Cusco is not only a pretty stop off on journeys to Machu Picchu. It is also the white water rafting capital of Peru.

Those of you doing the Inca Trail might want to consider this.

Returning from your trek, you’re unlikely to give anything requiring physical exertion a thought. Prior to your trek, however, a day or two of white water excitement doesn’t sound too bad.

And it isn’t.

The Apurimac River and Urubamba River (closer to Cusco) provide white water rafting experiences ranging from class III to V with spectacular scenery taking in rainforests, beautiful sandy beaches, giant granite boulders and towering gorges up to 3,000 metres high. And there’s fabulous wildlife along the way: adorable river otters, menacing bobcats, foxes, torren ducks, cormorants, deers and, if you’re lucky, condors. Add to this some post-white water pampering in hot saunas and showers and with tasty buffet lunches and the whole exercise doesn’t seem like too much exercise at all.

The Urubamba River is tamer than Apurimac River, with class III to IV rapids, but for a convenient day of fun it’s certainly the best option. Most trips depart Cusco at 9am and return by 3pm, giving two and a half hours to three hours in the water, and many combine trips to Ollantaytambo or Pisac on the return journey. Three sections of the river are visited, depending on skill levels and the particular time of year.

But Apurimac River is considered by many to provide some of the most exhilarating white water rafting in the world. While mainly in III+ to IV rapids, there are IV+ and V rapids along the way and the steep cliffs and tropical rainforests that accompany the journey amplify the experience significantly. Unfortunately, it’s a greater distance from Cusco, taking about four hours to drive. As a result, rafting enthusiasts get to experience three to four day tours, camping by night in narrow gorges or sandy beaches and by day… living the dream.

There are plenty of tour companies to choose from, but Peru Rafting (LINK: http://www.perurafting.com/) and River Explorers (LINK: http://www.riverexplorers.com/apurimac_river_4d3n_itinerary.html) are highly regarded.

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