Cotahausi Rafting

11 Days from From $3,700

Our Cotahuasi Rafting Expeditions features 6 days of some of the most continuous, classic, technical, fun whitewater, in the deepest canyon on the planet. Combined with amazing Arequipa, a beautiful hike on an ancient Inca footpath, and Inca ruins and artifacts, this is an adventure like no other!

Cotahuasi River Expedition

Our Cotahuasi Rafting Expedition features some of the most continuous, classic, technical whitewater on earth.  Fifty miles of non-stop class 4 and 5 whitewater hammering at a gradient of 60 feet per mile as we drop from put-in, downstream of 300 foot Sipia Falls, to the Pacific Ocean. The Cotahuasi river canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and offers dramatic desert scenery and nights with more stars than you’ve ever seen!

In 2001, we ran the first commercial descent of the Cotahuasi River, which was featured in the December 2001 issue of Outside Magazine. The whitewater itself is enough of a reason to embark on this adventure. However, the Cotahuasi also offers an incredible hike to put-in on an Inca footpath and a journey back into time as we admire the hundreds of Inca and pre-Inca ruins and artifacts that litter the canyon. We hosted the first archaeologist that had ever been down the canyon and he gave us information and guidance on admiring, while protecting, these ancient treasures.

With time to visit magnificent Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a scenic drive in private Land Cruisers to the quaint town of Cotahuasi, and all the technical whitewater you can handle, this is an adventure of a lifetime.

Day 1
Arrive in Lima, Peru and connect with flight to Arequipa.  Explore this beautiful town hewn out of white stone.  Overnight at 4 star  hotel. (8,000 ft elevation)

Day 2
Early Am departure for the town of Cotahuasi. We ride in comfortable 4 x 4 Land Cruisers and drive about 9 hours with many stops along the way. One of the highlights is driving along the base of snow capped Coropuna mountain peak (21,000 feet)  where ice mummies have been discovered. We have plenty of time to watch the Andean Condors soar the mountain ridges and you will be sure to see plenty of Vicunas, and small Peruvian villages (similar to a Llama) Overnight in a cute and comfortable inn in Cotahuasi.

Day 3
Enjoy the town of Cotahuasi.  Cotahuasi is a remote high Andean village far removed from the crowded everyday Peruvian life.  You will have the sense that you have discovered Shangri La when walking into this tranquil small village. Explore the narrow streets and study the detailed masonry work clearly descended from the Incan culture.   A visit to the hot springs followed by dinner and a good night sleep are in order to prepare us for the adventure ahead!

Day 4
In the morning, the mules get loaded with our personal gear and we start our 10-hour hike around the Sipia Falls into the canyon.  We follow the narrow ancient Inca trails that at times rises 2000-3000 feet above river level before descending to the rivers edge where we will start our river journey.   This hike is one of the highlights of the trip.  The views from the trail are dramatic and the trail itself is an engineering wonder.  Our hike ends at a footbridge called Valinga, just below a small stone house settlement of the same name.

Days 5 – 10
The next 6 days will be spent rafting and hiking through the Cotahuasi Canyon, with more than a 100 miles of continuous class 4 and 5 whitewater and an estimated flow of 1000-1500 CFS. The river flows 221 miles to the Pacific Ocean from 12,000 feet in the Andes.  The canyon is stacked with Inca ruins – some that have not yet been explored.  Each night we will camp on Inca terraces and explore the ruins.  Please remember that proper etiquette regarding archaeological sites is the same as in all of nature: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”.  There are three class 5 rapids and a few rapids that we may have to portage the boats around.  This canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and, according to the Peruvian government, it is the deepest canyon in the world.

Day 10
The Pacific Ocean breeze becomes prevalent and we feel our take-out is getting close.  We reach the vans, load up, and then drive 2 hours to the nearest big town where we have a nice sit down meal before driving another 2 hours back to Arequipa.  Tonight we will stay at the Hotel Maison d’Elise. Farewell dinner in town after hot showers!

Day 11
Leave Arequipa, fly to Lima, and then back home or onto your extensions.

Departure Dates:

Call for Info!

Trip Length: 11 Days
Trip Price:

From $3,700 per person, based on double occupancy

Deposit: $600


U.S. citizens are required to have a passport that is valid for 6 months after your travel dates begin.


