highlands to Celendin, where will cross the Andes and descend into the picturesque Maranon Valley to Balsas where the rafts will be waiting. After a local lunch and orientation, we begin the river journey.

Day 3: Optional hike to cliff-top ruins at Playa el Cura, after lunch continue downriver, encountering several class II-IV rapids.

Day 4: Fun class III-IV rapids through the morning until we arrive at the village of Mendan. Lunch in Mendan & tour of village. Continue downstream through continuous class III section to the village of Tupen. Camp on Playa La Mushka.

Day 5: Hike to the Waterfalls of Tupen, on the way take a tour of the Cacao plantation and fermentation process. Stop at a local hacienda for lunch on the way back. Social night and camp fire on Playa la Mushka.

Day 6: A great day of class III-IV whitewater, passing what one day may be the Chadin II dam site. Arrive early to camp at Playa el Inca. Optional hike to visit tombs.

Day 7: Navigate Play el Inca & Magdalena rapids (III-IV), optional hike.

Day 8: Linlin Rapid (IV+), the largest encountered on this section of river. Camp at The Cascades.

Day 9: Morning to hike and explore The Cascades. Visit Amazon Cave in the afternoon.

Day 10: Arrive at Puerto Malleta in time for lunch & happy hour. Drive back to Jaen for final evening of celebrations.

Day 11: Group departures. Fly Jaén-Lima, take a bus, or continue exploring the north of Peru with recommended visits to Kuelap Ruins, Gocta Waterfall and Indigenous Awajún communities in the jungle.

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We run with a relaxed schedule so that you will get the most out of this journey and never miss out on highlight times. Between water, weather, a changing landscape and operating in a rapidly developing region, there are things we cannot control. That is why we have built flexibility into this itinerary so that at no point you will feel rushed or miss a key part of the journey.

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Peru for your flight connection to Cajamarca. Here you will check into the stunning Fundo San Antonio; a homely hacienda in the countryside just outside Cajamarca. If you arrive early you can spend the afternoon sampling Cajamarca’s renowned cheeses and chocolate. In the evening we meet at 6 p.m. in the hotel lobby for a group welcome dinner.

viaje previo-102Day 2: After breakfast we will board a private bus and begin our journey over the highlands. As we wind through the green, rolling hills it is hard to believe you are already 2000-3000m (6000-9000 ft.) in elevation. Passing through the town of Celendin we will see various pieces of artwork and graffiti showing the peoples’ struggle to retain their cultural identity and healthy environment, which is often at odds with the largest gold mining developments in the world, and over 20 dams proposed on the Marañón.

 

From Celendin it’s a short drive until we reach the top of the Marañón Valley. It is here you will get an idea of the real scale of this mighty river as it cleaves its way through the Andes. The paved road drops through several distinct zones: from cloud cloaked farmlands high on the mountain to lush green pastures and down into the dry forests that the Marañón is famous for.

 

Around midday we will arrive in Balsas, gateway to the Marañón. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will introduce the Marañón Experience crew who will be hosting your journey. From here, we will prepare to launch. After packing bags and fitting everyone with the right gear, we will complete a thorough safety briefing. The journey truly starts when we pass under the bridge and plunge into the Balsas rapid (III), just a taste of what is to come. A short way downstream we will complete a set of rescue drills, allowing each raft crew to become one united team, prepared for the journey ahead. As a passenger, you will be travelling in a 16’ oar assisted raft, guided by a highly trained and experienced river guide; your safety net will be made up of safety kayakers and a cataraft.

 

After arriving at our first camp we will go through camp orientation before settling down around the fire to enjoy drinks and a 3-course dinner. Allow the sounds of a crackling fire and the river flowing past gently lull you to sleep.

 

viaje julio-64Day 3: We will wake to the shining sun, greeted by the warmth of a desert canyon. Breakfast and a side of local fruits will be served before we break camp and get on the river for our first full day.

 

Shortly downstream we will stop at Playa el Cura. Here you have the option of hiking up to the ancient cliff-top ruins for some of the most picturesque vistas overlooking the Marañón River. After lunch we continue downstream through scenic class III rapids before arriving at camp.

 

Day 4: First up after breakfast is the ‘El Choclon’ rapid (III-IV); after a technical start, the huge wave train will always leave you smiling. We will then arrive at the riverside village of Mendán about mid-morning.

