My Doi Inthanon trek was kicked off today, with a fun and unusual introductory activity: bamboo rafting on the river. The 15 of us (brought in 2 pickup trucks) arrived at the rafting camp, where the people in charge were preparing the rafts for our little journey. It was 3-4 people on each raft (plus a Thai captain). For my raft, it was myself and the Dutch couple. Each captain stood at the front of the vessel, and was armed with a bamboo shaft, for steering us down the river — since I was at the back of my raft, I too was given a stick of bamboo, although I didn't really know what to do with it (I had an obligatory paddle now and then). The rafting itself was good fun, but was totally easy-peasy: nothing like proper rafting; and puny little excuses for "rapids" was the worst we encountered along the river. Then again, I wouldn't particularly want anything more extreme than that, while balanced precariously on a few loosely-held-together sticks of bamboo.
Yesterday's Class III rafting on the Jatanyacu was a good warm-up, but today's Class IV rafting on the Jondachi was the real deal. Not quite as much pure, blood-pumping excitement and splashdowns; but lots of good technical challenges, lots of fun waves and turbulent spots, and lottts of breathtaking scenery. And all with the very friendly and experienced company, The River People. Rafting in Tena has definitely been worthwhile: possibly the best that I've done so far on my trip.
For my first full day here in Tena, I decided to go rafting on the Upper Napo River (otherwise known as the "Río Jatunyacu"), with the fine folks at Ríos Ecuador. This was an all-day trip, with breakfast and lunch included, and with about four hours of river time, battling the straightforward but intense Class III rapids on offer. This is one of the best rafting trips that I've been on so far: professionally organised; most satisfying adventure-wise; and a big and a very interesting group of people on the tour.
For my final full day in Baños, I decided to try out what the town has to offer, in terms of river rafting. Sadly, due to the excessive amount of recent rain, the water levels are currently too high to do the full-day, Class IV-V rafting that I'd like to do. However, half-day Class III-IV rafting is still being offered. So I signed up for this package (with one of the many rafting agencies in town), and this morning I headed off to the Río Pastaza for two hours of rafting fun. Not the greatest of my three rafting trips to date (the ones that I did in Cusco were better), but better than nothing.
Once we were done with the morning's jungle tour and lunch, this afternoon we returned from our trek, to the farm near Pilcopata, via river raft. The rapids were supposedly "class II"; but compared to my three-day Apurímac rafting trip last week, they were a class-zero romantic pleasure-ride. Barely a splash the whole way along — little more than a light current to keep us going, really. But a good bit of fun, nonetheless.
You've read the stories. You've seen the photos. Now, you can watch the video of my three-day rafting trip on the Río Apurímac. Provided courtesy of the fine folks at Mayuc, who put together this amazing 35-minute collection of motion-picture clips of our time on the river (with cool music mixed in, as well!). Video cut into four parts, and reduced in size and quality, in order to work on YouTube. Enjoy, amigos.
For our third and final day of rafting on the Río Apurímac, we went out with a bang. Our final bit of rafting this morning was short, but boy was it sweet! And once it was all over, a refreshing cold shower, a nice farewell lunch, and a sleep-filled bus trip back to Cusco. If only every Friday was like this.
Our second day on the Río Apurímac was long, challenging, cold, and wild as hell. Today we spent about 5 hours on the river, and we did quite a few of the higher-level class IV rapids. We had a few accidents (no injuries, thankfully) — as well as a few suicidal class V and VI rapids, that we had to get out and walk past — but mostly, we just had a blast. And with everyone screaming "Y'Allah!", the day went by pretty fast, too.
At long last, today I finally embarked on my 3-day rafting trip on the Apurímac river, near Cusco. I've been itching to go rafting again, ever since my one-day trip on the Urubamba, which was almost six weeks ago. Once again, I've gone with Mayuc, the biggest and the best rafting agency in Cusco. Our first day on the Apurímac was just an introductory day: but already, it's been a blast, and it's been wild!
I did river rafting for the first time today, and it was fun. Very fun. A big group of us went down to the lower reaches of the Urubamba River, near Cusco, and spent about 2½ hours braving the cold, fierce rapids. Tumbling along the river, mounting and crashing into churning waves, dodging scary rocks, and being so cold you can't feel your hands, is an experience like no other.