1 Week, 7 Days, Outstanding Whitewater Everyday = Ecuador Rules!

Dan Leuschel has traveled pretty extensively throughout South America, kayaking some amazing whitewater along his way, but at the end of his week in Ecuador he said, “best week of kayaking ever!” Thanks Dan:)

Here is Dan on the “Sideways Boof” Rio Jondachi.

We had a week of BIG water. Primarily becuase that was the focus of the trip, but also becauase it rained a lot this week. But we were lucky enough to catch the Upper Jondachi at a perfect level. It was our 1 day of low volume creeking for the week. The rest of the time, we were crashing through huge waves and dodging huge holes!
Peter Z. enjoying his one day of low volume creeking bliss!
San Rafael Falls. Here the Quijos River drops 485 feet in this double stage waterfall

The more time I spend in Ecuador, the more I appreciate all that it has to offer. Obviously, kayaking is the focus of my time in Ecuador, and, for some reason, this year in particular, I have really been taken aback by the incredible quality of whitewater that we have here in such a relatively small area. On this trip, I thought about the Quijos River a lot…at it’s uppermost reaches (accessible by road), it is “pushy, continuous creeking.” As you go downstream, more and more tributaries swell this river in to a big water playground. Just out in front of our lodge, El Chaco Canyon drops 70 feet per mile, which is pretty impressive gradient for a big water run. 100 miles downstream of the Cheesehouse run (the upper strectch), the Quijos still has great whitewater, it’s just big volume now. Anyhow…it also has some pretty damn crazy geology on it. So my real point is, notice the volume of water falling over San Rafael Falls in this photo.

Locals call this the “Tunnel” of the Quijos–I can’t imagine why?

Then, 20 miles downstream of the falls, all that volume squeezes through this “tunnel.” We are VERY high up on a bridge, but my guess is that this squeeze is 15 feet wide? So, on any given day somewhere between 2,000 and 30,000 CFS (depending on the rain) are flowing over that big, wide waterfall, then going through this squeeze…Just below this tunnel, the river is 200-400 feet wide, and big water, the character of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. The entire river is simply amazing!

Dan, Peter, and Don just below “Aspen Extreme” on the Quijos

And, the Quijos is rather scenic as well. Here the boys are exiting Aspen Extreme Canyon with one (out of more than 40–I counted once) huge waterfall pouring off the cliff in the background.

Dan L. taking out at Pena Blanca–truly, one of the prettiest take outs in Ecuador! The photo doesn’t do it justice, but I had to try.

Rio Malo Falls. We did a little sightseeing on our way home from the Quijos

Day 1: Don and our chef Lili shredding the Lower Cosanga

I do appologize for going out of order, but that is sort of my style (it’s just too hard to be organized). So, anyhow, here we are back to day 1. We don’t very often get the opportunity to take our staff out on the river, but we try to make it happen at least a couple times each season. Anyhow, it was Lili’s turn to go. We had a fun and stout level on the Lower Cosanga and Lili and Don did an awesome job. It was her first time down that stretch of river, and during the few moments she actually had time to look around, she found the scenery to be rather nice.

A Happy Chef makes for Happy Eaters!

In the end, Lili said it was one of the most fun days of being on the river in her life. Nice work, Lili, not too many people have successfully shredded the Cosanga! No swims for either of them.

Peter Z. enjoying a fun, juicy level on the Lower Cosanga–Peter, way to step off the plane right into “the maw” so to speak! Thanks for rising to the occasion.

Oro Pendula nests at sunset–the Amazon Basin is cool!

I felt pretty bad about carrying my creek boat around until I saw this guy. I think his load is much heavier.

Don Beveridge, hard at work

Darcy checking out the new rapid on the Jondachi

Back to the Jondachi…Not too far downstream of the put in on the Upper Jondachi there was a pretty significant landslide (or cliff collapse is more like it), which “drowned” one rapid and created a new, pretty big rapid. Unfortunately, right now the rocks are all jagged and sharp, and the rapid is overall pretty junky. Hopeful it will clean up with time, but for now, heads up for this one!

Finishing Aprodesia on the Upper Jondachi

Peter and Dan approaching Tres Huevos

The Amazon Basin is also good a producing big clouds
Thanks guys for an awesome week of kayaking! We hope you had as much fun as we did.
(I have quite a good video of you guys in Aspen Extreme which I will post on this blog as soon as I get myself to an internet connection that is fast enough to do so…so check back in a couple weeks).
Parting Shot:

Amen to that!

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