Rafting / Kayaking
Home the headwaters of the Amazon River, probably no other country in South America offers better rafting and kayaking conditions than Ecuador. From the Andes to the coastal plains or the Amazon basin, through canyons, spectacular valleys and untouched jungles, those whitewaters are a heavenly challenge for every kind of adventurer, and experienced people as well as beginners will find their own thrills all year around.
Ecuador offers Class II to IV+ rafting levels, and although rivers Toachi, Blanco, Napo and Quijos are on the most popular list, the many rivers and streams dropping from the Andes Mountains ensure unlimited unique and idyllic adventures at any time of the year.
The East side of the Andes offers more challenging rivers than the West side, mainly due to the water levels and rivers widths. Being one of the major sources of the Amazon River, with lots of water year around, the Upper Napo River probably offers the best rafting conditions, mixing fun and endurance for the most experienced people. The Quijos River is another option; however it can be more challenging with Class IV options. From the town of Tena, located in the Amazon, you will find many kayaking options for all levels that will accommodate experienced travelers as well as beginners. Other sites like Baeza, El Chaco and the Pastaza River Canyon are listed as great adventure spots for such activity.
On the East side of the Andes, Río Toachi and Blanco are definitely the destinations you don’t want to miss. About 1½ hour away from Quito, they offer great rafting conditions when waters are medium or high (January to May). During low water season, it could become a bit laborious with parts where you will have to carry or push the raft over rocks normally covered with water. Río Toachi offers Class III to III+, while Río Blanco can offer Class III+ to IV during high water season.
Rafting journeys to the rivers of the West Andes can usually be done in a day when leaving from Quito. However, if you plan to go east to Napo or Quijos rivers, you will have to plan an overnight stay, considering that driving to those places usually takes several hours from Quito.
Beach kayaking is another activity you might enjoy just as much. Discovering the Pacific Coast and its impressive cliffs and unique wildlife from the ocean-side promises many thrills and excitement, although it does require some physical endurance as ocean waters might be just as rough as river rapids.
All rafting and kayaking journeys are done in the safest conditions possible, always supervised by professionally trained guides assisting you and carrying the necessary equipment you will need throughout your experience. Going down those wild rivers not only is a physical journey filled with thrills and emotions, it allows rafters to get closer to nature, discovering unique ecosystems throughout their adventure.