Upper Rio Misahualli – Ecuador


December 17, 2016

Upper Rio Misahualli – El Reten

I went in search of other boaters around Tena, checking the gringo boating hostel Welcome Break and found a group of kayakers from Germany that were down here on the same timeline as me, but had already done some of the rivers I want to do. Luckily the water had been to high for them on the upper Misahualli (upper Mis) so they hadn’t run it, yet. I managed to tag along with them in the taxi to the put-in at El Reten, get dropped off by the first taxi as the others went higher up to Cotundo. The second group was set to arrive in an hour or so.

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El Reten was a cute little village and, of course, the kids had to come out to check out the gringo with the funny boat. They loved it and followed me around everywhere while I waited.

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They even showed off their tightrope skills to impress the gringo.

Veronika

Veronika

Mikan

Mikan

One of the residents, Jonny, showed me his awesome cocina. I want one like this when I grow up (or retire to Ecuador).

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After waiting almost two hours, the second group of kayakers finally shoed up. No sign of the ones who had put on the river earlier, so we all waited, and waited, for another half hour or so. Just as we were about to head down river, they showed up!

I’m guessing the river was flowing around 400 cfs. The concrete slab on river right was just barely underwater while the one on the left was about 8-10 inches out of the water. We figured this would make for a creeky run and they didn’t know if I could make it down this section or not, having not seen what a cataraft can do.

Looking downstream at the Put-in at El Reten

Looking downstream at the Put-in at El Reten

At the first rapid, we had our first swim. No it wasn’t me. After regrouping, I ferried across and retrieved the boat and brought it back to the owner to continue downstream. Cats make great rescue craft, being able to ferry across 60 feet of river without actually moving downstream very much. On we go to the second rapid, second swim. Again not me… We have gone this far from the bridge and two swims, not a good omen!

See the bridge in the far background!

See the bridge in the far background!

After that, it was pretty non-stop action with Class II and III rapids.Nothing real big, but busy, tight, and technical. Here is a typical rapid we encountered.

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Downstream were some tighter rapids like this one.

From the top

From the top

From the Bottom

From the Bottom

Super fun rapids continue all the way to the island where the river splits into few channels, some man-made. Most of the water goes left at the first split and then right at the next. You could go left all the way and pick your way through the rocks, but then you would avoid the biggest, baddest, best rapid on this section of the Misahualli. Only one of the kayakers ran this one; Jurgen did it twice!

From the Top

From the Top

From the Bottom

From the Bottom

Below this one are still some of the biggest, or at least trickiest rapids on this stretch. This one was pretty cool to run in the cat.

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Just below the bridge, nearing the take-out, is a particularly tight and tricky rapid. I ran mostly center, but had to highside in one of the slots. The move worked perfectly and dropped me into a central eddy from which I could pick my way through the rest of the rapid.
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So much fun making my way through this!

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When we arrived at the take out, the lead kayaker, Christian, had a stash of cold beers along with their dry clothes. Everyone enjoyed the cervesa and celebrated a successful run of the El Reten section of the Upper Missahualli. Then it was back to Tena and my digs at the Hostel Zumag Sisa.

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I was feeling so good after this run, I decided to offer 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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