Rio Oyacachi – Ecuador


December 23, 2016

Extreme Creeking, Cataraft Style

I headed out of Tena early with my new amigos Diego and Jaime. Loading up Jaime’s little car with the cataraft, frame, oars, and two kayaks.

Ready to go. Listo para ir.

Ready to go. Listo para ir.

About 1.5 hours up the road, we stop in Cosanga to check the water level on the Rio Cosanga. Too low, no go. On to Baeza and further still to El Chaco where we park, call a taxi, and prepare to run the Rio Oyacachi.

Taxis are plentiful, handle boats, and are relatively inexpensive.

Taxis are plentiful, handle boats, and are relatively inexpensive.

About 20 minutes out of town is the upper put-in for the Rio Oyacachi. We pass Darcy and a group from Small World Adventures on the way. They were using the lower put-in. At the top we run into Christian and Jurgen, some German kayakers I met in Tena and ran the upper Misahualli and the Rio Piatua with. It was obvious the water was low, lower than either Diego or Jaime had run it before, but we put-in anyway!

Assembling the cataraft at the put-in for the Rio Oyacachi

Assembling the cataraft at the put-in for the Rio Oyacachi

The action starts almost immediately and doesn’t let up much until you reach the Rio Quijos, some 10 kilometers later. In between, a lot of it looks like this.

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At this flow it is rocky, tight, and extremely technical. And at 130 feet/mile, it is steep creeking too. A lot of scratching over rocks, dropping onto rocks, and sliding down sharp rocks in the only slot available. Good thing the Jack’s Plastic Welding boat I brought down is up to the task. Here is one of the easier (and super fun) slots that we dropped through.

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We only scouted two or three rapids, relying on boat scouting for most of the run. I was glad we scouted the ones we did. When boat scouting, you have to be on your toes to avoid hazards in the river like this one!

Nasty snag blocking much of the channel.

Nasty snag blocking much of the channel.

At a bridge we scouted a particularly nice drop. It runs very sweet through the slot on river right. At this flow the narrow cataraft just barely fit! Apparently this one is called “Ejector Seat.”

The run is river right (bottom of photo)

The run is river right (bottom of photo)

The last big rapid requires a center to left move to make the slot. Just barely wide enough for the narrow “International Travel” cataraft to slide through.

Super fun rapid towards the end of the run.

Super fun rapid towards the end of the run.

At the end of the run, you join up with the Rio Quijos, one of the great rivers around Baeza. I plan on coming back next week to run some sections of the Quijos for sure!

Looking upstream into the Rio Quijos.

Looking upstream into the Rio Quijos.

I’m still offering a discount on our “International Travel” cataraft package so that you can purchase at a discount and travel to Ecuador or wherever your boating desires lie in 2017! Print out your discount coupon here.

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