Traditionally the home of the Matsiguenga and Piro Indians, the Río Urubamba rolls down from the Incas’ Sacred Valley to the humid lower Andean slopes around the town of Quillabamba. The river remains unnavigable for another 80km or so, with regular buses following a dirt road that continues deeper down into the jungle via the settlement of Kiteni, where the Río Urubamba becomes navigable again, to the even smaller frontier settlement of Ivochote. From here on, the river becomes the main means of transport, through the Amazon Basin right to the Atlantic, interrupted only by the impressive Pongo de Mainique whitewater rapids, just a few hours downstream from Ivochote. These rapids are generally too dangerous to pass between November and March.

Unlike the Manu Biosphere Reserve, most of the Urubamba has been colonized as far as the pongo, and much of it beyond has suffered more or less permanent exploitation of one sort or another – rubber, cattle or oil – for over a hundred years. In the last decade or so, the discovery and exploitation of a massive gas field is changing the river and communities fast, though this is still a relatively quiet and untouristed region compared with Manu or Madre de Dios.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Peru features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
20 pictures of Peru that will put the country on your bucket list

20 pictures of Peru that will put the country on your bucket list

Peru is has long been a favourite destination on the South America backpacker trail, but there's more to tempt you here than the oft-photographed llamas and …

05 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month