About SWA

Kayak Ecuador with a dedicated team of river professionals!
Small World Adventures was the first company to offer guided kayaking trips in Ecuador. We have been leading adventure kayaking trips and supporting local businesses, clubs, organizations, and initiatives in South America since 1993.

Kayak Ecuador, kayaking in Ecuador, kayak ecuador, ecuador paddling, padding south america, kayaking south america


Larry Vermeeren started Small World Adventures in 1993 after he fell in love with the rivers, the culture, and the people of Ecuador. Don Beveridge started working for him in 1995, and Darcy Gaechter joined the team in 2001. Many consider Larry to be The Godfather of kayaking in Ecuador. Prior to Larry, only a handful of paddlers had been exploring the country, logging their descents of rivers in a big book in the South American Explorer’s Club in Quito. Larry realized the whitewater potential of this amazing country and set to work spreading the word. Today, Don and Darcy are the owners of SWA and they’ve shifted to a new model of only hiring Ecuadorians to work on their team (with a couple of weeks of guest guiding appearances from Liam every now and then). We are proud of our new model of only hiring local guides, cooks, and drivers. This set up is just one of the many ways that SWA gives back to the country that is our home for half the year. Plus, having so many locals on the staff only enhances our guests’ experience as they can gain a deeper understanding of what life in Ecuador is like. 

Small World Adventures team and spirit of supporting local businesses

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 three 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! In addition to hiring Ecuadorian staff members, SWA also supports many other local business and clubs that we feel are trying to make a change for the better. These include: The Yaku Churis kids kayak club, the Amazon Riverkeepers kids kayak club, Canopy Bridge which is a sustainable food lab bringing rainforest food products to market, the Concerto del Aves which is farmland that has been reforested by Victor and turned into a bird sanctuary, and so much more. Come on a trip with us to experience all these amazing organizations!

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.

kayak ecuador, kayaking in ecaudor, small world adventures, jondachi, river safety, don beveridgeSafety

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 and river rescue. 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 Kichwa) 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!

kayak ecuador, kayaking in Ecuador, small world adventures, guided kayaking trips, kayakers guide to Ecuador, Oyacachi, Darcy Gaechter

Kayaking as a Group

SWA has a minimum of two guides per trip while kayaking in Ecuador, and we often use 3 guides when the group and/or situation require it. 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, our crew, and our company culture are like.


kayak ecuador, kayaking in Ecuador, small world Adventures, ecuador kayak, rivers, kayaking, whitewater kayakingFood

SWA’s chefs Franca and Carmen 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
  • Pollo con salsa de Maracuya which is chicken in a passion fruit sauce

Fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices are served with every meal so you can take advantage of Ecuador’s amazing tropical fruits while you are traveling.

While we are in Tena, we eat at the town’s best restaurants.  You can have a steak one night and the best Ecuadorian pizza the next or enjoy the amazing farm-to-table rainforest cuisine of Canopy Bridge!

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 well-maintained, clean, and are set up to carry kayakers and kayaking gear. All SWA drivers love speaking Spanish (or Spanglish) to guests. They are eager to help you with anything you need. Memo Bonilla and Jose (Lobo) Alban are our head drivers. Besides being safe and conscientious, Memo is an avid bird watcher. Lobo’s smile and enthusiasm as he greets his kayakers at the take-out are always contagious! Both drivers love talking to guests and playing soccer and Ecua-Volley with folks after kayaking.

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, Men’s Journal, 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!