Attention all paddlers: Rio Maranon expedition
If you are a solid class IV kayaker and/or rafter and interested in a low-cost expedition to descend one of the best Grand Canyon-style rivers in the world, please read further. I am planning several boating trips in Peru and looking for others interested in paddling one of them - Rio Maraņon, the biggest longest river in the country and formerly considered the headwaters of the Amazon.
: The trip will occur appx. June 28-July 24 (about 24 days on the water) and cover either 788km (489miles) or 582km (361 miles).
Rio Maraņon flows north through the central Andes over about 1/3 of the length of the country of Peru. See the link here to look at satellite views of the river starting at Puchka:
The average gradient of the river is 2.5 m/km (14 ft/mile). Gradient is highest in the initial section (4.3 m/km or 24 ft/mile). Some information is available on the river from the previous expeditions, and indicates the river is maximum class III-IV most of the way. If we do the initial 206 km section from Puchka to Chagual, there is some V and one P. However, the descriptions are incomplete and somewhat vague so there can be surprises. Part of the purpose of this trip is to accurately document the river features and raftability.
Puchka is at 2130m elevation. Chagual is 1230m. Balsas is at 850m. Rentema is 350m. Nieva is 200m. These are tropical latitudes in the dry season. Days will be hot (30-35oC/85-95oF). Nights will be cool in the initial sections (lows of 10-20oC/50-68oF). Nights will be quite warm from Balsas down (20-25oC/68-77oF).
The Maraņon is one of the most spectacular rivers in the world. It passes through canyon nearly the entire length that generally is about 2000m (6600ft) deep - deeper and bigger than the Grand Canyon. There are many vertical walls and some gorges. The initial ~500 km of the trip are in dry desert-type terrain. The last section enters the Amazon jungle area with lush vegetation. Campsites look plentiful and amazing nearly all the way down.
The trip will occur during low water on the Maraņon. Average flows this time of year are:
Puchka (km 0; 2130m): 100 cms (3500 cfs)
Chagual (km 206; 1230m): 150 cms (5000 cfs)
Balsas (km 354; 850m): 200 cms (7000 cfs)
Bellavista (km 579; 350m): 250 cms (8500 cfs)
Nieva (km 788; 200m): 450 cms (17000 cfs)
The river has had only 2 near-complete descents (John Wasson et al., 1977 and Tim Biggs et al., 2004) and 2 other descents of parts of this section (Chmielinski et al., 1980 and Kurt Casey et al., 2000).
There are several access points, including at Puchka (km0), Chagual (km 206), Balsas (km354), Rentema/Bellavista (km579), Chiriaco(km650), and our intended take-out (km754). You will arrive at your put-in by bus from Lima. It is possible to join the trip at various points.
Peru is a travel-friendly country that readily offers tourist permits for up to 90 days. Flights would be into Lima.
Currently there are only 3 of us committed to the trip (all from California):
Rocky Contos (trip leader; class V paddler; raft/kayak/IK)
Barbara Conboy (Rocky's wife; class III-IV paddler; raft/kayak/IK)
Boris Trgvocich (friend; class IV-V IK/raft)
: We currently plan to have at least the following:
one large 15' oar cataraft or raft
kayak: Prijon Rockit (roomy large creekboat)
kayak: Pyrahna H3 (large size creekboat: 255)
IK (Aire - this is Boris's)
Presently the two kayaks will be free most or all of the time, so kayakers are encouraged to submit a request to join. Switching off between boats is expected, and if you've ever done a Grand-type trip, you should know that it is often comfortable for kayakers to hang out on a raft some of the time on flatter sections - or row some. I plan to row the raft much or most of the time with Barb onboard, but could kayak for up to half the time if an appropriate oarsman joins. If you are a capable rafter and kayaker who can switch between the two some of the time, you're more desirable to have on the trip.
Costs are shared. You will cover your own transportation to Lima and the river. Buses should cost about $40-80 each way depending on quality. You will also cover your portion of food (plan on $10/day). At least dinners will be prepared communally. You are also expected to contribute toward use and transport of the raft/kayaks/group gear (about $400-600). You may bring your own boat down, but the logistics are difficult and expensive, and you will still be expected to contribute something for the support boat and gear.
You must be a jovial person who doesn't complain much and is likely to get along with others on a small Grand Canyon-style trip for a few weeks. You must expect surprises on the water, with villagers, etc. You must also have adequate experience and be at least a solid class IV paddler. You should be in top physical condition. You should plan to help facilitate the trip in any way possible, including transport of some gear down to Peru and to the river if necessary. You don't need to be bilingual but it is helpful. If you are a solid flexible class V paddler and have a significant other who can paddle only class III, you both would be welcome. Your SO would only kayak the easier sections of the river and be on the raft the rest of the time.
I am planning to store the kayaks and raft in Peru after this trip. I will consider renting them to you for other trips if you want to stay down there longer.
I (Rocky Contos) have explored nearly all rivers in Mexico with first descents on about half the rivers in the country. I prepared a guidebook to one part of Mexico and am preparing two others covering the rest of the country. I have organized numerous expeditions through Grand Canyon, Salmon River, various other rivers in the West, and several in Mexico (Mulatos-Aros and Usumacinta). For more information see my website:
SierraRios: Kayak, Raft, and Protect Rivers in Mexico
Send me an email (rocky@SierraRios.org) indicating your interest and a little more about you and your boating experience and qualifications. Please review the website SierraRios: Kayak, Raft, and Protect Rivers in Mexico