Thursday, April 26, 2012

Help Ecuador's Rivers and Win Big Doing So

Ecuador's Rivers Need Your Help!

And you can benefit from giving to the ERI by extra chances to win awesome gear in the annual SWA gear giveaway contest.

Ecuador is home to some of the most amazing rivers and river canyons on this planet.  In addition, Ecuador possesses some of the richest biodiversity in the world. Through national parks, reserves and sanctuaries, the country has taken some measures to protect Ecuador's natural capital. But, these "on paper" protections aren't proving strong enough against the ever-present drive towards development. There are currently a number of environmental threats that the Oriente (Eastern Slope of the Andes) is facing.

Gold mining, oil, logging and hydro development are the 4 main forces threatening Ecuador's rivers today.
Surprisingly, since Ecuador sees so many visiting boaters each year and has a strong contingent that comes year after year, it really is lacking a strong conservation community.  Matt Terry and the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute (ERI) is the sole force fighting to protect Ecuador’s rivers; and this summer Small World Adventures has made it our priority to help Matt garner the support he needs to continue his fight.

Currently, the ERI is working on a number of fronts to do what it can to protect Ecuador’s rivers.  It works hard to stop illegal gold mining and gravel mining in the river beds.  With the price of gold so high these days, illegal gold mining has run rampant throughout the country.  Through river watches and reports to the local governments, the ERI has helped shut down many of these operations.  Many small-scale mining operations are using heavy machinery to cut new accesses to remote river sites (better mining if there aren’t already a much of miners there).  Once access is cut into the jungle, logging, farming, and ranching usually ensue.  Most of these “path-blazers” are doing their work without permits and the ERI is busy trying to keep this in check.

The ERI is has also proposed (and had accepted in the early stages) a protected river corridor that would follow the Jondachi and Hollin River systems.  This idea is appealing to pretty much everyone involved.   From the federal government’s perspective, all the ERI is asking is to protect a measly 2 kilometer wide swath of land the follows the Jondachi River into the Hollin River and the Hollin all the way down to its confluence with the Misahaulli.  To river-lovers, this protection is great!  If it is put into law, it will stop the proposed dam on the Jondachi as well as all future oil development in the river corridor, and all in-river mining operations.  If this corridor idea becomes a reality, it will set a much-needed precedent for protecting other precious rivers in Ecuador.

The ERI is also the only group (as far as we can see) who actually checks up on government projects to make sure they are complying with the environmental regulations put forth by the government itself.  Few people know this, but nature was given constitutional rights in Ecuador a few years back and the ERI is doing its best to make sure that these constitutional rights are upheld.
But all these efforts take funding which is hard to come by when you are a small non-profit working in the jungles of Ecuador.

So, if you love Ecuador’s rivers and want to help, donate to the ERI!  Between now and October 30th, for every $5 you donate to the ERI you’ll get 1 extra entry in Small World Adventures’ summer gear giveaway.   A $50 donation gets you 10 extra entries.  So, who knows, doing a good thing for the rivers of Ecuador could get you a Jackson Kayak or tons of other great prizes!
We are giving away awesome prizes all summer long.  You can win gear from Jackson, Werner, Sweet, IR, Snap Dragon, Smith, Forge Motion Pictures, Sea to Summit, CKS, and Kayak Session.

On May 1st we will choose our first 4 winners of the summer. One will get a long-sleeve IR thin skin, one will get a Big River dry bad from Sea to Summit, one will get a copy of Forge's Wildwater, and one will get a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine.

IR’s thin skin is a lightweight, tight fitting rash guard. Made with a 4-way stretch, 57% polyester, 31% poly/bamboo fiber and 12% spandex blend. The material is soft, stretchy and wicks exceptionally well. Worn for warmer weather paddling or as a base layer all year. Flat seam construction to prevent chaffing and high neck to prevent sunburn. Wind and abrasion resistant. UPF rating: 73.

Sea to Summit’s Big River Dry Bag is a bomber dry bag that every kayaker should have!  It is super strong and abrasion resistant, this non-PVC mid-weight dry bag has space saving low profile Hypalon® lash loops on the sides for secure stacking and a roll-resistant oval shape. A great choice for rugged water sports like kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Suitable to keep contents dry in any wet situation where the bag is not submerged.
  • TPU laminated fabric with 10,000 mm waterhead
  • Super strong and abrasion resistant 420 D nylon fabric
  • Waterproof, double stitched, reinforced, tape sealed seams
  • Hypalon® lash loops for secure attachment or stacking
  • Waterproof Hypalon® roll top closure does not wick moisture
  • Space saving, low profile, streamlined shape
  • Oval base resists rolling - stays where you put it

If you haven’t heard of Forge Motion Picture’s Wildwater by now, you are missing out!  When ordinary people, share a singular passion, the extraordinary emerges. WildWater is a journey into the mind and soul of whitewater, into the places only river runners can go, places of discovery, solitude and risk. It’s a visually stunning feast for the senses, and an expedition into new ideas.
Kayak Session Magazine is the highest quality kayaking-only magazine out there.  The photos will blow you mind and the stories are well-written pieces on contemporary kayaking feats, legendary kayaking heroes, and great kayaking destinations.  Keep up to date in kayaking news and learn a little bit about the sports’ history all while having your mind blown by incredible photos!

Anyone can get 1 free entry by going to our website, scrolling down to click the "win" link and then filling in the answers to the sign up form's questions.

