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Rafting the Quijos River - Adventure Tour Quito - Ecuador

The Quijos River runs down the eastern slope of the Ecuadorian Andes, eventually flowing into the Amazon. During the months from about November to March, it is one of the best rafting rivers in Ecuador, offering miles of thrilling class IV rapids.

Most rafting outfitters prefer to do the Quijos as a day trip from Quito. The put-in is not far from the city of Baeza and the usual run is a few miles of nearly constant action. There are two places where the guides prefer to stop and scout ahead to get a look at the rapids. The first is “Picapiedra” or “Flintstones,” a quick-shot narrows with treacherous boulders on each side. To safely navigate it and go around a hellacious hole, it is first necessary to exit the previous set of rapids in just the right spot. A raft of strong paddlers with a good guide can pass it easily. The second is “el toro,” or “the bull.” It’s another technical challenge: the raft must pass between two boulders at a roughly 90 degree angle in order to hit the lower rapids from the right side: if you miss the gap between the boulders, you’ll run the risk of being dashed on an immense rock on the left-hand side of the river or sucked into one of two nasty holes. Or both.

The rest of the rapids are a truly thrilling set of class IV’s, with rolling waves and big water guaranteed to make you scream. You’ll get soaked. Huge waves will blast you in the face. You’ll bounce off rocks. And you’ll want to do the river again immediately.

The Quijos River at this point is quite chilly: further down it warms up, but the lower river is marked by some truly wicked class V rapids best left to professionals and nut cases. Be sure your outfitter has wetsuits for the three-hour trip or you’ll freeze.

The Quijos is not for beginners, the faint of heart, or the overly sane. It is the perfect river for intermediate rafters: those with enough experience to find class III a little slow, but who still like to have fun on the water and who don’t have a death wish. There were two rafting virgins on the trip I took, and although they looked a little wide-eyed the whole time, they said they really enjoyed it afterwards.

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