Peru is an adventure paradise. The many great mountains provide fabulous alpine climbing, and the deep canyons are filled with extreme whitewater and ancient Inca ruins.
The lofty country of Peru is home to more than forty 6000 meter peaks and the Equatorial climate is very good for climbing. The routes vary from moderate to extreme, and the open valleys provide easy approaches, stunning vistas, and great trekking routes.
The Colca claims to be the deepest canyon in the world, and it’s shear walls and ever-changing rapids have provided a thrilling adventure to many hardy paddlers. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and the local trails provide excellent trekking.
Climbing and Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca
This famous mountain range rivals the Himalayas in everything accept altitude. The highest peak is just over 22,000 feet, and dozens of lessor mountains and remote valleys stand waiting for eager adventurers. The busy city of Huaraz can easily be reached by bus and is the starting point for most of the climbing and trekking activity. The town is filled with hotels, guides and trekking companies, and is the perfect place to organize an adventure. The dry season climate ( May through July) is usually very good. “Classic Routes of the Cordillera Blanca” by Brad Johnson is an excellent guidebook.
Exploring the Cordillera Huayhuash
This truly spectacular range of mostly limestone mountains has a very interesting history, and is far less crowded than the Cordillera Blanca. It was a main base camp for the infamous “Shining Path” gorillas in the late eighties, and the Peruvian government closed the whole area to foreigners for several years. The rugged peaks have been the scene of many climbing epics, including Joe Simpson’s “Touching the Void,” and the steep faces offer many challenges to modern climbers.
The trek around the range is one of the most spectacular hikes in the world, and a small peak called the “Mute Devil” offers a fun challenge for moderate climbers. The political conditions of this remote area are constantly changing, but tourism is growing, and the locals are usually friendly. Huaraz is the best place to organize a trek or transportation to this unique range. Jeremy Frimer’s “Climbs and Treks in the Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru” is highly recommended.
Kayaking the Colca Canyon
The infamous Colca Canyon has been the scene of many epics, but the deepest canyon in the world offers stunning scenery, and an experience that you will never forget. The whitewater is challenging, and the shear walls filled with loose rock and the ever-changing rapids make every descent a new adventure. The circling condors and steam from the many hot springs create a surrealistic mood as you drop ever deeper into the great abyss. This fabulous river is run commercially by a few brave companies and is a perfect 3-5 day self-support kayak trip. Peruwhitewater is an excellent source of information.
Kayaking through an Ancient Inca City
The Cotahuasi might be the best whitewater river in the world. The dry climate is perfect for a self-support kayak trip, and the remote Atacama desert provides a very mystical setting. This pristine river flows through the middle of an ancient Inca civilization, and it is possible to camp in many of the ruins. The crystal clear water that flows from the high Andean peaks tumbles through dozens of miles of continuos class III-IV rapids that are pure bliss for an expert paddler. The spectacular canyon walls are not as shear as the Colca, so there is little danger from rockfall, and campsites are easy to find. There are a few intermittent class V’s, but the rapids are easily scouted, and may be portaged if desired. Two optional Class V+ canyons can provide a bigger challenge for hardy paddlers, and portaging the big falls with burro support is a memorable experience. “Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet” by John Mattson provides a reasonable description of the logistics.
The Many Other Natural and Man Made Wonders
Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley are stunning relics of the Inca Empire, and Cusco is a great place to spend a few days. The miles of rugged coast line offer fabulous surfing, and the Amazon Jungle is a world of it’s own. Lima is big and dirty, and traveling can be a bit challenging, but Peru might be the best adventure travel destination on Earth. A little knowledge of the Spanish language is almost crucial.
Earthquake in the Colca is a thrilling story of paddling the Colca.
Adventure in the Andes describes an early climbing expedition.
The Mute Devil and the Volcanos of southern Chile is a thrilling saga of climbing and skiing.
The Grand Canyon of the Cotahuasi might be the best river in the world.