Living the Life in Ecuador

Greg picked up a hitch hiker on the Upper MisahualliDon’t worry, I’m sure the kid was at least 3 years old!  However old he was, he was a much better swimmer than I most of us.

As I sit in Tena listening to the rain pounding down on the tin roof, I realize that one of the reasons I love Ecuador is because of the variability involved in living and working here.   Yesterday the rivers were low and clear.  Today, exactly 13 hours later, they are all brown and high.  Things change fast around here and you have to be ready for everything! 

Destin soaking in the scenery on the Middle Cosanga

 Young Liam super stoked about kayaking in Ecuador

Fortunately, Ecuador has as much variety in its rivers as it does in its river levels.  So, if it’s low, there are great creek runs to do and if it’s high there are great big water runs to do.  If it’s medium, you will be totally winning because you can more or less do everything!  But the point is, no matter what the level, a smart kayaker can find a good run that day.

Darcy enjoying a perfect water level on the Upper Mis

The 2 weeks leading up to Christmas we mostly had medium water (ending with high water) and caught great levels on the Quijos, Cosanga, Oyacachi, Upper Misahualli, Upper Tena and Upper Anzu.  Here are a few photos and updates from those last 2 weeks, so enjoy!

Don and Liam cruising down the Cosanga 

Kiran boofing his way down Bob Sled on the Upper Mis

Typical traffic jam on the roads around the Quijos Valley

Another great thing about Ecuador is all the “weird” stuff you see here.  It’s 100% common place for the people who live here and grew up with it.  But to most foreigners, it’s all very different and amusing.  The equivalent would be an Ecuadorian going to Seattle and being in awe of seeing 3 Starbucks on the same block, but to us that’s normal.  Here, you won’t find any Starbucks.  Just livestock in the roads, people herding cows on motorcycles, kids swimming down rapids we are kayaking, truck loads of plantains cruising down the highway, chickens on buses, and much, much more!

Shannan following Larry through a rapid on the Cosanga while Don looks on

Shannan was down here on a private beginner kayaking lesson.  She had paddled 7 days prior to coming to Ecuador and was a total rock star!  She progressed super fast and was able to run some solid Class III/III+ rivers by the end of the week like the Cosanga, Upper Misahualli and the upper sections of the Jatunyacu!

Stuart trying out the Stomper on the Quijos River.  Thanks to Stuart, I have good photos of the paddlers who were with us over Christmas! 

I love this shot of Larry on the Quijos at high water.  The rippley wave in front of him really shows the power and the crazy way water moves when there is a lot of it going through a small space!

Then, the trip left just in time!  We got in a great run on the Upper Cosanga on Saturday morning with rapidly raising water.  By lunch time on Saturday, the river was HUGE!   Luckily, the gang’s week of paddling had come to a close and they were ready to head back to Quito and on to their next adventure–which all of them had next adventures–lucky!  Shannan was off on a solo motor bike tour of Ecuador, Stuart was off to Europe to go snowboarding, Liam was off to the Galapagos, Kiran to Villcamamba and Destin was heading home to Wyoming–but in Wyoming, life is always an adventure!

Don plunging into the depths of a giant wave

Since all the guests were setting off on cool trips, the guides decided to have a little fun for themselves on Saturday afternoon.  With Larry leading the charge, we headed up the Rio Borja and then into the Quijos to enjoy the rivers which were, by this time, totally bank full and offered up some big water awesome-ness for us.

SWA guides celebrating after an fantastic afternoon of high water boating

When we got back to the lodge, Don busted out his finest Tequila and we toasted to a good couple weeks and a good afternoon of boating.  We were also celebrating the end of Greg’s first week in Ecuador with us.  He is a great addition to the SWA team and we love having him here!

Uh…these will be your guides…Don’t worry Don, Darcy and Larry are much more normal!

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