Tuesday, November 25, 2008



Don't worry, he is still alive and well, but I thought, what the hell, why not immortalize the living?

So, sorry to get all sentimental here, but I thought it was time to give Larry some credit for creating Small World Adventures, Cabanas Tres Rios, and such an excellent kayaking scene in Ecuador:
Thanks Larry for having the vision, the perseverance, and motivation to build this kick ass kayakers' lodge (supported by a very kick ass kayaking scene), so that we are lacking in nothing while kayaking in Ecuador. You had the guts to try something new when there were no kayakers in the Quijos Valley, and I admire that. You had no example to follow, yet, with just your dream, a little cash, and some inspiration, you turned a swampy cow field into Cabanas Tres Rios and, I think I can speak for all of Small World's kayakers when I say, we are forever grateful to you for following through with your dream.

Today, Ecuador has become a fairly popular kayaking destination; but this wasn't always the case. Not many people know much about the "history of paddling in Ecuador," and, since Larry Vermeeren was such a big part of it, I wanted to pay him a little homage.

True, when Larry first came to Ecuador there were a couple kayakers paddling the rivers of this small country. But, when I say "a couple," I literally mean 2. The paddling scene in Ecuador was much different back then--I'd even go so far as to say it was non-existent. The now booming rafting industry was just in its burgeoning stages, and hardly anyone in the world thought of Ecuador as the whitewater Mecca that many consider it to be today. When Larry started Small World Adventures, he, and his sport, were a true anomaly here in Ecuador.
But, Larry somehow had a good sense about this place and was able to see in the future--through the jungle, the farms, and the pasture land--a country that offered incomparable kayaking, and a lodge (that he would have to build) that would be the temporary home of many of the future kayakers who came to take advantage of Ecuador's gradient, rainfall, and its high concentration boatable rivers.

Larry found his personal El Dorado when he visited the Quijos Valley for the first time--although it was an unlikely treasure. The roads were all dirt and in a constant state of disrepair. Borja had no hotels and barely 1 restaurant. In short, there just wasn't much going on besides the oil pipeline activity, and the dairy farmers who had colonized the land after the road connecting Quito to the oil fields was completed.

But, Larry had an idea...and, luckily for us, he also had the wherewithal to see his idea through.

6 years later, Larry was the proud owner of Cabanas Tres Rios. His goal from the outset was to create a welcoming and comfortable place for kayakers who were visiting Ecuador to stay. He knows that "roughing" it while paddling can be fun, but let's be honest, living large while paddling is a hell of a lot more fun! Now, thanks to LV and CTR, living large while kayaking is very possible in the Quijos Valley. Thanks to Larry, Small World guests now enjoy clean, comfortable rooms to sleep in each night, hot showers after kayaking, gourmet meals to keep the energy up while paddling, a huge fleet of kayaks to choose from, an onsite massage therapist, a yoga studio, and many, many more amenities.

He was a man with a dream, and he done good. Now, all us kayakers are reaping the benefits, and we just don't know how lucky we are.

Larry, thanks for creating Small World Adventures and Cabanas Tres Rios so that we can all enjoy kayaking in Ecuador as much as we do!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Kayaking, good eating, and the fiestas of the Virgin of Quinche, it just doesn't get any better than this

Many people come to Ecuador these days with the express purpose of kayaking. And, they are smart to do so, as Ecuador is a kayaking wonderland. You've got steep creeks, you've got medium volume technical rivers, and big water runs all within a very tight radius. And, the runs here are world class! So, what kayaker wouldn't want to come to Ecuador?

But, when kayakers come to Ecuador in pursuit of their sport, they also get the pleasure of meeting wonderful people, and of being exposed to a beautiful culture much different from that of North America or Europe.

The fiestas of the Virgin of Quinche we held in Borja last week. The Virgin of Quinche is an important icon all along the Quijos Valley (where we base for much of our kayaking). The Virgin has longed been revered as both a savior and a protector for the people living in the Quijos Valley in Ecuador's Oriente.

The Celebrations included a huge bonfire in the town park, followed by some tunes from the local marching band, a very impressive fireworks display, and some good ol' partying afterwards.

And yes, that is a cow with fireworks spraying out its horns. Dairy farming is the mainstay of the economy in the Quijos Valley and celebrating their agricultural prosperity is an integral part of the fiestas here in Borja. And, of course, no party would be complete without Sponge Bob (that's Bob Esponga here in Borja).

And, unfortunately, we couldn't party til dawn cause we had to get up and go kayaking the next day! That is what we came for after all.

And then, after kayaking, we ate REALLY well because our chef Lili is the greatest!

Then, after dinner, Chris and Don were sure to keep Midge with drink...He gets pissed off when his glass is empty.
Stay tuned for more...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The First (and by default) Best Trip of the Season!

