Safety Guide for White Water River Rafting in Cusco and Peru

Guide for rafting in Cusco Peru

What You Need To Know Before Rafting in Cusco Peru

Welcome to Peru’s guide for safety RIVER RAFTING trips. This post aims to help people make the right decision before they choose a rafting outfitter during a vacation in Peru.

Rafting is fun. Unfortunately, hundreds of people get serious injuries and many other die around the world while rafting. Most rafting deaths and injuries can be avoided.

Peru as a rafting destination is constantly growing. There are so many rivers to raft. For this, there are thousands of people looking for tours around Peru and especially in the Cusco area where there is a concentration of rivers from which to choose.

It is no wonder that the Ministry of Tourism along with other entities published the Peruvian White Water Rafting Rules and Regulations. This is a policy document that every company should follow in order to minimize the risk of accidents.

Understanding the Regulations

The Peruvian White Water Rafting Rules and Regulations regulates rafting activities including;,

  • Certifies river  guides.
  • Certified outfitters.
  • Certified agency regulators.

Choosing an Outfitter

Perhaps this is the most important aspect to look into before even looking at other safety precautions. In Peru there are only 20 rafting outfitters who can run commercial activities on rivers around Peru.

Out of this, only 6 operate expedition tours down to the Apurimac, Tambopata, Urubamba and Cotahuasi rivers. And out of these 6 outfitters, only few are recommended.

Before you make a decision on the outfitter that you are going to choose during your rafting trip in Peru, you are well advised to do your due diligence. There is only one company that works without the relevant certification from the Ministry of Tourism. This company is responsible for almost all rafting accidents that have happened over the years. Unfortunately, it has given a bad name to the Peruvian river rafting industry. Yours will be a pleasant rafting experience, especially in Cusco, if you choose your rafting outfitter carefully.

These 2 tips below will give you important information to find the list reliable rafting outfitter for your adventure.
  1. Type in Google “name of the company” and then “rafting accidents”
  2. Type in Google “name of the company” and then “accidentes de canotaje

Probably by now you will get surprised than even companies with excellent reviews in TripAdvisor are the list reliable company for rafting.


They say cheap is expensive. If you want safety, experienced guides, awesome equipment, you’ve got to be ready to pay for it.

Don’t fall ridiculously low rates such as US$40. A reasonable one day rate in Cusco (Urubamba: Chuquicahuana and Ollantaytambo section) would be between US$100 and US$160.

For 2 days tour near Cusco (recommended only during rainy season (January to April) and for families during dry season, a minimum rate would be $320.

Other rates we would recommend along the Urubamba River near Machu Picchu include;

  • 1 day US$150
  • 2 days US$ 400
  • 3 days US$540

For Apurimac Rafting Tours

Running commercial Apurimac river rafting tours down to the  canyon is expensive. The extra cost is due to more experienced guides, special dirt road transportation and good rafting gear.

Let nobody cheat you that such an incredible experience will only attract US$300.  This is the sort of rate that will only be charged by illegal outfitters. They will fit you in groups of 24 people, sometimes 60. We advise you to use certified outfitters. The lowest fair price to run a 3 day tour down the Apurimac River is US$550.

For 4 days tour you’ll pay US$750 and for 6 days tour US$ 1200 (The only outfitter who actually runs 6 day Apurimac River rafting tour in is River Explorers).


Make sure you ask for rafting certification that is only issued by The Ministry of Tourism. All rafting outfitters and river guides should have it and they should renew it every 3 years.

Rafting Gear

The Ministry of Tourism staff inspect rafting gear condition every 2 years after the certification is given. If the certification is not renewed, then the gear is not suitable for use.

The list below is the personal gear that need to be supplied by the outfitter according to the rules and regulations and this can change according the season;

The following is a list of the gear that you should get from your outfitter according to the rules and regulations. Note that the list is subject to change due to change in seasons.

  • Life vest.
  • Helmets.
  • Wetsuits: Full wet-suits that cover arms and legs are recommended for rafting in the Urubamba near Cusco and for the Apurimac from May to August.
  • Paddle jackets.
  • Shoes, not obligatory but some outfitters provide them.
  • Paddles.

*its absolutely up to the companies to provide better quality of gear, yearly refreshing rescue and first aid training and other  that is expressed in the regulations.

Number of Passengers per Group

There is not a maximum number specified in the rules and regulations. However we recommend a maximum 36 for a single day tour and a maximum of 18 for multi-day tours. In any case, larger number of people per group can be divided in two groups while navigating on the river. An experience outfitter will manage to minimize risk for a successful rafting experience.

Number of Passengers per Boat

The maximum number recommended in a boat is 6 excluding the captain. Depending on the river level, different boat options are available including; paddle boats and oars boat. The latter is divided into tale frame (up to 6 passengers) and central frame (up to 4 people). Both systems are suitable for rivers with huge volumes of water.

Age Restrictions

The minimum age recommended for rafting in Peru is 8 years. Ask your outfitter the best section tor raft according to your ability and experience. An excellent outfitter will give instructions to the rafters on the suitable section according to their experience, age and ability.

Start low and go up

If you are an inexperienced rafter start by running on level II and III. You can then go up and run on level IV and V. Most rafting companies in Cusco Peru don’t ask for previous experience. We recommend that you insist on giving them your rafting experience so that they can advise you accordingly.

Thank you for reading our post. We hope that it will help you find the right outfitter during your next Peru rafting expedition.

3 thoughts on “Safety Guide for White Water River Rafting in Cusco and Peru”

  1. There are a lot of factors that you have to look into when planning a rafting trip, no matter where in the world you are. I particularly like that the article brings up the importance of making sure that you understand the regulations. After all, each rafting company will have their own rules for the raft and you have to make sure that you’re following them for your own safety.

  2. Great article, thanks for the tips! Indeed, as the hub of the Inca empire, Peru is a spectacular place to visit, with it being home to the majestic Machu Picchu, stunning Inca architecture, dazzling cloud forests, snow-capped peaks of the Andes and the mighty Amazon River.

    However, there are tourist-targeting scammers and petty crime to be wary of. Do be wary of pickpocketing, drink spiking, public transport theft, taxi with two occupants, snatch theft and robberies, currency switcheroo / sleight of hand, and many more!

  3. Thanks for helping me understand that the minimum age for rafting in some places would be about 8 years old. I will make sure that ask the tour company that I can find in New River Gorge, since I have a son who is 10 years old. He really wanted to try this kind of activity next summer.


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