You are responsible for booking all flights, international as well as domestic.  However, if you need help, please feel free to call or email the Bio Bio office. One travel agent we often use is:Americas Travel, San Francisco

Office Hours: 10-6 pm Mon-Fri (PST), 888-703-9955
Flying In…The tour officially begins in Arequipa. You will fly into Lima and then transfer to a domestic flight. You can arrive any time of the day. You may want to fly in the day before and spend the night in Lima. We can arrange a hotel for that evening.
Flying Out…You can fly out of Arequipa to Lima and then home all on Day 11. Or you can choose to spend more time in either of these cities and fly home at a later date. We are happy to help you arrange tours and lodging.

Peru is on Central Standard Time


On The River – Pack “Light”!
As you know we will be carrying all of our gear around Sipia Falls using mules, and then down river for 6 days using rafts. We want to go as light as possible. The weather should be very warm and we do not expect any rain. Of course we still need to be prepared for whatever comes our way. We suggest that you bring along two sets of clothing. One set will be what you wear each day on the river and the other set will be what you wear around camp. Sorry, no change of outfits each evening!

A note on bugs:
During certain times of the day little pesky bugs, “no seeums” can be out in force. I did not notice any bugs last year until day 2 or 3 of the river portion of the trip. The bugs only seemed to be a problem in the early morning and early evening. With any wind, there are no bugs and while floating on the river the bugs are not a problem. Nonetheless, we suggest you plan to stay covered up at all times. Long, lightweight pants and shirts are nice to change into around camp. Also, socks to cover your feet. A head net can also be very useful.

River wear:

  • Farmer John Wet suit. WE WILL SUPPLY THIS!
  • Paddle jacket. You can get away with a short sleeve version of the paddle jacket. WE WILL SUPPLY THIS!
  • Helmet and a life jacket. WE WILL SUPPLY THESE!
  • Fleece or synthetic long underwear to wear under the paddle jacket
  • Footwear. Either very sturdy Tevas, Chacos or Keens, or anything with good grip. We will be doing lots of scouting and even some portaging on slippery rocks.

Trek to the put in:

  • Light hiking boots. You do not need to go out and buy a new pair of heavy-duty hiking shoes for the hike to put in. We recommend wearing light hiking shoes. Comfort is very important. If you do buy new shoes please break them before coming on the trip!
  • Socks Two pairs – light weight quick drying.
  • Hiking shorts or a light pair of pants.
  • Short sleeve shirt.
  • Rain jacket. The weather will be warm and most likely dry but for the first day of the trip when we are still high in the mountain there is a small chance of rain. A lightweight basic rain jacket will work fine.
  • Fanny pack, lightweight daypack, or camelback – Carry water, sunscreen, bug repellent, rain jacket.

Camp Wear and Accessories:

  • One change of clothes – It does cool down in the evening so be prepared for the possibility of night time temperatures dropping down to 55 degrees.
  • Pants – Light weight, quick drying.
  • Long sleeve shirt – Light weight, quick drying.
  • Long underwear – synthetic material both top and bottom.
  • One short sleeve shirt.
  • Socks
  • One fleece sweater for nights or early morning.
  • 1 pair of river shorts. (river shorts meaning any quick drying, durable shorts)
  • 1 hat, visor or large brimmed sombrero, with a string. (olé!!)
  • Sun glasses with securing straps. (eg:Chums)
  • Shoes for camp – Your river shoes or your shoes you wore to put in will work fine.
  • Toiletry kit: shampoo, soap, tooth brush, lotion, bug repellent, prescription medications, personal first aid supplies such as mole skin, band-aids (we will have a full, professional first aid kit as well)
  • Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries. The days are 12 hours long on the equator so it will get dark around 6:00 PM.
  • Sleeping bag – A 30-degree bag is warm enough.
  • Sleeping pad – This is very important, and not something you want to skimp on. Thermarest makes a good inflatable pad. The thermarest Lounge chair cover turns your pad into a great chair!
  • Camera – A waterproof camera is nice to have for the river trip. Don’t forget an extra memory card and battery for your type of camera.
  • Lotion and sunscreen – Not much Ozone left in the southern hemisphere!
  • Book – There is plenty of time for rest and relaxation, so bring along a book or journal. A favorite poem to share around the campfire is also welcome.
  • H2O bottle (water bottle or camelback) key item! You should have at least a 2-liter water carrying capacity.
  • Energy Bars – PRbars, Powerbars, Cliff Bars, pack a handful of these great fuel boosters. It’s also nice to bring Gatorade packets to add to your water.

A pair of jeans or khakis and a few t-shirts or button down shirts will be sufficient. Comfortable walking shoes, which may be the same shoes you decide to wear on the Inca Trail, are important. Our farewell dinner will be held at a nice restaurant and you will want to come dressed for an evening of dancing and celebration! You can leave any extra clothes behind in Arequipa while we are on the river.

