KAYAKING IN ECUADOR IS NEVER BEEN EASIER, WE PROVIDE ALL THE SERVICES YOU NEED FOR A DREAM WHITEWATER KAYAKING VACATION. KAYAK RENTALS, SHUTTLES, HOSTELS, GUIDED TOURS, KAYAKS, PADDLES.
HERE IS WHY ECUADOR IS A GREAT DESTINATION FOR KAYAKERS :
“We are in the rain forest, rain is expected“
For those who like to wander off the beaten path Ecuador has many incredible rivers that will reward you with quantity and quality of whitewater when you know where to look for.
You probably already know how good the Rio Qujios is, the magic of the Rio Jondachi or how fast the Rio Piatua gets stout, and the steady boofing on Rio Topo; That is easily two weeks worth of world class kayaking between this 4 drainages and is as far as most of the guided tours get to go.
Gina’s Hostal & Restaurant spoils everybody’s experience with their hospitality and the ease to find shuttles, rentals, kayaking partners or anything you may need. Baeza had become the main hub for kayakers since is a great place to stage for any kind of mission and a good place to come back as a home base. Every season kayakers from around the world migrate to latitude 0 and gather here, creating a really fun and dynamic community that hopes for rain every day, just not too much. Life is easy around here and whitewater abundant, logistically very well located Baeza is only 100km from the UIO Quito international airport and downhill from the Papallacta hot springs, rite on the main road that takes you down to the steamy Amazon jungle where all this other hidden rivers are.
The Jungle is a very special place and should be approached with much respect, you hear all kind of stories from kayakers when you’r hanging out down here. Epic bail outs, long unplanned nights and flash floods are a casual thing here.
The Volcan Antisana’s (5.704 meters) glacier, keeps the Quijos section of the Cheese House flowing steady, ensuring your kayaking fix every day, even when the rain forest gets dry, but when it stops raining for over a week, you know is maybe time for giving the roadside classics a brake and start planning on a expedition if the weather allows it, so being flexible and patient is a most.
THE UNBEATEN PATH : Here is a rundown of the places you need to visit in Ecuador if you are into exploring this country more in deep and get away from the touristic areas:
With out getting too far from Baeza a great option for a overnighter warm up is the RIO HOLLIN on the way to TENA, warmer and very remote, gathering all the water from the South side of the Volcan SUMACO, this river offers an amazing class IV jungle experience to some fine expedition boating. Only 20 minutes away there is other options for expedition kayaking, the Rio PUCUNO that has only been run a couple times in 20 years, mainly because of the rappel around the 130 foot waterfall on the first day or the mandatory waterfall that broke Seth’s back in the box canyon in 2012. The contrast on the class of whitewater here is very noticeable, one notch up can be a big notch so knowing your skills and capabilities are very recommended since you won’t be able to just walk out even if you wanted to.
Two hours North from Baeza you’ll find the Rio AGUARICO, this watershed is not really visited by many but has some really good whitewater, there is some secluded upper sections that are only run when everything else is low on the east side of the mountains. Between October and February usually you can count on having a break on the weather to consider heading this way. The highlight here is the RIO COFANES, first run in 2010 is a masterpiece of whitewater that only a handful have seen it, generally a 3 day affair. Day 1 is all logistics including the shuttle to the put in at the small community of LA SOFIA. Day 2 may be the greatest day of whitewater for many paddlers and a very demanding day too, 40km of rapids that get harder as the day goes by between some huge walls that grow taller as well until it spits you out of confinement at the confluence with EL DORADO, where the sky opens up again into a bigger canyon. Day 3 can be a casual big water paddle out or it can be really really big, either way you should be ok for the next 30km to the confluence with the RIO CHINGUAL, which is also known for its tide mandatory gorges upstream from this point, making it another good exploratory option since you are already in this area.
Make a point on checking the spectacular COCA CANYON after the Rio Quijos plunges 150 meters over San Rafael watefall and changes its name to RIO COCA another main tributary of the mighty AMAZONAS.
