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I have been to Ecuador twice now and I have to say it is quite possibly the best place for those that only have a week, and want to get immersed for 7 straight days of greatness. There are many winter destinations for kayakers. I have been to a lot of them, Chile, Zambia, Uganda, Ecuador, Mexico, even the South East of the USA. Costa Rica is another, but I haven’t been there yet… Although all of them have provided great memories and plenty of good whitewater, Ecuador stands out as the easiest and least hassle, whitewater bang for the buck..
This year I went with JK Regional Team member Brian Gardel, (Frenchy) from Steamboat. We had a blast! We flew on airmiles and that made an already affordable trip really easy… ECUADOR HERE WE COME!!!
What is important to me and I am sure others that don’t have much more than a couple weeks off a year, is to get to the whitewater, paddle as much as you can, and get back home with as little hassle as you can. This is where Ecuador rules!!! You leave on Saturday am, you are in Quito by that evening, and first thing you know you are paddling the next day (sunday), and same wiith Monday, Tuesday, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, and then fly home Sunday for a perfect week of any skill level you could wish for. That is the real beauty of Ecuador… there is paddling for anyone from a complete newby, to a fully seasoned veteran.
I am more of a IV+ and V- type paddler. I enjoy long, steep, boulder garden style runs. And bottom line, that is what Ecuador offers best. I am not much for large waterfalls, and that is part of what makes Ecuador perfect for me, beyond a couple 20 footers (perfectly high enough for me), it’s all about the boat-scoutable, steep, boulder gardens and jungle atmosphere.
The are a few options for guide services, and unless you have a bunch of time on your hand, they are by far your best option for keeping a good pace of new rivers every day and certainly steering you towards a safe trip. I have stayed with two of them, Endless Adventure International (, and also Small World Adventures ( Both of these options offer a different experience and both should be looked at for your final decision. Endless Adventure is a Jackson Kayak Super Store based out of Nelson BC, and with them, you are guaranteed to be in a Jackson Kayak for your paddling while there. Chris Ryman and his wife Andrea are young, energetic and tons of fun. They offer all kinds of adventures like surfing on the coast and other non kayak specific adventures. They have great gear, ample taxi support and provide what I felt was a great option for the more “expense conscious” paddler. Small World Adventure has been in Ecuador for at least 15 years that I know of, and they too are a super awesome option. Larry and Don/Darcy are your guides and they have Ecuador nailed down. With a Sprinter Van for your shuttle vehicle, an awesome cook and rather comfy bungalows, this option is also a fantastic one. There are two other operations, that I can’t speak for (due to never staying with them), but that I am sure are also worthy of your hard earned dollars.
Bottom line…. If you are jonsing for mid winter paddling, you don’t want to spend too much money making it happen and time-off work is a big part of your decision, you just can’t beat Ecuador.