Ecuador- Jan.31-Feb.8 Class IV+

First off- great week for kayaking, bad for pictures, so don’t  have your expectations set too high.

It’s not a secret in kayaking, or any other sport for that mater, the higher the skill level of the group, the more options available.  If you’re here for a week, the challenge is having weather and water levels work together.  Knowledge of the runs (we’ve got lots of that) let’s  you take full advantage of your time.  In a year that started off wet, we got a nice break with our class IV+ group.  Bob B., a C-1 paddler from Arkansas was back for his eighth time, Mike W. of Salt Lake was in for number four, and Tom S. of Florida, a fellow who has traveled to over fifty countries, was boating out-of-country for his first time.

I could write something cheesy like " choosing a run is like choosing a fine wine", or I could just be honest and tell you the gang is stocking up before heading out of Quito.

Mary and I had our eyes set on the lower Cosanga, a beautiful, intimate and technical tributary of the Rio Quijos. This would be our goal for the group for day two.  On our first day we balanced the group’s energy level with our desire to warm them up and test them a bit by taking them on a nice run from the bypass bridge to Borja bridge. Doing so also takes you past the confluence of the Cosanga so you can see what you’ve got at that moment.

The Rio Cosanga is a blend of technical rapids and stunning scenery.

On our second day, the river and weather cooperated, allowing us a spectacular run on the lower Cosanga.  We first started with what Mary and I call “the warm up section” above Orito Yacu. This 2 km stretch allows us to make sure the group is feeling good and working together, before committing to the lower run where the road and river quickly part company. Having the full day allowed us to take our time, scout what we needed to, enjoy the drops and take in the scenery.  This run never has a dull moment, but with the flow we had, it was never so pushy as to feel out of control. Cosanga got two thumbs up from the whole group.

Mary and C-1 paddler, Bob B. warm up before heading down Rio Cosanga for another run.

With the rapids of the Cosanga fresh in our minds and the flow only slightly higher we went with our “use it while you’ve got it” philosophy of Ecuadorian rivers and repeated the run.  Having just done it before allowed us to put in at the lower access and move a lot faster.  From the take out we drove to Tena and settled into our hotel for the next three nights.

A sawmill used in the manufacturing of crates for the naranjilla fruit. I wouldn't call it OSHA approved.

On the Tena side we mixed in runs on the Upper Mish, working our way higher to increase the challenge. We also got in a stellar run on the Piatua, from the top.  The Piatua reminds me of a run you might find in the Sierras of California; clean clear water, rounded granite rocks and classic rapids.   The comparison ends right there as soon as you look up from the river itself and see the thick, tropical vegetation.

The group takes a lunch break at "Gorrillas in the mist" on the Rio Piatua.

Returning to the Quijos valley we finished off the week and our seventh day of paddling with a run on the Quijos from Sardinas to the Oyacachi confluence.  The river had some push to it which was in sharp contrast to the other runs we had done up to that point.  Changing gears to the bigger water of the Quijos, we arrived at the take out feeling tired but excited about the week. Thanks Tom, Bob, and Mike!

Any excuse for a party. Fireworks over Tena celebrating it's role in the discovery of the Amazon by the Spainiards.
Any excuse for a party. Fireworks over Tena celebrating the discovery of the Rio Amazon by the Spaniards. The party would go on for a week.


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