Francisco Orellana, born in 1511, was the cousin to Francisco Pizarro�the conquerer of the Inca Nations of Ecuador and Peru. More importantly, Orellana was the first to navigate the headwater tributaries of Ecuador downstream into the Amazon River. This past week we traced some of the tributaries Orellana traveled and more on our week of exploring Ecuador with TeamSBC!

TeamSBC Members

"TeamSBC Members"

In 1540, Pizarro ordered an expedition to the eastern part of Ecuador.� Orellana joined the expedition along with 220 spanish and 4000 indigenous.� Crossing the Andes, Orellana joined a group on boat, following a path down the Rio Coca and Napo to their confluence with the Rio Aquarico and Curaray. At that point they had lost 140 of the 220 spanish and 2000 of the 4000 indigenous.� Orellana continued downstream accompanied at this point by a mere 50 men.� After six months and a trip of 4800 kilometers navigating downstream of the Napo River, Orellana finished his trip finishing at the mouth of the Amazon on the 26 of August, 1542; the first man to navigate the Amazon from its headwaters.

modern Orellanas

"modern Orellanas"

Needless to say the modern day explored network of rivers falling off either side of the Andes is remarkable, making for unlimited boating possibilities in Ecuador.� Our paddling time typically focuses on the Quijos Basin and the Tena Region. Often winding through miles of lush, high-elevation rainforest, you will discover a feeling of remoteness that has been lost in other countries.� This past week really brought home the fact that off the eastern slope of the Andes, every river eventually flows into the Amazon:
Starting with the Quijos Valley….and just the rivers we classically use, the Oyacachi and the Cosanga flow into the Quijos River

Putting in on the Upper Consanga

"Putting in on the Upper Cosanga"

Paddling the Upper Cosanga

"Paddling the Upper Cosanga"

after going over San Rafael Falls, the Quijos turns into the Coca, makes a hard right turn and eventually runs into the Napo River–the main tributary out of Ecuador and to the Amazon.� Rumor has it that once upon a time a pair of Italians tried navigating San Rafael, with about as much success as the majority of the members of Orellana’s original party.

San Rafael: where the Quijos turns into the Coca

"San Rafael: where the Quijos turns into the Coca"

This week we covered a lot more of the rivers in the Tena Region than normal. Just upstream from the town of Tena is the Rio Tena–

Paddle...or do laundry...Rio Tena

"Paddle...or do laundry...Rio Tena"

Taking out right in the downtown Tena, we continued scouting out the Tena area.� Looking around you will find the Jondachi flowing into the Hollin which flows into the Rio Mishaulli and into the Napo. Upstream, the Rio Mishaulli is one of our favorite runs with multiple put-ins and take-outs.

Paddling down the Mishaulli River

"Paddling down the Mishaulli River"

Eventually the Mishaulli River meets the Napo River at Puerto Mishaulli-a very cool place to hang out!

messing with the monkeys at Puerto Mishauli

"messing with the monkeys at Puerto Mishauli"

Upstream from all this we enjoyed an awesome day on the Rio Anzu.

Stopping to check out the other guy's boat!

"Stopping to check out the other guy's boat- Rio Anzu"

Scouting the big one on the Anzu

"Scouting the big one on the Anzu"

The Rio Anzu ends up joining the mighty Rio Jatunyacu (yacu is a quichia word that means “river”, jatun means “big”). The Jatunyacu is a day of giant roller coaster rapids.

Big Fun on the Jatunyacu

"Big Fun on the Jatunyacu"

River field trip on the Jatunyacu

"River field trip to the secret canyon on the Jatunyacu"

After the Anzu joins in with the Jatunyacu, the two become the Rio Napo at the town of Puerto Napo (once actually a port town, but just like at Puerto Mishaulli, the main transportation into the port town was boat not truck).

Paddling down the Rio Napo

"Paddling down the Rio Napo"

Rio Napo Transport Options

"Rio Napo Transport Options"

The joy of paddling in Ecuador is not just the opportunity to paddle such a wide range of rivers that are headwater runs into the Napo, but the opportunity to see and ride on a number of different boats, and glimpse a bit of the lifestyle that made up the indigenous communities of the amazon.

Hanging out in the Jungle

"Hanging out at our Jungle Lodge"

fellow lodge guest

"fellow lodge guest"

look who's coming to dinner!

"look who's coming to dinner!"

Switching transport for the Napo
“Switching transport for the Napo”
stopping at a downstream village

"stopping at a downstream village"

hunting like a native

"hunting like a native"

As if paddling was not fun enough, we held bragging rights this week that In almost every river we stopped to practice directional rolling, stern squirts and surfing. So it means we were play boating in what eventually becomes the Amazon!

Surf time in Ecuador!

"Surf time in Ecuador!"

Celebrating Good Fun!

"Celebrating Good Fun!"

Thanks to Team Sweet Briar College members Sara and Amanda–who just like Orellana came to probe the rivers of Ecuador for future TeamSBC trips here to Ecuador!

Enjoy the full collection of photos from our great week of exploration.

And check out the ladies in action!