Inside the Machu Picchu Kayak Fest : Final Report
The second edition of the festival took place from the 3rd to 5th of November in the town of Santa Teresa in Cusco – Peru. Over 50 kayakers from 10 different countries gathered to paddle the Vilcanota River that surrounds the archeological complex of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
On Friday morning most competitors arrived to the Cocalmayo Hot Springs, the official campsite area of the festival. After doing recognition runs, they were able to register during the opening ceremony and enjoyed a welcome dinner of typical Peruvian food offered by the local authorities.
The next day all downriver races started early. Local kayaker Alonso Campana was the fastest on the 6-kilometer stretch of continuous class V whitewater section reserved for the professional category. On the ladies field, Irina Medunyak from Ukraine took the win. The experts’ category was next on a similar length section with big waves and beginners followed on a friendlier sector giving an official end to all morning events.
Right after lunch all experienced kayakers got ready for Boater X, the favorite kayaking spectacle for the audience. After conquering 5 intense heats, Catalonian young gun Aran Balaguero was the official champion and UK kayaker Georgina Preston won the women’s tittle.
Sunday was reserved for all slalom races in the Quellomayo area were the racecourse was particularly hard compared to last year’s edition due to an unexpected increase in water levels. The 12-gate circuit was built over 100mts of class III rapids. Aleix Salvat was the only kayaker able to do both runs clean and took the win in senior category and kayaker Irina Medunyak won her second gold medal as she was the best female on the course.
The main goal of the festival is to promote Peru as a kayak destination highlighting the importance of river conservation and motivating the future generation of local kayakers. This year there was a great crew of young paddlers representing The Lunahuana Kayak Club who proved the Peruvian whitewater community is definitely growing on a fast pace.
This year the organization gave out $3,000 in prizes thanks to the committed support of Al Aire Libre, The North Face, Palm, El Albergue, Quechua Treks, Intu, Terra Explorer, Chola y Che, Cola de Mono and the City Council of Santa Teresa.
Check out full results at www.machupicchukayakfest.com