Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kayaking Ecuador in January!

We heard that the people who weren't lucky enough to be paddling in Ecuador in January were suffering miserably in the cold back in the states. Negative digits in Colorado for weeks on end is pretty rare! But a few lucky paddlers were pulling out their shorty tops with us.

Here's Tarquino (personal raft guide of Ecuador's president Rafael Correra), demonstrating a boof on the Upper Misahualli.

Phil, Kayla, Tarquino on the Cosanga River

Future kayaker of Ecuador.

Edward cooling off after a lovely hike through the mud into the Lower Jondachi River. It was an exceptionally muddy day on the trail, but it was worth it for 2 hours of boofs and technical moves down the Jondachi, then 2 more hours of big water fun on the Hollin. I bet his buddies back in Pennsylvania weren't jumping into any rivers to cool off!

The gang on the Lower Jondachi

Kayla enjoying the crystal clear water of the Upper Mis.

Just a quick segment for all you kayakers who also love bird watching--here is the Andean Cock of the Rock (thanks Phil and Kayla for the great photo). This bird is quite a prize for bird watching groups who come to Ecuador, and we are lucky enough to have LOTS of them on the rivers of the Quijos Valley. It's always fun to excitedly shout "cock of the rock" to our guests and have them give a very odd look in return! The males are marked by having a bright red head (like this one) or a bright orange head and are the easiest to spot at they fly by--their colors being so intense. The females are more scarlet in color. These birds like to nest along rock walls (hence the "of the rock" part of their name). Ecuador has 1,600 registered species of birds, so you can look for lots more than just the Cock of the Rock while you are kayaking with us.

Ed is just showing the world that you can have your cake and eat it too--even while kayaking in Ecuador.

Here's Edward boofing "Bobsled" on the Upper Misahualli

And Phil and Kayla mainly on the Jondachi/Hollin with 1 short clip of the Upper Mis

And now, for the #4 reason we love Ecuador...

The River can go from looking like this photo above, to this photo below in just a matter of hours (well, in this case about 10 hours). This way, we are always kept on our toes, and never bored of our jobs:) We did get to paddle this day, just not on this particular river (Rio Qujios).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan. 9th--2 extremes, Mucha Agua and 1st timer beginner trip

January 9th was a week of extremes for us. We had Marty of Jackson Kayaks, Noah of Reno, NV and James of Nairobi, Kenya on a Mucha Agua trip. Then, on the other end of the spectrum we had Casey of New York City, and Leah and Bobby of Louisville, KY on a never, ever beginner kayaking trip--these little bad asses came to Ecuador to learn how to kayak!

Here's Marty boofing Toro Loco on the Piatua River.

The group dynamic worked out really well. It was good for the beginner kayakers to get a taste of what long-time kayakers acted and talked like (and believe it or not, I don't think the Mucha Agua boys scared off the other crew. They were very well behaved, hardly ever said "dude" and all and all were great ambassadors for the sport of kayaking). The Mucha Agua guys were all super impressed that people would be adventuresome enough to come down to Ecuador to learn how to kayak. So, in the end, both groups learned from each other and shared mutual respect for what the others were doing.
Here are Leah, Casey, and Larry on the Anzu River--the groups' first ever river run.
Here's James getting his boof on. Upper Jondachi.
Here are Leah, Bobby, and Casey swimming their first whitewater. Hey, if you are going to take a kayaking class and your instructors are going to make you swim, you might as well be in Ecuador where the water and air are so warm!

Noah, Upper Jondachi. Noah is about to go back for his PHD in Hydrology, so this trip was meant to get him in the right mind set--thinking about water.

In addition to their kayaking classes, the beginner crew took some time to enjoy the sights of Ecuador. Here, their guide Jamie shows them some local produce. This outing to the market was going so well until they came upon the grubs...yep, someone ate one, and it wasn't pretty!

Marty boofing P-cubed on the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos River.

You are never safe from stalking Tapirs. Tapirs don't generally attack people (being the friendly vegetarians that they are), but there was one documented case in a zoo in Oklahoma City, so Bobby was careful not to make any sudden movements that might annoy this guy! In the end, it was a friendly encounter of mutual curiosity.

