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kayaking Ecuador  - latitude 0 º-0'-0"

- maps    - Ecuador Notes     - packlist  and itenerary   -rivers of Ecuador  - Galapagos

photos of recent trip

2005 Rafting World Championships held on the Quijos River in Ecuador
2005 World Rafting Championships

Quito  cam
Arrival in Quito (elevation 9,300 feet/ 2,385 meters) the US Embassy and Lonley Planet Guide
Ecuador adopted the US dollar as their official currency in 2000. 
Quito is the oldest South American Capitol  Quito info found here and here - Ecuador Explorer

Kayaking Season

The Republic of Ecuador has great whitewater during fall, winter and spring in the northern hemisphere.
Ecuador's diverse rivers are rain fed and free flowing - bringing weekly fluctuations.
Ecuador has lots of water!
Paddling in Ecuador

Many of the rivers of Ecuador are remote and committing, rain plays a big factor in all of Ecuador.
Estimates are that only a few hundred paddlers have been to Ecuador.
Jungle runs are committing, walking out is usually not a viable option.
If paddling multi-day trips, bring a good snake-proof tent, gloves, ropes, climbing gear and sufficient bivuoac.
to the Rivers of Ecuador
All of the following are direct threats to the integrity of Ecuadors amazing rivers and watersheds:
-mining, oil development and exploration - punching roads into the forests
-reckless and irresponsible oil and gas development damaging forever the native cultures of Ecuador and the Amazon basin
-hydro power development
-inadequate waste and wastewater management
-deforestation, uncontrolled and unplanned growth
-unsustainable agricultural practices and substinence living
Geography of Ecuador
-comparable in size to the American state of Colorado

-climate specifics

Ecuador is one of the most geographically and ecologically diverse countries in the world.

Four distinct geographical regions compose Ecuador.
(Described in East to West fashion)
-El Oriente (Amazon Jungle) some of the most biologically diverse and pristine areas on earth falling off the central mountain spine eastward and southeast into the jungles
-La Sierra (the Andean highlands) the high altitude Paramo grassland, condors, glaciated volcanoes, cloudforests, Inca Ruins, centerline of the country
-La Costa (Coastal lowlands) hello mosquitoes and surf !
-Galapagos Islands (Pacific Ocean) spectacular volcanic islands with unique island biogeography.

The Ecuadorian Andes have a spring-like character/climate year round, making them a mountain paradise.

Ecuador hosts more than 15,000 types of vascular plants, more than 400 types of amphibians,
with more than 375 types of reptiles, more than 320 mammilian species, over 1700 types of fish!


Ecuador's Amazon region receives over 20 feet of rainfall annually. Thats a lot!

The Amazon River is the largest freshwater river system in the world.
Equatorean Amazon averages 20+ feet of rain/year.
black flies, mosquitoes
It can rain so hard in Ecuador that paddling must stop. Now THAT is serious rain!
When you breathe in the rain with every breathe and when visibility is literally beat down by rain, its time to bivouac.
The jungles of Ecuador are loaded with snakes, spiders, scorpions and plenty of other crawlers.
The mosquitoes are most common in La Costa, and less common in La Sierra.

los rios de Ecuador


los rios de Ecuador
The massive Andean mountain range gives birth to Ecuadors incredible and diverse rivers that carve their way to the ocean through deep canyons, gorges, jungles and valleys, yielding hundreds of miles of kick ass whitewater.

Ecuador envelopes most of the headwaters of the Amazon river
- resulting in one of the highest concentrations of rivers per square mile in the world!

Add into the mix: warm tropical waters, year-round flows, good access to paddling in the Amazonian jungle and you've got the worlds greatest whitewater environment.

Los rios de Ecuador can experience fluctuations at any time, so be prepared.

Ecuadorian Rivers Institute

Kayaking in the Quijos Valley / Near Baeza Colonial  ( 4,000' ~ 7,000' Elevation)
lots of potatoes
Rio Papallacta
Class IV~V
el Rio Papallacta has steep gradient, small eddies, best qualified as an expert run due to the number of hazards involved.