THE SOUTH OF ECUADOR
The only tourists around are usually searching for ayahuasca ceremonies, you will notice the native community looks different than the people you see on the Northern Jungles. Is worth mentioning that this part of the country is only been developed based on the oil and mining industries over the last 10 years, and tourism is not a big thing. Certainly the vibes are different here, it its the real Ecuador. This is SHUAR territory, one of the original tribes known around the world for their signature technique used to shrink their enemies heads as a trophy of battle called TSANTSA . Although they don’t mind kayakers until you are attempting to first D some of the last virgin rivers that turned out to be into their sacred territory, they didn’t care we had whitewater legend Scott Lindgren with us and they decided that we were not welcome, threatening us with shrinking our heads they made their point and we had to fly back the same same way we had came in.
Despite the shrunken heads, the mining and the dams, the South has an amazing number of runnable rivers. Following the same road that takes you to TENA, if you keep going for a half day farder South, you will get to MACAS, not a touristic town, but a good place to stage for several kayaking options around the RIO UPANO drainage. One of the most active volcanoes in the world raises tall on the background, the SANGAY (5230 meters) invites you to dream what would you find back there if there was access.
The Upper Upano offers some incredible granite boulder gardens from the top down and will keep you busy for a couple days. The last section of the Upper Upano just upstream of town is one of the most fun sections of whitewater you will ever find, after the confluence with the RIO VOLCAN the Upano turns into a big water continuos read and run with large features formed by a huge amount of perfectly rounded boulders that had come down straight from the Volcano behind you, it is a blast. Downstream of Macas you will find the NAMANGOZA GORGE an epic huge water section in a incredibly large gorge, with waterfalls dropping from the top, left and right. And the surfing is Stakeout worthy, big and glassy although Ecuador is not known for its amazing freestyle playgrounds yet. This is just the tip of the iceberg, from here is all SOUTH, there is so many rivers that you don’t know where to start and there is been very little documentation. The next stop is a smaller town called GUALAQUIZA that offers a couple options for day runs close to town. Near by is the community of TUTUPALI , a tiny town lost in the jungles that has some amazing rivers running rite next to it. Finally the road takes you to the last town on this side of the mountains, ZAMORA. Another good spot to hang out for a couple days, this town is named after the Main river that runs South to North collecting all the water of the mountains that surround this area creating a majestic beast of whitewater that has not been finished exploring until earlier this year when Todd Wells and Galen Volckhausen finished running the last gorge of the RIO ZAMORA, claiming the first D of undoubtedly one of the hardest stretchs of whitewater in Ecuador.
“ALL WE NEED IS RAIN”
Moving over to the West side of the Mountains towards the pacific coast is a big move, but still only one day of traveling away, you can tour from the North Western slopes around the organic coffee farms valley of the RIO LITA close to OTAVALO, all the way south towards SANTO DOMINGO. This path will cover a lot of ground and cross many rivers and waterfalls that will blow your mind like the RIO MADGALENA, PACHIJAL, RIO MULAUTE all the way moving south to the RIO OTONGO. Quality and quantity of whitewater around this place, all you need is rain and a good shuttle driver.
The rainy season on this side of the mountains start in February and by April everything will be in flood with the monsoons that lasts a couple months until the rains calm down and will keep some good flows until July , but most kayakers will not be here for the rainy season that may be the best time of the year for exploring the coastal side. Slowly but steady a local community is growing thanks to the visit of many kayakers that sell their gear at the end of their trip.
Lately new laws had favored gold mining around Ecuador, this affects directly to the rivers due to the concessions allowing them to explote the river banks. Also Dams are being built to supply the industrial demand of this projects. A huge fight is been held agains private companies that are threatening to Dam the Piatua. Please check out the E.R.I Ecuadorian River Institute page to find out how you can help rivers in Ecuador.
New moon brings rains, so plan expeditions on full moon.
Weather forecast just doesn’t work here.
A sharpened machete and a tarp is a game changer. $10 at the local hardware store.
Having a Hammock with mosquito net is a plus .
Rio Piatua is getting dammed
Upper Pusuno still runnable before the dam starts operating, make a point on hitting that one before is gone.
5 free tekilla shots for first timers in Baeza.
USD $1.5 for a 20 Oz. pilsener.
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Maps, logistics, videos, gauges, levels.