Noah, Jondachi

James, Aphrodesia

Jamie, Casey, Leah, Bobby celebrating another successful river run down the Upper Napo River.

Don, sussing out the low water lines. For those of you who have paddled the Upper Jondachi, this is "Sideways Boof." These days it's "holy crap narrow slot," but still super fun!

Our little Coati friend searching for bugs to eat.

Ecuador is a great country. Where else in the world could you score 22 ounce Pilsiners AND Red Bull all in the same little shack at a town that is called "Kilometer 28." I think all of 15 people live in this town, but they've got beer and Red Bull baby!
James is stoked.
Parting Shot:

Some photos are beyond words

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Years Trip 2009/2010

Happy New Year!

We love New Year's trips in Ecuador because it means we get to end the year right (by paddling), AND start the New Year off right as well (by paddling). Here's LV--the Jefe--finishing up 2009 with a sweet run down the Rio Piatua.

Here's Shelbi, one of our Intro to Creeking participants, practicing her creeking moves on the Piatua.

And Kiran, putting his boof stroke to good use.

After a very rewarding run down the Piatua, we came back to Tena where everyone was busying themselves with the New Year's festivities. A somewhat odd, but wonderful, tradition in Ecuador is to build life-size (or bigger) dolls, which will then be burned to shove out the old year with style (sometimes they even stuff their dolls with fireworks to send out the old year with a bang--ha, ha) and usher in the New Year--a fresh start. The dolls (or effigies) are meant to represent someone or something from the past year (here's Michael Jackson for example).

Street vendors are busy selling papier mache masks before the big night.

Another very different tradition they have is for young men (in their 20's) to dress up like women in the streets on December 31st. Then, they set up road blocks and stop every car that comes by. They dance provocatively giving travelers a good laugh, and each car has to give them some change before they can pass. The cross-dressing dancers are supposed to be viujas, or widows--technically, they are widows of the old year. And, they are dancing to raise some money "to support themselves now that they have been widowed." More practically, they often use their collections for the New Year's fiesta. You can check out some dancing dudes here--this was filmed on the streets just outside of Tena.

Well, other than enjoying some Ecuadorian traditions, we also paddled some cool rivers. Here's Kiran on the Upper Misahualli.

Larry making some unconventional friends

Local fan club near Tena.

LV, giving Shelbi and Kiran the beta on the Misahualli

Here's Mark on the Lower Jondachi. He did a private week of playboating with Senor Don Beveridge. Besides throwing blunts, loops, and cartwheels all week, they took the time to enjoy some scenery too!

Parting Shot: (literally)

A little creative photography to start our 2010 marketing campaign off right. If this doesn't make you want to come kayaking in Ecuador, I'm not sure what will!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Ecuador, Christmas 2009

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stiring, not even a mouse. All the kayakers waited with nervous anticipation, to see what would be become of their Ecuadorian paddling vacation.

There was boofing galore...

Each run was so great they were begging for more...

Ok, so I suck at rhyming, so here's the real story. We had a typical Ecuadorian Christmas (which for us is always atypical and just depends on who is visiting us at the time, and what we happen to see).

First we were visited by the Christmas Beetle. Here's Jeff of Cresent City, CA posing with him for some good luck on the river.

Then we followed some locals around for a little Christmas shopping--this is practically like going to FAO Schwartz in NYC isn't it?

Then Tam, also of CC, CA donned her "pretty in pink" shirt, just to get into the festive spirit (or maybe she did it because it was super hot, just like it always is on Christmas day).

Then we saw some kids getting a lift home from school for Christmas vacation--typical.

Then, Tam boofed the Rio Misahualli

Rudolf frolicked in a waterfall,

Thomas ran a sweet rapid,
Jeff picked his way down "just another massive boulder garden,"

And we saw Santa's little helper.

So, all and all it was a pretty sweet Christmas vacation. Thanks to Rudolf and Thomas of Austria, and Tam and Jeff of the US for sharing it with us.
Stay tuned for a typical Ecuadorian New Year report next week!