River Rafting The Chuquicahuna

Running the "Chuqui"
Our shuttle picked us on Cusco’s Plaza de Armas and we rolled out of town and headed for a point on the Chuquicahuna River, also known as the “Chuqui,” about an hour and a half to the southeast. Our family’s plan was to spend the afternoon running the lower Chuqui and have a relaxing lunch by the side of the river afterwards.

After we got out of Cusco, we followed the river upstream past stands of Eucalyptus trees and corn fields. Once we arrived, we got into our slightly-mildewy wetsuits and took an abbreviated safety course at the spot where we were about to put in. Then we coasted down the river for about 20 minutes before we started to pick up some speed. The terrain was rocky without a lot of indigenous foliage, save for the eucalyptus trees, themselves imports from Australia.

We bumped our way down the river and I thought about how the Chuqui would flow into the Vilcanote (a.k.a. Urubamba), the river that cuts through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and winds past Machhu Picchu. From there it would head to the jungle and flow into the Ucayali, which would feed into the Amazon, which would then gently course into the Atlantic Ocean over 4,000 miles away. The river during this winter day was fairly gentle with a sprinkling of class II and III rapids and fortunately no one fell into the chilly water. The last time the four of us river rafted, my wife was abruptly dumped into a Panamanian river.

After each successfully negotiated set of rapids, we all put our paddles together, high in the air, to celebrate. Our cameraman, in a kayak, paddled ahead of the rapids and set up in the best locations for photos. Towards the end of our two and a half hour run, our guide, a woman in her 20’s from Panama, instructed our kids to “ride the bull” by climbing on the front of the raft holding the rubber handle between their legs and shouting like a cowboy riding a wild bull.

From this point, we soon pulled into camp at the side of the river, showered and had a meal of chicken, potatoes and quinoa soup. It was an uneventful day on the river – the way a rafting trip should be.


  1. Lovely story and nice to think of the river flowing down to the Atlantic all those miles away.

    The water looks green - reminds me of glacier water. Are you near enough to the snowline for snow melt to color the water?

  2. Looks like heaps of fun. And not so scary!

  3. We love rafting, so fun! Celebration paddle slaps are great