Monday, February 23, 2009

Small World Adventures, Kayak Ecuador


We had a big group this week split between a Mucha Agua trip and a Torrents trip. There was a group of friends from Colorado and Vermont, and then the rest of the 2 groups was made up of people from Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia. So all and all we had a very geographically diverse group. 1/2 the group added on a 3 day extension to the end of their trip and headed out to the beach for a little kayaking surfing.

Day 1: the groups arrived from Quito eager to hit the river. We had a massive kayak-outfitting session where we got all 15 kayakers into good boats (good thing we have such a large selection of kayaks)! Then we had a quick lunch and hit the rivers. The Mucha Agua trip headed to the Lower Cosanga while the Torrents trip hit the Quijos.

I am still waiting on photos from the Torrents trip and a few more from the Mucha Agua trip, but for now, here is a sampling of the week (mainly from the Mucha Agua trip). Above, Justin is doing a little advertising for us on the Oyacachi River. Thanks for aiming your kayak perfectly at the camera!
Josh Mack is enjoying his break from a snow-laden Colorado while he cruises down the Oyacachi.

The convoy headed over to Tena.

Justin styling the line in "Serpentine."

John following suit.

I call this one "kayakers in the mist." The gang is hiking into the Upper Jondachi. We started the day with rather low water, and finished the day with rather medium water. It was actually the perfect combination--low, reasonable water for the bulk of the rapids, and more pushy medium water for the Class III/IV- paddle out at the end. What good timing we have:)

Matt and John work their way down Aphrodesia while the rest of the crew looks on.
For those of you who haven't heard yet, the Jondachi River is being threatened by a dam. The government has proposed a hydro project that would effectively ruin both the Upper and the Lower Jondachi. So whether you are a Class III, Class IV, or Class V paddler (or aspiring to be any of these) this dam should concern you! The good news is that the project is still in the planning and approval stages, and there is good potential to stop it. The best way you can help right now is to buy an "Amigos Del Rio Jondachi" T-shirt. All the proceeds go directly to the Amigos Del Rio Jondachi fund (Matt Terry's organization) which is working at the governmental level to stop this project. The shirts, designed by Small World Adventures guides, are very stylish, so you can look good and support a good cause. The shirts are $15 each, and they come in forest green or navy blue. You can order off our website at
Just click on sign up now and you'll find our online payment form.
Thanks for your support! And please check back with us every so often to find out what else you can do to help.
Don Beveridge leading the charge.
So, check back in soon for more photos from both trips PLUS photos from the beach portion.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

1 Week, 7 Days, Outstanding Whitewater Everyday = Ecuador Rules!

Dan Leuschel has traveled pretty extensively throughout South America, kayaking some amazing whitewater along his way, but at the end of his week in Ecuador he said, "best week of kayaking ever!" Thanks Dan:)

Here is Dan on the "Sideways Boof" Rio Jondachi.

We had a week of BIG water. Primarily becuase that was the focus of the trip, but also becauase it rained a lot this week. But we were lucky enough to catch the Upper Jondachi at a perfect level. It was our 1 day of low volume creeking for the week. The rest of the time, we were crashing through huge waves and dodging huge holes!
Peter Z. enjoying his one day of low volume creeking bliss!
San Rafael Falls. Here the Quijos River drops 485 feet in this double stage waterfall

The more time I spend in Ecuador, the more I appreciate all that it has to offer. Obviously, kayaking is the focus of my time in Ecuador, and, for some reason, this year in particular, I have really been taken aback by the incredible quality of whitewater that we have here in such a relatively small area. On this trip, I thought about the Quijos River a it's uppermost reaches (accessible by road), it is "pushy, continuous creeking." As you go downstream, more and more tributaries swell this river in to a big water playground. Just out in front of our lodge, El Chaco Canyon drops 70 feet per mile, which is pretty impressive gradient for a big water run. 100 miles downstream of the Cheesehouse run (the upper strectch), the Quijos still has great whitewater, it's just big volume now. also has some pretty damn crazy geology on it. So my real point is, notice the volume of water falling over San Rafael Falls in this photo.

Locals call this the "Tunnel" of the Quijos--I can't imagine why?

Then, 20 miles downstream of the falls, all that volume squeezes through this "tunnel." We are VERY high up on a bridge, but my guess is that this squeeze is 15 feet wide? So, on any given day somewhere between 2,000 and 30,000 CFS (depending on the rain) are flowing over that big, wide waterfall, then going through this squeeze...Just below this tunnel, the river is 200-400 feet wide, and big water, the character of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. The entire river is simply amazing!

