Paddlers often feel more comfortable on a new run when they have something to compare it to–a river they are familiar with. When asked about the rivers in Ecuador, it can be hard to come up with similar runs back home.
If river in Ecuador could be summed up in one word, the word would be “busy.” Scrambling, paddling a bit harder that normal, crashing through things, making it happen. ….Runs here at the equator are coming off of steeper headwaters. They tend to have the moves southeastern boaters are more used to–except for the lack of pool drop. But a southeastern boater should not take that at face value because while the style of paddling is the same, the difference is that water here in Ecuador just sometimes does not take you where you thought it would.
While rivers in Ecuador do not change as dramatically as they do in Costa Rica where a channel of water can jump 30 meters into a new channel and then back again at whim….changes are always happening here for the same reason as Costa Rica: extreme fluctuations in water levels. So while channels might not jump about, what does happen often is that rivers here tend to go from “clean” to “manky” to “clean” and back to “manky” again. Because the water is always trying to rechannelize, it gets confused about where to go. And sometimes so does a paddler trying to use the water to make a move!
One of the most challenging aspects to kayaking is getting off your backyard run, getting out of your comfort zone and proving that you are a good boater not because you have the lines memorized, but because you can deal with what the river has for you and make it look good!