Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Arriving in Peru after 2 days of bus rides from Ecuador, our team (consisting of Andy McMurray, John Kiffmeyer, and myself) was welcomed with stable weather conditions and endless opportunity. Peru is by far one of the most logistically difficult countries to kayak in, but with great difficulty comes great reward! Hosting some of the worlds deepest and remote canyons known to mankind, Peru is a kayakers multi day expedition wet dream.

Loadin Up for the Colca
Outside Yanta Wasi's B&B Hostel in Areguipa
Ave. Lima 610 Vallecito AQP -tel:(054)221496
Boater Friendly! and awsome owener

Rio Colca drive in

The town of Huambo

Based out of Arequipa, our team was able to successfully complete 2 of the more well known rivers to the area. The Rio Colca which was first explored in 1981 by Jerzy Majcherczyk, and the Rio Cotahuasi which is even deeper than the Colca. Popular with tourist, these two rivers bring in all sorts of outdoor enthusiast such as trekkers, sight seer's, and even the occasional rafter all hoping for a glimpse into some of peru's oldest history! According to Majcherczyk, who is campaigning to have the Colca canyon declared a national park, the Colca has the potential of becoming Peru’s top tourist attraction, surpassing Machu Picchu.

Our last meal and stop, Huambo

Arranging the burros (donkeys) for the morning

The Colca's canyon is an adventure of a life time! To truly understand the beauty of this canyon, one must explore this amazing place by way of the river. Only then will you appreciate this magical place to the fullest! One way in, one way out, success of this 3 to 4 day expedition is determined by survival of the fittest and being prepared for everything. The Rio Colca is the most remote I've ever felt, with canyon walls reaching upwards of 5416 meters (that's twice the height of the Grand Canyon in AZ), and its quality class 3-4 read and run whitewater will leave your soul wanting more. Though this river may not be for everyone, requiring an 8 hr hike into the Peruvian mountainous desert and probably 4 days on the water, those who do take on the task will be rewarded with out of this world Mars like scenery only found inside the belly of this beast!

Getting ready for our 8 hr. hike in

Terrace farming

6 hrs in, 2 to go... stayin positive the whole way

Clear water Colca

somewhere in the middle

Last view of the Colca

Continuing on and stepping it up a bit, the Rio Cotahuasi adds some class 5 whitewater with an even deeper canyon. Accessibly by vehicle as of 2009, the donkey trail portage around Sepia Falls (300 foot waterfall) is no longer an issue with the installation of the sketchiest one lane dirt road ever that has taken its place! Looking back through my journal entries from the trip I found these sweet words... "I started to find my peace looking up at the stars one night, the steep canyon walls boxing in the sky on every side. Even reaching the take out I found life to be simple. A warm breeze was blowing through town, kids were laughing and playing futball in the streets. The sound of running water passing through the irrigation canal and many different farm animals all living in peace in a little village tucked far back in the Cotahuasi Valley... life is good!"

Some of the rapids before Sipea Falls

The sketchiest one lane dirt road ever

The last drop of Sipea Falls... about 40 feet and looks good!?

Down stream Sipea Falls

First Nights camp

Enjoying life, a good fire, great friends, and an epic river

Day 2 Chris Baer

Boofin hard

Andy and Chris enjoying the scinic views

Inca Castle

Muy Bonito

Chris Baer Diving in

Andy McMurray likes this kind of stuff

Cool place

Inca Ruins

That it was, a good life with only the simplest things to occupy the mind. Reaching a point of peace in the amazing land of Peru, our team had just scratched the surface of all that was possible here. While taking a train ride to Machu Picchu our imaginations went wild yet again as the train provided a perfect view of the entire Rio Urubamba. In the city of Cuzco, which is the other major whitewater hub in Peru, lies rivers like the Rio Apurimac and the legendary 8 day Rio Paucartambo. Peru may be the most logistically difficult place to kayak but the reward waiting at the end of these rivers make this place irresistible. But the up coming rainy season was even closer now and our trip more than half over, so it was once again time to pack the bags and head south in search of more water, and from what we'd been hearing Chile had plenty of it...