We will supply you with a very lightweight tent called the Tropic Screen II – Plan to sleep two people in each tent. If you want a single please let us know.

What to pack in?
You may pack in a duffel bag or a suitcase for your travels to Arequipa. When we leave Arequipa we will be sharing dry bags. Plan for all your gear to fit into one dry bag shared between two people. We will supply you with the dry bag. You can leave your extra gear at the hotel in Arequipa.

*Remember when packing your carry-on bag to bring any medications needed as well as any toothpaste or lotions in a plastic zip loc bag for security.  You may want to bring a toothbrush on your overnight flight as well as a change of clothing.

BioBio Expeditions has partnered with Tahoe Mountain Sports, our local outfitter, to help you collect the gear needed for your upcoming adventure! Use the promo code BioBio1 at checkout and receive 15% off all full priced items in your shopping cart. Click this LINK to see some products offered at TMS that are on your packing list or visit their online store at:



Peru is typical of many South American countries in that it effectively operates a dual-currency system. Both the US dollar (dólares) and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (soles) are in circulation and although the government prefers people to use soles, most sizeable purchases are made in dollars. In practice, this means that anything costing more than, say, a meal in a nice restaurant, is paid for in dollars. The Nuevo Sol is perfectly stable so you don’t have to worry about inflation problems during your stay!
Extra Expenses

You are responsible for some meals as stipulated in the itinerary. These meals will cost between $5 and $25. And of course, you can go all out at a high-end restaurant. For meals that are included, you will need to pay for your own alcohol. You will also need money for gifts and tipping.

Plus, Cirrus and other networks connecting ATMs are available in Peru. The exchange rates you get when withdrawing from cash machines are standard. This is the approach we usually recommend. Cash machines dispense both dollars and soles and most accept the major debit cards. Be aware of counterfeit currency and avoid being followed to and from an ATM machine! Go in pairs!
Credit Cards

If your credit card has been programmed with a PIN, it’s likely you can use your card at Peruvian ATMs to withdraw money as a cash advance. Always ask your bank before you leave home about the number of withdrawals you may make abroad, the limit each day, and also let them know where you are going so they do not put a hold on your card. You may be charged a fee for each transaction.

Most of the bigger restaurants and shops accept credit cards. If you have American Express, Visa, Master Card and Diners Club, you’re probably equipped for any establishment that takes cards. If you only have one, have VISA. A shopkeeper may require you to pay the credit card fee for purchases, so for the most ease, we recommend you use cash whenever possible.
Banking Hours

Banks are generally open from 9am to 6pm. Some banks close for 2 hours from 1pm to 3pm. Banco de Credito del Peru does NOT close. You must bring your passport to exchange money. Never change a large sum (more than $100) and again, go in pairs, and avoid being followed by robbers.
Personal Checks

Personal checks are not accepted in shops or at your hotels. It’s a good idea, however, to bring a few for possible emergencies.
Travelers Cheques

Travel checks are less desirable as fewer and fewer places will change them, and you may end up in long bank lines. You will need to show your passport to cash your checks at the bank.

Tipping is, of course, entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received. Typically, you should designate 10-15% of the land cost of the trip for tips. For example, a $4000 trip would mean $400 in tips. This will be split up on 2 different occasions.

Other smaller tips might be for airport luggage carriers, hotel staff and drivers. This is where $1 bills or single soles come in handy. The norm at restaurants is approximately 5-15%.For some background information, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6-day, 48-hour week. However, in many of the lower paid jobs (e.g. waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced. 1 Nuevo Sol (soles) is roughly the equivalent of US$30.


Trip Insurance

Bio Bio Expeditions encourages all clients to obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected events such as trip cancellations, trip delay, lost baggage, medical expenses, etc. We will also forward a brochure from Travelex ( Our agent code is 05-8655. They have good rates and excellent coverage for international travel.

Although there are no immunizations required to travel to Peru, it is usually recommended that typhoid and diphtheria-tetanus protection be current. Hepatitis A, taken just before departure, is also recommended. The cholera vaccination is no longer officially required, and cholera can be avoided by practicing strict food and water precautions. In general, we advise that you consult your physician regarding recommended immunizations and other health precautions. Bio Bio Expeditions does not take responsibility for which medications or inoculations you and your physician deem necessary for your safe participation on the expedition in Peru.

