Brendan van Son

Rafting the Amazon Basin

“Wow, look at that,” one of my co-paddlers punctuated as she pointed upwards at a tall bridal veil waterfall that found escape from the high flats and spiralled itself downwards along a steep cliff wall towards us.

Diving into a wave

“No, look at that!” I replied with a seed of excitement growing in the pit of my stomach.  I directed my gaze and nodded down river to a point where the calm green waters dropped themselves off through a labyrinth of smooth rocks forming a mountain-like aquatic landscape of peaks and valleys.  We all gripped our paddles like weapons and waited intently for the commands that were sure to soon be given.

“Remember” our guide instructed with a pointed yet calming tone, “even if you get hit in the face with water, and you will be hit with water, never stop paddling.  Even if the boat rises to a point where you are high above the water and swinging at air, never stop paddling.”

The guide eased the boat slowly in a direct line towards the biggest wave, and let the current sucked us in even further.  We dipped down over a smooth rock and hit the washing machine-like wave directly.  The white water hit us like a

Dropping down

linebacker, but it didn’t take us by surprise.  Our mouths filled with water as we couldn’t help but keep them open and ready to scream out.  We paddled through with shrieks and cheers until again we reached calm waters beyond the hectic waves.  Filled with adrenaline we all screamed a post-battle cry, raised our paddles into the air and then proudly slapped them down like a beaver’s tail as if to tell the river that we have beaten it.  Just as the thoughts cross our minds, and the words nearly slip through our wet lips we hear the rubble of the river ahead, and again we see the waves as they arise proudly like the snow capped volcanoes that stand guard nearby.  “This is the Amazon,” I think to myself. “This is Ecuador.”

Ecuador is selling itself these days as the adventure capital of South America; and its billing is not disappointing.  In this lush green country you can easily find yourself jumping off of a bridge into a narrow canyon one day, and then climbing high up an active volcano the next.  And for the true adventure and adrenaline junkies missing rafting in the country’s portion of the Amazon basin would be a mistake.  The combination of amazing

Victory High Five

rainforest scenery, powerful white surf, and warm waters could make this the premier rafting destination in all of South America.

The obvious draw of the region is its spectacular and noble nature, and rafting the rivers near Tena, just a five hour bus trip from Quito, will put you right in the middle of the countries raw and powerful natural environment.  As you paddle down the region’s rivers you spend our time surrounded by lush green cliff sides off of which flow tall whimpering waterfalls.  Birds of all colours, shapes and sizes sweep across the waters as if they are trying to catch a glimpse of the action for themselves.  Tall and thick vegetation hangs wildly and freely over the banks of the river seemingly closing you into a dark green vegetative canyon.

The guides that navigate these waters on a regular basis are as special as the waters themselves.  The majority of the guides, most of whom are native to the


region, have been paddling these rivers since their early ages.  They know every ripple in the river’s constantly evolving waterscape.  They cut the boat skilfully through the waters with the precision of a surgeon, and the tenacity of street fighter.  While the scenery, water works, and atmosphere do enough to sell the trip, it is these guides who make it all worth it.  While rafting in Ecuador is still relatively underdeveloped.  However, the rafting in Tena, Ecuador is arguably the best in all of South America.

For the most part Ecuador remains untamed, and ripe for the discovery.  But to those who dare to tackle it will be greatly rewarded by the many treasures it holds, many in the form of adventure.  In Ecuador, whether you find yourself repelling down a forty-meter waterfall or having your face splashed with constant waves of waters while rafting the Amazon Basin, you will never find yourself short of excitement.  In Ecuador you’ll never find yourself short of moments where you look around and say “Wow, look at that.”

For a small group or overland tour that will take you into the Ecuador’s Amazon basin check out Kumuka Worldwide:

To book rafting excursions from the town of Tena, Ecuador visit:  RIOS ECUADOR.