Chris T. Enjoying an “fluffy” run down the Oyacachi River
Don and I leave in 6 days for Ecuador, and instead of packing, I’m blogging!
After getting over the initial home-coming from the Grand Canyon and realizing that, “oh crap, we leave really soon and I have SO much to do,” I’m now super stoked to be getting back to Ecuador.
Don’t under estimate the Ecuadorian jungle–it’s thick out there!
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over North America and the World in the pursuit of paddling; and sure, there is excellent whitewater in other places in the world—California, Washington, B.C to name just a few—but none have the complete package like Ecuador does. Ecuador has great boating, a super friendly and laid back culture, monkeys, rainforest and just all and all good living.
Tarquino leads a crew into “Menage-a-Rodeo” on the Cosanga River. The take out for this run is at SWA’s riverside lodge, so even if you get a little rodeo action, you won’t have to wait too much longer for your take out beer!
Just a quick count of Ecuador’s awesomeness:
In the Borja Valley alone there are more than 150 kilometers of whitewater spread between 6 major and “classic” rivers and a handful of lesser known rivers. Borja, site of Small World Adventures’ riverside lodge, has seen quite a few changes since Larry first recognized the valley as the boating Mecca of Ecuador, but all and all retains its sleepy farming town charm. The heaviest traffic on the road to the lodge is still farmers walking down to tend the cows and the biggest “noise pollution” is all those damn Inca Jays and Oro Pendula birds singing their distinctive songs.
I still haven’t gotten tired of a lap down the Oyacachi, then a quick stop in the town of El Chaco to stock up on beans, rice, fresh tomatoes, avocados, pineapples, bananas, and berries, then back to the lodge in time to enjoy a cold Pilsiner on the porch while watching a myriad of brilliantly colored hummingbirds compete for the flower nectar.
Larry doing a little silhouette art during the Fiestas de Borja
Then, branching out to Tena, where we spend at least 2 of our days with all of our trips, you bring the count up to over 300 kilometers of whitewater spread amongst Class II, III, IV, and V rivers. Those heat-seeking people in the world will love Tena! The air temperature is a pretty constant 80-85 degrees (that’s roughly 25 degrees Celsius) and the water is warm enough to break out the shorty paddling top (you can get away with just a rash guard if you don’t mind the extra water in the boat)! While our lodge is in the transitional forest around 5,000 feet in elevation, Tena is true jungle and will have you thinking of Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear in no time!
Jason has blurry vision in Tres Huevos on the Upper Jondachi
You don’t always get to choose which kind of day it will be, but Ecuador offers the chance for a chill, “controlled” ay on the river, or an epic adventure. Adventure-seekers, you’ll have no problems finding your thrills in Ecuador. And, for those of you who choose the normal outing on the river, you’ll more often than not get it; but don’t be too surprised if Ecuador throws a bit of craziness at you every now and then just to keep you on your toes!
Whichever kind of day you get, once you are done paddling all this amazing whitewater, Ecuador offers you a laid back, warm and welcome lifestyle I’ve found no where else in the world.
Darcy stares into the maw at the “Tunnel” #2. Adventura Maxima!
Want to drink a cold 20 ounce Pilsiner or a Coca-Cola out of the bottle with the locals at a roadside bar? Or an Orange Fanta with the kids? No problem! Even if you don’t speak Spanish, they’ll love communicating with you in whatever means possible. Charades-like sign language is a favorite and you are guaranteed to come away smiling.
Larry watches on as the “Sheriff of Nottingham”styles Pica Piedra Rapid on the Quijos
Or perhaps a solo walk at dusk is more your style, watching the innumerable bird species get active.
There are awesome, curious animals in Ecuador too. This guy was trying to hitch a ride on our Sprinter.
Need a break from kayaking and want to climb a 20,000 foot peak, hit some hot springs, go surfing in the Pacific Ocean, look for Pink River Dolphins in the jungle or visit the Galapagos? Also no problem! Ecuador, while only the size of Colorado (or just slightly smaller than Germany), it pretty much has it all.
The kids love to play on the river too
So, I asked myself throughout our travels, what’s not to love about Ecuador? It’s kept Larry happy for 20 years now, Don for 17, me for 11; and the country captivated Guy so much in his few weeks of traveling here in 2010 that he just couldn’t hold back and had to have a piece for himself!
A crew of solid boaters hiking into the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos River
So, even though life is frantic now and I’m rushing around answering emails, buying solar lights for the lodge, packing my personal gear, I know that in less than a week, I’ll be chilling on the front porch of Small World’s lodge. I’ll probably just have paddled the Papallacta or Cosanga and I’ll be basking in the knowledge that I still have 5 more months of the good life!
Ecuador is so pretty, you can get stellar photos out the window of the moving van!