The best multi-day whitewater expedition in South America.
Guided or outfitted trips between a week and a month long.
Peru Kayak and Rafting
Rio Marañón – Peru
The Rio Marañón is the mainstem source of the mighty Amazon River. The Marañón features over six hundred kilometers of superb kayaking and rafting, from the high desert to the jungle. The river is split into three primary sections, the Upper Marañón, the Main Marañón, and the Lower Marañón. All three can be linked together in a single trip or outfitted individually with flexible put-in and take-out locations. Trips can range in length from a week to a month long.
A journey down the Marañón is an adventure of a lifetime. The river features outstanding whitewater, remote camping and hiking, visits to riverside villages, and many points of historical and natural interest.
The Marañón can be privately outfitted for a similar cost and gear quality to an outfitted trip down the Grand Canyon, with the added benefit of getting one or two helper guides that row their own boats and assist your trip. You can also opt for a fully guided adventure.
This guide is intended as a pre-trip planning resource, not a full guidebook. Want to have your specific Marañón questions answered or get help booking your trip? Check out our Planning FAQS or Get in touch.
Mega-dams and River Conservation
The Marañón is under threat of a series of proposed mega-dams. To learn more about the dams, their impact, and how to get involved, check out these resources:
The Roar of the Marañón (2021) – Marañón Waterkeeper’s feature-length documentary about the river, its communities, and the threat of the dams.
Conservamos Por Naturaleza – Up-to-date website. Translate the page to English for a thorough overview. The page includes a detailed storymap.
Marañón Planning FAQs
Upper Marañón • Class iV+ • 7-14 Day Trips Available
The Upper Marañón (IV+) starts in the high desert, with a put-in option at 7,000 ft of elevation. Trips can range from one to two weeks in length depending on put in and take out locations. Technical and abundant rapids, remote campsites, and stellar side-hikes characterize this region. Two class V portages require lining boats.
Main Marañón • Class IV • 7-14 day trips available
The Main Marañón (IV) starts in the mining town Chagual and continues for nearly 300 km to the Cumba Valley. This is the most popular section for rafting and kayaking, and is accessible to people of all skill levels, including children. The mountains in this section at times exceed 10,000 feet of relief between river and mountain top. The scenery is grand. Outfitter relations with the riverside communities are excellent, making for unforgettable visits to the villages. Trip lengths can vary based on preference, with multiple access points available for put in and take out.
Lower Marañón • Class III+ • 7+ day trips available
The Lower Marañón (III+) starts in the Cumba Valley (80 km) and continues into the jungle of the Amazon basin for another 85 km. It is possible to extend further upon request. Several confluences all but guarantee big water in the jungle section. The week-long trip features big whitewater, lush surroundings, and unique cultural experiences.
The jungle portion of the Lower Marañón passes through the territory of the Awajún People. Relations with river runners have been mixed, and local guides are strongly recommended for passage. Visits to rarely-visited Awajún villages can be beautiful and informative, but they also carry risks. Make sure that traveling through the Awajún territory is the right choice for your group by consulting with your outfitter.