Small World Adventures

If you want more chances to win by donating to ERI, donate to them through the SWA/ERI donate button that you can find here: donate

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winter Whitewater IV- Canadians meet Idahoians meet Coloradans

 Darcy made a new friend at our favorite restaurant in Tena

Don and I got back on the road last Thursday and, with the prospect of having new boating photos and stories to blog about, I realized just how terribly behind I am in the Ecuador blogging department.  So, here I am getting my act together and getting these blogs up about our last few trips of the season.

 Darren showing his stuff on the Rio Piatua.  He told us the rivers in Ecuador were a lot warmer than the ones he is used to up in Canada, eh?

The 3rd week in February we had a great crew from Calgary, Colorado and Idaho.  As was typical of this season, we had great water levels and big smiles abounded!

Don demonstrating proper cartwheel technique on the Quijos River
We got to do a little playboating, a little creeking and some big water runs as well!

 Lisa making her way to the put in with some awesome rainforest scenery in the background

 In addition to the crew seeing the awesome rivers of Ecuador, they got a little extra cultural excitement as well since it was Carnival. 

 On their way from Quito to our lodge the crew got stuck behind this Carnival procession.  They take their parades pretty seriously in Ecuador and no cars were allowed to pass.  Oh well, at least there were interesting costumes and they still made it to the lodge with plenty of time to boat!

Carnival is a very interesting holiday in Ecuador.  Carnival, which is celebrated widely throughout the world, is an intensely festive holiday that happens just before Lent.  Also known as "Fat Tuesday" Carnival is a day of decadence where people can over indulge in food, drink, fun, etc...before beginning the more austere holiday of Lent.  But in Ecuador, Carnival lasts for about 1 full week leading up to Fat Tuesday.  Why celebrate for only 1 day, when you can party all week long?

 Tamara chilling out in the middle of El Chaco Canyon on the Quijos River

 Ecuador, in addition to celebrating in the more typical styles with parades and lavish costumes, has also added it's own local flavor to Carnival.  These days, throwing water is priority number 1 for kids celebrating the holiday.  They mainly engage in water wars within their own small circles, but the occasional unsuspecting gringo is certainly a prized target.

 Tamara getting up close and personal with Carnival in Ecuador

People also through eggs, silly string, flour and flowers on each other as a way of celebration.  These practices, although they seem EXTREMELY odd to the outsider, do have pretty deep historical roots.

 Darren and Tarquino getting ready for a little Carnival celebrating themselves

Back in the "good old days" before Catholicism took over Ecuador, the Huaranges Indigenous people used to hold a similar celebration on the full moon.  They would throw perfumed water, flowers and actual flour to celebrate (I'm not sure how their tradition got started).  Once the Catholic dudes moved in, their version of Carnival was merged with the Indigenous version, then a few hundred years of modernity and change tweaked things even further, and now you get the street wars fought with buckets, water balloons, cans of silly string, overly excited children and overly fearful adults.

 Part of the crew--Keith, Lisa, Darren, Tamara, Tarquino--with big smiles below El Torro rapid

Luckily, kayakers are used to getting wet so a little water flung doesn't phase us much.  Especially in Tena when the temperature is a pretty steady 80-85 degrees F it's pretty much all fun and games (until the eggs come out).  But I can't say that I haven't fantasized more than once about bringing down a giant Nerf Super Soaker with a 5 gallon backpack tank of water and whupping some ass on those little water-flinging bastards!  But I haven't gone that far yet...
Toucan I spotted on our way to the Piatua put in.  The access road to this river is amazing, we often see incredible birds and little marmosets, so if you go to this river, stay awake on the drive to the put in!

And, when we weren't dodging water fighting people in the streets of Ecuador, we were busy getting soaked by the wonderful rivers that flow out of the Andes Mountains where many of these crazy traditions were born. 

The group scouting with Tarquino on the Upper Misahualli

Well, that is about enough rambling for now.  Why don't you just kick back and enjoy the rest of the photos from our 2nd to last trip of the season.  It was a good one!  Enjoy

Lee loving life as he boat scouts his way down the Cosanga River

Damian--BOOF!--on the Upper Misahualli

It's kind of a tight fit on the way to the Piatua.  But I think we have a good 4-5 inches of clearance there...

Keith looking very stylish in all blue!

Lisa, enjoying her shorty top, something she can't do all that often in Colorado

Back in sunny Tena after a sweet day on the river.  Watch out for water flingers now!  It's a bad day to try to ride in the back of the trucks.

John and his Idaho buddy Keith getting ready for a big day on the river

Now, just a reminder to everyone, Small World Adventures' summer gear giveaway contest is officially back on!  Sign up to win on our website, everyone gets 1 chance from our sign up form. Then, if you want more chances to win, you can have em!   This year, if you donate money to the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, you'll get 1 extra entry for every $5 you donate to them.
You can also get more chances from Facebook.  Go to Small World's Facebook page, "like" us, comment on 1 of our photos and then email me at once you've done all this and I will give you 5 extra chances to win great gear!

On May 1st we are giving away 4 awesome prizes to 4 lucky winners:
1.)  A long-sleeve Immersion Research Thin Skin
3.) A copy of Forge Motion Pictures' Wildwater 
4.) A 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine 

So, don't miss your chance to win, go to our website and sign up NOW!