We loaded into a van early in the morning for the four-hour drive to the put-in on the Apurimac River. I sat near the back with Omey until the switchbacks high on the mountain roads and the gun it/slam on the brakes driving technique of our driver proved fateful to my stomach. I moved up to the front seat (thanks Ducky!) and we continued our drive. The front seat wasn’t much better though; I was slightly horrified to discover that our driver was falling asleep at the wheel while driving us down narrow mountain roads. The road was really only wide enough for one vehicle and one wrong move would send us plummeting over the edge and far beleow. We got out once when the two-wheel drive van couldn’t manage to climb a hill on a “road” with all of us in it. Somehow we managed to arrive safely at the put-in and after a brief downpour while we unloaded the van, we ate lunch and watched while they ferried all of the rafts and gear down the hill to the river.
The put-in for the river was unlike any I had seen before. We went down a steep, rocky embankment to the side of the river where we received instructions for the river. Listening to the safety talk made me nervous. I knew if we got in the rafts and started moving downstream I would feel better and remember why I signed up for this!
Soon enough we were in the rafts and practicing some strokes on flat water before heading out for further adventures on the river. We hadn’t been on the water for long before we pulled off to the side for our first portage. We piled out of the raft and Juanito, our guide, ran the raft through a tricky rapid while we walked downstream and met him. We floated downstream for about four hours with rapids interspersed before arriving at our campsite for the night.
We set up an assembly line to unload the cargo raft and then all headed out to set up our tents and sleeping bags for the night. Dinner was late, it was on Peru time, but it was very good and we were all soon heading to our tents. I didn’t sleep much that night, but was up at dawn and ready for another day on the river.