River Explorers
Trinche rapid Apurimac river

Apurimac River - White water rafting tours - Black & Granite canyon trips

Looking for an exciting adventure with a difference? Our Apurimac River Rafting Tour ticks all the right boxes. This mind-blowing white water adventure will have you enjoying the splendour of the Peruvian countryside as you paddle through the white river rapids of the Granite or Black Canyon. Come with us for the ride of your life.

Our awesome Apurimac river rafting tours

The river runs through towering canyons where waterfalls come crashing down. The Apurimac River has cut its way deep into a canyon on its way to the Atlantic Ocean 6,400 km away. The world-class white river rafting is spectacular with amazing rapids carrying names like the Gates of Purgatory and Last Laugh. The white-water rafting will suit rafters with Level II to Level V rafting capabilities.

You’ll raft through breath-taking landscapes from rugged cliffs, to lush, green valleys and snow-capped mountains. This is an experience that you will never forget. We offer one-, three-, four- and six-day rafting tours. If you’re up for the adventure, you can join us

The commercial section for rafting the Apurimac covers from Nayhua (an small village near the Apurimac river bed), located at 7900 feet – 2400 meters above sea level and ends 56 miles – 90 km down in Qunyaq at 6100 feet – 1800 meter above sea level. The rafting section offers more than 300 hundreds in between volume of water and  technical rapids in an astonishing setting. Different agents and the river carved the canyon for million of years to create one of the most fantastic places on the planet.

Raft the Full Apurimac River: Black and Granite Canyon 6-day trip

If you want to do a 6-day tour of the Apurimac River, you must do it with us. Ours is the only agency to offer a full 6-day tour. We start our adventure in Rocoto at the entrance to the Black Canyon, high up in the mountains. We start at 8,000 feet or 2,400 metres above sea level. In six days, we’ll travel 57 miles or 90 km downstream to Qunyaq 6,000 feet or 1,800 metres above sea level.

Along the way we’ll encounter hundreds of rapids and fast-flowing water in an exhilarating ride through landscapes like you have never seen before. The river has cut a path to create some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. You’ll paddle past massive cliff faces that tower 2,000 metres into the azure sky. You’ll encounter lush, green valleys, gushing waterfalls and spectacular ruins.

The wildlife in this part of the world is also something special. Hundreds of bird species including the princely condor await you. Here you’ll find giant river otters lounging on the river banks. Ducks, foxes, deer and puma all inhabit the river banks.

This tour is best suited to intermediate and advanced boaters as it requires a fair amount of paddling.

Running a rapid

Experience, both the Black and the Granite Canyon package with everything included in 6 days! Only for real rafters

The upper Apurimac River Black Canyon tours

Located in the heart of Peru, just south-west from Cusco, the Black Canyon offers both day and multi-day trips that will teach beginners all they need know before going further downstream with more advanced sections perfect for intermediate and advances boaters! The scenery will leave you speechless with stunning views along side waterfalls making it perfect no matter how long you wants to spend exploring or enjoying!

The Black Canyon is open for white river rafting in Cusco from Nayhua to Walpachaca. Only expert Kayakers can do the section from Tinqoq to Nayhua.

Black Canyon 1 day

The one-day tour through the Black Canyon section of the Apurimac is the shortest trip you’ll take, but you will be paddling for at list four hours along level II to IV rapids. This section offers an unforgettable experience for your  family, group, or friends.

Black Canyon 2 days

The two-day Black Canyon tour is a great trip for canoers of various capabilities. Families with some rafting experience will also enjoy the two-day tour. The tour will take you down 40 km or 24 miles of river, through wonderful rapids and great scenery.

Black Canyon 3 days

Three days of rafting through the Black Canyon is a great trip for boaters of every skill level. When you take the 3-day tour, you’ll experience all aspects of the river from calm flat waters to rushing rapids. All the while you’re immersed in the splendor of nature from the tranquil river waters to the looming rock face and nice sandy campsites. 

When to go?

