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By John McConville

Hey Everyone,

I have recently returned from a 2 month long trip to South America. My travels led me through 3 different countries starting from the amazing jungles of Ecuador and ending in the beautiful land of huge hucks in Chile. Currently I’m located in the snowy cold farm fields of WI with my family. Its nice to have a little down time with the family after a trip like this. Looking back at the photos, I’m reminded of an amazing time spent with great friends exploring a different culture and their way of life!

The trip began with a flight into Quito Ecuador, which is located at the northern end of the Andes Mtns. at an elevation of 9,350 feet. From there it is possible to reach any whitewater hub in the country by bus in less than 5 hrs. Being that this was my 2nd trip to Ecuador in 3 years i already had good beta on the country and our team (consisting of Andy McMurray, John Kiffmeyer, and myself) was able to move quick and start paddling by day 2.

Baeza has always been my first stop when arriving in Ecuador, in fact its been the best cultural experience I’ve had throughout my travels! La Casa De Rodrigo located in Colonial Baeza, is a sweet hostel owned by Rodgiro Morales Vega, and has a long history of well known kayakers that have passed through the area. The Valley below the town is known as the Rio Quijos, offering warm whitewater to any kayaker of any skill level. The area has everything from the fun and easy big water run of El Chaco canyon to the silly steep ( 400 to 500 fpm ) multi day run of the upper Oyacachi! Not recommended to run without a Jackson Kayak, as the upper Oyacachi will destroy gear and anything not made of crosslink plastic! Ecuadorian rivers usually offer bolder-garden style rapids that can be super continuous in nature and best done with either a strong group of kayakers or with Small World Adventures.

Shifting gears with new ideas and descending roughly 5,400 feet in elevation, my second stop when visiting Ecuador is usually Tena. This town is much larger than Baeza, offers a bit of night life and a whole new drainage to spice it up! During the drive from Baeza to Tena the road passes the put in and take out to one of the local favorites and mine as well, the Rio Jondachi. The Jondachi comes complete with a super muddy hike in, deep crystal blue water and a beautiful jungle gorge that will captivate the soul. (Highly recommended) Unlike most of the bolder-garden style rivers here in Ecuador, there’s 2 rivers in this region that stand apart from the rest. The Hollin and the Pusuno both have large waterfalls (40 to 50feet) that can be done with the right water levels. Due to the low water levels during my last visit, I was unable to run these Ecuadorian classics so once again it was time to move on to a new location in hopes of more water.

Banos, yes this town is named after the word bathroom but luckily there is nothing smelly about it! Actually it’s a beautiful town tucked away in the Mtns right next to the active volcano of Tungurahua. In the valley below Banos runs the Rio Pastaza, the locals run rafting trips but due to the water quality this isn’t the highlight to visiting this mountainous town. The soothing hot springs, endless amounts of sugar cane taffy, good night life, and the Rio Topo is where its at! The Topo is in danger of being dammed up in the near future and unfortunately this is one of the best rivers Ecuador has to offer. The remoteness, unique biodiversity and quality whitewater make this a "must do" for the class 5 kayaker when visiting Ecuador.

All in all, Ecuador has been a great place to travel. The fantastic bus system makes for easy travel and setting shuttle a breeze in comparison to other countries. During our visit to Ecuador our team ran 4 different rivers and 9 different sections, as well as successfully completing one extremely steep multi day! With the taste of whitewater on our tongue we were thirsty for more, Ecuador needed more water so we packed our bags and left it all behind. Peru was next in sight and with the upcoming rainy season closing in fast, we crossed our fingers in hope of manageable levels!

Here’s a link to Small World Adventures,

John McConville

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Ecuador city shootClick to see larger image

Ecuador HorseClick to see larger image

Ecuador TreeClick to see larger image

John Boofin PapallactaClick to see larger image

John Boofin Rio JondachiClick to see larger image

John day 2 Rio OyacachiClick to see larger image

John dealing day2 Rio OyacachiClick to see larger image

John EL Chaco, Rio Quijos fwClick to see larger image

John putin rapid Rio JondachiClick to see larger image

Oyacatchie FlowerClick to see larger image

Rio Jondachi SnakeClick to see larger image

Senior Photos Rio Jondachi