Friday, 28 December 2012

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Back in the UK

We are all safely back in the UK and our epic adventure has come to an end. We want to thank a few individuals in Peru who made our dreams of paddling some of the world's greatest rivers a reality and really helped us out:

Gian Marco Vellutino of Cola de Mono and Cusipata Rafting Per├║ (Santa Teresa)

Julio Cesar Baca Vargas - all round Peruvian kayaking legend (Cusco)

Paul Cripps of Amazonas explorer (Cusco)
  Daniel Rondon and family of Expediciones y Adventuras Rafting (Arequipa)

The Girls at Hitchhikers Backpackers Hostal, possibly the best hostel in the world! (Cusco)

And of course to thank our sponsors from the UK whose support was invaluable:

Imperial College London, Armourgel, Dam Watersports, Lyon Outdoor, Kent Canoes, Canon, Hereford Cathedral School, Old Centralians' Trust.

Stay tuned for the film we our currently editing of the trip!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Two Tits Travel To Titicaca

Two intrepid explorers ready to brave the mighty Lake
In the last couple of weeks of the expedition there was a division of forces in the team. whilst Adam, Alex and Tom decided to stay in the Urabamba valley and continue to chase the white water dream Alby and myself took a different adventure to lake Titicaca.

06/09/2012 - 09/09/2012

Heading back to Cusco we paid a visit to Paul Cripps at Amazonas Explorers to collect Derf’s Mamba as I took the decision to sell my beloved Jefe to Gian Marco back in Colo De Mono. Having retrieved the boat we jumped on a bus and whipped down to Puno where we planned to begin our journey across the lake. Arriving late in the evening we quickly sourced a tasty polleria meal before heading to bed for an early start in the morning.

By 11 o’clock we were underway and on the lake having acquired supplies. In the taxi to the port we asked our taxi drivers if we needed a permit or license to paddle on the lake. He didn't seem to know but radioed his HQ to find out - the operator on the other end shouted (in Spanish) “Sir we are a Taxi company. How should we know?!. Guess not then.

Tim enjoy the mighty reed beds
Heading off into the reed beds we quickly made our way to the Islas Uros. These stunning man made floating islands are made from dead reeds which are matted together to create a floating structure for people to live on.

Alby approaching the Islas Uros
The first islands we visited are a tourist attraction and as such are not lived on in a traditional manner, however we heard that behind the reeds there are islands where people live as they have for years. Great we thought, we shall paddle there and spend the night! Stopping for a quick spot of lunch and a chat with a couple of locals to find the best way to get to the none touristy islands we were met with worried faces. The locals tried to dissuade us from leaving as the islands and were adamant that they were too far away, we would get lost, the lake was choppy, we would drown, etc. Having finally convinced them that it would probably be fine we set off.

Alby considers swapping his boat!
After 2 emotional hours of navigating the narrow channels through reed beds the lake proper finally appeared. Turns out it's pretty big. Skirting around the huge expanse of reeds looking for a village to stay in it wasn’t long before we saw some islands and headed in to speak to the inhabitants. First paddling into the village we were ignored but then the children spotted us and came across for a chat. After negotiating with the children to speak to an adult we started asking around trying to find somewhere to sleep. The question “is it possible to stay here” was answered with “si” so you obviously ask “we can stay yes?” however the reply was “no, not here go and find somewhere else”. It was now 5 o’clock and getting towards sun set. In the end we found a couple of buildings on stilts, a sneaky look inside showed them to be the school, and was surrounded by an expanse of floating reeds.

The sun setting over the not so friendly village
 Excellent - a camp site! As it was getting dark we decided to bivvy out on the school and leave at first light the following day so as to avoid any unpleasant confrontations. It should be mentioned that we brought some beers to share with anyone who would put us up, however as we were on our own it was an obvious chore to drink them and watch a beautiful sunset!
One Camp-site!

At 5.30 the following morning we arose, packed up and escaped from our bivvy/school site. The plan  was to paddle across the lake to the Peninsula de Chuquito (opposite) and from there possibly on or find another camp site depending how far and tired we were. A quick breakfast of biscuits and the long flat slog began. Unfortunately the weather had turned and it had become quite overcast, but with some paddling we were soon warm and within an hour and a half across the lake to the town of Luquina Grande.

