Rio Upano Rafting - Whitewater Rafting Ecuador
ROW is a pioneer and leader in the white water rafting industry. We know what classic rafting trips are made of, and Ecuador's Rio Upano has it all. This is a great river for beginners and experts alike. The Rio Upano has challenging but manageable whitewater, incredible scenery, good hiking trails and beautiful riverside camps. Add the area's amazing cultural history, and contact with the Shuar Indians that live along the rivers banks and you've got a rafting adventure that's physically, mentally and spiritually invigorating.
ROW was invited to guide in Ecuador by Juan Fernandez Rodriguez, a native Ecuadorian and former ROW guide. Juan wanted to help develop a rafting program in his country, and in 1992 we spent six weeks exploring numerous forests, trails, villages, and cities in Ecuador. Our exploration included several first descents on rivers in Ecuador, including the Rio Upano in the province of Morona-Santiago.
In Ecuador's mountainous Morona-Santiago province, the rugged terrain and fast-flowing whitewater rivers of the Andes kept would-be explorers (and conquerors) away for centuries. Neither the Incas nor the Spanish were able to penetrate the isolated land of the Shuar Indians, formerly known as the "Headhunters of the Amazon," and famous for their practice of making shrunken heads. Much of the Shuar’s culture remains intact, but it's been influenced in the last century by missionaries and the slow influx of highland settlers.
On this Ecuador whitewater adventure, we'll fly from Quito to the remote town of Macas. Here, we board our rubber rafts and depart to explore this massive wilderness and land of the Shuar. The Rio Upano, or “River of the Sacred Waterfalls," is thrilling descent and one of the finest river trips in the world. Within hours of launching our rafts onto the river, we enter a jungle fantasy, full of toucans, egrets, oropendolas, and iridescent butterflies.
The whitewater rafting begins with alternating wide valleys and narrow canyons. Class III rapids provide plenty of continuous fun-filled roller coaster rides. We'll enter a towering canyon where massive waterfalls tumble hundreds of feet before crashing into the Rio Upano. The narrow canyon walls constrict the river and massive boulders create numerous Class III and IV whitewater rapids, guaranteeing an action-packed ride.
Along with seasoned ROW river guides, a Shuar guide will join each Rio Upano departure. Throughout the trip, we stop to visit with Shuar families. Living in traditional palm-thatched houses near the river, the Shaur will share pieces of their fascinating culture and remote jungle lifestyle with us. You'll get an insider's view of this indigenous culture, their belief system, and the intricate web of life that links their culture to this fragile rainforest ecosystem.
After each rafting adventure on the Rio Upano, we drive to Cuenca in Ecuador's southern highlands. Cuenca is a charming colonial city. Here, we'll explore the main cathedral, museums, riverside parks, and artisan shops that make this one of the country's most interesting cities.
ROW provides all camping equipment, from sleeping bags and tents to tables and chairs, and our guides prepare all meals on the river. When traveling to a remote river in a far-off destination, ROW’s 30 years of whitewater rafting guide experience is paramount to your safety and enjoyment.
If you need to purchase some gear before your whitewater rafting trip, ROW has assembled the more common items at our ROWear online store, hosted by New Headings.