Ecuador Trip Report... Damn that was great!
Damn howdy, what a great trip. Everyone should get to Ecuador and I mean pronto! Itís easy, itís relatively cheap, and the runs span everything from pure beginner to what I would say is V- on the high end. From what I know there are plenty of hairball runs, but they arenít as easy to get too as the 15 or so IV+ to V- runs that are within 2 hours of where I stayed with long time friends Don and Darcy at Small World Adventures.
So there are several operations down there. I think 3 that I heard about. One is based out of the Asheville area I think, and the other, Endless Adventures out of BC which is also a Jackson kayak dealer and stocked with great boats to choose from. They are all based in what is an off season (for the US/CA) whitewater mecca called Borja. Itís about 3 hours from Quito.. The place I stayed at was Small World Adventures and they have a fantastic lodge, killer food, and a super slick operation.
Bottom line folks, Ecuador is hard to describe in regards to just how easy it is. There are NO logistics to worry about. NADA. No matter who you choose as your guide service, you are stoked. They are all great, and offer various different packages. You literally get off the plane and paddle on the way to Borja. From there itís all you can eat/kayak/drink/BOOF! Getting two runs a day is not difficult, but I promise you wonít feel up for it after the first couple of days... especially after how cool it is to just soak in the sun of the Amazon basin...
Important to know that the general area is not a waterfall area that I could tell. But quite possibly the best boulder garden, seat of your pants scouting to boof, type read/run/getíer done type paddling. I had a blast and know that anyone else would too. We actually had 3 people there that had literally never sat in a kayak before. It was awesome to hear of the progress each night around dinner/cervesaís....
Cosanga first day: low, but gorgeous jungle run and very promising with a higher water. Not a bad first day off the couch run.
Oyacachi Day Two: Was raining all night, and we were surprised to see it low when we put on. Then WHAMO, about 2 miles into the run, chocolate milk come pouring through... River raised 3 feet or so and it was off to the races. That was a stompín good run.
Sardines Grande 2nd run of Day Two: Great little gem. Micro creeking colorado style. Heard someone say it was ďExtreme Class IIIĒ. I guess if you put a heck of a spin on Extreme, then itís pretty accurate description. Maybe the same way that you could describe CC of the Ark as not difficult paddling, but SUPER busy and steep enough to not see most rapids you were blowing into with no eddies...
Jondachi day 3: This run is beyond description in words. Unreal rock, super dense jungle, continuous class IV IV+. Not a high run, but was more than enough for some great lines and killer boofs. One of the best runs I have ever done.
Piatua day 4: This is a remote run, with a cool village and the water clarity was as if it were out of the tap. Great IV boulder gardens, killer boofs, and a super cool place to jump off rocks and swim around checking out fish. Probably the most beautiful run of the trip, but the water was a bit low.
Jondachi again day 5: This was a higher water day and it was yet again, spectacular. I had a slight mishap in an early rapid that ended up fíing up my neck a good bit. Pressed between a boulder in the drop and a boulder on the shore... Ouch, but fired up all every drop in there. Damn that run is awesome.
Cheese House of the Quios day 6: This was a good run too. Rock was way different though. Road blasted is what it felt like, but not sure if that was the case since the road was about 700 feet above the river. Cold water because it comes off a glacier. Cold air from roughly 7K feet (guestimate). Very good rapids though and again great boofing to be had everywhere.
Oyacachi again day 7: This was a bit lower than the stompin flash we had a few days earlier, but this is a great river. Mostly boulder garden, some longer rapids, and it really doesnít let up much for the whole 8 or 9 miles.
Small World Adventures treated us like kings. We ate killer food every night. We had a great pay as you go bar full of cold beer, cocktails and wine. The guides were excellent in their accurate rapid descriptions and we very rarely had to scout anything. To anyone looking for some great IV+ V- winter boating and isnít stuck on 40 footers... this is probably your best bet for turn key paddling in a foreign country.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather...To skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW !!!! What a ride!!!!!!"