Boating down the Tambopata in Peru
I wanted to share some info on the Tambopata in Peru- there's not much info that's useful or accurate out there, so I hope this is helpful for anyone heading there.
We just got back- the river is at it lowest around August- we had freak cool weather, so the river was up. To cut a long story short, we encountered up to class 6 rapids- we brought duckies from Colorado- there were 4 of us, with one 2 person ducky each- we brought a lot of gear / food / safety equipment.
We were 6 nights on the river- a massive 12 hour bus ride from Puno to Putina Punko (the put in)- this rivals the 'road of death' in Bolivia- $10 each- scary, tiring but the easiest way to the put in.
Put in at Putina Punko is difficult- I'd advise sleep in the town (which is rustic) & put in in the morning.
1st day- no big rapids, but bad sandflies- not noticeable until you realise you have welts all over your legs. Mosquitoes were not bad at all all the way down the river, but sandflies are around- long pants are sufficient.
Day 2 - 6, we had challenges with the rapids- 2 of us lashed the duckies together, which made them much more stable- the other 2 hit the drink a few times before also lashing together. We portaged & lined the boats down perhaps 4 series of rapids with nasty holes- most could be handled by a large raft, esp. in dry season- a few had severe consequences. We had no useful map- I don't think one exists.
Also note- one night, without warning (we had no major rainfall in our part of the river that day), the river rose about 2 feet, up the beach about 20ft- lost 2 bags, I woke up in 4" of water, and we nearly lost our boats. Beware!
We saw no people from day 2 - 7; we reached the Tambopata research center day 7, and spent a few days recovering- 2 of us were sick, with sinus infection & stomach problems- but not too worse for wear. We flew from Puerto Maldonado to Cuzco.
So- if you need more info, contact me- it's a beautiful river; beautiful jungle- great trip; challenging conditions, but worthwhile. Outfitters do the trip 2 times a year, for around $2500 per person- it's definitely do-able self-supported, but watch those rapids!