I was sick; really sick. The kind of sick many people experience when traveling overseas, where your guts feel like there is something living inside them. Tom and I were on an eight hour van ride from Huaraz to Puente Copuma with two other class V kayakers to run the Upper and Inner Gorges of the Río Marañón in Perú, possibly the biggest whitewater I had ever seen. But all I could focus on was the thriving pain bubbling in my stomach.

My friend and fellow guide, Rocky, crouched next to the door of the tent. There's a bus that passes every few hours. You could ride back to Huaraz." The thought of riding 10 hours over dusty roads while lugging my kayak and gear around between bus transfers made me nauseous. I laid back down on my blanket and decided my best option was to face the river.

The Río Marañón is quickly gaining fame as one of the premier whitewater rivers in South America. Some even refer to is as the "Grand Canyon of South America." Its silty waters are the largest source of the Amazon River, beginning high in the snow capped Andes, continuing through majestic canyons and eventually into the jungle. 

This last December I took a trip there with fellow ROW guides, Tom Morrison and Ashley Borman. We began in the Cardillera Huayhuash and followed the river to its confluence with the Río Ucayali where the Amazon proper begins near Iquitos, Perú. It started out with three days of being sick (I ended up feeling better after a round of antibiotics) and kayaking class V big water, and then rafting beautiful desert canyons, and finally lush jungle. 

Along the way we quickly learned that the river is being threatened by several large hydro-electric dams that many of the locals ardently oppose. So Tom and I decided to put our cameras to use. We began capturing interviews along with capturing the action. We thought we might make a short 10-minute video about our trip. When we returned to the States, we had 100s of hours of footage. 

As we sifted through we thought the story was compelling enough to make something a little more substantial. Nearly one hundred editing hours later, we made "The Primary Source - Running the Río Marañón," a 38-minute feature about the spirit of adventure, the story of the locals opposition to the dams, and some great whitewater shots. 

The Primary Source "Running The Río Marañón" - Trailer from Sam Morrison on Vimeo.

If you are interested in learning more about the Río Marañón and the film that came out of our adventure, check out: ThePrimarySource.org. You can rent the full video for $3 here

Note about the rental fee: This film is NOT for profit; it was created simply to help spread awareness. The rental cost will ONLY be used to pay for film festival entry fees to help raise awareness. Any other proceeds will be donated directly to SierraRios.org to aid in their efforts to keep the Maranon free flowing. However, if you cannot afford the fee or do not wish to pay it, please email us at slmorriso@gmail.com and we will send you a password to access it for free. 


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