About SWA

Kayak Ecuador with a dedicated team of river professionals!
SWA was the first to offer guided kayaking trips in Ecuador and has been leading adventure kayaking trips in South America since 1993.

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Small World Adventures has the logistics dialed so all you have to worry about is kayaking in Ecuador

Our incredible team of guides, cooks, drivers, and hotel staff work hard to give you the kayaking vacation of a lifetime! Over the years, Small World Adventures has set the standard for guided adventure kayaking in Ecuador. We were the first company to operate whitewater kayaking tours in Ecuador. Today, we draw from more two decades of experience and wisdom to give you the best kayaking trip possible. We’ve trained up many local guides and we know you’ll love getting to know our amazing team of river people. Your guides’ knowledge of Ecuador’s rivers, acquired through exploration, first descents, and tons of time spent paddling here, is unparalleled. Kayak Ecuador with us, you won’t regret it!

7 days of kayaking in Ecuador with SWA

We love showing our guests the culture and beauty of the Andes and Amazon basin and we are especially well known for our passion for kayaking. You can paddle every day of your trip—that means you’ll get 7 days of paddling in your week-long vacation in Ecuador!  Ecuador’s rivers are all close together, so you won’t spend too much time in the car. We realize that you came to kayak Ecuador and that is what we do. But don’t worry, we also make time for cultural excursions such as trips to local markets, evening soccer games with the locals, and empanada stops on the way home from kayaking. We know that our job is to show you Ecuador kayaking and Ecuador’s culture at its finest.

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Everything we do at SWA reflects our focus on giving you a safe and memorable kayaking adventure in Ecuador. All of our guides are trained in advanced level wilderness first aid. As a team we have spent hours discovering all possible access points to the rivers we run so we will be prepared in the event of an unplanned exit from the river. Our drivers “follow” us down the river waiting at different access points to make sure everyone is having fun and wants to keep going. Your guides carry extensive first aid kits, spare paddles, cell phones and satellite communication devices, rescue gear, and other emergency items so they are always prepared for whatever may happen on the river. Our guides speak both English and Spanish (and some speak Quechua) to ensure good communication with everyone involved in the trip. All of our guides have river rescue training and have countless hours on the river practicing these skills so they are second nature and can easily be called upon when needed. Of equal importance, we know where we are going on the rivers, and this, more than anything, maximizes your safety while kayaking in Ecuador with Small World Adventures.

Small World Guides Know the Rivers!

SWA’s  owners and guides are committed to Ecuador and committed to kayaking. Don and Darcy spend 4-6 months paddling in Ecuador each year. Our local guides paddle year-round in Ecuador. This means we intimately know each run at each of the varying water levels that we see throughout the season. River levels in Ecuador are some of the most dynamic anywhere in the world.  Be assured that we’ll know the lines on every stretch of river we do whether the water is low, medium, or booming! Using our knowledge gained over the past two and half decades, on over 18 rivers and 35 different sections at our disposal, we’ll get you on the right river for the day.

If your goal is to kayak some of the best rivers in South America, you’ll love a paddling vacation to Ecuador with Small World Adventures!

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Kayaking as a Group

SWA has a minimum of two guides per trip while kayaking in Ecuador. Typically one guide will lead and one will sweep, but we don’t mind mixing it up if you want to lead for a while too! We ask each person to honestly evaluate their kayaking skills before deciding which Small World Adventures trip to join. You should remember that you actions will affect the entire group. If you are swimming a lot, or get injured, the entire group will have to adjust their pace and their day to accommodate you. With this in mind, everyone should error on the conservative side and choose a trip that is well within your ability range. The remote jungles of Ecuador aren’t the place to push your limits too far. Save that for your roadside run at home. If you are not paddling up to the level of the trip you signed up for, we will have to ask you to sit out, or pay for an additional guide to take you to a different river.

Social Media

Take a deeper look into the crew you want to kayak Ecuador with. Visit us on Facebook and Instagram to get a feel for what our trips are like.


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SWA’s chefs specialize in creating meals to satisfy hungry kayakers. They can cater to virtually any food request from vegan to gluten-free. You’ll enjoy a great blend of local and imported meals. For example:

  • Spanish Omelets
  • Pollo Frittata (a traditional Ecuador Highlands meal that consists of slowly cooked chicken in local spices and is accompanied by cheese-filled potato pancakes)
  • Coconut Curry vegetables on a bed of Quinoa (another food from the Andes

While we are in Tena, we eat at the town’s best restaurants.  You can have a steak one night and an “Ecuadorian Bowl” the next.

Lodging in Borja

We know that a good, comfortable night sleep is important on your kayaking vacation, so we’ve chosen the best for you. Small World Adventures bases out of the Luxor hotel in Borja while kayaking in Ecuador—the nicest hotel in the Quijos Valley! The Luxor has large, spacious rooms with private bathrooms. It has brand new, firm mattresses, good pillows, hot showers, and wifi. There is also a hot tub, steam room, sauna and pool at the hotel. If your muscles are tired after a long day of kayaking in Ecuador, a soak in the hot tub will do you good.


Small World Adventures now has an in-house massage therapist. If you need back or shoulder work after a long day of kayaking, our massage therapist can help you out. She used to work at Termas Papallacta and is well trained in deep tissue massage–perfect for kayakers!

Lodging in Tena

While in Tena, we stay at the Los Yutzos hotel located right on the banks of the Pano River.  The Yutzos is within easy walking distance of all the “city” amenities that Tena offers: bars, souvenir shops, ATM machines, local markets, massage therapists, ice cream shops and more! However, the Yutzos is far enough from the city center that it is typically quiet at night. The hotel also has air conditioner which you may want for your stay in Tena were daytime temperatures are typically in the high-80’s, low 90’s with close to 100% humidity.   Read more about our lodging and food here.

kayak Ecuador, kayaking in Ecuador, ecuador kayak, small world adventures, adventure travel, whitewater kayakingTransportation

Your safety on and off the river is our top concern. Our team of drivers are the best in Ecuador. Their vehicles are new, clean and well-maintained. All SWA drivers love speaking Spanish (or Spanglish) to guests. They are eager to help you with anything you need. Memo Bonilla is our head driver. Besides being safe and conscientious, Memo is an avid bird watcher. He is also a great Spanish teacher and all and all an invaluable member of the SWA team.

Modern Kayak Fleet

Our modern fleet is another thing that sets SWA apart. We bring new models down each year to keep our boats fresh so you can paddle in a boat you know or test drive some of the latest kayak models. Plus, you’ll love spending time in our boat shed. People often comment that it’s the biggest and most well-organized kayaker garage they’ve ever seen.

Trips of All Levels

SWA specialize in Class III+ to V- trips, but we have the ability to run any level of kayaking trip from Class I through Class V. We lead our trips on Ecuador’s best tropical whitewater, which just happens to be right in our backyard.

Our trips have been written up in Kayak Session Magazine, Outside Magazine, Paddler Magazine, and Canoe and Kayak Magazine. They continue to amaze both our new and return guests each season. Come kayak Ecuador with the foremost experts on Ecuador’s Whitewater!

We immediately fell in love with Ecuador. The whitewater, the landscape, and the people are simply amazing. What’s more, we are confident you will love it too.

Small World Adventures invites you to look into where you could be kayaking this winter. Take a few moments to check out our information, and you will see our level of commitment to kayaking in Ecuador, it’s what we do.

Kayak Ecuador today!