Peru’s Rio Apurimac is one of the best white water rafting trips in South America.

With exhilarating rapids and awesome, wilderness scenery, the Rio Apurimac mixes grade 3, 4 and 4+ rapids.

The Apurimac is justifiably gaining a reputation as one of the world’s top rafting holidays.

It can be rafted in 3 days from Cusco, and no acclimatisation is needed so you can head straight into the adrenaline-pumping waves.

More on Rio Apurimac rafting

We provide everything you need for the river, and spend evenings camping on sandy beaches, sharing drinks and food underneath starlit skies.

You can help with setting up the tents while your guides prepare sumptious and plentiful meals to enjoy around a camp fire.

As night falls, we swap stories and experiences of the day as well as looking ahead to more fun and frolics on the river the next day.

Try our shorter 2-day Black Canyon Apurimac, for something less demanding or more family friendly, but no less fun.

Trip Highlights

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  • Apurimac is one of the best white water rafting rivers in South America.

  • No previous experience necessary - open to all levels.

  • Beautiful riverside campsites, camping under the stars.

  • Best guides ensure safety and maximum fun on grade 3 and 4 rapids.

Fun from the first rapid, excellent guides told us what to do, when, and we had a blast.

Only shame is that it had to come to an end.

T. Shearman, Apurimac

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up from hotel in Cusco, drive to Apurimac canyon, rafting, camp (L,D)

We pick you up at your hotel in Cusco for the spectacular drive to the Apurimac canyon. En route, we hope to glimpse the snow-capped Vilcanota mountain range before descending into the canyon to our starting point on the banks of the Apurimac.

Here we inflate our specialised rafts, load up with provisions and, following a full safety talk and instruction in the art of white water rafting, then head off into the canyon in search of adventure.

Day 2: Rafting Apurimac, camp (B,L,D)

For the next two days we challenge the rapids of the mighty Apurimac. “Apu – rimac”, in Quechua, means “The Great Speaker ” – Inca nobility and priests would often ‘consult’ the river on route to the city of Cusco.

The rapids are pretty much non-stop and at times the huge boulders that block our way force us to the bank for further scouting.

At several points we have to portage unrunnable falls. At night we camp on beautiful sandy beaches and explore the amazing rock formations. Andean foxes, otters and pumas have all been sighted on the banks of the river.

In between the harder rapids there is plenty of time to take in the awesome scenery and marvel at the near sheer sided gorge down which we are travelling.

Top rapids include:

  • Batman’s Cave
  • The Z
  • Three Hail Mary’s
  • Purgatory

Purgatory is an incredible foaming, high-sided canyon, with waves surrounding and pushing the boat forwards.

Many of the unnamed rapids provide as much fun and challenge, with chances to make the boat ‘surf’ into waves, spin the raft around with your new paddling skills or head to the front of the raft for some up close and personal wave action.


Portages (scheduled)

Day 2:  The rapid called “The portage” – it’s a monster class 5 that is totally un-runnable with clients. The walk round takes about 15 minutes and then you have to wait for the guides to bring the rafts around which might take another 25 minutes or so.

Day 2:  Space Odyssey – another big class 5 rapid. A 10 minute walk and 15 minute walk to bring rafts around.

Day 2:  Gates of Purgatory – we run the first part of this big class 4+ and then have the clients walk the final 20m.

Day 3: Rafting all day, afternoon return to Cusco, tour ends (B,L)

Finally we reach a break in the canyon walls, and head down the last named rapid, the Last Laugh.

It’s far from the last one though, as some of the remaining rapids offer big waves, or on the gentler ones, a chance to swim a rapid or two.

At the end of the trip, we lift the raft to our waiting bus and hopefully a chilled beer! From here it is a short, two hour bus journey back to Cusco, passing on route the towering snow-capped Salkantay mountain.


Portages (scheduled)

Day 3:   Tooth Ache rapid – a monster class 5. Total walk time 15 – 20 minutes, then you have to wait 30 minutes for the guides to bring the boats down.


On arrival in Cusco we drop you off at your hotel for a well earned hotel bed, hot shower and perhaps you will join us later to explore the delights of Cusco’s nightlife and celebrate your successful descent of through the mighty Apurimac canyon.

Prices From $980 / £831 per person

Enquire about booking

What's Included?

All meals and water on rafting trip, rafts and equipment, domestic transportation, guide, camping 2 nights, communal camping equipment (tents, cutlery etc), wetsuit and boots, helmet, lifejacket, spleash jacket, thermarest sleeping mat, waterproof duffel bags, dining tent.

What's Not Included?

International flights (we can look for prices for you), other meals, snacks and drinks, personal expenses, extra entrance fees, tips, alcoholic or soft drinks, laundry, personal clothing, sleeping bag, personal medical kit, sun cream etc.


Camping on riverbanks.

Tour Staff

All the guides on this tour come to us as recommendations from our current guides. They are very careful who they recommend.