From mid-April to the beginning of June, this is quite possibly the best white river rafting experience in the whole of South America. The volume of water creates astonishing rapids that reach level IV+. Even in the quieter months when there is less water, the river still produces some of the best one-day rafting experiences in the country at this time of the year. You will still get decent rapids reaching levels II to IV and no one can take away from the astonishing river canyon views. You’ll also get to see some amazing wild life on the banks of the river.  

The best time for advanced rafters is from mid-April to May.
The best time for all rafters is from June to October

We’re proud of the fact that we were the first adventurers to open this part of the river to commercial rafting. Now people from across the globe enjoy the exquisite beauty of the area as they raft down the waters. A River Explorers and Apumayo team consisting of a crew of 5 people, with three experience boaters first descend in 12 feet boat the commercial and non-commercial sections of the Black Canyon.  After several attempts and expeditions’, the Black canyon was open for white river rafting trips in Cusco from Nayhua to Walpachaca. The first section between Tinqoq breach and Nayhua is restricted to expert kayakers.

Experience the beauty of the Apurimac River mountains and the thrill of moderate Level II-III rapids followed by plenty of splashy Class IV rapids and non-stop whitewater.
 
Combine two fun-packed days camping deep in the Apurimac River canyon enjoying moderate tempo and world class, fun-filled eruptions of whitewater rapids III & IV
 
Enjoy the peacefulness of the river mixed with bouncy, easy rapids, tranquil natural swimming pools and thrilling of exploding whitewater camping on secluded sandy beaches.
 

The lower Apurimac River Granite Canyon tours

Besides the incredible natural formations on this section, the whitewater is the real deal, more than 200 hundred of challenging in between technical, boulders, big waves and holes of roaring rapids. The lower Granite Canyon is available for people from 13 years to above and we required a rafting experience before embarking in this adventure. If you are a beginner you can start with the upper section and then continue down to the lower section.

The Grand Canyon is quite possibly the most challenging section of the Apurimac River. We consider this the best Cusco area for rafting rapids. These rapids are perfect for intermediate and advanced rafters. In this section of the river, you’ll encounter some of the toughest rapids in the whole commercial section. The Grand Canyon section has four portages and various levels all the way up to level V rapids.

The Granite Canyon 3 days

The 3-day Granite Canyon Trip is a total adrenaline ride. We start the tour at the Wallpachaca Bridge. We’ll travel 45 km down the river where we’ll encounter rapids from Level II to Level V. We’ll finish off at Puente Qunyaq. The portion of the river offers boaters fantastic views from tranquil pools to crashing waterfalls and loads of wildlife. Feast your eyes as you enjoy your trip through the wild waters of the Apurimac River.

This tour is best suited to intermediate and advanced boaters as it requires a fair amount of paddling.

The Granite Canyon 4 days

If You really want to make the most of your Granite Canyon tour, book a 4-day tour and add an extra 10 miles or 16 km of fast-flowing water to your trip. The 4-day tour covers the full Granite Canyon and part of the Black Canyon for 67 km/42 miles of fun in the sun.

This tour is best suited to intermediate and advanced boaters as it requires a fair amount of paddling.

The best time to go!

The Apurimac River is one of the most difficult rivers to paddle on earth. The rapids contains huge waves and holes that will make your journey challenging, but it’s worth every minute!

In the beginning of the season (May) big flowing water runs through the Canyon making the Apurimac one of the most difficult rivers to paddle on earth. The rapids contains huge waves and holes that will make your journey challenging, but it’s worth every minute!  After May the water levels drop off  but still the rapids are challenging enough even for expert professional kayakers.

Best time only for advanced May.
Best time for intermediate tom more from May to November.

A whitewater paradise! The Grand Canyon rumbles through an extended succession of great rapids and calms pools, offering the finest in class IV & V whitewater rapids.
 
If 3 days is not enough, get one day extra to experience a part of the Black Canyon section and the entire Granite Canyon running rapids up to level V! 
 
Camping on the Apurimac

How is camping with us?