For further information, call the CDC’s International Traveler’s Hotline:

Phone: 1-888-232-4636

Although it requires a little extra caution when drinking fluids in Peru, it is essential to stay well hydrated. We advise that you not drink any of the tap water in Peru; this includes no ice in your drink. Bottled water is fine to drink and can be ordered at most restaurants and found in local grocery stores. Ask for “agua mineral, sin gas (non-carbonated) or con gas (carbonated)”. When ordering sodas, it is best to request them without ice (sin hielo), as the ice is usually made from tap water. Additionally, be sure to brush your teeth with bottled water.

The major precaution regarding food pertains to raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables (including lettuce) – avoid them unless you are dining in a high-end restaurant! If you can’t peel it, don’t eat it as it has probably been washed in tap water, or not washed at all, and that can make you sick. The high altitude also affects one’s digestive system so it is recommended to eat in moderation and avoid rich, thick foods (such as mayonnaise). However, don’t be afraid to try new foods and dishes – just be cautious. Peru has some of the finest, most delicious cuisine in the world! We want you to experience the many new flavors and local cuisine, but there are some things to consider when making food choices, especially where you are eating. The more high end restaurants in Cusco are fairly safe bets for trying new things. Street food should generally be avoided. This brings us to our next topic…
Digestive Worries

Traveling to Peru is going to have a notable impact on your body. Despite the many precautions we all take to stay healthy, occasionally one may experience diarrhea. The major problem associated with diarrhea is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration, so it is important to maintain plentiful fluid intake. Avoid milk and avoid caffeine, as it will only further dehydrate you. The best drinks are weak tea, mineral water, and caffeine-free soft drinks. Ideally it is best to let diarrhea run its course, however you may want to bring over-the-counter diarrhea medication to minimize your potential discomfort. We also advise that you carry your own supply of toilet paper, as most of the restrooms in South America either don’t have TP, or they charge you for it. The bottom line (no pun intended) is to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest! Lastly, we encourage that you, and all our staff, practice impeccable hand hygiene – you can’t wash your hands enough! Sanitizer gels are great when hand washing with soap and water is not available.

If you currently take prescription medications, be sure to have a plentiful supply and also the doctor’s written prescription in case you need a refill. It is best to carry medications in your carry-on bag in case of lost luggage. Also, if you wear prescription glasses or contacts, we advise that you bring along a spare set.

Electrical current in Peru is 220 volts AC, and the plugs are different from the USA two prong.

Although the Peruvians are a warm, friendly, fun-loving people, thievery is a common problem. Always keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. When with other people, watch out for each other. Large crowds are prime locations for pick-pocketing to occur. Keep your money in a money belt or hidden pouch around your neck and under your shirt. When purchasing items, do not pull out lots of money. We advise that you leave all valuable jewelry, including watches, at home. Thieves often work in pairs or groups – one tries to distract you (e.g.: by squirting food or paint on your clothing) and in the ensuing confusion, another one makes off with your belongings. The areas around the main square in Cusco are well patrolled by police and tourist police. However, we encourage you to be very cautious and never be walking the streets alone after dark.
Jet Lag Precautions

When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many hours of regular sleep. On arrival, your body then must suddenly adjust to new sleeping and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms are fatigue – often compounded by insomnia and restlessness – irritability and vague disorientation. You cannot totally avoid jet lag’ but you can minimize it. Here’s how:

  • Start your trip well rested. Try to begin a gradual transition to your new time zone before you leave.
  • Switch to your destination time zone when you get on the plane. Attempt to sleep and eat according to the new schedule.
  • Try to sleep on overnight flights.
  • Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before and during your flight.
  • Drink plenty of water and or fruit juice while flying. You should buy a large bottle of water at a kiosk right before boarding – once you have cleared inside security and are “inside”.
  • After arrival, avoid the temptation to nap, unless you didn’t sleep at all on the plane.
  • Don’t push yourself to see a lot on your first day.
  • Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner.

Altitude Sickness

We will be traveling over a 15,000 foot pass on our way to the Cotahuasi River. The altitude can cause some physical reaction in almost anyone. Most people experience shortness of breath, headaches, and some dehydration. We recommend taking it easy your first day and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. . If you feel sick, be sure to rest, breathe deeply, drink lots of fluids (bottled water), and perhaps take a mild pain-killer for headaches. Locally brewed coca tea also seems to help. True altitude sickness is rare, but if the symptoms become severe, please let a Bio Bio Expeditions representative know.

