Crystalline rivers, spectacular landscapes of forests and towering waterfalls. These are some of the characteristics that describe the experience of adventure sports in the Amazon. The most popular sports are rafting, kayaking, canyoning, cycling and trekking. Napo province is one of the most popular in the Amazon region to experience them.
The most popular sport is rafting, “because in most cases no experience is needed to do it. There are rivers of different levels of difficulty and accessibility”, explains Roberto Rueda, a representative of the Torrent Duck tour operator.The Quijos canton is the centre of attractions for these sports. The Jondachi, JatunYacu, Anzu and Napo Rivers are suitable for rafting.
“In Napo, the rivers boast a variety of landscapes, offering many possibilities to pursue this sport in the area”, says the expert. “In Ecuador, rafting is growing as it can be done in several different provinces in the country, it is important that visitors follow the safety measures in all areas”, says Rueda.
On the other hand, kayaking is done in the Papallacta, Oyacachi, Cosanga, Quijos, Jondachi, Upper and Lower Misahualli, Pano, Tena, Anzu, JatunYacu and Napo rivers.
“Ecuador is the third best destination in the world for rafting and kayaking. River kayaking in Ecuador is special because there are more options for it than rafting. We are in a strategic location for river kayaking thanks to the Andes Mountain Range as many of the rivers flow down from the eastern and western mountains”, says Rueda. The best places for kayaking are: Baeza, Tena, Macas, Baños, y Zamora Chinchipe.
“We should make better use of all the rivers available for kayaking as this sport has much more potential than others because of the variety of locations where it can be done” adds Rueda.
Referring to places where several adventure activities can be combined, Rueda speaks of Cotopaxi National Park, Antisana Ecological Reserve, Cayambe Coca National Park and Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park, being the main parks with a high potential for adventure sports. Other potential areas for these sports include Zamora Chinchipe, Macas in Morona Santiago, Intag and Mira in Imbabura province.
“Ecuador has tremendous potential to develop adventure tourism routes in all of its protected areas. The key would be to enhance existing operations near the areas and to integrate them into the protected areas. It is also important to train operators in how to develop activities in protected areas”, says Roberto Rueda, representative of the Torrent Duck tour operator.
Make sure suppliers have the appropriate operating permits and that their guides are certified and experienced. Look for the best options for tours according to the weather (water level); this will allow you to find the tour you need, with perfect conditions for your sport. Look for specialised local operators.