Training is a vital investment in our guides to ensure the security and safety of all our trips.

All the guides are all qualified in first aid, taught by instructors brought over from the UK.

River guides: All our white water rafting and kayaking guides hold the internationally recognised “Swiftwater Rescue Technician Advanced” qualification.


Evening meals are usually pasta or rice dishes served in the dining tent, and almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – please enquire.

After eating, you can choose to socialise with team members, relax in your tent take in the views.

You usually wake early, around 07.00. Your meals are prepared and served to you and will be a mix of hot drinks, cereals, fruits and toast with jams.

Lunch will be either sandwiches or meat and cheese, with snacks etc.

Activity Level

For anyone who doesn’t mind getting wet!

Experienced and qualified guides are on hand to keep you (mostly) the right way. We are more interested in your ‘water confidence’ than your ability to swim. The only parameter is that you are mobile enough to help us get you back in the boat.

People of almost any fitness can enjoy this trip – you need to be able to paddle for short bursts, with pauses, over a few hours.

Enquire about booking

Practical Information

Introduction to Peru

Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.

The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.

The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.

Geography of Peru

Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.

The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.

The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.

Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.

The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.

The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.

Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.


Weather in Peru

You can also read about the weather of Peru in our blog.

Peru is located in the southern tropics (latitudes 0º to 18º), but climate varies significantly according to season, altitude and region.


Lima & the coast

From May to October, Lima is often overcast, but with minimal precipitation. There are sunny spells, and it’s a fresh to pleasant 13-20ºC.

At the same time, inland  areas and the north coast mid to high 20’s ºC.

November to April is generally warm and sunny and Lima enjoys warm temperature of 19-25ºC, with the coast averaging 22-30ºC.


The Andes

Climate depends largely on altitude. As a rule of thumb, below 2,000m climate is mild and above 2,000m warm clothing is required for evenings, nights and early mornings.

The Andean sun is very strong.


May to Oct (dry season in The Andes)

Cusco (3,300m): Average max/min temps: 22ºC /2ºC. Average 3 or 4 wet days per month.

Arequipa (2,380m): Average max/min temps: 26ºC /9ºC. Sunny more than 340 days/year with minimal precipitation.

On highland treks: Conditions are generally dry. However, at this time of year, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m, where pre-dawn temperatures can be -5ºC; warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings.

Note that mountain weather can be fickle and localised, and that precipitation is not unknown in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.

In the cloud forest, e.g. around Machu Picchu, daytime conditions are generally warm or hot, and evenings cool.


Nov to March/April (wet season in The Andes)

Cusco: Average max/min temps: 23ºC /6ºC. Average 13 wet days per month.

Arequipa: Average max/min temps: 25ºC /14ºC.

On highland treks: Wetter conditions, with cooler days and milder nights than dry season. Jan-Mar usually the wettest months.


The Amazon rainforest

Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid and there is always the risk of rain

There is a ‘dry season’ in Tambopata and Manu between May and October. The average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. Heavy downpours typically occur every few days.

Around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season Nov-April.

On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.



Rafting means you are frequently being cooled by river water and may not notice how strong the sun is.

Good sun cream, a hat and sunglasses are vital.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

Below is a more detailed guide.


Detailed kit list – rafting:

  • A pair of Chacos or similar sandals – trainers are also okay, but be prepared for them to be soaked through.
  • A pair of River shorts or swimming costume.
  • Long-sleeved business shirt / t-shirt to wear under your life jacket. A business shirt gives added protection to your neck from the collar.
  • A baseball cap for under the helmet to keep sun off.
  • Wide brimmed sunhat and/or baseball cap.
  • Sunglasses, with chums/strings so they attach to your head.
  • Nalgene or similar water bottle.
  • Carabiner for fastening water bottle to your boat.
  • Thermal top for warming up once out of the water.
  • Waterproof sun cream (factor 30+) and lip balm factor 15 minimum.


If camping, for evenings:

  • Lightweight long trousers.
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirt.
  • Fleece jacket.
  • Ladies should bring a long skirt or sarong to cover your legs whilst in the company of locals.
  • Underwear.
  • Glasses or contact lenses, disposable lenses are ideal.
  • 3-season sleeping bag.
  • Travel pillow
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Trainer for walking around camp.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). Print & slide film is available locally. Polarising filter is recommended for SLR cameras.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other to help pass the time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.


Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life, especially in big cities.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.


What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.


Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.


I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Peru’s Amazon Rainforest

Peru boasts in its Amazonian region a vast swathe of world-class tropical wilderness with several rain forest and cloud forest reserves which are home to an immense diversity of wildlife.

Accessible from Lima, Iquitos or Cusco, the Amazon jungle is just a short flight away.

In Peru’s southeast lies the extraordinary region comprising the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, with the greatest animal and plant diversity anywhere in the world.