If you’ve never camped before, there’s no better way to start than with River Explorers. We make it easy to camp. All you have to do is take care of your personal possessions and we’ll take care of the rest. While we set up camp, you get to explore the beautiful scenery in the Apurimac canyon. You will share a comfortable three-person tent with one other person. You can also sleep under the wide southern skies, gazing up at the stars. Make yourself comfortable on the sandy beaches of the Apurimac River and enjoy a night in the wilds.

We look after all your comforts setting up camping tables, chairs and stoves. Water resistant dry bags keep your personal goods dry and free from sand.

Dry-bags (Water resistant dry duffels) protect your personal items from water and sand. Camp equipment such as tables, stoves, and chairs makes camping easy and more comfortable.

Toilet facilities

As your hosts, we provide a portable toilet and hand wash system for your comfort. We’ll set the facilities up in a discreet part of the camp to ensure privacy. The facilities will stay in place for the full duration of our camp.

A day on the water

Jumping to the river Apurimac

Before any Apurimac rafting tours begins, your guides will give you a trip orientation about safety including details of river navigation, camping, and other safety precautions when rafting on the river.

A typical day on the Apurimac River includes rafting for 5 to 6 hours stopping for scouting, bathrooms breaks, lunch, and other opportunities such as jumping from cliffs, swimming, etc.

Before any Apurimac rafting tours begins, your guides will give you a trip orientation about safety including details of river navigation, camping, and other safety precautions when rafting on the river.

A typical day on the Apurimac River includes rafting for 5 to 6 hours stopping for scouting, bathrooms breaks, lunch, and other opportunities such as jumping from cliffs, swimming, etc.

How is the weather on the Apurimac River?

Sunny warmer day Apurimac

Weather

The climate on and around the Apurimac River is mild and dry between May and August. From September to November, you’ll experience warmer, humid conditions. Mello Andes breezes reduce discomfort in the warmest months and in the coldest months the warm wind from the Amazon jungle brings relief from the cold. During the dry months, you can expect sunshine each day. The conditions are ideal for Apurimac River rafting. 

There are two distinguishable seasons in the canyon, the dry season and the rainy season.

The dry season starts in April and runs through November. During this time the weather is mild and dry.

It is coldest between May and August when temperatures average at 78.8° F or 26° C. You can expect everyday sunshine. At night the temperatures will drop to 60.8° F or 16° C.

Between May and August, temperatures are somewhat warmer and still dry. Expect daytime temperatures of 86°F or 30 °C and night time temperatures of 68° F or 20° C.

It is warmest between September to mid-November with daytime temperatures of 95°F or 35° C and night time temperatures of 77° F or 25° C.

The wet season starts in December and continues until April. Huge amounts of rain fall during January and February, closing the Apurimac to boaters. However, the rain brings life back into many parts of the Urubamba River. This is a great time to take a one-, two- or three-day white river rafting adventure on the Urubamba River.

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How are the meals in our Apurimac rafting tours?

Cooking o the River

Your Apurimac white water rafting tours include all meals and snacks from lunch on day one to lunch on the last day of your tour. The meals served on the river and in the camps are prepared by your guides who are also great cooks who will prepare delicious, healthy meals using fresh ingredients.

Let us know if you have any dietary special needs. We cater for vegans, kosher meals and peanut or gluten free meals as required.

Join us in an awesome adventure accompanied by spectacular scenery, best rafting guides and premium delicious food.

Breakfasts

We always start with an early morning coffee and variety of teas before we jump into the main course.

Our first breakfasts include freshly fruit salad with yogurt, muesli and honey, porridge, fresh coffee along with variety teas, milk, marmalade, butter and bread.

In the second day, after awaking from sleep with delicious coffee aroma breakfast is served with crunchy bacon, pancakes with manjar, honey, porridge with chocolate, bread, milk and scramble eggs.

