Grand Canyon of the Marañón

19 Day Journey

Grand Canyon of the Marañón

19 days from $4100 per person

Our 19 Journey combines the best of our 9 and 11 day Journeys. From the moment you take off and fly into the river this journey is nothing short of jaw dropping.

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.

Experience the Grand Canyon of the Marañón.

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Trip Details

Tour Season: May – November
Trip Length: 19 Days
Trip Price: From $4100 per person based on dbl occupancy.
Activity Level: Moderate
Arrival City: Trujillo, Peru
Meeting Place: Airport Pickup or Hostal Naylamp

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Marañón River 19 Day Journey

Grand Canyon of the Marañón

This tour combines the sections covered by our 9 and 11 day tours.  From Chagual to Puerto Malleta starting in the tranquil canyon you will travel through to the heart of the Marañón. The first half of the journey is characterized by long, slow moving pools through deep canyons interspersed by gentle rapids. The second half of the journey features 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: Arrive to Trujillo, Peru. Meet your host for the expedition, and spend the evening in the beachside town of Huanchako. Enjoy group welcome dinner and stay in comfortable hotel for the night.

Day 2: An incredible scenic flight from Trujillo over the Andes and into the Marañon valley at Chagual. The rafts will be waiting for us when we arrive at the river. After lunch and briefings the river journey will begin.

Day 3: After rolling over the large waves of the class III Gansul Rapid, we will continue through the scenic Canyon Asconta to reach camp in the early afternoon. At camp there will be the option to hike into a nearby canyon.

Day 4: In the morning visit the picturesque riverside village of Calemar; made famous by the writings of Cirio Alegria in ‘La Serpiente de Oro’. After lunch we will continue down the river to camp.

Day 5: Continue downriver and visit the Muro Poso Waterfall before making an early camp to avoid strong afternoon winds.

Day 6: Hike into the stunning Llanten box canyon. After lunch we tackle Llanten Rapid (class III+) and make camp before Samosierra.

Day 7: Samosierra Rapids in the morning. Make an early camp in the afternoon leaving time for a tour of the homestead and hike up the scenic box canyon.

Day 8: Today we arrive at the town of Balsas. The rafts will layover for a full day while we restock food and welcome incoming passengers for the second leg of the journey. Guests on the 19 day tour have the option of going to visit Celendin (2 nights, 1 full day) or staying in the valley and resting at a local hotel.

Day 9: Layover Day in Balsas or most people choose to visit to Celendin where they can sample local Cheese and Chocolate.

Day 10: After regrouping and restocking food we depart Balsas after lunch. Introductions for incoming group members and group briefing.

Day 11: Optional hike to cliff-top ruins at Playa el Cura, after lunch continue downriver, encountering several class II-IV rapids.

Day 12: Fun class III-IV rapids through the morning until we arrive at the village of Mendan. We will have lunch in Mendan and take a tour of the village. Continue downstream through continuous class III section to the village of Tupen where we camp on La Mushka Beach.

Day 13: 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. Camp fire and social night on La Mushka Beach.

Day 14: 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.

Day 15: Navigate Play el Inca & Magdalena rapids (III-IV), optional hike.

Day 16: Linlin Rapid (IV+), the largest encountered on this section of river. Camp at The Cascades.

Day 17: Morning to hike and explore The Cascades and cliffside rock-pools overlooking the valley. Visit Amazon Cave in the afternoon.

Day 18: Arrive at Puerto Malleta in time for lunch & happy hour. Drive back to Bagua to hotel for final drinks and dinner celebrations.

Day 19: Group departures. Drive to Chiclayo airport to fly back to Lima, or continue exploring with recommended visits to Chachapoyas and/or a drive to visit jungle communities of the Maranon.

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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 out on a key part of the journey.

sunset-1123570_1920Day 1:  Fly into Trujillo, Peru. Your guide will be at the airport and you will take a 20-minute taxi ride to the beachside town of Huanchako where you will have the opportunity to unwind, stroll along the local beaches, surf, or visit the enormous Chan Chan Ruins – the largest pre-Columbian city in South America. At 6 pm in the evening the group will meet for a Welcome Dinner and drinks at a beachside restaurant.

Day 2:  After breakfast we depart for Trujillo airport and take one of the most incredible scenic flights in the world. Taking off from Trujillo, you will leave the coast and get a real feeling of the scale of the Peruvian Andes. You will climb up and over dozens of Andean peaks, many of these greater than 5000m (16, 000 feet). Nestled among these mountain giants, you will spy remote villages, lagoons and lush green pastures that the people of Cajamarca depend on. Soon you will begin to descend into the dry canyons of the Marañón, passing through several distinct climatic zones as you get your first glimpse of the mighty Marañón River. This is a truly epic way to start your journey down the River. Before you know it, you will be touching down on the Chagual Airstrip; our crew will be waiting here to welcome you onto an  unforgettable Marañón Experience.

Over lunch we will introduce the entire crew, go over the itinerary and then complete a thorough safety briefing. After launching we will complete safety drills as we float through the first tranquil pools. 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.

Tonight will be your first night camping on the remote beaches of the Marañón. You can really begin to fall into the rhythm of this powerful river. After we pull up to camp you can enjoy beer, wine or another beverage while snacking on cheeses, crackers and other nibbles after a good day of rafting. A scrumptious 3-course dinner will follow then you can sit back and relax by the campfire and listen to laughter and stories of the river.

viaje julio-25Day 3: Waking up in the morning, you will notice the incredible diversity in bird calls, many of which only exist in this remote Marañón Valley. After a cooked breakfast we will get on the river for our first full day of rafting.