Whether you choose to base yourself at a comfortable lodge or enjoy a more demanding camping trip, you can be sure of a unique, exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Peru

The beautiful colonial city of Arequipa is replete with history and culture, and is the gateway to the condors of Colca Canyon.

Nestled at 2,325m/7,627ft, the ‘white city’ sits at the foot of three tremendous volcanoes: El Misti (5,821m/19,098ft), Chachani (6,075m/19,930ft) and Pichu Pichu (5,542m/18,182ft).

Arequipa’s attractions include the Cathedral, Compañía de Jesús Church, Santa Catalina Convent and the Dama de Ampato (Juanita Mummy) Museum.

With a year-round spring climate and sunshine guaranteed for 300 days of the year, it is the perfect place to begin acclimatising before continuing upwards.

Nearby is the famous Colca Canyon. At hundred kilometres long, this incredible gorge  is said to reach a maximum depth of 3,400m/11,155ft – twice that of the Grand Canyon.

An overnight tour to Colca gives you the chance to see the iconic, soaring condors of the canyon.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco is the archaeological and cultural capital of South America.

The one-time centre of the vast Inca Empire is a bustling highland city with bags of character.

Its whitewashed streets and plazas feature a fascinating blend of Inca and Spanish colonial stonework and offer endless possibilities for exploration.

You don’t have to venture far to find outstanding examples of high quality Inca architecture, including the monumental temple fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

There is also the fertile farming land of the Sacred Valley on the doorstep,  with many Inca terraces, temples and fortresses, plus colourful local markets and small villages.

At night, Cusco offers an excellent array or restaurants and bars plus the continent’s best Andean folk music scene.

Kuelap, Peru

In the northeast of Peru lies Kuelap – the jewel in the massive archaeological crown of the Chachapoyas Cloud People.

The mystical structure of Kuelap – dubbed the Peru’s second Machu Picchu by locals – is 1,200 years old.

It features massive limestone walls towering 60 feet, pottery, bones and hundreds of mysterious round stone structures, and away from the crowds of other sites.

This is a remote area of sub-tropical valleys, half way down the eastern slopes of the Andes. The jungle is impenetrable, dense with low trees, bromeliads, bamboos, orchids and mosses.

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca, at around 4,000m/13,123ft above sea level, is a vast shimmering body of water on the Peru/Bolivia border.

It is the world’s highest navigable lake, set against a breathtaking background of towering ice-covered Andean mountain peaks.

The islands and shoreline of Lake Titicaca support many Indian communities, including the well known floating islands of Uros and the more remote islands of Taquile and Amantani. Here, traditions are strong and it appears time really does stand.

Agriculture, fishing, knitting and weaving are important to the islanders and by staying a day or two you gain just a small insights into this traditional way of life.

Islanders welcome tourists into their homes and this is a wonderful opportunity to experience island life.

Lima, Peru

Lima, the capital city of Peru, is a vibrant bustling place with a wide variety of things to do.

Stroll or bike around the historic centre, visiting the many museums or just chilling out in a café or restaurant in Miraflores.

In Parque Kennedy you can sit outside in Parisian fashion and watch the world go by in cafes and restaurants, or walk to the shore and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

There are a number of artisan shops & market stalls, plus a big silver jewellery trade, and a burgeoning number of top end restaurants with delicious food.

The centre of Lima is home to impressive Colonial architecture – Plaza de Armas has the Palace, official residence of the president, on one side, and on another is the Cathedral.

San Francisco Church, home of the Catacombs, is well worth a visit, as is the Inquisition museum.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Nothing says Peru quite the way Machu Picchu does.

The Lost City of the Incas, perches dramatically on a ridge-top 400 metres above the Urubamba river. The extensive site, with its many terraces, temples and palaces, is set amid a beautiful landscape of deep gorges and thickly forested mountains.

When Machu Picchu was rediscovered early in the 20th century and cleared of forest, it was found to be very well preserved. It has since presented archaeologists with many unanswered questions regarding the role it played in Inca times.

The sense of grandeur, whether you arrive on the Inca Trail or not, is impressive.

Try to arrive early at the site to enjoy it at its best – and late afternoon can often see you almost alone in the ruins.

The Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, Peru

North east of Lima, the Cordillera Blanca offers fantastic mountain scenery and some of the best trekking and climbing in the Andes.

The Cordillera Blanca boasts dozens of peaks over 6,000 metres, including Peru’s highest Huascaran at 6,768m/22,205ft above sea level.

The Blanca range also contains the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers.

This is an ideal destination for treks, from just a few to 12 days or so and also an ideal starting place for learning or improving mountaineering skills.

The nearby Huayhuash mountain range contains a dazzling array of snow peaks including seven summits above 6,000 metres.

This is a trekking paradise with breathtaking majestic panoramas and stunningly remote and picturesque camping spots. There is no better place to visit to get away from it all.

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