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Old 09-22-2013   #1
Pleasant Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 95
Going to Ecuador?

Hey all,

I am planning a trip to Ecuador January through March. Wanted to see if anyone is headed down that direction, around the same time? It would be good to talk logistics, past experiences, flying with kayaks, recommendations for hostels, apartment rentals, paddling gear (drytop vs. shorty, full face or standard helmet), places to stay ect.

Any knowledge, tips or experiences you have would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 09-23-2013   #2
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 569
I was down there in January with Small World Adventures, so my time was a lot more coordinated than it looks like you are looking for. I liked it, but I don't think I'll go back with them since Don and Darcy aren't there anymore.

Abe Herrera in White Salmon runs a little gig called Boof Sessions that sounds like it might be your stride.

There seemed to be a bunch of kayakers hanging around Tena. The taxi drivers there know what to do with boaters. Another friend of mine split her time between there and Baeza, mostly using the taxis for daily getting around.

As for getting there, experiences vary greatly about just getting a boat there. United sometimes will take the boat as long as it is renamed to something other than a kayak. I had status with them last year, so I got to take three checked bags with no questions, which meant I took five paddles with me. American was charging $200 EACH WAY for paddle bags.

When you leave the country, be prepared for an experience at the airport. I think they checked my passport at least six times. It is also likely that your checked bag will be subject to extra searching, so be prepared to be taken downstairs to meet with large numbers of police to explain the contents of your bag. You will not be the only American taken out of the lounge for this extra attention.

I don't know how the new airport is, but at the old one, no drinks were allowed on the plane, even past security. It felt extra stupid.

As for clothing, make sure you bring something to cover your legs, at least for the hike in and out. I wore neoprene lined shorts and a drytop most days when we were at altitude. When we were in Tena, the shorty looked much more promising. One day down there I just went with a white underlayer to keep the sun off.

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Old 09-23-2013   #3
Pleasant Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 95
Thanks for the reply! Anyone ele have experience flying out of Denver with a kayak? Looks like its allowed on the first leg of the flight, but then United claims that they can't take kayaks on the airbus. Looks like this will be a surf ski vacation!
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Old 09-23-2013   #4
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 569
That is usually a 737-700 leg for United from Houston. That isn't to say that the A320 can't operate into Quito (and they do fly there), it's just that the takeoff performance of the 737 is better at that altitude, particularly when loaded with cargo and the fuel needed to go to Houston.

I know for fact that a kayak will fit in either plane.
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Old 09-23-2013   #5
Fayetteville, AR and Banks, Idaho
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 30
I will be down there from early December - mid February. Flying with United because they take kayaks. I don't really have much of a plan, just going to get down there and figure it out.

- Matt
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Old 10-03-2013   #6
Spokane, Washington
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 8
Flying kayaks out of Denver is hit and miss. Being Colorado it is entirely possible that the folks at the counter will know a kayak when they see one and deny you brining it on board despite your claims that it is a wind surf.

It is probably best to arrange a ride to the airport and have them stick around in the case that you absolutely fail at getting your boat on board. That way you can still fly.

Make sure to get to the airport early.

Make sure your kayak is neatly wrapped and maybe drive a couple short straps through the packaging and the grab loops so that it is easy for the airline staff to pickup and move around. You can store some of your gear inside the boat but don't forget to get it out and bring it with you if they refuse your boat.

I like to bring my essential paddling stuff with me carryon so that it can't get lost as it would be difficult to replace in Ecuador.

Once you are in Ecuador start looking around for transportation that can get you and your boat to a hotel for the night and make sure you have some straps to secure your boat to the roof if necessary. Try and line that driver up to get you to the bus depot or over the mountain as most taxis you find won't be able to move your boat.

The two main areas you will probably be paddling are in the Quijos valley East of Quito and around Tena. Dry tops are good in the Quijos area and shorties are usually better around Tena so have both with you all the time. There might be a few rivers were a full face is a good idea but generally I don't think is necessary, I think that is more of a personal preference. I have certainly seen plenty of folks wearing them there.

In the Quijos area Gina's in Baeza is the place to hang out and meet up with other kayakers, find good eats and reasonable lodging. It can fill up so get on it.

In Tena, a good place to stay and meet other kayakers is..... oh dang, I am forgetting the name but it is right next door to the Hotel Yutzos. If you can afford a bit better, then the Yutzos is great and has air conditioning.

Truck taxis and busses are the way to get around and you will find other paddlers to group up with. It is not always easy but for the adventurous soul with a bit of time on their hands it is definitely doable.