The Upper Run - put in just below Papallacta Hot Springs - Class V - steep and woody

The Lower Run - Class V - steep and technical with many scouts
Rio Quijos
Class III~V

two hours north of Tena

Baeza Colonial is the paddling hub for Rio Quijos

6,000' elevation
colder air and water temps
The Quijos river is born a small glacial creek on the flanks of Antisana Volcano.
It grows to become a huge river deep in the Amazon basin.
The Quijos river has over 70 miles of spectacular whitewater to enjoy and explore.
The upper Quijos region typically has fewer bugs, cooler air temps and less humidity, ya never know.
The upper runs are continuous, steep, and technical
Play spots abound the lower canyons, as do many flavorful towns and people.

Rio Quijos Runs:
-Lodge to Sardinas (Class IV) a five mile run, busy and continuous, takeout at gravel pit

-El Cacho Canyon Run (Class IV-) remote, sscenic basalt canyon - Bigger rapids.
Panel of Experts rapid

-Cheesehouse Run (Class V)  putin bellow confluence with Papallacata.

-Bridge #2 (Class IV) continuous, joins thhe Cosanga river 2/3 way through this run

-Sardinas to Bom Bon (Class IV) big water pool-drop river, beautiful canyons, two scouts, big action

-Bom Bon to Salado (Class IV) playful big water, two scouts,
Class III to I as run finishes through virgin rain forest and waterfalls.
Below the 475-foot San Rafael Falls (highest in Ecuador):
Two hour walk in to paddle a three day Class III-IV wilderness run.

The Quijos River region usually sees a dry season that begins in September.
Rio Oyacachi
Class IV~VI
Rio Oyacachi flows into the Quijos River from the West above the town of Bom Bon.
Continuous Class IV~V, clear water, hole dodging, finishes in the Oyacachi Preserve
Typically, I think of the Oyachi as more of a creek than a river really, but it can grow and grow fast, and can become a big river when Ecuadorian rains begin. Its true steep, action-packa
Rio Cosanga
Class III+ ~ IV+
main trib of Rio Quijos
south of Baeza on way to Tena
Town Run - (Class III+) tight and technical run with one portage
loads of read and run, big pourovers and stout holes
Lower Run - (Class IV) boat scouting, eddy hopping, blind drops, steep and remote
Lava cliffs, remote, lush rainforests, tropical birds and waterfalls hundreds of feet high while you paddle this river's three wonderfully technical runs.
kayaking near Papallacta
Papallacta has developed hot springs with a series of pools and hot showers with gorgeous mountain views and good grub.
Rio Jatunyacu
Class III big water
great play!
pool drop rapids

Rio Jatunyacu (upper Napo River) is a big volume, clear water river Jatuncu River
Its a bigger water river, so the rapids can be voluminous and pack a punch.
There are unique watershed views and really warm tropical feel down this low.
Great play.
The Hatless Hole has been known to school and tool.
Upper Misahuallí River
Class IV~V
one hour from Tena
continuous ClassIV gorge
mid Oct ~ mid March
Ecuadorean creekin at its best!
one portage

Rio Misahuallí
-a bustling and somewhat remote port at the juncture of the rivers Napo and Misahuallí.
The village was the original Ecuadorian jungle tourist outpost, and after dozens of years and despite the entrance of Tena and other jungle towns into the tourism market, is still a popular starting point for jungle tours and canoe trips.
The town of Misahuallí  offers well developed, though rustic, tourism services, including good craft shops, cafes, and lodging.
The Upper Upper Misahualli holds Class IV-V rock dodging action.
The Rio Misahualli boasts clear, warm water, polished granite boulders, jungle shoreline, and children swimming near indigenous villages.
Lower Misahuallí River
Class IV+
powerful rapids
pool drop

deep canyon
virgin jungle experience
The "Lower Mis" is the quintessential jungle run of Ecuador.
Passing through a remote rainforest it has it all; great surfing, big powerful rapids, parrots, toucans and waterfalls
nice side creeks making waterfalls
Usually addressed as the Misahuallí River Experience, this is the most challenging rafting trip presently offered in Ecuador
It has some big class IV rapids, set in a deep and majestic canyon with virgin jungles all around it.
The trip involves tackling a challenging gorge filled with back to back class IV rapids,
portaging a spectacular 30 foot waterfall
and subsequently running the single biggest rapid commonly rafted in all of Ecuador called "the Land of the Giants" .