 

viaje previo-28It’s a short hike to town through picturesque fruit plantations – trees heavy with oranges, mangos, bananas and coconuts. Local people will give us a tour of the village, and you will see exactly why these people are fighting for their homes and a quiet, organic way of life. You will see messages painted on walls all throughout the village. “No to Chadin II” and “Marañón Sin Represas”. This village rejects dams on the Marañón. For most people it is an emotional experience seeing that such a beautiful, friendly town could be underwater within a matter of years.  We will take lunch in the village, try an assortment of local fruits and then head back to the river.
From here, it is continuous class III fun until we reach camp on ‘Playa La Mushka,’ just outside the village of Tupén. Local villagers wave a friendly welcome as we pull up to camp. Our friends from Tupén may join us in the evening around the campfire to share stories of life on the river and the struggle to protect it.

viaje julio-71Day 5: After an extravagant breakfast, there is the option to rest and relax in camp, or to hike to the Tupén waterfall. We will hike along a picturesque creek and up to the Chavez family Cacao plantation. We will see how cacao is grown, picked, fermented and dried until it is finally shipped out of the steep valley on the backs of mules. Continuing through the small ‘chakras’ (sections of farmed land) of fruit and cacao we will arrive at the waterfall where you can shower and relax in an incredible location. On our way back down the valley we will share lunch at the Chavez-Rivera family home, nestled in amongst the coconuts and cacao. (Note: Hiking onwards from the Chavez-Rivera homestead is difficult and recommended for experienced hikers only.)

 

In the afternoon you can relax at the beach camp, swim in the river or side creek, or head into town to play soccer and volleyball with the local kids. In the evening, we will have a campfire and social night on the beach, inviting the local kids and their parents to join us under the stars.

 

viaje julio-91Day 6: After waving good-bye to our friends in Tupén, we will embark on a day full of class III-IV rapids, action packed fun until we reach the proposed Chadin II dam site. We will take some time here to photograph and imagine what this canyon could become if the dam goes ahead. We will camp near ‘Playa El Inca.’ Here there will be the option to hike to the ‘Playa El Inca’ tombs if the local family is present to give permission and guidance.

Let the sounds of the ‘Playa el Inca’ rapids lull you to sleep; then, wake in the morning to the songs of an astonishing number of different birds that call the Marañón Valley home.

 

viaje julio-95Day 7: Today we arrive into the most remote stretches of this section of the Marañón. It is possible that we may not see any other people until the final day of our trip; this also means we are coming into the heart of the whitewater on this section of river. Today we navigate the imposing ‘Playa el Inca’ and ‘Magdalena’ rapids, with numerous other grade II-III rapids in between an optional hike in the afternoon and camp on a remote, pristine beach in the heart of the canyon.

 

Day 8: We float through a stunning deep canyon, admiring the scenery as vegetation and rock subtly changes. Soon we arrive at LinLin, the largest rapid we will encounter on this section of the river. Everyone has the option to scout, take photos and walk this rapid if they do not feel comfortable.

 

After the adrenalin of LinLin, we will bounce through several more rapids, with the option to hike up a side canyon before arriving at the Cascadas Camp. Here we can relax at camp early and enjoy sunset over the valley.

 

IMG_7095Day 9: After breakfast we explore the incredible ‘Cascadas,’ a geological phenomenon occurring as a creek drops off the plateau above, forming a series of waterfalls, each ending in a pool perfect for swimming and relaxing. There is nothing better than soaking in the pools while you take in the view of the Marañón flowing timelessly past.

 

IMG_6982After lunch we put back on the river and navigate through arguably one of the most scenic sections of the entire Marañón River. Red walled sandstone and lush green shrubs clinging to the walls give an unmistakable prehistoric feel; as the birds notice our quiet approach, they take flight shrieking from the trees. We soon arrive to explore the acoustic Amazon Cave before continuing down to camp. This will be our final night camping on the river, and we give thanks for the kind people and stunning locations that we have gotten to know along the way.

 

Day 10: After navigating the last rapids of our journey, we will arrive at Puerto Malleta for a final celebratory lunch with the whole team. We will the drive to Jaén, where we will stay at Gotas de Agua private conservation area enjoying the multitudes of bird sounds, and one last night in the Dry Forests of the Marañón.
Day 11: From Jaén, you can fly directly back to Lima, take an overnight bus or continue traveling in the north of Peru.

Onward Travel:

There are dozens of incredible places to visit in Northern Peru, and the best part is that you will not have to compete with the same kind of crowds that you would around Cusco.

Some suggested areas of interest are:

  • A tour of the jungle sections of the Marañón. Visit traditional Awajún villages; ride in ‘peky-peky’ fishing boats to experience the river as it grows enormously in size and character to become a true jungle giant. While incredibly beautiful, it can be overwhelming to see this area with the knowledge of the constant oil spills and planned hydroelectric developments.
  • Visit the mountainous town of Chachapoyas; visit the stunning Gocta Waterfall and fascinating ruins at Kuelap.

 

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Departure Dates

   2017 (Custom dates available upon request)

June 25 – July 25 (Private Trip – Avocado Collective)

   2018 (Custom dates upon request)

June 9 – 29 (Private)
 June 29 – July 9 (Private – Her Odyssey)

Trip Length

11 Day Journey

Included in Price Hotel & welcome dinner first night.
All inclusive on river.
Tent accommodation on river.
Final night departure dinner & accomodation.
 Occupancy Normal booking fee is based on double occupancy.
Single Supplement for all hotel nights (2 nights): $150
Where possible, we will give single guests their own tent while on-river. When we approach booking capacity, this may not be possible. Single supplement for all nights on river is $150.

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