Well, our first trip(s) of the year was a great success! We owe it mostly to the very charming personailities of our 6 guests who kept us laughing the whole week. But the top quality paddling probably had something to do with it as well. So, you may be wondering, what exactly made this trip so great? How about 7 outstanding days of kayaking, explosions (both on and off the river), monkeys, turtles, lizards, giant rodents, fireworks, tequila and much much more. Interested? Read on. Here Mr. Jeeeesse Becker is demonstrating a proper boof stroke on the Rio Jondachi
Larry is so damn excited to be back in Ecuador that he just can't contain himself
This is the Volcan Renventador ("The Exploder") which was living up to it's name this week. We even had the treat of a clear night where we were able to watch the glowing lava bubbling out of the top. Don't worry, we're upstream of the flow path, and it's calmed down now (the "experts" say it's just normal activity, and there is nothing to fret about--believe us, we looked into it)! The boys were just lucky enough to start out their week with this hot magma explosion!
Hilary and Ken set off for the Grand Canyon of the Quijos River

Chris setting the line on the Rio Oyacachi. The crystal clear waters, continuous boulder gardens, and abundance of Torrent Ducks make this a world class run.
Ecuador has the greatest bridges!

J-$ getting his boof on--Rio Oyacachi. My that's a nice paddle you've got.

Boater Cross anyone? I think Jesse prevailed in the end.

Everyone agreed that the lodge was a fine place to unwind (or to wind up by drinking 2 bottles of Tequila) after a day of boating. It doesn't get much more tranquil than this. With literally "front door" access to over 30 miles of river, Cabanas Tres Rios truly is a boaters' paradise.

Hector found a little friend here at our lodge.

Then, the crew went to Tena...and there were turtles...

And there were monkeys...

And bars...

And boofs...
but, perhaps best of all, there were more explosions. Not volcanic this time, more like fireworks if you will. Some were provided for the fiestas of Tena, and others by the German nation in a collaborative effort to make the town of Tena a more festive and hospitable tourist destination.

No, he's not German, but he is damn sexy.

Anyhow, back to the kayaking because that's what we all came here for, right? Meet Tim--AKA Count Tequila, AKA Rapid Slayer of the Misahualli.
And Mr. Vladamir himself boofing his way down the Upper Misahualli
Typical scenery on the Rio Jondachi

More typical scenery on the Jondachi. Not that you have a ton of time to soak in the sights. Afterall, the Jondachi does boast over 80 rapids in only 10 kilometers, so it keeps us kayakers rather busy. This is just a rare, tranquil moment.

Larry is either teaching Ken how to do the Vouge, or explaining a rapid. We still aren't sure which.

We finished the week off with a run down the Cheesehouse section of the Rio Quijos. Nice scenery and nice rapids combined to make this one of the favorites of the week.

One more Quijos shot

Once again, thanks to Ken, Jesse, Tim, Jason, Kyle, and Stuwart for starting our season off with a bang!

And, in case you haven't already, meet the Small World crew (from the left: Hilary, Larry, Darcy, Chris and Don)...there's just no excuse for us. And there's just no excuse for you not to join us for some world class paddling in Ecuador this winter.

You'll love it. Just ask last week's crew!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Sooo Good to be back
Chris T. on the Rio Quijos

The team is assembled once again in Ecuador. Don, Larry, Darcy, Chris, Hilary, Eduardo, Lili, Memo, and Hector are all together again in Borja getting ready for our upcoming season. We spent the last month paddling great rivers in the northwest, and while it was a little hard to leave, I must admit that putting the drysuit and poggies into storage for the winter was a wonderful feeling.

Don B. on the Rio Urqusiqui

Here in Ecuador, we've busted out our shorties and sunscreen and hit the rivers for a week of exploration before our season starts.

Darcy G. Rio Urqusiqui

Hilary N. on the Rio Quijos

While we were all working our summer jobs in the US, Ecuador’s Oriente (the eastern half of the country) was enduring its “rainy season.” The rivers often reach flood-like levels between the months of May and September, so each year we come back, we get to go exploring on all of our old favorites to see what has changed. Larry V. doing some river access exploration

Chris T. on the Rio Jondachi

So far, we haven’t found any major changes (the Jondachi and Misahualli had already had their big floods before we left last year), but we did find many small, subtle differences in the rapids. For the most part, we think things of changed for the better, many rapids seem cleaner than they used to.

Small World's Kayak Fleet--we've got over 60 kayaks!

We've also been busy preparing the lodge for the upcoming trips--Eduardo's got the gardens looking outstanding, Don, Chris and Hilary have our kayak fleet all ready to hit the rivers, and Larry the grounds (the cabins, yoga pilapa, and trail to the river) in tip top shape.

Darcy G. Rio Quijos

Besides being back on the rivers, we are all psyched to be back in Ecuador in general. We’ve already enjoyed mountain views, otter and watusi sightings, Lili’s amazing cooking, and many friendly smiles from our neighbors.

Without Memo, getting to the Jondachi can be very difficult. Our Banos bus got stuck in a freshly graded patch of sand on our way to the put in. Luckily, after about 30 or 40 minutes, a dump truck was kind enough to pull us out.

We are all looking forward to a season full of great kayaking trips; and after our bus got stuck in fresh sand on the Via Tena we are particularly looking forward to driving around the country in our Sprinter with Memo behind the wheel! But mostly we can't wait to show people what amazing rivers Ecuador has to offer.

Stay tuned into the blog for trip reports throughout our season.