This river is only to be rafted from mid-October through mid-March of normal rain years.
During other times of the year this river is typically too high to be run.  
The Misahualli has a great section done as a kick-ass day trip
Takeout at the beach confluence of the Rio Napo and the Misahualli in Porto Misahualli.
Rio Anzu
Class II~IV
Tena/Benos area

Rio Anzu joins Alto Napo near Puerto Napo - river usually runs clear
boatable flows b/w 500cfs ~ 2500cfs
Upper section of Rio Anzu - great Class IV run - putin can be tuff to find - run mellows with lower elevation

Rio Topo
Class IV~V
close to Banos area

Ecuadorian classic run. Long day of powerful, technical rapids.
Rio Topo has one of the worse shuttle roads in the country.
If its high flows at the take-out bridge, do not attempt the road.
Rio Pastaza
Class III~IV
Big volume river with powerful rapids and big holes, fast moving current
Rio Pastaza runs brown due to pollution and upstream siltation.
Much of the run is visible from the road.

Rio Napo Watershed and The Napo River Valley

Rio Napo
Puerto Napo is 10 minutes south of Tena on the Napo River
The Napo River Valley is warmer than the Quijos Valley cause its lower and deeper in the Amazon Basin

Upper Río Napo
Class III

big water and great surfing

The Napo River is one of the longest rivers in Ecuador, 870 miles long. The burning snows of Cotopaxi fill the Napo River.

The Upper Río Napo: Big waves and pure fun!
In almost every sense, this is as perfect a rafting river as could be asked for.
It has an amazing combination of exciting rapids, calm pools, and jungle scenery.
Being one of the two major sources that form the Amazon river itself, it always has plenty of water to be rafted year around.
March through October the Upper Napo is usually at it's full splendor with a steady medium to high water flow.
The Upper Rio Napo is typically run as a one day trip which consists of a full 25 kilometers of rafting and only one hour of driving time round-trip from Tena.

kayaking the Tena Valley (Quijos Valley to Tena)
population: +20,000
Five hours southeast of Quito
commercial center
capitol of Napo Province
Tena is the base for many kayak trips because it's loaded with large and small whitewater rivers.
Tena is a pleasant and laid back town on the fringe of the Andean Foothills and the Amazon basin.
Tena has retained native culture and traditional lifestyle, but the oil companies are rapidly raping Ecuador.

The nearby Rio Misahualli is loaded with waterfalls
Rio Urcusiqui
Class V
Rio Urcusiqui: remote jungle run with a nicer walk-in than the Upper Jondachi.
A good warm up river to prep for the Upper Jondachi.
Upper Jondachi River
Class IV~V+
continuous creeking
This river can rise rapidly!

Upper Rio Jondachi: this canyon knows no letting up - very demanding.
Best run with a local guide.
This run is only 10 kilometers long, but it packs nearly one hundred rapids.
The setting is truly breathtaking on this steep creek.
The Upper Jondachi starts off in high water as Class V/V+.
Thick jungle and steep terrain make hiking out not a good option.
Lower Jondachi River Lower Jondachi River: begins with a few miles of Class IV rapids - technical - low water = high pin potential
Hollin River
Class IV~V
9 hour run - best as 2day

known for rapid water level changes

The Hollin river - overnight jungle kayaking trip - (Rio Hollin pronounced "Ocheen")
When the Hollin is in flood stage it can equal lost boats, unpleasant nights in the jungle with no food, and a long walk out.  
Plan on an overnite bivy.  Bonus feature: paddle a Class IV cave rapid.
Read t
he story of Howling Hollin River as told by CSU Humbolt / Arcata paddlers

Western Andes

Santo Domingo Region (three hour drive west of Quito)
The Western side of the Andes offers two popular rivers:
the Río Toachi and the Río Blanco.
These two rivers run practically parallel each other until the town of Valle Hermoso where they come together forming the lower Rio Blanco.

