Yavero River Expedition Itinerary

Fly from the U.S. to Lima.

This morning we take an early flight (on your own) to Cuzco. We arrive in Cuzco and are met by the Earth River guide and begin the drive to the river. We drive a few hours through beautiful mountain scenery, past Inca settlements VIEW and along roaring rivers to the wonderful town of Lares where we stop for lunch. Much of the population in Lares dresses in brightly colored native clothing and the town has a festival feel to it. It also produces woven goods that are sold to tourists throughout Peru. In the afternoon we drive two and a half hours to the town of Quebrada Honda where we either camp or stay in a primitive hotel.

This morning we switch from the bus to four wheel drive vehicles.VIEW Cresting the top of the Yavero Canyon we get our first glimpse of the thin green and white ribbon of water 8,000 feet below. Beyond the lush Yavero Canyon, with densely foliated mountains unfold as far as the eye can see as they penetrate into Manu National Park. On no more than a windy, barely one lane cart trail, we descend another 6,500 feet down to the put in on the river where we have lunch. Just below our starting point, a trail crosses a narrow wooden suspension bridge over a dramatic gorge.  It is believed that the Inca used this trail to escape the Spanish at Machu Picchu and access the Lost City of Gold. After a safety talk, we board the rafts and continue down river running a series of moderately challenging class 3 - 4 rapids. 

For the next five days we will paddle nearly 100 thrilling class 3 & 4 rapids VIEW through a gorgeous 7,000 foot deep canyon with multiple tributary waterfalls. Macaws, monkeys, Giant Otters and countless birds and butterflies. Spring fed seeps adorn moss covered walls. The whitewater is similar in difficulty to the Pacuare in Costa Rica only there are many more rapids. The Yavero’s most impressive rapid, Tobogan, is one of the longest commercially run class IV rapids anywhere . Here the converge and the water surges through a series of crashing waves and sweeping bends for over two kilometers. VIEW When the rapids change from class 4 to 3 we will switch from rafts to inflatable kayaks and after a kayak lesson, paddle the swimming pool temperature water through some of the best class 2 -3 beginner kayaking in the world. From the boats we will see giant otters playing in the eddies and multi-colored Macaws soaring through the old growth jungle canopy that overhangs the river. The remote canyon VIEW opens up to beautiful camping cut into the jungle engulfed in giant old growth trees VIEW The canyon’s eastern boundary is the four million acre Manu National Park. With over 15,000 different flowering plants, 1,000 species of birds, 200 different mammals including 13 different kinds of primates and hundreds of butterflies species, the Manu Biosphere Reserve is considered to be the most diverse region of the Amazon Rain Forest. There will also be the opportunity to visit with the Machiguenga Indigenous community that lives along the river and see first hand how they carve massive trees into dugout canoes in order to transport their crops down river. VIEW On day 8 (Our 6th on the river), we raft and kayak the Yavero’s final class 3 rapids and reach the confluence with the the much larger Urubamba. After running five exhilarating class 3+rapids on the Urubamba, with waves as high as 10 feet, we camp on a beautiful beach just upstream for the fabled pong Manique sacred waterfall canyon.

Early this morning, we board the rafts and kayaks and within minutes canyon walls close, and rise hundreds of feet above us as we enter the mysterious and breath takingly beautiful Pongo Mainique Canyon. This 3 kilometer, slot divides the upland cloud forest with the Amazon Jungle. Here the mighty Urubamba takes a final plunge through one last mountain range before entering the flat Amazon basin. This canyon is an important spiritual place for the Machiguenga native people who believe that the souls of their dead reside in the Pongo. In 2001 the Wildlife Conservation Society did a survey of the Pongo Manique and the immediate area around it and said, “The lowland rain forests and mid-mountain cloud forests within a radius of five miles of the Pongo Mainique possibly comprise the single most biologically diverse site on the face of the earth. “ Beyond its cultural and biological significance, the Pongo Mainique is one of the most enchanted places in South America. Upon entering the Pongo, we paddle past smooth, water scalloped walls, VIEW covered in iridescent, emerald moss with delicate seeps of water collecting into dozens of tiny waterfalls. Around the bend, the symphony of water grows as dozens of impressive waterfalls cascade into the river from as high as 100 feet in heart of the Pongo, over a dozen significant waterfalls can be viewed at once.  The chorus of water grows deafening as we run an exciting class 4 rapid framed within this cathedral of falling water.  Then suddenly we round a bend and the canyon walls give way to the open plane of the Amazon basin. We pull over at a trailhead and take a wonderful 1.5 hour hike to the top of the canyon where we are afforded a spectacular view of the Pongo Manique and beyond to where the green carpet of the Amazon spreads out as far as the eye can see. After the hike, we are met by a large, motorized wooden dugout canoe that transports us 2 hours back up river to the road to the road at the town of Ivochote where we baord the bus for a two hour drive to the jungle town of Kiteni where we spend the night at a promitive hotel.

This morning we drive three and a half hours to the jungle city of Quillabamba where we have lunch. In the afternoon, we over a high mountain pass with dramatic views of the snow-capped Andes to a trailhead at Hydro-Electrica. From here we walk two spectacular miles along the Urubamba River with soaring cliffs rising two thousand feet over us. VIEW We reach the town of Aguas Calientes in the middle of the afternoon and hop on the next bus leaving for Machu Picchu. Surrounded by formidable peaks this ancient mountain-top Inca City stands sentinel over the Urubamba Valley 2,000 feet below. This is an extraordinary time to visit this wonder of the world because the crowds have left. Dominating the site are massive stone walls, buildings and courtyards interconnected by stone steps and access doors. Some of the carved stone blocks that make up the walls weigh 150,000 pounds and are 18 feet high. How this Herculean union of stones was assembled without the use of cement is a mystery. Instead of moving with a throngs of tourists, we are able to discover this architectural masterpiece of man and nature in relative solitude. It is even possible to take sweeping photographs and video of the complex without anyone else in them. We watch the sun set over the imposing mountains and take the bus back down to Aquas Calientes where we baord the narrow gauge train for the two hour ride to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Vaslley where we check into a hotel dinner and spend the night at a hotel. That evening we have our farewell dinner.

This morning we drive 1 hour to the Cuzco airport and board our flights to Lima and then on to the United States.

“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."
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