Empandas + Cold Pilsiners + Sweet Whitewater = Vacacione Muy Buena!

 Andy stays focused as he lines up to boof amongst the giant boulders on the Piatua

I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing in the middle of February than boofing sweet boofs, punching huge breaking waves, drinking post-boating Pilsiners and feeding great, fresh-cooked Empanadas to my friends. 
And, lucky me, that’s what I got to do!

Catherine avoiding the piton in Broken Down Waterfall on the Upper Jondachi

As was par for the course this season in Ecuador, we had some medium water, some big water, and some even bigger water!  This was perfect as we had a crew of hard chargers who wanted to see the best of Ecuador’s creeks (and some rivers).

John and Josh navigating good lines between big holes on the Oyacachi

We had Philip and Catherine from Switerland, John from New Mexico, Josh from Colorado, and Andy from Portland.  All had come to Ecuador to experience the super continuous boulder garden creeks that Ecuador is becoming increasingly famous for.

Colorful jewelry for sale next to our favorite Empanada stop. 
John found a nice gift for his fiance here!

It’s hard to say what the highlight from this week was, there were so many good things.  Was it high water on the Oyacachi?  Seeing Tamarin (aka “New World Monkeys”) on the way to the Piatua or Parrots at the take out?  The Upper Jondachi?  Local markets and fresh food on the way home from kayaking the Cosanga?  Oh, so many things to love about Ecuador!

 Darcy dropping into Dame Su Gasolina on the Piatua. 
A nice medium level made this one “fluffier” than normal!

Whatever the favorite was, it was an excellent week.  We started the week off with a nice run through Gringo Revueltos.  We always like to welcome people to Ecuador in a fun a unique fashion and what better way than on day one introducing them to the infamous “Scrambled Gringos” rapid?  That’ll quickly knock the rust off of anyone’s paddling!

Just like the Nature Channel, SWA guides are tracking monkeys in the Amazon Basin.

Day 2 had us off to the Cosanga River.  Not wanting anyone to leave complaining that they didn’t paddle enough river miles, we did the whole kitten kaboodle, the whole enchilada, the whole damn run!

 John and Andy making their way down the Piatua.  Even though it was still juicy, the boys were somewhat relieved to find that it wasn’t quite as full on as last week.

Day 3, yes, no rest for the weary, and we’re off to the Upper Jondachi.  Now, John and Andy were with Small World the week before as well and both had the goal of paddling 14 straight days.  Not a feat to be taken lightly considering these aren’t 1-2 hour days.  These are full days of full on paddling and the boys are hanging tough but starting to give us dirty looks when we talk about the Jondachi and its 30 minute hike in, 80+ rapids, etc…

 Blue-Headed Parrots at the Piatua take out

But then it’s not long until they are splashing around in the crystal clear waters of the Upper Jondachi.  A short while later they are flying off the first of many boofs of the day and the smiles grow bigger and the tired muscles become a distant memory (at least until the take out).

Philip finishing Lavadora on the Lower Cosanga.  He and Catherine came to Ecuador well prepared and in good shape!  Even here on mile 11 of paddling, he still had energy to style the lines.

Night 3: Lightening, thunder, rain, more lightening and more rain.

 John, getting up close and personal with the jungle on the hike into the Upper Jondachi

Day 4:  We wake up, to rain, rain and more rain.  Plan A is Piatua but it’s so rainy…but then we remember how fun the high water Piatua descent was last week (Andy and John remember too) and so we say “what the hell, we’ve got a strong crew, let’s go for it!”   We drive out to the Piatua and find it to be a nice medium level.  Not nearly as high as last week, but not low by any stretch of the imagination.

Andy lining up for the boof in the rapid above Typhoid Falls on the Upper Jondachi

Medium water Piatua is a super combination of creeky moves like boofs and boulder dodging and big water moves like dodging, punching and sometimes surfing holes!

We move quickly through the continuous 14 kilometer run, and take out at Cabanas Piatua where we are treated to a nice bridge jump, some cold beers, parrots and some sweet disco-tech music.  Viva Ecuador!

 Philip and Josh trying talk with an Ecuadorian Chick while they wait for John to finish shopping.  Too bad neither of them spoke Spanish…

The partying in Tena is kept to a minimum because everyone is more keen on focusing on their kayaking than on serving up a wicked hangover for themselves at the local bars.   Which is probably a smart idea because we still have 3 more days of bad ass kayaking to do!

 Josh, styling Da Boof!

Day 5:  Upper Misahualli from Lodo.  We see Petroglyphs, and boofs and kids swimming in the river.  This is a super technical stretch of water that is super fun and aesthetically pleasing.  Kind of a mellow day compared to the rest; but a good rest day since tomorrow is big water on the Oyacachi!

Nice little “fast food” stop on the way home from boating

Day 6: Yes, once again, no rest for the increasingly weary.  We are off to the Oyacachi for 6 action-packed miles of hole dodging, wave riding, hole-boofing excitment!  

The gang scouting Ejector Seat on the Oyacachi.  This rapid changed this season and became one of the stickier holes on the river!  Happily, this day, everyone avoided the monster.

 One of people’s favorite features on the Oyacachi these days is “da boof” which is a MEGA boof towards the beginning of the run.  It’s super intimidating when you first look at it.  The boof is 8 feet tall and has quite a tricky lead in requiring paddlers to dodge 3 small holes, punch 1 big breaking wave and then still keep it together enough get their boat in the right place, AND get the right stroke in at the right time.

 Enjoying nice jungle scenery and the rush of having successfully made it through Gringos Revueltos on the Quijos River

Luckily for us, it’s an easy walk back up.  So if you loved it so much your 1st time through, or didn’t get it quite right on that first go you can have yourself a second chance.  Oh, and it’s SO worth it!  All and all everyone did great, and we were all left with big smiles on our faces at the end of the day.

 John, lost in the froth on Da Boof

Day 7: back to the Quijos for a bigger water Class IV cruise.  We head to El Chaco Canyon to face El Torro, Olympic Trials and to do a little play boating.

 This local El Chaco school group was out on a field trip when they noticed all the crazy gringo kayakers getting out of the river.  So, they stopped to take a few photos before heading on their way. 

Andy and John made their 14 days in a row of kayaking–nice work boys!  And Philip, Catherine and Josh pulled off 7 days of awesome whitewater. 

It was great paddling with you all, until next time, Ciao amigos!

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