Ecuador is not just for kayakers! My mom came down here a couple of weeks ago and brought along an entourage of adventuresome lady friends. None of them were kayakers, but Small World Adventures still found a week packed with action and awesome activities...read more below on what you can do in Ecuador if kayaking ain't your thing (more on the oil history next blog when I post the Rios Escondidos write up).
So, we started off the week with a nice lunch in Quito and then a tour of a hummingbird sanctuary in the cloud forests along the Papallacta River. It was great sitting in the peaceful gardens alongside the river watching literally hundreds of hummingbirds feed and buzz around. After watching the birds we continued on to Small World's riverside lodge for a relaxing evening of walking around the gardens there and enjoying the first of Lili's home cooked meals.
Day 2 brought us to the Salado River for some rafting. We started easy to make sure everyone liked it, so just did a short 1-hour stretch and then headed down to San Rafael Falls. It's a 40 minute hike into the over look, but oh so worth it to see the Quijos River fall 485 feet!
Since everyone was stoked on the rafting, the next day we heading southeast to the town of Tena and did some more rafting on the Jatunyacu River (or Upper Napo). Then we had a delicious meal at the fanciest restaurant in Tena and watched sloths roam around the place as we ate our steaks, penne pasta, and Spinach salads.
It was interesting navigating the the Class I and II rapids of the Napo in a big, long, unwieldy canoe. But our driver got us through unscathed, and we only had to get out once to push the canoe up a rapid! Then we had a great lunch at a jungle lodge, enjoyed their gardens for a while and headed back to the civilization that is Tena.
When we got back to Tena we toured the local market and saw tons of amazing looking fruits and vegetables for sale. We also got the treat of checking out a local delicacy--Chonta Curro--AKA grubs! We didn't eat any though, just played with them for a while:)
We spent the last 2 days enjoying the Quijos Valley and Small World's lodge. Everyone got massages from Lili, we hiked to a local waterfall, went bird-watching and did more rafting to check out the amazing Basalt river canyons of the Quijos River.
Our last night in Quito we had a great dinner up in New Town and then headed to Old Town to walk around the plazas and see all the Colonial churches lit up. The city has made a massive effort to beautify Old Town and make it a pleasant place to hang out at night. It was a really great experience. A nice send off for everyone before waking up early to catch flights back to the United States.
Don, Larry, Tarquino, the ladies and I all had a great week of rafting and touring around Ecuador. Thanks for coming everyone--we hope it was the trip of a lifetime!