Here’s an interesting twist on the traditional Peru Amazon Tour: go rafting down the Amazon River on a self-made balsa wood raft. With a slogan that goes, “The faint of heart need not apply!” the Great River Amazon Raft Race is one of the most thrilling sporting events that happens on water.
Rafting-lovers descend upon the mighty Amazon River in Peru each year to participate in an adrenaline-pumping Great River Amazon Raft Race. This October 4-9, 2011, the 13th annual rafting race will go down in Iquitos, in the heart of northern Peru’s Amazon rainforest.
This rafting race is not exactly tame. Thrill-seekers from around the world race 87 miles of water, from Nauta to Iquitos, over a 3 day stretch. The rafters have to build their own rafts on balsa wood.
Starting in Isla de Pescadores (Fisherman’s Island), the teams construct their rafts, then camp out and enjoy life in the midst of the jungle. Early the next day, the Amazon Raft Race officially begins. Along the way, rafters clock their time, and in the evenings, dinner and campsites are provided. The race finishes at the Fishing Club at Bella Vista Nanay.
Previous years have drawn dozens of teams from across the globe. Teams have 4 to 7 members, and are divided into 3 categories, Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed.
In 1999, a dedicated rafting team known as the Amazon Rafting Club initiated an Amazon rafting race that would attract international attention. Back then, the race was just 12 miles long and included 40 teams. Now, the race is capped off at 30 local teams and 30 international teams.
Although the race is strenuous, amateur rafters can grab a paddle and join a crew in Iquitos. Just a few years ago, a team known as the “Over the Hill Gang” paddled the course – and their average age was 68. No doubt this Amazon raft race is one of the most exciting ways to experience the Amazon rainforest. Read Bill Grimes’s blog post on his Captain’s Blog Dawn on the Amazon, for more background photos, stories, and more info about this fascinating race.
Support boats follow along with the rafters, and substitutions are allowed. For family members and friends that want to tag along and cheer for their favorite rafters, the cost is $125 per person.
The entry cost is $125 per person or $500 for a team of 4. Often, teams raise money to pay for the entry cost as well as to donate to local causes. The Amazon Rafting Club Facebook Group is helpful for finding out the latest information.
Photos courtesy Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon.
You may also want to read our blog post, Amazon River Cruises to Peru, Brazil, Bolivia & Ecuador, or our interview Solo Paddler to Tackle Amazon River.