Running whitewater in Peru with Aniol Serrasolses

Deep Peruvian gorges, fast whitewater plus Aniol Serrasolses and friends equals one big adventure.
By Josh Sampiero

Peru is known for many things: the cultural heritage sites of Machu Picchu, the longest waves in the world at Pacasmayo, unexplored rainforests and the climbing playground of the Cordillera Blanca.

But for kayakers, it holds another gem: some of the deepest canyons and toughest rivers in the world.

I've never been as scared in my kayak as I have in Peru.

Aniol Serrasolses completes the second descent of a waterfall  on the upper Sacsara Creek, near Santa Teresa, Peru on October 12th, 2013
Second descent of a line on the Sacsara creek. © Eric Parker / Red Bull Content Pool

In October, Aniol Serrasolses and friends headed to the jungle interior. The goal? “Paddle the mystic rivers of the sacred Inca waters,” says Serrasolses.

To do that, they battled mosquitoes and various jungle fevers while paddling their kayaks into canyons with towering 130m walls.

The highlight of the trip was a six-day, self-supported trip down the Apurimac River. Carrying all their own supplies in the small whitewater boats is no easy task.

“We loaded our kayaks with food for six days,” says Aniol. “That means a heavy kayak that's harder to control.” The crew covered 250km in just six days, with serious sections of whitewater.

Aniol Serrasolses performs on the Abismo Canyon, Rio Apurimac in Peru on October 5th, 2013
Aniol Serrasolses in action © Eric Parker / Red Bull Content Pool

How serious? Life-risking serious? “Peru doesn't have the most spectacular whitewater or biggest waterfalls,” says Aniol. “But it's very dangerous. There are many siphons and undercuts – that's when big holes are formed next to rocks, and you can get stuck and easily drown.”

But the scariest thing is the remoteness – “If something happens to you deep in one of the gorges, you're on your own, with nobody to come and rescue you. I've never been as scared in my kayak as I have in Peru.”


Aniol Serrasolses smiles after several hours of rugged hiking out of the Rio Huallaga in Peru on October 28th, 2013
Eating dirt is fun but doesn't taste great. © Eric Parker / Red Bull Content Pool

Despite his highly justified concerns, Aniol and his crew managed to have some fun – as you can see from the video above. It's three minutes of pure whitewater pleasure that really puts you in the paddling seat of a swash-buckling adventure down virtually unexplored South American rivers.

Aniol Serrasolses charges into a huge rapid on the rio Huallaga in Peru on October 28th, 2013
There's more white than water. © Eric Parker / Red Bull Content Pool

Having taken the risks once, will Aniol return? It sounds likely. “People in Peru are the perfect combination of humbleness, hospitality and friendship. And we all fell in love with the food and the culture.”

As for the paddling? “It's one of the most sacred, remote and bad-ass gorges in the world,” he says. “Some of the hardest whitewater I've ever paddled remains virtually untouched by people, hidden deep inside these canyons.”

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