There are no coastal boat services in Peru, but in many areas – on Lake Titicaca and especially in the jungle regions – water is the obvious means of getting around. From Puno, on Lake Titicaca, there are currently no regular services to Bolivia by ship or hydrofoil (though check with the tour agencies in Puno), but there are plenty of smaller boats that will take visitors out to the various islands in the lake. These aren’t expensive and a price can usually be negotiated down at the port.
In the jungle areas motorized canoes come in two basic forms: those with a large outboard motor and those with a Briggs and Stratton peque-peque engine. The outboard is faster and more manoeuvrable, but it costs a lot more to run. Occasionally you can hitch a ride in one of these canoes for nothing, but this may involve waiting around for days or even weeks and, in the end, most people expect some form of payment. More practical is to hire a canoe along with its guide/driver for a few days. This means searching around in the port and negotiating, but you can often get a peque-peque canoe from around $40-50 per day, which will invariably work out cheaper than taking an organized tour, as well as giving you the choice of guide and companions. Obviously, the more people you can get together, the cheaper it will be per person.
Rainforest travel packages
If you’re heading downstream it’s often possible in the last resort to buy, borrow or even make a balsa raft . Most of the indigenous population still travel this way so it’s sometimes possible to hitch a lift, or to buy one of their rafts. Riding with someone who’s going your way is probably better, since rafting can be dangerous if you don’t know the river well.