After our day on Antisana with Murray, Rickie and I headed to the Quijos valley for the start of our annual boating safari. I grabbed my gear out of storage and we drove south to Tena for some paddling with local residents Dan Dixon, Matt Terry and Jaime Dalgo.
Here I heard firsthand from Dan and his family about the flooding that had taken place in April. They had an epic night when the Tena and Pano rivers flooded their home and claimed most of their possessions. That night Dan and his kayak were very instrumental in coming to the aid of others in Tena. (Matt happened to be in the U.S. as his fleet of kayaks and gear floated about in his warehouse.)
Our paddling safari was “excellente”! We had perfect levels for the Piatua (I always think of this run as California in the Jungle. It has a very technical nature and beautiful granite boulders), the Upper Misahualli (Mis) and the Upper Jondachi.
Everywhere we went there were changes, evidence of “progress” in the wake of the April floods. The municipality of Santa Clara was punching the road further upstream on the Piatua. Ironically, the bulldozers sport a decal of a kayaker descending a river.
In addition to providing access for the village, the road has resulted in the harvest of old growth timber.
The floods altered some of the drops on the Upper Jondachi. In general, this challenging stretch now has more hazards in the form of wood and sieves. It’s still a fantastic stretch of river, just be on your toes if you venture up that way.
The Upper Mis continues to be the best intro to creeking we know. It is a fun day of technical boating with lots of boofs. There are several put-ins and take-outs which make it the perfect run for a variety of skill levels.
In an effort to mitigate the effect of future floods, stretches of the rivers through Archidona and Tena are lined with dike-like gabions (rock filled wire cages). In reality, these will provide little protection in a flood of similar magnitude. What is needed is reforesting the banks within 100 meters of the rivers edge and protecting the watersheds.
Tropical Ecuador has no shortage of continuous and varied whitewater, but there are threats. What can you do? Ecuadorian Rivers Institute is deeply concerned about the future health and well being of Ecuador’s rivers and their surrounding watersheds. Contact Matt Terry for information about current projects and how you might contribute.
Thanks to Matt Terry for the use of his photos.