Heart of the Marañón
7 Days Rafting
$1450 USD per person
The Marañón River is one of the most unique river journeys on the planet. Isolated riverside villages, cascading waterfalls, natural swimming holes, ancient rock art and endangered flora and fauna all within a stunning Andean canyon. Our tour through the Grand Canyon of South America will leave you wanting more.
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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|Tour Season:||Year Round|
|Trip Length:||7 Days on river.|
|Trip Price:||From $1450 per person based on dbl occupancy, all inclusive.
Group discounts available.
Minimum group size of 4 to confirm custom dates.
|Arrival City:||Cajamarca, Peru|
|Meeting Place:||Fundo San Antonio, Cajamarca|
Marañón River 7 Day Journey
Heart of the Marañón
This section of river flows through the heart of the Marañón, Grand Canyon of South America. From Balsas to Puerto Malleta it is characterized by regular class III and IV rapids that flow past the villages of Tupén and Mendán. The local people will take you in and show you why this place is so special, and why they are protecting it.
The great whitewater rapids are interspersed with interesting side hikes to ruins, waterfalls and ancient rock art. In the final days of this journey the landscape drastically changes, from the desert-like ‘dry forests’ to a lush jungle like landscape featuring dozens of scenic waterfalls and rock pools and slides to explore.
A World Class River Journey
This is Grand Canyon style rating at its best. 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 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.
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.
We are stewards of this river, and warmly invite you to join us in this journey.
Day 0 (Arrivals): Fly into Cajamarca, Peru. Enjoy group welcome dinner, overnight hotel in Cajamarca.
Day 1: Stunning drive through the Peruvian highlands to Celendin, we 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 2: Optional morning hike to cliff-top ruins at Playa el Cura, after lunch we continue downriver, encountering several class II-III rapids as we wind our way through the geological wonder that is the Marañón Canyon. You won’t forget that you are in a remote, wild canyon, especially if we encounter strong afternoon winds that are notorious in this part of the canyon. Today we aim to reach the village of Mendán, where we can find coconuts, seasonal fruits and a tour of the village.
Day 3: A short float full of fun, continuous class III rapids until we reach the village of Tupén. We stop here for a traditional home cooked lunch, In the afternoon we have the option to explore the area. This involves a hike through the fields of Tupén until we reach Huaman’s Waterfall. On the way we will take a tour of Emer’s Cacao plantation, try fresh cacao and see the first steps of where chocolate comes from. If we stay in town this evening, it is likely that a soccer game with the local kids will ensue!
Day 4: Today is a huge day of whitewater fun. We encounter a handfull of notable class III and IV rapids including ‘Tupén Grande’, ‘San Lucas’, ‘Playa el Inca’ and ‘Shingate’ and ‘Magdelena’ We will also pass by the proposed Chadin II dam site, giving thanks to the local people who have worked hard to keep the source of the Amazon running free. Camp on a stunning deserted beach in the heart of the canyon.
Day 5: Today we float the deepest and most isolated part of the canyon. Keep your eyes focused on the scenery as vegetation and rock subtly changes to lush jungle. Soon we arrive at LinLin, the largest rapid we will encounter on this section of the river. After the adrenalin of LinLin, we will bounce through several more rapids before arriving at Las Cascadas Camp. Here we can relax early and enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets and vistas of the trip.
Day 6: After breakfast we explore the geological phenomenon that is ‘Las Cascadas’. Dozens of natural pools and waterfalls form as small creeks cascade toward the Marañón. There is nothing better than soaking in the pools while you take in the view of the Marañón flowing timelessly by. After lunch we get 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 cliffs give an unmistakable prehistoric feel. Tonight we camp in the heart of the Red Canyon.
Day 7: After navigating the final rapids of our journey, we will arrive at Puerto Malleta for a celebratory lunch. We will then drive 2 hours to Jaén, Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel and have a farewell dinner, debrief and take stock of this incredible journey.
Day 8: Departures: 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.
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 0: Arrive in Cajamarca, most people take a connecting flight from Lima. Once in Cajamarca you will check into the stunning Fundo San Antonio; a stately 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.
Day 1: 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.
Day 2: 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 including ‘El Choclon’ rapid (III-IV); after a technical start, the huge wave train will always leave you smiling. We aim to arrive at the riverside village of Mendán this evening.
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. In this village we can try an assortment of local fruits, and share a beer or a game of football with the locals.
Day 3: From Mendán, it is continuous class III fun until we reach camp on ‘Playa La Mushka,’ just outside the village of Tupén. After lunch hosted in a local family restaurant, you have 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. (Note: Hiking further than the Chavez-Rivera homestead is difficult and recommended for experienced hikers only.)
In the evening 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.
Day 4: 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.
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, before camping on a remote, pristine beach in the heart of the canyon.
Day 5: 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. 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 and enjoy sunset over the widening valley.
Day 6: 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.
After 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 7: 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 then drive to Jaén, where we will stay at Gotas de Agua private conservation area enjoying the multitudes of bird sounds, and have one last night in the Dry Forests of the Marañón. We will have a farewell dinner this evening.
Departures: From Jaén, you can fly directly back to Lima, take an overnight bus to Lima or continue traveling in the north of Peru.
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 enormous ruins at Kuelap.
2018 (Custom dates upon request)
|May 9 – 15 Confirmed Departure, Book Now!|
|June 9 – 28 (Upper Marañón Canyon, Custom Journey, spaces available upon request)|
|June 30 – July 7 Confirmed Departure, Book Now! (Special 8 day itinerary, supporting Maranon film festival)|
|July 29 – August 4, Book Now!|
|August 19 – 25, Book Now!|
|October 19 – 28 (Private Trip)|
|November 4 – 10, Book Now!|
2019 (Contact us for you perfect travel dates!)
7 Day Journey, 8 nights.
|Included in Price||8 nights accomodation
Hotel & welcome dinner first night.
All inclusive on river.
Tent accommodation on river.
Final night departure dinner & accommodation.
|Occupancy||Normal booking fee is based on double occupancy.
Single Supplement for all hotel nights (2 nights): $100
Single supplement for all nights on river is $150, or guests are welcome to BYO tent.