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Rafting the Headwaters of the Amazon
     




There can hardly be a better pair of ingredients for rafting than the Andes and Amazon.  This journey incorporates the very best of Ecuador’s eastern rafting rivers, from the cloud forests of Papallacta to the lowlands rainforests of the Jatunyacu.  The wilderness highlight of this trip is the Rio Upano river gorge in which we are locked for three days – in a lost world of waterfalls and forests inhabited by the indigenous Shuar – a people renowned for their head-shrinking past.

Your journey begins with a flight from Quito to Macas - a town on the edge of the Amazonian Andes famous for twice having been destroyed by the Shuar in the early days of Spanish colonisation.  The town is close to our put in site on the Upano River where you will begin your white water descent through verdant valleys and steep boulder passages.  The first day’s rafting comprises a comfortable balance between gentle stretches of river where we pass Shuar settlements, some stretches of Class III rapids, and a few short exhilarating sections of Class IV whitewater to add some early stage excitement to this wilderness journey.

After camping riverside overnight, the rafting steps up a gear to become a fast flowing body of water propelling us through Class IV and IV+ rapids.  This is where the riverbanks grow into towering canyon walls lush with vegetation, and water is channeled into a narrow, a boulder choked gorge. The Shuar describe this place as the “Gorge of Sacred Waterfalls,” which plunge steep and white into the river canyon.  We can expect regular sightings of parrots and tropical butterflies here, with opportunities to explore riverside caves and forest for wildlife.

After 2 nights camping, a hotel in Macas will be welcome respite before we travel overland to Tena and then on to a riverside candle-lit Amazon lodge close to the site of our next leg of rafting.  This is the Jatanyacu - relatively easy rafting river (Class III to III+) where you can enjoy some stunning lowland rainforest scenery.   The river itself is renowned for its clearer waters and rock pools.

You will leave the Jatanyacu where it joins the Rio Napo, from where we take you to the most demanding rafting river of this journey: the Jondachi.  The upper reaches of this river bring expert kayakers from around the world, attracted by its demanding and continuous rapids channeled through sculpted, granite boulders.  We descend this section the first day and camp overnight on the river banks.  Our second day on the river still reaches class IV, but with more relaxed sections to enjoy the stunning rainforest scenery of this deep river canyon.

The finale of this journey is the exciting Quijos River where extra energy is required by the team to track a course through this river’s rapids.  This river feeds from Ecuador’s Lake District of the Cayambe Coca Reserve and the Papallacta Hot Springs.  The mountain scenery here is some of the most beautiful in the country with excellent hiking down into the cloud forest.  The hot spring pools of the spa resort, set beneath the snow capped peak of Antisana, is a wonderful setting in which to unwind and reflect on your whitewater journey.

Photographs kindly provided by Marcelo Meneses, Ralph Pannell

 


For each booking we will sponsor 1/2 acre of rainforest with Rainforest Concern via our Rainforest4Climate programme.



     

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