Mauchu Pichu


John Kiffmeyer lookin good

Bee meets Flower

Keep the good times rollin

For more info and write up's:

Andy McMurray's blog

Chris Baer's blog

or contact me via e~mail

John McConville

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ecuador 2009

I have recently returned from a 2 month long trip to South America. My travels led me through 3 different countries starting from the amazing jungles of Ecuador and ending in the beautiful land of huge hucks in Chile. Currently I'm located in the snowy cold farm fields of WI with my family. Its nice to have a little down time with the family after a trip like this. Looking back at the photos, I'm reminded of an amazing time spent with great friends exploring a different culture and their way of life!Going over the Andy's mtn pass somewhere around 14,000 feet

The trip began with a flight into Quito Ecuador(oct 20, 2009), which is located at the northern end of the Andes Mtns. at an elevation of 9,350 feet. From there it is possible to reach any whitewater hub in the country by bus in less than 5 hrs. Being that this was my 2nd trip to Ecuador in 3 years i already had good beta on the country and our team (consisting of Andy McMurray, John Kiffmeyer, and myself) was able to move quick and start paddling by day 2. Kiffy's first day on the water in Ecuador
Rio Quijos Bridge to Bridge

Andy Rio Quijos El Chaco

Kiffy Rio Papallacta

Andy Rio Papallacta

Kiffy Boofin Rio Papallacta

Kiffy's 2nd run on the last rapid Rio Papallacta

Hanging out at Rodrigo's

Baeza has always been my first stop when arriving in Ecuador, in fact its been the best cultural experience I've had throughout my travels! La Casa De Rodrigo located in Colonial Baeza, is a sweet hostel owned by Rodgiro Morales Vega, and has a long history of well known kayakers that have passed through the area. The Valley below the town is known as the Rio Quijos, offering warm whitewater to any kayaker of any skill level. The area has everything from the fun and easy big water run of El Chaco canyon to the silly steep ( 400 to 500 fpm ) multi day run of the upper Oyacachi! Not recommended to run without a Jackson Kayak, as the upper Oyacachi will destroy gear and anything not made of crosslink plastic! Ecuadorian rivers usually offer bolder-garden style rapids that can be super continuous in nature and best done with either a strong group of kayakers or with Small World Adventures.

Overnight camping on the Upper Oyacachi

Andy eating some ramen noodles
Rio Oyacachi
Day 2 on the Upper Oyacachi

Shifting gears with new ideas and descending roughly 5,400 feet in elevation, my second stop when visiting Ecuador is usually Tena. This town is much larger than Baeza, offers a bit of night life and a whole new drainage to spice it up! During the drive from Baeza to Tena the road passes the put in and take out to one of the local favorites and mine as well, the Rio Jondachi. The Jondachi comes complete with a super muddy hike in, deep crystal blue water and a beautiful jungle gorge that will captivate the soul. (Highly recommended) Unlike most of the bolder-garden style rivers here in Ecuador, there's 2 rivers in this region that stand apart from the rest. The Hollin and the Pusuno both have large waterfalls (40 to 50feet) that can be done with the right water levels. Due to the low water levels during my last visit, I was unable to run these Ecuadorian classics so once again it was time to move on to a new location in hopes of more water. Coral snake found on the Rio Jondachi

Kiffy on the Jondachi

Andy boofin Rio Jondachi

Banos, yes this town is named after the word bathroom but luckily there is nothing smelly about it! Actually it's a beautiful town tucked away in the Mtns right next to the active volcano of Tungurahua. In the valley below Banos runs the Rio Pastaza, the locals run rafting trips but due to the water quality this isn't the highlight to visiting this mountainous town. The soothing hot springs, endless amounts of sugar cane taffy, good night life, and the Rio Topo is where its at! The Topo is in danger of being dammed up in the near future and unfortunately this is one of the best rivers Ecuador has to offer. The remoteness, unique biodiversity and quality whitewater make this a "must do" for the class 5 kayaker when visiting Ecuador. Banos

All in all, Ecuador has been a great place to travel. The fantastic bus system makes for easy travel and setting shuttle a breeze in comparison to other countries. During our visit to Ecuador our team ran 4 different rivers and 9 different sections, as well as successfully completing one extremely steep multi day! With the taste of whitewater on our tongue we were thirsty for more, Ecuador needed more water so we packed our bags and left it all behind. Peru was next in sight and with the upcoming rainy season closing in fast, we crossed our fingers in hope of manageable levels!

Here's a link to Small World Adventures,

John McConville