The kayaking crowd seems to drift back and forth between the Quijos and Tena... following the best water.

Cheers and good luck

Guy, Small World Adventures
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Old 10-03-2013   #7
bwest's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 120
Fly with United, they have a policy to fly boats if you book the correct jets per their policy, check online. $200 and hassle free. Abe Herrera with Boof Sessions has lots of gear you can rent in Baeza, he has a website and Facebook where you can contact him. Go straight to Baeza, only a few hours from Quito, boat the day you get to Ecuador if you get there early. Bring warm clothes, nights are cold. Head to Tena when you're ready for the heat and a party, the. Finish it up in Banos. Id recommend not chancing with the incorrect jet or they'll leave your boat in Bogota! Have fun.
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Old 10-04-2013   #8
Palo Alto, California
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 3
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On United, the last leg into Quito is always a 737 and they don't allow creek boats on a 737. You can read more about it here: Help United Better Their Kayak Policy

People fly kayaks into Ecuador all of the time so it can be done.
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Old 10-04-2013   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
You are allowed a Wave Ski on a United 737 flight. Print out the policy and bring it with you, call ahead and get a note on your reservation before you arrive that says you're bringing it and it's allowed.
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Old 10-04-2013   #10
Palo Alto, California
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 3
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I grabbed the following off a Chris Baer blog post. The blog is down but I found the text in a Google cache. Some helpful tips for getting your "wave ski" in a plane.

Plan ahead:
1) Get a bag for your boat. I go to the fabric store and get some cheap material and make a gigantic “pillow sack” with a draw string on one end. I then take a couple nine foot cam straps and put them around the boat on either side of your cockpit. Then connect the two 10 footers with a 20 foot strap looped over itself several times (this makes an ok shoulder strap, it also gives the baggage people something to grab onto other than your collar). I use the shoulder strap when I walk up to the ticket counter, I think it makes the “wave ski” look lighter. If you buy a bag, make sure it doesn’t say KAYAK on the side. (your are about to lie to the ticket counter and tell them it is anything but a kayak).

2) Look nice. You don’t have to wear a suit, but a collared shirt and clean pants, try to portray that you are a professional and that you fly a lot. The ticket folks will want you to fly with their airline again.

3) Show up early, wait until the line gets small and the checker has time to play with your baggage. Worst case scenario — after being denied go sit and pout and hope that ticket person goes on break. Then run back into the line and give it another try.

4) If you can, find the ticket person that looks new, they won’t have a clue and they are easier to trick.

5) Print out the airlines baggage rules, find the (wave ski) (surf board) (light weight break down kayak) portion and highlight it.
When talking to the baggage person
1. Be nice, helpful, let them be in control, and offer assistance.
2. Have your passport, ID, credit card and your highlighted “rules” all ready to go.
3. LIE. You can’t bring a kayak on the plane, so it is whatever you tell them it is. Be persistent, say whatever it takes to get your kayak on board. I had a lady in Asheville, NC ask me if it was a kayak, after I said no she asked if I had been to the Green Race the day before. My gear was still wet and my hang over was in full effect from the race. I responded with: “The blue race? What is that?” Tell them you do it all the time: “Yeah, I was down in Africa last month”. They might try to tell you it won’t fit, my response is “I have fit it in a Cessna before, it will totally fit!”.
4. If they tell you it doesn’t meet the size requirements remind them that it is round and that if you did all the calculus that it would fit in their requirments.
5. If they tell you no, plead. “I am on this trip for four months, and this is why I am going please.”
6. Last resort: “Fine, if I can’t take it with me, you deal with it.” Turn your back and start to walk away. The people in the airports are really afraid of baggage being left behind, and they may just put it on the plane to get it out of the airport. (They might also call the bomb squad who will take it out on the tarmac and blow it to smithereens.)
This is the conversation I usually get:
baggage person: What is THAT?
me: It is my wave ski (big Smile)
baggage: What is a wave ski?
me: It is like a surf board for surfing in the ocean. Here are the airlines baggage requirements, it is highlighted right here.
baggage: Well…. ok? It looks like it will be 100 bucks? Hold on! Does it meet the length requirements?
me: Yeah. It is a bit awkward but it fits no problem. Here is my credit card, thanks.
Baggage: Ok, have a fun time with your wave ski?
Our my personal favorite quote from a security guard as I was falling asleep next to my wave ski on an overnight layover in Texas: “Just tell me that isn’t your grandma.”
Remember, have fun, you are on vacation and you do this all the time.

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