In the heart of Ecuador’s most spectacular terrain are the clear rivers’ waters of upper-Andean creeks and the thundering rapids of big water Amazonian tributaries. While inaccessible to most travelers, these are our playgrounds. Our trips are designed to offer kayakers of all abilities the unique opportunity to experience fantastic whitewater in one of the most interesting regions on earth. Roughly half of the runs we do are suitable for rafting and kayaking while the others are kayak only. We have never encountered an area with a higher concentration of good whitewater rivers and a never-ending season. The combination of steady rainfall and amazing topographic relief add up to one of the world’s best whitewater areas. Many of our guests are well-traveled paddlers who keep returning to Ecuador because of the abundance of great whitewater all concentrated into a super small area. You will definitely spend more time paddling than driving on our trips! Below we have listed just a sampling of the rivers found in the area around our river base. Check out the Kayaker’s Guide to Ecuador for more information on these and other runs.
Rio Quijos - Class III+ to Class V
Rio Cosanga - Ecuador Class IV- to Class V
Experience lava cliffs, lush rainforest, tropical birds and waterfalls hundreds of feet high while you paddle this river’s three wonderfully technically runs. This tributary of the Rio Quijos is always a favorite with the guides and guests. One of Ecuador’s most famous birds, the Andean Cock of the Rock, often fly overhead as we paddle this run. The take-out for the lower section is at our lodge below the confluence with the Quijos. The Top Cosanga is a somewhat obscure run that can only be run with medium to high water. It’s not as quality as the other sections of this river. It’s Class IV/IV+ but with mankey rapids. The Upper Cosanga is a great warm up creek run. It’s Class IV- at low and medium water and Class IV at medium to high water. Great boulder gardens will keep you busy route-finding on this run. The Lower Cosanga is the main event on this river. The river drops into a canyon here and the gradient picks up. Class IV at low and medium water, the Lower Cosanga turns into a continuous, big water torrent (Class IV+/V) at high water. The Lower Cosanga will spit you into the Quijos river part way through the Baeza to Borja run. Enjoy the big water run out!
Rio Oyacachi - Class IV to V+
Rio Papallacta - Class IV+/V
Rio Misahualli - Class II+ to IV+
Rio Jondachi - Class IV/V
Rio Piatua - Class IV
Rio Jatunyacu (or Upper Napo) - Class III
Rio Tena - Class II/III
Rio Pusuno - Class V
Rio Chingual - Class IV-V
Rio Cofanes - Class V
The Cofanes is another recently discovered gem (thanks to the building of a new road), but still this river is very remote and rather difficult to access. It’s a 5+ hour drive north and west of the lodge and is a 2-day run highly susceptible to fluctuations in water levels. The run is 50km long and Class V. Both times we have done it we’ve had very low water and the boating was mostly IV+/V- but the run itself definitely earns a V rating. If the water comes up on you, it will get out of control scary pretty fast. Luckily, most of the incredibly narrow canyons only have Class II and III rapids in them but there are 4 canyonized spots having challenging rapids that are difficult to scout and even more difficult to portage. One mis-placed log could be a trip ruiner. Despite all the perils involved in this run, it is one of the most spectacular rivers we’ve done in Ecuador. If you are a Class V expedition boater, you’ll love it! Put in La Sofia. Take out in Lumbaqui if you want to be cheap or Las Pizarras if you hire a driver.