Jungle Hike and Jatunyacu River Rafting-Class III+: We drive in the early morning through the Inter-Andean valleys and gain elevation through stunning canyon scenery until we reach the Atlantic - Pacific continental divide at 4,100 meters. From this point we begin a scenic downhill ride towards the Amazon Basin. The eastern Andes are home to stunning nature reserves which are part of a larger United Nations Biosphere Zone.
At the 700 meter level we begin to see many of the Kichwa communities that live in this area. We reach our put-in as we enter the Llanganates National Park. Before we start our rafting adventure we hike to nearby naturally-formed river pools. Here we can jump, slide and swim in these incredible rock formations. We return to our put-in and begin our whitewater journey.
Jatunyacu, which means “Big Water” is considered one of Ecuador’s best one-day river runs. It has lots of big waves and fun play holes. The river is flanked by spectacular jungle scenery, birdlife, and Kichwa Indian families that live along the shores in small bamboo and wood houses. The evening will be spent in a river front lodge surrounded by jungle sounds. (L, D)
Jondachi & Hollin Rafting (Class III - IV): In the morning we drive towards the Jondachi River to experience Ecuador’s newest whitewater attraction. It combines a technical section of the Jondachi with the big volume waves in the Hollin. We hike for 30 minute to access the river. Before getting into our rafts we visit a hidden canyon where we can play and plunge into the deep pools. We return to the put-in to begin an epic 38 km. run through a remote and pristine jungle canyon. The Jondachi section is tighter and requires careful maneuvering through the channeled rapids among granite boulders. When the Jondachi joins the Hollin water volume increases significantly creating big waves and demanding a more aggressive paddling style. The high-rising canyon walls that frame the river are covered in verdant green forest and decorated with multiple crystal clear waterfalls. There is plenty of time to appreciate the rainforest scenery and birdlife around us. We can see kingfishers, egrets, yellow-rumped caciques, and brilliant blue and green tangaras during our descent. Suspended above the canyon we see occasional wooden foot bridges that are used by the Kichwa people to access their deep jungle territories. We take-out near the town of Archidona and return to our jungle lodge for another serene jungle evening.
(B, L, D)
Kichwa Encounter and Papallacta Hotsprings: In the morning we begin our return trip back through the Andes. We stop to meet and learn from the Waira Churis, also known as the “Wind Dancers”. They are an extended Kichwa family, guardians of vast botanical knowledge and traditional music lore. Through their music and dance they express the harmonious balance between human and earth. Many of these nearly forgotten songs are played with animal and plant instruments. We continue our journey up the Andes as we enjoy fantastic vistas of tropical valleys, natural waterfalls, and lush green landscapes. We arrive to the Papallacta Hotsprings Resort where we can choose to relax in any of 9 different thermal pools, ranging in temperature from 97ºF to 104ºF (36ºC to 40ºC). The pools are surrounded by cloud forest mountains and an occasional snow capped volcano. The mineral rich Papallacta water comes from underground geothermal springs. Spa services such as massages, aromatherapy, and other treatments can be provided at an additional cost when arranged in advance. We arrive to Quito in the afternoon. (B, L)