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The Río Colca is a finicky river. Highly skilled paddlers long to run this Class IV–V river. Depending upon the season, the water level and the seismic activity of the local volcanoes, the rapids change frequently. In some areas it's more than a Class V and in other areas it's slow enough that it could be considered a Class II–III. Below Colca Canyon conditions on the Río Majes (the large downstream section of the Río Colca) are reliable with superb white-water rafting. Skilled rafters start in Huambo by renting mules for S/20 and for the next eight hours descend to the river. The waters at this point rank in at Class III, but when the Río Mamacocha dumps in, it's Class IV and V rapids.
Paddlers who have tried to run the entire river through the canyon have failed more often than succeeded. There are a few well-known operators to consider, which is important given the river's intensity.