The following guest post was written by Paul from Superlative Journey. He went to Canada in May 2016 to become a raft guide and is now working the ski season at Whitewater ski resort. “I’m living, learning and loving the journey. I hope to inspire you, so you will head off on your own Superlative Journey.”
27 Days Rafting The Source Of The Amazon
Whitewater rafting is pretty great, if you have ever been I am sure you agree with me. Exciting times shared with friends and lots of laughter. On top of that add in the joys of a multiday raft expedition on a truly amazing river and you’ve got quite an adventure in store. My brother Ben founded Paddling with Purpose to raise awareness to the threat of 20 dams facing the Rio Maranon. Everyone who was selected for the team had skills to offer; raft guides and experienced kayakers who would be able to raise money and make the trip happen.
First the upper section, there was 200km of grade 3-4+ whitewater from Puchka to Chagual. There was one support raft with all the gear and everyone else was kayaking. I recall running one rapid looking over the front of the raft to see one giant hydraulic (water recirculating on itself like a big washing machine) after another. There is one rapid in this section called Wasson’s landslide, part of it is un-runnable so you have to walk around. Getting kayaks around is the easy part. A 16ft raft with 10 days of gear and food; not so much. This involves untieing all the gear off the raft and carrying it a good couple hundred meters downstream. Then lining the raft through the rapid with ropes and tieing all the gear back on at the bottom.
The Remando Juntos project ( meaning; Paddling Together) took place on the main section of the Rio Marañón. From Chagual to Puerto Malleta we travelled 293 km by river over 17 days. The whole team worked together to raise funds to get this project happening. The purpose was to form the Remando Juntos team of local Peruvians with useful skills like graphic design, photography, Biology and law etc… Then take them on this river journey so they had a chance to fall in love with the river and cultivate a desire to protect it. While At the same time shooting a documentary to raise International awareness. There was so much to shoot. More spectacular grade 3-4 whitewater, amazing slot canyons, hikes, villages and interviews. Which got pretty complicated at times. From trying to keep to a river schedule, filming, backing up footage in sandy environments. As well as doing presentations in small villages along the way to raise local awareness. Which meant hiking into villages half an hour away with a cumbersome diesel generator.
A Typical Day On The River
It’s dry season so at most you sleep with a tent fly or maybe just a sleeping bag. You tend to wake up at first light, listening to that beautiful free flowing river right next to you. First person up puts on a big pot of water for coffee and porridge, then bang some pans together to start getting everyone moving. It’s usually around 2 hours from when people wake up to when you leave the beach on the rafts. Everyone has to have breakfast, do the dishes, pack up personal gear, the kitchen has to be packed down into coolers and boxes and rafts have to be packed. Then before we leave get all our river gear on and have a trip meeting for the day, before setting off.
Two or 3 hours of rafting and then it’s time for some lunch, wait until we find a nice spot. Usually a nice sandy beach. One day we had lunch on the rafts next to the bank to save time and some farmers saw us so they came down and gave us a bag full of papayas and bananas. Other times we would stop at farms and buy fruit which involves walking right up to the banana plants and picking them. You can’t get any fresher than that. Then after a tasty lunch and a little rest we pack up and get back on the river for another couple hours until we get to camp. It doesn’t stop there though, time to unload the rafts, setup the kitchen, sort out a campfire. Ohh man, that’s my specialty, camp is usually a beautiful windswept beach with the driest firewood you’ll ever find.
Rafting down the Maranon really is a journey. It’s pretty rare these days to be able to spend a month rafting down 500km of river and not see a man-made river feature like a dam or weir. That is why we should all be concerned about preserving this beautiful place. From the whitewater, big canyon walls, endless landscapes to the sand swept beaches. After all it’s the source of the Amazon. Just writing these words makes me want to go back and I personally cannot wait until the next trip in July next year.
So who wants to go raft the source of the Amazon?
If you would like to hear more about the Marañón you can read about the afternoon I decided to become a raft guide: Maranon River Journey