Dan, Peter, and Don just below "Aspen Extreme" on the Quijos

And, the Quijos is rather scenic as well. Here the boys are exiting Aspen Extreme Canyon with one (out of more than 40--I counted once) huge waterfall pouring off the cliff in the background.

Dan L. taking out at Pena Blanca--truly, one of the prettiest take outs in Ecuador! The photo doesn't do it justice, but I had to try.

Rio Malo Falls. We did a little sightseeing on our way home from the Quijos

Day 1: Don and our chef Lili shredding the Lower Cosanga

I do appologize for going out of order, but that is sort of my style (it's just too hard to be organized). So, anyhow, here we are back to day 1. We don't very often get the opportunity to take our staff out on the river, but we try to make it happen at least a couple times each season. Anyhow, it was Lili's turn to go. We had a fun and stout level on the Lower Cosanga and Lili and Don did an awesome job. It was her first time down that stretch of river, and during the few moments she actually had time to look around, she found the scenery to be rather nice.

A Happy Chef makes for Happy Eaters!

In the end, Lili said it was one of the most fun days of being on the river in her life. Nice work, Lili, not too many people have successfully shredded the Cosanga! No swims for either of them.

Peter Z. enjoying a fun, juicy level on the Lower Cosanga--Peter, way to step off the plane right into "the maw" so to speak! Thanks for rising to the occasion.

Oro Pendula nests at sunset--the Amazon Basin is cool!

I felt pretty bad about carrying my creek boat around until I saw this guy. I think his load is much heavier.

Don Beveridge, hard at work

Darcy checking out the new rapid on the Jondachi

Back to the Jondachi...Not too far downstream of the put in on the Upper Jondachi there was a pretty significant landslide (or cliff collapse is more like it), which "drowned" one rapid and created a new, pretty big rapid. Unfortunately, right now the rocks are all jagged and sharp, and the rapid is overall pretty junky. Hopeful it will clean up with time, but for now, heads up for this one!

Finishing Aprodesia on the Upper Jondachi

Peter and Dan approaching Tres Huevos

The Amazon Basin is also good a producing big clouds

Thanks guys for an awesome week of kayaking! We hope you had as much fun as we did.

(I have quite a good video of you guys in Aspen Extreme which I will post on this blog as soon as I get myself to an internet connection that is fast enough to do check back in a couple weeks).

Parting Shot:

Amen to that!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Boatin' Trip to Ecuador, January 25, 2009

Last week we were lucky to have a group of buddies, from Utah/Idaho, down here to boat with us. They've been boating together for years, and while they'd taken plenty of boatin' trips out and around, this was there first time on an "outfitted" trip. The pressure was on for SWA to deliver. Luckily Ecuador has some great stuff, on and off the river to offer. We like to think we're pretty good at finding the cool stuff, too. The gang agreed, saying "this trip exceeded our expectations in every way...and we had some pretty damn high expectations."

Well guys, it was fun boating with you, too, and we look forward to having you back.

Typical scenery on the Upper Misahualli

An epic night of rain at our lodge had us zip on over to Tena a day earlier than normal. We usually spend the first two days of the week in our backyard in the Quijos valley. But after major rain all night had us tempted to sleep with our lifejackets on (almost - the river rose 10 vertical feet in front of our place over night). We decided a change of venue was in order. Through luck, planning, and brilliant guessing we had some great runs on the Misahualli, Piatua, and Jondachi rivers.

Boulder garden on the Upper Misahualli

Happy boaters on the Misahualli

Bridge keepers on the Piatua

Toro Loco, Rio Piatua

Sabado Gigante, Rio Piatua

more Sabado Gigante...

Gringo-testing the hanging bridge

Night time view from the Arana Bar in Tena
(insert margaritas here)

So we use a trail that cuts through a local community to access the Jondachi River. As a kind of an entrance fee, and to give some money to the local community, we hire porters to help carry our boats in. But lets face it, we can use the help...

Jondachi put-in fun

(She's thinking, "stop playing around in the mud so I can get this boat off my head!")

"yep, don't need a boat on my shoulder right now"

Crocs: Really comfy, yes. Good in mud, no.

After a great three days in Tena, we headed back to our lodge in the Quijos valley, where water had dropped back to fun levels.

The sprinter, loaded for boatin.

We got on the Lower Cosanga, Quijos, and the Oyacachi Rivers. Sorry, no pictures of the Oyacachi this week, things were a bit too fun for photography!

Lavadora, Rio Cosanga

Lunch on the Cosanga

Kicking it at the cabins

The Boys.

Boyd, Todd, Justin, Wally, Nick, Norm, Mike.


Ok, a ringer counts as 3, a leaner as 2,

how 'bout a windsheild?