Lunches

Our lunches are prepared fresh along the river banks. While your river guides prepare the main lunches on the river, you will be served with some fresh fruit and vegetables. Our main course contains sliced meats including roast beef, turkey, ham and cook chicken breast. Our main courses are always accompanied with fresh veggies such as tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, avocado etc, bread, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.

Some other days, enjoy our well mix pasta salad with tomatoes, olives, cheese, chicken, cilantro, olive oil, black pepper, avocados, potatoes accompanied with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and the typical Peruvian chili.

Beverages are always available including powdered juice, water and sodas.

At the end of every rafting tour a meal will waiting for us, this consist in grilled chicken and potatoes, grilled sweet potatoes and bananas, this is accompanied with exquisite sauces made with fresh cilantro, tomatoes, cucumber blended with onions, salt and rococo (Peruvian chili), ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Cold beers and sodas are also part of the good by feast party at the end.

Dinners

After an exciting day on the river is over, our guides will make sure to delight you with yummy, delicious dinners.

The evening meals are mix of Peruvian dishes with fresh meat including chicken and beef, potatoes mixed with fresh vegetables. Also we serve Italian style including pasta with tomato sauce, bacon and basil and a white sauce with chicken, mushrooms, yellow pepper and Italian pumpkin. All our evening meals include an entree, fresh salads and our typical spicy salad (tomatoes, onions, garlic, mixed with Peruvian fresh chili, coriander, parsley, lemon, salt and vegetable oil) and of course beverages, including  a moderate amount of wine, beer and Pisco.

Snacks

Paddling through rapids demands physical activity for what we need to be well fed with the right amounts of calories, energizers, carbohydrates and protein. We provide well nutrient snacks in between breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Our snacks on the river are blend of fresh peanuts toast, Peruvian granola bar of Quinoa or Kiwicha, raisins, banana and beverages. On the camps we offer pop corn, cookies with hot chocolate milk coffee and mix of mates.

A typical day on the Apurimac River includes rafting for 5 to 6 hours stopping for scouting, bathrooms breaks, lunch, and other opportunities such as jumping from cliffs, swimming, etc.

Giant otter on the Apurimac river

Nature

The source of the Apurimac River is way up in the mountains near Arequipa. The river flows through the low lands of the Mismi volcano. The river runs through a mix of eco systems before its waters join the Ucavaly River that flows into the might Amazon. Along the way the river carved the magnificent canyon with its steep rock faces thar drop almost 3,000 meters/ 9843 feet into the valley below.

The river crosses valleys and villages each with its own environment, containing wildlife that differs from place to place. You may spot foxes, otters, deer and pumas. The birdlife is amazing and you’ll likely encounter condors, falcons, eagles, parrots and eagles.

Apurimac rafting FAQs

All the information that you need to know for your rafting vacation of a lifetime!

Good physical and health conditions are the requirements for rafting the Apurimac River. In addition, being outdoors for a few days in a hostile environment can fast impact one’s health and energy. Your fitness and health grade will collaborate to your personal security and also benefit to expand your experience.

Both lower and upper Canyon tour sections have exciting rapids, waterfalls, superb camping sites, history, nice wildlife, and hikes, gigantic stone walls, valleys and astonishing views. However, there are a few differences.

The Black Canyon, offers an easy introduction to whitewater river rafting. Recommended for beginners to intermediate rafters, but it can also satisfied experience rafters, good for families with kids from 8 years old, friends, couples and groups. The walls of the canyon range between 1 to 2 thousand meters deep and contains waterfalls, hikes and rapids from level II to level IV. For family with kids, the level IV rapids are easily avoided, and in some rapids walking is the best option.

The Grand Canyon, is the hardest, this section is meant for people with previous rafting experience. If you are a beginner and you really don’t want to miss the whole Apurimac rafting experience, then the perfect combination is first rafting the Black canyon as an introduction and continue on with the Grand Canyon, check out our 6 day Apurimac rafting.

