Our last night’s camp, #17, was in a backwater on a mostly muddy beach, to the upstream side of the Rio Llanten.
Late in the morning, we arrive at Samosierra Rapid, Class III-IV, at K. 320. Like some rapids upstream (e.g. Shapalmonte), this rapid started with a long stretch of randomly scattered boulders, followed by a drop and a turn to the right against a cliff.
We arrive at the Rio Pusac, which enters from the east. Here, a road from the downstream town of Chacanto passes close to the river, before turning up the Rio Pusac valley. The Rio Marañon is bridged at Chacanto (Balsas), and this is where the Central Grand Canyon of the Rio Marañon stretch ends, to be followed by the Lower Grand Canyon stretch. The bridge provides a link between the cities of Cajamarca to the west and Chachapoyas to the east. The closest town to the west is Celendin, and the closest to the east is Leimebamba, both thousands of feet above the river. In a sidebar entitled: “The Road to Chachapoyas: Two the Hard Way” the Lonely Planet guide discusses the two routes to Chachapoyas. Of the route from Cajamarca to Chachapoyas via the bridge at Chacanto (Balsas), they ask: ” … do you have the heart, patience and nerves of steel to brave the astonishingly scenic but hopelessly nerve-wracking mountain route via Celendin and Leimebamba?”
Pedro had been on the phone again, arranging for a replacement raft (to replace CJ’s “three-quarter” raft) to be shipped to us from Trujillo, just as he had arranged for the replacement cataraft to be shipped to us earlier. He had also arranged for a taxi to pick us (the participants) up and drive us the 10 kilometers to Chacanto. There, we would split up for two nights. 5 of us (our group of 4 and Karl) would stay with the taxi and head up to Celendin, while Nate, Kym and Artie would take a bus in the opposite direction, first to Leimebamba, and then on to the ruins at Kuelap. Our group of four took a pass on this option, since we intended to visit Kuelap after the river trip. We preferred the R&R that Celendin would provide. We forded the Rio Pusac and piled into the taxi, while Pedro, Barba and Zacarias would get the rafts down to Chacanto. It was a good plan!
The bridge at Chacanto is at an elevation of 2814′, while the high point on the road to Celendin is 8809′, for a climb of 5995′. The trip takes one hour and forty minutes, and we arrived at the Hotel Villa Madrid in Celendin well after dark. Had Kathy and I brought clothing suitable for the now chilly temperatures we encountered in Celendin (at an altitude of 8600′)? Of course not! Whatever … our room was very nice, the hotel had an attached restaurant and it was a few steps from the Plaza. And behind the front desk, what should we encounter but a Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle (last seen many kilometers upstream), but in this case, stuffed.
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