from the Traveler's Ecuador Companion © The
Globe Pequot Press. Reproduced with permission. Photos
courtesy of Yacu
shouts Roberto the guide. Our paddles dig into the swirling
water, projecting the raft into the whirling waves and eddies
"Stop!" he cries again, deftly steering the craft around a
menacing black boulder.
"Back left, back left!" comes the command again, and we on
the left side frantically pivot the paddles against our bodies,
turning it just in time to shoot down another frothing rapid.
"Go, go, go!" Roberto barks as we come flying down into a
nasty whirlpool, the boat's prow buckling as we hit it, water
cascading everywhere, bodies hurled left to right, front to
back, shouts and woops emerging from the foaming confusion,
paddles all over the place -- until finally we issue forth
once again on a more tranquil section of the Río Toachi, a
tributary of the Río Blanco which charges down from the Andes
to the Pacific.
After a break on a sandy beach, it's back in the boat for
a further hour-and-a-half of beautiful scenery, towering cliffs,
bubbling rapids, screams of delight and yet another thorough
Running rivers, by raft and kayak, is Ecuador's fastest growing
sport. The country, with its hundreds of waterways roaring
down from the heights of the Andes, ranks as a whitewater
paradise, among the world's top destinations for rapids-seekers.
Regional rainy season differ, so opportunities run year-round.
two operators which cover the best rivers are Yacu Amu
Rafting TEL (022) 290 4054 FAX (022) 290 4055 EMAIL email@example.com
Foch 746 y Juan Leon Mera, based in Quito and run by the friendly,
highly-experienced and safety-conscious Australian Steve Nomchong.
With his experienced and multilingual guides, Steve arranges
rafting trips from the relatively straightforward (Grades
III to IV) one-day along the Ríos Toachi and Blanco (beginning
near Santo Domingo de los Colorados), to more demanding trips
down the Río Quijos (Grades IV to V) and other tributaries
(ending at the San Rafael waterfalls and a bath at the Papallacta
hot springs), and on to the five-day, 120-km (74-mile) expedition
from Macas in the Oriente down the Río Upano and the Namangosa
Gorge (big Grade IVs!). The latter is as much about adrenaline
as paddling through pristine rainforest and towering gorges
embroidered with cascading falls.
The Leaders in Ecuador for Rafting,
Kayaking, Courses and Kayak Rental
The other, highly-experienced and respected operator is Gynner
Coronel's Ríos Ecuador IN QUITO
TEL (022) 254 6240 FAX (022) 290 4055 TENA TEL/FAX (06) 886
727 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
WEB SITE www.riosecuador.com,
who operate mainly on the Upper Río Napo (Grade III),
and also on the Río Misahuallí (Grade IV) from October to
March, which includes the beautiful Casanova Falls. Both these
are in the Oriente.
Lost your paddle? Let
one of Ecuador's most experienced rafting and kayaking
operators help you find it — and much more!
820848 FAX (022) 223720 EMAIL email@example.com
WEB SITE www.adventour.com.ec,
is another good operator, though it doesn't
specialize in rafting any longer.
These companies can also arrange trips (or rent equipment)
for experienced kayakers who want to run Ecuador's truly white-knuckle
rivers. These include the Mindo, Saloya, Topo, Pilaton and
Upper Toachi. They also run beginners' kayaking courses.
The Río Patate, a highland tributary of the Pastaza, is also
a popular run from the spa-town of Baños. Several operators
organize this trip, but the only consistently recommended
one is Río Loco ('Mad River') TEL/FAX
(03) 740929 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ambato and Alfaro.. Several tour operators have
rushed to supply the increasing demand. Unfortunately, some
operators are inexperienced, their equipment substandard,
and their guiding not up to scratch. You should be aware of
this, and the fatalities that have tragically occurred, before
thinking you are saving a few dollars, when you are in fact
playing with your life.