How well your individual body adapts to the thinner air depends a good deal on innate factors that you have no control over. That being said, people in top shape often acclimate better because they expend less energy while exerting themselves, leaving their bodies ready for the task of acclimatization. Proper hydration has also been proven to be essential in this task. There is no substitute for being in top shape and staying hydrated

Many altitude physicians recommend bringing the following medications for prevention and or treatment of altitude related problems:

Diamox: 125 mg, twice a day. Beginning 24 hours before ascent to a sleeping elevation of 8,000-10,000 feet and continuing through duration of climb. Please discuss with your physician.



Almost the same size as Alaska, Peru is the third largest country in South America, covering 496,226 square miles. Peru is divided into three distinct geographic regions: the narrow, dry coastal plain in the west; the high Andes Mountains roughly in the center; and the tropical lowlands of the Amazon Basin to the east. Peru shares with Bolivia the highest navigable body of water in the world – Lake Titicaca. There is little rainfall along the coast, although he winter is foggy, humid and cool. The capital city of Lima, the temperature is moderate year-round, averaging 65*F.

Several of South America’s most advanced cultures lived in pre-Columbian Peru. The last of these groups was the great Incan Empire, which was unsurpassed in the art of stonecutting and also achieved a high degree of economic and political development. Incan and earlier Chimu ruins, notably at Cusco, Chan Chan, and Machu Picchu, make Peru a favorite destination for archaeologists and tourists. In 1532, the Spanish invaded Peru under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro. They conquered the Incas the next year. The area soon became the richest and most powerful Spanish colony in South America because of its location and many mineral treasures.

Under the leadership of South American liberator Jose de San Martin, Peru declared independence from Spain in July 1821. With the help of Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan general who liberated several other countries, the fight for full independence was won by 1826. For a century, Peru worked to secure its territory and build its social institutions.

Peru is a republic. It is divided into 24 departamentos (similar to states). The president holds executive power and serves a five-year term. All citizens age 18 and older are required to vote. The unicameral Congress consists of 120 members, who serve five-year terms. Major political parties include the Change 90-New Majority Party, Union for Peru, the Popular Christian Party, and the Popular Action Party.

The population of Peru is approximately 27 million and is growing at 1.75 percent annually. Population density is generally low due to the country’s large land area. Peru’s population is ethnically diverse. About 45 percent is Indian, descendants of the Incan Empire. Many ethnic and linguistic divisions exist among Indians, some of whom are still fairly isolated in the Amazon jungle. Another 37 percent is of mixed European and Indian heritage. Fifteen percent is of European descent (mostly Spanish), and the remaining 3 percent is composed of blacks (descendants of West African slaves), Japanese, Chinese and other smaller groups. About half of the population is younger than age 20. Lima is the largest city, with more than seven million residents.

The official languages in Peru are Spanish and Quechua but Spanish will be your most useful language, even in the highlands. The Spanish spoken in Peru is almost identical to the Castilian Spanish of Madrid, albeit with slightly different pronunciation and a few vocabulary changes. In the high Andes, particularly around Cusco and Puno, many people still speak Aymara or Quechua (the language of the Incas) as a first language, although almost all will also speak Spanish. The good news is that in most places like restaurants, hotels, etc., there is usually someone who speaks English – and, of course, all our representatives and guides speak both English and Spanish.

If you do speak some ‘Spanish’ then you shouldn’t have too many problems speaking with the locals in Peru. The major difference in accent between Peruvian Spanish and Castilian Spanish is that the letters c and z are pronounced like the English s rather than the traditional th. In general, Peruvian Spanish is a little slower and less heavily accented than most Spanish you would hear in Spain.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Cotahausi Rafting”

Extensions available:

  • Kayaking Lake Titicaca

    Paddle the waters of legendary Lake Titicaca and explore the islands and cultures in this unique region of Peru.

  • Mountain Biking in Peru

    Mountain biking in Peru offers some of the best down-hills and cross country in the world! Bike the Andes with Bio Bio and create memories that you will never forget! Ride a mix of rarely-used dirt roads, ancient Inca Trails and smooth mule tracks. 1 – 3 day options available.

  • Peru’s Nazca Lines

    See the mysterious desert drawings that have puzzled archeologists for decades. This two-day Peru trip extension offers a birds-eye view from a flight that tours the mysterious outlines of insects and animals that dot the Nazca Desert and ends with a tour of the beautiful Ballestas Islands.

  • Amazon Jungle

    Explore Peru’s exotic and remote Amazon jungle with a visit to the Tambopata National Reserve. Travel by river, take a canopy tour and overnight at the Reserva Amazonica Lodge deep in the Amazon rainforest. It’s an ideal addition to any Peruvian adventure.