Adventure in Apurimac Canyon
Once in Cuzco, one may wonder how to spend the short available time combining sightseeing and thrilling adventures, and the Apurimac Canyon is definitely among our first options.
The Apurimac Canyon ranks third among the world's deepest canyons and it is only one of the many attractions of the enigmatic city of Cuzco.
The road to the canyon is not very long and soon we were aboard the specially designed rubber boats and ready to face the tumultuous rapids of the river that traces the frontier between the departments of Cuzco and Apurimac. The depth of the canyon is almost even and we couldn't imagine a safe way to access it by just walking into it. The cliffs that surrounded us were almost vertical and we can't imagine a cliffhanger that wouldn't feel challenged by the sheer steep they have. 3 rafts, a river boat and a rescue kayak were used in this 3 day adventure of about 50 km., that took us through beautiful landscapes and an ecosystem that has been almost untouched by men. Of course, due to the length of the journey we carried with us our own tents and waterproof clothing wear.
By nightfall we reached a sand beach where our camp was set and a bonfire provided us with the necessary warmth, as the moon and stars provided us with the light we needed, taking away the loneliness we would have felt otherwise. Among the sounds brought by the night we could identify the one made by the white owl, that has established himself among the trees of the riverbanks, where this accomplished hunter seeks his prey. After our breakfast we continued our journey through the river. During this part of our trip, we were able to witness the water ballet performed by the river otter, a small mammal that inhabits this river and that is at this time is counted among the many endangered species of our planet.
In order to proceed to the next part of our journey where we would have to face the river rapids our boat captain decided to send the kayak to scout the area in order to determine if the passage offered the safety conditions we needed in order to let our team go through it. It was finally decided that we would try it going at high speed and in the most difficult part, our boat completed a half turn and we had to complete this passage backwards and trying to avoid the huge boulders of limestone that are found aplenty in this river. Fortunately we made it safely through the rapids.
We were given a much needed rest when we arrived to a part of the river where the rapids almost disappeared, creating a deep pond. The walls of the canyon were easy to climb in order to dive from up to 10 m. of height into the pond, that was surrounded by the huge limestone boulders, beautifully eroded by the water of river.
During most of our trip though the river, we were able to sight the Torrent Ducks (Merganetta armata), a small relative of the duck whose colorful feathers difference the males from the females and that is remarkable for the fact that it can dive its way upstream even in the most difficult parts of the river. When we were having breakfast the next morning when our campsite was visited by an Andes Fox, that was attracted to the site by the smell of our food leftovers. I took some time to the fox to discover that we were no threat and he finally accepted the treat we had conveniently placed for him at the side of our camp (the treat was made of both our breakfast and dinner leftovers). He was gallant enough to let himself be taken on both picture and tape less than 10 m. away from us.
While we were rowing placidly through the river we were informed that we still had three river rapids to face, in order to add some more excitement to our journey that was reaching its end. We ended our third journey by having lunch in a warm beach located about 2 km. from the ancient bridge of the Apurimac River that marked the end of our journey. Through this bridge, 600 years ago the Incas sent their armies for both defense and conquest of their realm and during the times of peace they used it to transport their goods to different parts of it.
Juan Luis Tord.