Late February Ecuador Paddling

Jeff putting his big water skills into practice on a high water run of El Chaco Canyon

The last week of our season did NOT disappoint!  We finished with a bang on some nice, high levels like we had been having all season long.  And, we finished up the season just in time.  2 days after our last guests left it started raining and literally didn’t stop for days–a fairly uncommon phenomenon for the “dry season” in Ecuador’s Oriente (we run our trips during the “dry season” believe it or not). 

Darren enjoying the clear waters of the Rio Piatua

“Megatron” was in for 3 days straight which means the water is BIG!  Megatron  is the nickname we have for an old bridge abutment just upstream of our lodge.  Under “normal” conditions (which none of us are really sure what that is anymore) Megatron stands tall; towering above kayakers who eddy out behind it by 15 feet or more.  When the water gets really big, Megatron becomes a big stomping hole–which is saying a lot because it lays in a very wide spot in the river.  If you really want to see big water, come paddle the Quijos at Megatron levels–it’s a hoot!

Ben looking small amongst the big waves and holes in “Remo Perdido” on the Rio Quijos

But anyhow, the rain and water level Gods certainly did shine upon us this winter.   I would say, and I think most kayakers who visited Ecuador this winter would agree, that it was the perfect season in terms of flows.
Heinz and Darren celebrate a pushy run down the Oyacachi with Pilsiners and cake in the town of El Chaco

After two somewhat dry years, the big, billowing clouds came in full force this year and made up for lost time.  But they dumped their rain in perfect-for-kayakers increments.  The rivers were rarely blown out and for the better part of our 4.5 month season water levels maintained at perfect medium to highish flows.  

A classic scene on the Piatua.  Clear water, gigantic boulders and lush jungle are certainly the defining characteristics of this run
Just a disclaimer, when I say “highish” that is highish from a kayaker’s perspective, not from the river bed’s perspective.  Even on our “high” boating days, there was still usually plenty of shoreline showing because, as it’s good to remember and be humbled from time to time, what is high water for us ain’t nothing for the rivers of the Amazon Basin! 
Heinz enjoying a technical day on the Rio Cosanga
So thanks to the River Gods for one my best Ecuador seasons yet!  And thanks to all the paddlers who were bad ass enough to come down and paddle well on the powerful waters of Ecuador!  And for all you sun-lovers out there, don’t worry, it’s plenty sunny in Ecuador.  Shorties were popular river ware all winter, and we had plenty of sun burns to boot!
Jeff getting a face full on the Bridge to Bridge section of the Quijos
Outside of my selfish kayaker’s perspective on the water, it was great to see the rain forest looking happy again–afterall, rain is what is supposed to happen in the jungle.  The birds were stoked on the rain as well and were more active around our lodge than ever this season.  The high water also knocked a couple of the Coca-Coda Sinclair’s new bridges off their footings which made me secretly chuckle inside–but that is a story for another blog…
 Happy Rainforest looming above El Torro rapid on the Quijos.  The sun came out just after this photo was taken and the beauty was overwhelming!  Every little water drop on every leaf in the jungle glimmered in the afternoon sunlight.   It was one of those days where I was just really thankful for my life and my job

Our last group of the season was a small group made up of Ben from Basalt, Jeff from Pennsylvania, Heinz from Austria and Darren who just wouldn’t go home after his 1st week of kayaking with us and stuck around for round two.

Don, Heinz and Jeff stoked after a great run down Bridge to Bridge.  Just a few more miles of fun Class III/IV to our lodge and the beers now boys!
We all got lots of hole-dodging practice this week with higher flows on the Oyacachi River and the Bridge to Bridge section of  the Quijos.   Boofs were also plentiful on the Cosanga, Quijos and Jondachi as were a couple of awesome play spots.
Ben throwing down some Cartwheels on the Quijos
Thanks boys for a making our last trip of the season a great one!

Now we are all back in the US (well almost, Guy is currently in transit from Australia to the US).  Larry is rowing his first Grand Canyon trip of the season and Don and Darcy have just kicked off the SWA Summer Tour 2012.  We are currently in California getting back into boating mode, but stay tuned later in the summer to hear tales from Small World Adventures’ European Vacation…

And if you haven’t already signed up for our summer gear giveaway, do it now!  You can win awesome prizes from Jackson, Werner, Sweet Protection, Snap Dragon, Smith, Immersion Research, Forge Motion Pictures, Kayak Session Magazine, Sea to Summit and Colorado Kayak Supply.  Plus, the grand prize is a free week of kayaking in Ecuador with Small World Adventures.  Click onto our website below to sign up.

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