Upper Río Blanco
Class III

best Jan thru May

best as two day from
Los Bancos to Valle Hermoso river camping
Running parallel and just north of the Toachi is the pristine Upper Río Blanco.
Medium to high water: the Upper Blanco is a rafting delight.
Non-stop, continuous rapids keep the crew awake and having fun for the entire length of the trip.
The scenery and surroundings of this trip are lush and beautiful. 
At off times the water levels of this river can get so low that you might find yourself lifting and pushing the raft over rocks.
The only drawback to the Upper Blanco: makes for too long a day of driving to make it an enjoyable 1-day trip.
Río Toachi
Class III~V

season: Jan-June
cloud forest river
The Rio Toachi has become Ecuador's most rafted river due to the fact that it is the whitewater trip closest Quito.
The Sapo Gorge is the most common run. Once the river meets Santa Domingo, get out, b/c water quality decreases significantly.
The Toachi has great rapids and is an excellent river, making for excellent boating during its medium and high water season (January to end of May)
Due to increased pressure from civilization, Rio Toachi is no longer considered among one of Ecuador's most pristine rivers, though it continues to be the most viable rafting option for travelers that do not want to stray far from Quito.
The round trip drive to the river and back takes an average of 5 1/2 hours and trips are offered about 4 days a week.
Rio Upano
scenic multi-day
Great multi-day kayak trips on the Upano river - can be run as a five day trip
located in the southern part of Ecuador - grey rocks, powerful whitewater
big ass Anaconda snakes - wonderful canyons - home of the "Canyon of the Sacred Waterfalls'
Rio Caoni
Class III
good access, friendly environment, warm water run with easy rapids, great for beginners

Ecuador and Galapagos
Tour Operators for Galapagos --> the highly recommended: Galapagos Island Tours
Ecuador Outfitters
Yacu Amu Rafting & Rios Ecuador are two of South America’s most respected rafting and Kayaking tour companies who have joined forces to offer the most comprehensive trips and courses from single day adventures to four day courses and custom-booked trips.
Four day kayaking courses cost from US$300.

In Quito:
Yacu Amu - Foch 746 between Juan Leon Mera & Amazonas, 2nd floor -Tel 02 290 4054 - website:

In Tena:
Rios Ecuador
Ave 15 de Noviembre & 9 de Octubre - Tel 06 886 727  - website:  

Matt Terry also runs a great non-government environmental organization, Ecuadorian Rivers Institute.
Check out his great work helping the waterways of Ecuador at

Ecuador on the Web
Slimes Guide <-- Ecuador paddling beta from a Brit!
Chris Ord's Ecuador Story

Ecuador Notes:
Bring your own ropes if you're traveling with your boat, will need for taxis/buses/trains/shuttles

Making Calls to Ecuador

calling to the US from Ecuador: dial 001 first then area code, number
Ecuadors most common native tongue is Quechua.

General advise about the Republic of Ecuador:
Travel within Ecuador is mostly safe, always be wary of petty theft. 
Watchout for regional areas of unrest; esp. in the Northeast of the country.
Travelers have been kidnapped in the Northeast. Stay current with US Embassy info.

Health Issues:
Staying Healthy in Ecuador (rule of thumb: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!)

Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever are the two most common diseases transmitted through food and water.
Yellow Fever and Malaria are the most common diseases transmitted by insects.
Stay healthy by eating only well cooked food, or fruits and vegies you peeled yourself.
Avoid the un-pasteurized dairy, avoid street vendor foods, avoid ice in your drinks.
Dont drink the tap anywhere, buy bottled water or if brining your own filter, ensure that it removes bacteria and viruses.

( Hepatitis, Tetanus, Polio )
Local health experts in Ecuador say that Yellow Fever is not prevalent currently and vaccination is not necessary.

Books on Ecuador:
"Kayakers Guide to Ecuador" from Small World Adventures. -to get a copy, just visit Colorado Kayak Supply

Things to Avoid in Ecuador:
ringworm,  mushroom ear or an ear infection of any kind, use ear plugs if you have them.

if you get an ear infection, I advise using mullein garlic oil  

or any of the following that might work for you:

Recommended #1: Anistil   

In addition to this product, a new ear drop will soon be available from this company as well.
Anistil contains vital ingredients to help reduce the inflammation caused by ear infections.   
To learn more about Anistil, visit their website at:

Recommended #2: Mesosilver   

The research behind this product is not as established as the alternatives to it.
The product is more of a "cure all" that is not really geared at one specific health issue.
To learn more about Mesosilver, visit their website at:

Additional Ear Infection Information


  • Pain in the ear which can be signified by infants/adults pulling on their ear
  • High fever
  • Loss of hearing
  • Stomach pains that cause vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Tiredness and irritability
  • Can be associated with upper respiratory tract infections
  • May occur with teething babies

What Causes Ear Infections

Ear infections can be caused by various factors, here are the different types of ear infections that may occur in children and adults:

  1. External Ottis (Swimmers Ear)- Upper respiratory tract infections usually precede these types of ear infections.
    The affected area is in the ear canal, extending from the eardrum to the outside of the ear, and becomes swollen and inflamed.
  2. Ottis Media (Middle Ear Infection)- The area that is infected is behind the ear drum where air pressure is regulated.
    Bacteria and viruses get into this space which causes inflammation and the build up of pressure.
    This type of infection usually causes a fever and a throbbing pain in the ear.

