Having achieved the goal of running the Rio Baker we loaded up and set off in search of other rivers and adventures further south. There is probably nobody better acquainted than us with the locations of all gomerias (tyre shops) along the Carretera Austral, but fortunately other than a few punctures and a missing knut the Subaru performed superbly and safely delivered us to Villa O’Higgins, the most southern point of this famous thoroughfare.
For many years now it has been my dream to paddle the Rio Baker down in Patagonia, Chile. After 2 trips down to Chile where, due to commitments with World Class Academy, I was unable to journey further south than the Futaleufu and with the threat of a dam imminent I thought I had lost the opportunity to paddle this unique river. However, thanks to the work of opposition groups the “Patagonia sin Represas” campaign has managed to put a stop to the progress of the dam…for now. This January I was able to join old British paddling buddies Lee Royle and Rory Woods along with a new friend Sebastian Hennig from Norway on an epic trip down to Patagonia and finally got to enter the imposing canyons of the Rio Baker.
Signing up to two long (18 and 30 days) trips down the Marañon River in Northern Peru was quite a commitment to the unknown. Unfamiliar with the river, the groups, and really anything to do with long rafting expeditions it was going to be a big adventure and learning experience. Sierra Rios runs regular trips down this beautiful river and can accommodate all levels of paddlers/rafters on trips ranging from a week to 30 days. Check out the website at www.sierrarios.org for more information.
The Marañon River is considered the hydrological source of the Amazon being the river that adds the most volume to the Amazon River. Over the two trips we paddled over 500km of this river passing through stunning canyons, long flat stretches and some excellent big-volume rapids. We chose to take playboats as we had the rafts to carry all our gear and it gave us the opportunity to catch and play on some of the excellent surf waves on the way down the river.
Having spent in total over 3 ½ months in Cusco it really seemed about time that I got myself to Macchu-Picchu…the reason most tourists visit this area of Peru. However it seemed rather lazy just to get the bus there so Julio and I opted to do the Salkantay Trek (3 days of walking and 1 day visiting Macchu-Picchu) through our friend Jonathan’s company Yupi Adventure: http://yupiadventureperu.com.pe/
After hearing a lot about this infamous canyon of the Apurimac River, on the 31st of August myself, Julio and our new Aussie friend Ben Webb headed to Cconoc hotsprings close to Curahuasi to begin our descent of the Abysmo Canyon. The plan was to spend 4 days making our way down to Puente Pasaje with the second day spent hiking up to and visiting the Incan ruins at Choquequirao. Anyone interested in paddling this section should note that it’s possible to paddle much farther downstream to San Francisco though according to Julio this involves a lot of flat water and an even longer return to Cusco.
So you’ve seen all the videos, read the blog posts but are still wondering just what it was like to be an athlete at the Whitewater Grand Prix in Canada this spring. Well to sum it up in 5 adjectives it was: amazing, exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting and surprising. To find out more…read on; here is my account as a competitor relatively new to the whole brown-clawing, flat cap wearing, stout, church scene of rather good whitewater kayakers.