The rio Paucartambo flows from the high Andes mountains, through countless of canyons, until its confluence with the rio Urrubamba in the Amazon basin. Over 6 days of paddling, we dropped 2500 meters in elevation, in 230 kms.. That makes for an even gradient, and some amazing whitewater!
Being just two people on the water you need to take care of each other and run the rapids safely. The river is flanked by peaks of more than 3000 meters, and an emergency is not really an option. We did carry a SPOT messenger with us, which we used to trace our progress down the river, and which also allows for an emergency situation to be taken care of by pushing the red SOS-button.
The scenery and the whitewater changed drastically throughout the trip. The upper reaches of the river were dry and arid, the rapids low volume, tight and blocked by big boulders. Paddling through pristine places like the Orange canyon with amazing orange rocks and pushy whitewater makes me appreciate this way of life to the fullest. Camping on little beaches every day we slept from nightfall at 18.00 to the morning´s first light at 05.00 AM. You get into a rythm that follows the flow and pace of the river. Eat, sleep and paddle.
Day five we arrived to a newly formed landslide that backed up the river, creating a huge rapid that we had to portage the top of. Trudging through mud it took us an hour to cross the landslide, and back in the river the sediments from the slide made my kayak black as we punched through waves and holes in a thrilling one kilometer long rapid.
Day six we arrived in the jungle, the temperature was high, humidity huge, and big blue butterflies flew curiously around us. Catching a local "lancha" for one hour, (15 meter long open canoe with an engine that carries the locals up the river Urrubamba to the markets) put us back in almost civilization, and a 20 hour long bus ride from there took us back to Cusco.
What a trip!
One day of rest in Cusco, and off we go again tomorrow for more action..