Ear infections often become a chronic problem due to the anatomy of the ear. (Which is a total bonus for kayakers and surfers.)

Research & Alternative Solutions Regarding Ear Infections

To help reduce the severity of the ear infection and speed up recovery, use supplements that contain these ingredients:

  • Vitamin B-Complex- Essentially all of the B-Vitamins are crucial for healing and boosting the immune system.
  • Zinc- Studies have shown that children with ear infections are deficient in zinc. This nutrient is helpful for boosting the immune system.
  • Larch Arabinogalactan- Has been recently used in studies for children suffering from Ottis media.
    Researchers are recording results of faster recovery times and less chance of recurring infections when using this supplement.
  • Ear Drops- Garlic and Mullein containing ear drops have been shown to have a positive effect on ear infections when applied every few hours.
    I personally stand by the Garlic-Mullein oil for use in treating ear infections.

# Ecuador Trip - Flight Packing
Show up at the airport with the boats exposed, cockpit covered with cardboard and a cut out (so you can grab the cockpit and pick it up)
You are traveling with a "surf boat". Recommend NOT using the word "kayak"
According to airline agents, whitewater kayaks fit the sport equipment category of the surfboard or windsurfer. I was told I'd be charged between $45-$75.
You can usually take two other pieces of normal checked luggage.  Don't tape the paddles to the boat as they are more likely to get broken.
Bring the paddles as one of the two normal pieces of checked luggage, leaving you only one other bag to check on for free.
Airlines don't charge extra for skis so if they give you a hard time about the skiis, inform the agents you plan on skiing down Chimborazo after climbing up

-one surfboat (KNIFES INSIDE) with two small storage floats containing ropes and pin kit - kayak should be exposed, cockpit covered with cardboard cut outs for grabbing boat
-one ski bag - with paddles insie - one off two normal checked luggage items

One backpack with the following inside:
rainjacket, toilet paper and plastic bags, rescue ropes, sunscreen, anti-diaherah pills, Pepto Bismol, book, maps,
copies of passport and itenerary, waterproof notepad and pens, money stash
GammaPro shoes, sprayskirt, drytop, shortie, spare outfitting, pfd, helmet, earplugs, shorts (1 fleece-lined, 1 river shorts), earplugs, sponge, throwrope, floatbags, elbow pads, waterbottle, camera, 2 LS Capilene shirts, bugproof Capilene pants, 2 Short Sleeved shirts, bugpants, 3pr socks, chacos, flashlight+batteries and biv bag, energy bars, water bottle, paddle paws, sunscreen,
visor, hat, sunglasses/chums
First Aide kit : earplugs, garlic mullien drops and q-tips, SPF 30+, zinc oxide, lip salve, insect repellent w/ DEET, band aids, tweezers, scissors, pepto bismol tabs, sterile gauze, antibiotic ointment

chacos, money belt with passport and money, light cotton socks, light pants, cotton t-shirt, fleece vest, phone, camera
Trip Costs - Flight $839.50
Traveler's Insurers: the most highly recommended: Travel Insured
email     page last updated : 12/2005

Ecuador Maps:
(click to enlarge)

Slime's Paddling Maps

Lonely Planet's
mapo de Ecuador

Paddler's Map of Ecuador
Ecuador Road Map

Ecuador Terrain Map

Ecuador Climate Map
2005 Jan/Feb Ecuador kayak trippers: Mary DeRiemer, Matt, Craig, Julian, Ann, Brad, Mitch, and Carlito (El Diablo)

Ecuador 2006
Rough schedule is 9 days in country with 7 days in kayak.  Some days, we hit multiple rivers, somedays we can lap one river.
We move through drainages, covering good ground, running SIK Ecuadorian whitewater and taking in local customs, traditions and culture all the way.

The most likely timeframes to go are: Jan 28- Feb 5