The rolling waves of the Gansul Rapid (Class III) will wake you up, and we will continue over dozens of class II rapids until passing through the Asconta Canyon. Reaching camp early in the afternoon, you will have the option to relax riverside or hike in to explore a nearby side canyon.

viaje julio-17Day 4: Shortly after leaving camp, we will arrive at the picturesque village of Calemar, overlooking the Marañón River. Calemar was made famous by the writings of Cirio Alegria in the book entitled ‘La Serpiente de Oro’ (The Serpent of Gold). We will walk up into Calemar to visit the house that Cirio once lived in. After lunch we will continue down the river to camp.

Day 5:  On enjoyable class II rapids we will float past the Rio Crisnejas confluence and the beautiful town of Tingo la Paya until we stop at the bottom of the Muro Poso Waterfall, which falls around 60m before splashing into the Marañon. From here we continue between the stunning rock formations and high canyon walls to make an early camp. This section is notorious for strong winds in the afternoon that is why we plan on getting to a sheltered camp before they pick up..

viaje julio-55Day 6: This morning we will eddy out above the Llanten rapid (III-IV), and hike up into the stunning Llanten box canyon. It is possible to climb up several small waterfalls and reach the inner canyon. In this cavern the sunlight filters between high rock walls to highlight the incredible texture of the rock while water cascades down through the canyon.

After lunch we tackle the huge waves in the Llanten rapid (Class III+) and continue downstream until we reach the largest rapid on this section, Samosierra. We will make camp for the night above this roaring rapid.

IMG_0161Day 7: In the morning, we navigate the Samosierra rapids, 5 km of class II-IV fun. In the afternoon we will make an early camp beside a riverside homestead. The owners often give us a tour of their farm, including an ancient water-powered mill. From the mill we continue up the valley into a clear water creek which leads to a stunning box canyon, perfect for swimming in the afternoon sun. 

Day 8: Today we arrive at the town of Balsas. Pulling into town there will be cold beers and frozen coconuts full of cool refreshing coconut milk waiting for us. We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before we depart for Celendin.

As a participant on the 19 day journey you have the option to lay-over two nights at a hotel in the riverside town of Balsas; however, most people choose to journey up to Celendin to experience Andean culture, local chocolate and cheeses, while the crew stocks up our food and supplies for the rest of our journey. We describe the journey to Celendin below.

The drive up to Celendin is one of the most scenic drives you can imagine. On a paved road we wind our way up and over the Andes. The landscapes will change drastically in each different temperate zone. From semi-tropical areas with bananas and coconuts growing beside the river, we will cruise up through dry forests of the Marañón before reaching the cool pastoral lands in the farming region. Just when you think we cannot go up any higher, we will cross over the Andes and make our way to Celendin. There will be time to explore some of the sights of Celendin before we check into a comfortable hotel.

viaje previo-102Day 9: You have the chance to complete a tour of Celendin and its surroundings. We will sample local chocolate, cheese and visit stunning lagoons of the area. In the afternoon you can explore the town of Celendin, buy souvenirs and explore the vibrant markets.

Day 10: After a lazy morning, we will meet up participants who are coming to complete the next eleven days on the river. After introductions in Celendin, we will visit artwork and graffiti that show the people’s struggle to retain their cultural identity and healthy environment, which is often at odds with the largest gold mining developments in the world and 20 proposed dams on the Marañón. We continue back down the road into the Marañón valley.

Around midday we will arrive back in Balsas, gateway to the Marañón. As you enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, the crew will stow our food and supplies for the next 10 days on river. We pass under the bridge and plunge into the Balsas rapid (III).



Day 11: 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.

viaje julio-64Shortly 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 12: 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.

It’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 previo-28
Day 13: 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 movie night on the beach, inviting the local kids and their parents to join us under the stars.

viaje julio-91Day 14: 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 15: 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 16: We float through a stunning tranquil 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 17: 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 18: After navigating the last rapids of our journey, we will arrive at Puerto Malleta for a final celebratory lunch with the whole team. You will then drive to a hotel in Bagua where you will stay for the evening, taking stock of what has been an incredible journey.

Day 19: From Bagua, we will help you arrange your next moves. If heading home, we will accompany you to Chiclayo and from there you can take a bus or flight back to Lima. If you prefer to keep exploring Peru, we can assist you to organize this.

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.
  • Stay a night at ‘Gotas de Agua ACP’ (Drops of Water Private Conservation Area). Just outside of Jaén is a tranquil private conservation area showcasing Marañón flora and fauna with a focus on rare bird species. You can stay at the beautiful, handcrafted rooms in this incredibly unique ecosystem.



Departure Dates

2016 Season


2017 Season

May 27 – June 14 (Book Now)
August 1 – 19 (Book Now)

Trip Length

19 Day Journey

Included in Price Hotel & welcome dinner first night.
Flight from Trujillo to starting point at Chagual.
All inclusive on river.
Tent accommodation on river.
Transport and accommodation for Celendin side trip (2 nights in hotel).
Final night departure dinner & hotel.
Occupancy Normal booking fee is based on double occupancy.
Single Supplement for all hotel nights (4 nights): $300
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 $300.

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