Published on octobre 15th, 2017 | by Kayak Session https://www.kayaksession.com/img-current-issue/upload-your-video.png

Interview: Alonso Campana aka Rambito (2017 Machu Pichu Kayak Festival)

We are proud at Kayak Session to be associated with the 2017 Machu Pichu Kayak Festival, that will take place from Nov. 3rd the Nov. 5th, on the Rio Vilcanota near Cusco in Peru. Leading up to the event, during the event and after off course, we will be publishing pre race update, live coverage and reports of all sorts (articles, videos, photos).

By: Diane Samardzich

Peru has got a reputation for having some of the most wild and dangerous whitewater rapids in the world. Local legend Juanito de Ugarte used to say with pride that to become a man you to had to paddle in his home country. There is no wonder why Alonso Campana, better known as Rambito, is one of the strongest kayakers in South America. Born in a little town of the Peruvian Andes right by the famous Abismo section of the Apurimac River, he grew up charging at a young age. Only last season, he did 5 first descent expeditions in Peru, climb the podium of the Machu Picchu Kayak Fest and Futa XL fest, and became the national champ. We caught up with Rambito on his way to Austria.


You were the first Peruvian kayaker in the Sickline World Championships. 

I felt honored to represent the Peruvian whitewater community at Sickline. It’s been a great year racing in South America and I felt ready to push my limits and try competition at this level.

Asides drinking Fernet, do you have any other pre race rituals?

I don’t drink, who told you that? (Laughs). In the Andes we have a tradition of paying tribute to nature. Coca leaves are sacred in our culture so I usually carry some on my life vest and spread them in the river while I ask for its protection and permission to paddle.


A bunch of international kayakers will compete at the Machu Picchu Kayak Fest in Peru this year. Any multiday expeditions you would recommend them?

I’m really stoked to see the Machu Picchu Kayak Fest grow at such fast pace. I would definitely recommend the Abismo section of the Apurimac River. It’s a three-day expedition with up to class V+ rapids and some portages within one of the deepest canyons of the world. I have the best memories paddling there. Some years ago we did an epic expedition with 16 kayakers, amongst them Evan Garcia, Aniol Serrasolses, Eric Parker, Babybird, Aleix Salvat and other good friends. We also did a 9-hour record descent with Gerd Serrasolses.

How was growing up on the Apurimac River?

The Apurimac River has been part of my whole life. It’s the perfect place to learn and progress thanks to its different sections for all kayaking levels. I got into the sport while in high school and remember I had no gear so I actually fabricated a spray skirt out of an old wetsuit and used it for many years. I managed to stay close to this river working as safety kayaker until I launched Apurimac Explorer, my own rafting company.


You are responsible for several first descents in Peru. Which one was your favorite and why?

Peru is the paradise of first descents and multi-day expeditions. My pick would be last year’s first descent of the Araza River that is located between cities of Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. It was a two-day expedition running strong and continues class V rapids. Now I have plans of exploring virgin rivers in the Peruvian jungle with Aleix Salvat, Aran Balaguero and Jan Larrue, the new generation of solid kayakers from Catalonia. Afterwards I’m joining Evan Garcia on a river expedition in Colombia.

When did you have your last booty beer?

It was a couple of years ago paddling the Vilcanota River on our way to Machu Picchu with the Serrasolses bros. I remember my kayak got smashed so we had to do a fire to melt the plastic and managed to repair it somehow. I was also close not long ago in the Babalua rapid of the Apurimac River. We paddled it in March during rainy season at historic levels and faced some scary features along the way.


Sponsors shout outs?

I would like to thank Siesta Oppi, local companies Al Aire Libre, Destileria Andina and Sky Lodge as well as the Curahuasi City Council for their support.

>>>Read more about the 2017 Machu Pichu Festival

More info on the 2017 Machu Pichu Festival HERE

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