Ecuador is a whitewater paradise…perfect for a rafting trip! Before coming here, I had never thought about whitewater rafting before: don’t get me wrong, I am not a coward. I love rollercoasters with lots of loopings, and I would consider myself as very open to trying new stuff and adventurous. But a rollercoaster ride does not bear any risks – being in a Wildwater river without knowing what might expect me to let my adrenaline rise without having even started the trip 😉 But well, if you travel you don’t only want to do stuff you already know, but challenge yourself, fight against your fears and do something you’ve never done before! So for me, there was no alternative: I booked the rafting trip 🙂
On Saturday morning, I got up at 5:45 am to be on time at the meeting point in La Mariscal, Quito’s tourist area. At 7 am, I headed off towards Santo Domingo in the West of Ecuador to the rivers Toachi / Blanco with an Irish couple and our two Ecuadorian guide Diego and Tuti. The 3-hour-bus ride to the river was already a great experience – along the curvy street, I was fascinated by the beautiful landscape which was slowly changing the closer we got to the coast – more palm trees along the road and the climate was getting more and more tropical.
At the starting point of our trip, the guides pumped up the boat at high speed, and we tried on our helmets and life jackets. After a short safety talk and explanation about everything that might happen in the river and how we have to behave in these situations, I felt kind of scary looking at the river, which from my point of view, seemed REALLY wild…OMG, what have I done! A few minutes later, we were on the boat, did a little bit of paddle practice before it was getting serious. “The first rapid is straight ahead,” shouted Tuti. Diego, the security kayaker, was right in front of us. After the first big wave crashed over me in the rapid and I noticed that I was soaking wet, but still safely inside the boat, which did not flip, the fun part of the trip started! The wave washed away my fear, and I simply started to enjoy rafting on this beautiful river. Our guide Tuti, whose shoulders were about twice the size of his hips, had the boat under perfect control, and I fixed my feet well inside the boat to move flexibly in a rapid. In the beginning, Tuti told us that every time we pass a more significant rapid or wave, we had to put our paddles in the air, shout “Hi-five,” and crash our paddles on the water surface. I thought that this might happen maybe 4 or 5 times…but in the end we did it about 20 times! I can tell you: it was so much fun!!! Lots of rapids in which the raft sometimes had an almost vertical position and again and again big, sometimes huge waves crashing over us…so much adrenaline, and I just enjoyed feeling the energy rushing through my veins! In between, we could also enjoy the calmer sections of the river, where we could observe nature and wildlife around us. Banana trees, palm trees, lots of birds, beautiful canyons….but not too long! Tuti was shouting, “Forward! Fast Forward!” again…and we were already inside the next rapid 🙂
All in all, we were rafting a distance of 40 km in about 2,5 hours. The Toachi/Blanco river is a class III river which is perfect for beginners and advanced rafter, but there is one more challenging class IV rapid „El Sapo“ (the frog). Before reaching „El Sapo“ we got off the boat to have a closer look at it out of a safe position at land. Diego and Tuti then decided which way through the rapid is the best and safest one. I only saw mountains of water and huge waves. Would we make it through the rapid without flipping over? We paddled hard in the rapid and got through „El Sapo“ without any problems…well done and another „Hi-five“ 🙂 We were all having fun and agreed that this was definitely a highlight of our Ecuador trip. After lunch, we started our long way back to Quito – back in the capital at 7 pm. I was tired and happy after this unique adventure day and looking forward to trying more adventure sports!