Top 3 places to go whitewater rafting In Peru

Terra Explorer
November 26, 2021

If you’re a die-hard fanatic of whitewater rafting, you’ve probably already heard of Southern Chile and the amazement and excitement that ensues at the Futaleufú River. But now we want you to be glued to whitewater rafting in Peru

Why? Well, because besides being home to Machu Picchu, Peru has its own set of thrilling waterways surrounded by equally emoting landscapes. 

Fueled by sinuous mountains and canyons—um, the Andean Cordillera goes right through the middle of this country—these yet-to-be-heralded twirling rivers have to be added to your itinerary whether you’re resolved on an adrenaline-filled trip or just happen to visit the ancient Inca citadel.

After all, thrilling experiences often make the best type of memorabilia. Here, at Terra Explorer, we consulted with our team of outdoor-adoring experts to list the top 3 places when it comes to river rafting in Peru. Let’s dive in:

1. Apurimac River

rafting trip apurimac river terraexplorer

Probably one of the better-known locations because of its proximity to Cusco, the Apurimac River goes, at times, through canyons no wider than a toothpick, and some other times it opens wide onto the Andean scenery. Full disclosure, this river boasts class III, IV, V rapids—not suitable for the uninitiated. 

To fully take in the Apurimac, a four-day rafting trip is a must. We usually start at the narrowest part of the river. Flanked by towering granite walls, the river swirls and turns over class III and IV rapids. 

A more of a quiet start—ok, as quiet as you can get—a sort of reconnaissance of the Apurimac’s waters. We leave the most frenzied class V rapids towards the end of the expedition.

But embarking on this multiple-day trip does not mean forgoing a good meal. We take private cooks with us, so no canned beans at sight—at least not when traveling with Terra Explorer Peru. 

The banks of the Apurimac make the perfect locale for camping in the remote, stargazing right into the center of the Milky Way, and sleeping with the river gently caressing one’s ears.  

Check the full Apurimac river rafting itinerary.

Related: The 5 best ways to explore Peru

2. Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Did you know that in 1979 a group of Polish guys were the first to raft on the river parting this canyon? Well, it happened. 

But what you also need to know is that because of the undisclosed dangers of the then-unknown rafting route, Pope John Paul II —a polish man himself— asked the locals to aid the expedition. That’s when the Vellutino family got involved. And well, the Vellutino family is the one who co-founded Terra Explorer. Who would have thought?

Stories aside, the canyon —two hours away from Arequipa, a quaint historical city south of Peru known for its white masonry work on almost every building around the main square—provides class II, III, IV, and V rapids. A variety that allows you to take in the environs right from the raft while also providing the right amount of exhilaration. 

This tucked-away marvel is also the natural habitat of the Andean condor, the largest flying bird in the world. Rapids, swoon-inducing vistas, and out-of-the-ordinary bird watching spots are what you should expect when visiting Colca. It can take you anywhere from 3 to 7 days to visit Arequipa and the Canyon. 

Check the full Colca Canyon rafting itinerary.

Related: Peru, the best destination for bird watching

3. Willcamayu


You find yourself googling “whitewater rafting Cusco”?, then look no further than Willcamayu. Plus, it is suitable for more untrained rafters. There are sections where one just paddles serenely and other sections where things get a little bit tougher. Could a river get any more convenient and inclusive? Probably not. 

Willcamayu —born in the upper Vilcanota Valley— serpentines towards and around Machu Picchu. It only takes a few hours to hop on a raft and paddle through the white rapids. 

The views are otherworldly: high peaks covered in Amazonian greenery surrounded by an ever-present mist. These waters are called “Sacred River” by the indigenous population, and rightfully so. There is a magical aura around this waterway.

 Check the full Willcamayu rafting itinerary.

river rafting cuzco terraexplorer

Ready for some river rafting in Cusco, or Peru for that matter? Is that a yes we hear? Then contact us. Feel free to email us, dig on our website, and even if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, we can still find a way to make it happen. In Terra Explorer, we’re the experts when it comes to tailor-made trips to Peru.

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