Last Days in Ecuador
Well it seems like time has really been flying by in Ecuador and to be honest I have been having way to much of a good time to get around to updating this blog. As I write this I have already concluded my 2 month spell in Ecuador and have moved right along to my next destination of New Zealand. BUT my time in Ecuador has been an absolute blast. Let runs through some of the good stuff I did in my two months there:
-Epic time paddling and working with Chris and Andrea Ryman at Endless Adventure International.
I spent a lot of time on the water with Chris Ryan this season. We did some epic paddling introducing many new clients to the magic if paddling in Ecuador. We showed people down a variety of low and high volume rivers, classics like the Chaco canyon of the Quijos, BonBon section, Lower Jondachi, Upper Miss, Upper and Lower Cosanga. I was also fortunate enough to get to do some time off charging with Chris too on some quality class4/5 runs including but limited too High Water Cosanga (Pictured below), Cheese house, Bridge to bridge, Oyacahchi, Upper and Middle Jondachi. Many of these runs had continuous read and run whitewater literally for miles. A short paddling day in Ecuador is around 10km with few breaks. Although the country may not have many waterfalls it more than makes up with it with continuos, quality, technical whitewater.
Off the water Andrea was constantly cheffing up new and epic meals. So many epic soups and salads at lunch. So many amazing dinners with so many different kinds of vegetables. Ecuador grows so much Veg, but eating out usually is just rice, meat and some cooked Veg (usually mostly onions) so it was great to eat a wide range of vegetables, and salads. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and Andrea did not disappoint at all, always hearty quantities of food to keep me stoked all day long, often eggs (Never cooked the same way twice in a 7 day period), sometimes pancakes, or french toast or regular toast made from homemade bread which she bakes daily. so EPIC.
-Racing: My last month in Ecuador held a couple of really fun race events. First up was the Quijos Race, organised by Abe and Rodrigo of Boof Sessions and Casa de Rodrigo respectively, they organised a great bridge to bridge race event. The water levels weren't ideal which did mean the race felt a little like a 23 minute suffer fest with so many rocks to avoid. There were three racing categories, Individuals, Teams and Ecuadorians. The local government had put up a bunch of prize money so I raced as an individual and as part of a team with my buddy Todd Wells. Individuals didn't quite go as planned but I was stoked to finish in tied 6th place with my Ecuadorian amigo Lucho Granzio. Teams race went a little better and Todd and I managed to scoop into third place, with Todd taking the number 1 spot in individuals too, I should probably train a little harder to keep up with him better. Next up was Jondachi fest, a great festival event to raise awareness and prevent a hydro project for one of Ecuador's most beautiful rivers.
This was a fun a and shorter Time Trial event, I raced fairly well given that my race run was my second time down the section, however lack of river knowledge tripped me up one time too many and I scraped into 4th place missing out on a cash prize by a few seconds. Dave Gardner from USA took the win on that one with a commanding lead. The race course itself was a lot of fun, fairly chill with a couple of real doozie rapids that could catch you out of you weren't paying attention.
-Travelling Ecuador: I spent much of January out and about around Ecuador. After Jondachi fest, Nicole Mansfield, Jo Kemper and I headed out on a mission to the Banos region of Ecuador to hit up one of my favourite rivers in Ecuador the Rio Topo. I paddled in this region around new years and paddled the Topo a few times (as well as the pistaza canyon and the rio Encanto). So I was stoked to get back there. The Topo is Ecuador's most continuous, steep, quality run with around 2-3 hours of non-stop class 4+ and 5. It progressively builds up in difficulty and then gradually eases back into class 4 in the last 2 km. I was stoked to paddle it 3 days in a row and show Jo and Nicole down for their first time. We also hit up the Rio Zunag on our last day which is a short but fun run with an epic and easily capable little double drop at the end, Lucho even managed to grab a couple photos of me too!
I also spent my last 3 paddling days with Local Paul Rierra, Gringo Kenji and Nicole M. exploring the Santo Domingo area of Ecuador. It's in the guide book but logistics are challenging so most kayakers skip it, but I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the paddling there. We only got to paddle three rivers in three days but there were lots of options, Paul has a car so it was much easier and we were able to stay with him on his families Dairy Farm. Paul has only been kayaking a year and is really in need of people to paddle with so if you want to paddle in Ecuador then please look him up, he is keen to go paddling and can make logistics of the area easier.
All in all, Ecuador is a lot of fun. I meant tons of great people (lots of people from Washington state for some reason), friendly locals, low cost of living (although the Canadian dollar is hindering things for the Canuks right now), beautiful scenery and above all, really really really fun kayaking. Different and much less stressful than destinations like Mexico, cheaper than Chile although different in many ways. I would say Ecuador gets five stars and hopefully I get an opportunity to return.
If you are looking for an all inclusive guided trip be sure to check out Endless Adventure International on www.Ecuadorkayak.com
Keywords: Ecuador, Ecuador, Kokatat, adventure, explore, jackson kayak, kayak, kayaking, travel, whitewater
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