Soon to come is a two day rafting tour in the upper Apurimac canyon. The ministry of transport in Cusco are constantly building new roads making these  an easy access to sections that wasn’t possible before. The 2 days into the Apurimac will start right before the biggest rapids on of the Black Canyon, and probably this will be the best 2 days rafting tour in Peru and maybe South America during this time of the year.

From May to December, during the 1st two months after opening the season, the Grand Canyon offers one of the best whitewater experiences with a volume of water and hundreds of great rapids. The river lowers down between July and September, but still there is plenty of water to run and is always fun. October and November are the warmest temperatures of the year; with many rapids, the Apurimac River will cool you down in the warmest months of the year with temperatures that can easily arrive at 40 degrees.

The Black Canyon, offers an easy introduction to whitewater river rafting. Recommended for beginners to intermediate rafters, but it can also satisfied experience rafters, good for families with kids from 8 years old, friends, couples and groups. The walls of the canyon range between 1 to 2 thousand meters deep and contains waterfalls, hikes and rapids from level II to level IV. For family with kids, the level IV rapids are easily avoided, and in some rapids walking is the best option.

The Grand Canyon, is the hardest, this section is meant for people with previous rafting experience. If you are a beginner and you really don’t want to miss the whole Apurimac rafting experience, then the perfect combination is first rafting the Black canyon as an introduction and continue on with the Grand Canyon, check out our 6 day Apurimac rafting.

Soon to come is a two day rafting tour in the upper Apurimac canyon. The ministry of transport in Cusco are constantly building new roads making these  an easy access to sections that wasn’t possible before. The 2 days into the Apurimac will start right before the biggest rapids on of the Black Canyon, and probably this will be the best 2 days rafting tour in Peru and maybe South America during this time of the year.

For the upper section, the Black Canyon are available for couples, families, friends solo travelers! All levels of experience are allowed. Normally our clients range in age from 11 to 70 years old. However, we can accommodate a wide range of needs, including those who are physically challenged or have medical conditions. However, the rigors of outdoor life are not for everyone

For the Grand Canyon, the lower section, everyone over 11 years old can join our groups and we required previous rafting experience. The Apurimac River is one of those Rivers where you need to pay attention to everything, for example number of people per group, number of people per boat, experience of the guides, excellent rafting gear and navigation system, all these are important components for a successful rafting expedition. For that reason, for better personalized service and most important safety, we can only accommodate 15 people per departure.

For more information about levels and who can join our Apurimac rafting adventures, let us know. We are happy to provide more information, please contact us or write us directly to contact@riverexplorers.com

Meals: Breakfast, lunches and dinners. Breakfast on the first day is not included in any of the tours. Drinking water, sodas, and some alcoholic beverages for after dinner is also included.

Camping gear: We provide spacious camping tents for 2 people. If you wish to have your own tent inform our headquarters before any trip departures, dinner tent, ground tarp, waterproof dry bags.

Rafting gear: Live vest type V, full wetsuits, shorts, helmets, paddles, safe-bailing boats, luggage boat, and coolers.

Safety: Swift -Water rescue certified river guides, English speaking, satellite monitored device, safety kayaks.

Your safety is our main concern and with over 25 years of experience, we have learned to manage risk exceptionally well. You do not have to sign a waiver, but we do require you to sign an Acknowledgment of Risk which describes the hazards and challenges, as we want you to make an informed vacation decision.

Being in outdoors environment, flying insects and mosquito are present during daylight. At night, virtually there are no any. No snakes in the canyon. Scorpions and other insects are seldom seen and they aren’t poisonous even the ones with small pinches.

Yes, you do need travel and cancellation insurance.

Did you know that the source of the Amazon river is the Apurimac?

Apurimac river map

The source of the Apurimac River was  identified at the volcano peak of Mismi  and considered the ultimate source of the Amazon River according to the  National Geographic expedition led by Loren McIntyre in 1971. In 2000, a follow-up expedition affirmed Lake Ticlla Cocha at the base of Mismi mountain as the source and the Apurímac River as the longest upstream extension of the Amazon River. Until now the Apurimac River is considered as the continuously flowing source of the Amazon River.