Tim has a healthy breakfast
  Amazingly this town was in the middle of a three day fiesta so now at about 8 in the morning we were greeted and welcomed into a party, given beer and soup! Spending an hour relaxing and chatting to the locals who were very excited to have two heroic kayakistas in their mix! As much fun as it would have been to stay we still wanted to see more of the lake so returned to the boats and paddled on around the peninsula, a brief coffee stop at 11.30 at the next town along, Luquina Chico and the decision was taken to man up and charge across to the island of Taquile.

Our hosts at the fiesta

Alby point to the island "it can't be that far!"
The island looked quite small, however it is in fact 7km long… Paddling away in the afternoon sun it took us three and a half hours to cover the distance but we were rewarded with a very excited harbour master who was very surprised to see us and impressed that we had paddled from the main land. He kindly offered to hide our boats in his shed before giving us directions to a homestay up in the main town.

After an amazing night sleep and the best breakfast in a long time (fried bready dohnuts, coffee, eggs and pancakes!) we went off to explore the island. The people that live on Taquile continue to wear traditional (and very unique) clothing and fish and farm the lake itself.

The island complete with terracing

Obviously the water was too inviting to turn down, but we had both forgotten our trunks!

Nuff said
After lunch we caught a local boat back to Puno as we couldn't face the thought of the paddle back! After a swift shower it was time polleria, beer and salsa dancing!

Tim relaxing on the boat back to Puno

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Rio Urubamba - Hydroelectrica to Santa Teresa


"Don't forget your handbags and makeup ladies... today we paddle class 5" exclaimed Gian Marco as the remaining kayakistas prepared their balls for this difficult section of the Urubamba. Steep, high-volume, continuous rapids provided the most intense and difficult river experience of the trip.

After visualising some fantasy lines on the enormous man-made waterfall which marks the end of the Hydroelectrica section it is then possible to paddle to the confluence with the Santa Teresa. We paddled the run in about 3 hours, though without Gian Marco leading us it could have taken twice as long as inspections would be necessary.

GM and el Mono just after Hidroelectrica
With Gian Marco demonstrating some big lines, eddies were only available every hundred metres or so: arrive in the eddy, get your shit together and then quickly turn to see how GM avoids the next set of big holes!

The river didn't let up so we couldn't even think about taking any bank-footage or photos. Check out this quick edit of my Go Pro footage to get a feel for the beast instead:

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Rio Lucumayo - Alex´s cumplea├▒os

Tom deep in the jungle gorge

And Tom asked of Gian Marco "Will we have enough daylight to finish the run?", "Well you are English kayakistas; I hope you have your head torches!"

After another sporting run down the Urubamba from Santa Teresa to Santa Maria, we met Gian Marco in Santa Maria. From here it was a 45 minute drive to the put on for the Lucumayo, a tributary that meanders down the valley before entering the Urubamba at Santa Maria. This run was also to be Alex´s birthday treat. And he was certainly treated to an enchanting jungle gorge and some great kayaking. However he was also treated to a heinous walk-out from the river in the dark after we missed the painfully obvious take-out!

Adam awaiting Tim´s signal
After hiding our boats in the jungle bush the night before, the next day we trecked down a steep side trib from the road to retrieve the boats - quite a slog, but overall a great river experience.

Trekking in to retrieve the boats

And back up again!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Rio Urubamba - Paddling in the shadow of Machu Picchu

The paddleable section of the Urubamba begins on the left of the picture, with Machu Picchu to the right!

This day section of the Urubamba begins close to the train station for Machu Picchu and ends at the waterfall where the water extracted for the hydroelectric power station re-enters the river. The removal of water from the river here has turned an otherwise un-paddlable stretch of whitewater into a great low volume class 5 creek with some great boof drops amongst giant boulders!


We paddled this section with Gian Marco, who pioneered the first decent last year! We expect we made the first British descent of this section.

Gian Marco
The team watch Alex

Friday, 31 August 2012

Rio Santa Teresa


The Rio Santa Teresa is a tributary that flows into the Rio Urubamba at the town of Santa Teresa. We paddled a 10-15km section of this river to the confluence. It took a few hours and was continuous grade 3 read and run. A very pleasant run! Unfortunately no photos this time.