Friday, January 18, 2013

The Flora and Fauna of SWA's Kayaking Lodge

 Kevin has been Small World's resident horticulturist for the past few weeks and he wanted to post up a blog about some of the things he's seen around the lodge.

Kevin says:

While I’ve been staying at Small World Adventures lodge, I anticipated being in the heart of some of the best Ecuadorian kayaking; however, I didn’t anticipate that one of the best parts of my stay is the lodge and the surroundings themselves. This is really a beautiful and tranquil place. Many of the flowers are blooming in full force.

The flower bordered path from the lodge leads down to the new Yoga Shala. Surrounded by the beautiful subtropical mountain forest with a great view of the Quijos River, the Shala is very peaceful and serene.

The trails are awesome with beautiful bromeliads, feathery cycads, twisting guyaba and towering balsam trees, ginger flowers, and even orchids all around.

 The gardens around the lodge and the trail allows for some great bird watching and as an avid birder, it is quite exciting to have such great birding right out the front door. The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock frequents the property as well as a number of other ornate birds.

The Inca Jay is a frequent visitor

The White-tailed Hillstar frequents the bird feeder and numerous hibiscus flowers on the property

I love the colorful tanagers in Ecuador. The blue-necked tanager is the most frequent and colorful tanager found around Small World Adventures.

Like you escaping the Northern Hemisphere cold winters, many birds are also quite smart and want to enjoy the warmth year round. Don’t be surprised to see some familiar faces, like the Swainson’s Thrush

Or Blackburnian Warblers

Of course, even one of the most common birds in the area has a bright rufous collar (the Rufous-collared Sparrow).

Of course, the birding is just a great bonus to the great kayaking right out the door. I find it also awesome that the take out for the Lower Cosanga and Quijos River run is a stairway and path up to the lodge…with beers waiting! Love this place!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Twas the Week Before Christmas and...all the Kayakers Were Kayaking...?

 Katherine nailing her boof with perfect timing and stroke placement--you go girl!
Liam Says: 

Coming up to Christmas I began to miss home a little. A good cure for being a touch home sick is warm weather, cold beer, great kayaking and a bunch of new people to spend it with.
 Brien, Rene and Tim standing out against the ultra clear waters of the Piatua

So asylum can imagine, this really took my mind of being home sick . So I blame Small World Adventures for  my forgetting to send my mum a card. So mum if your reading this was Darcy's fault.

Dana, Brien, Liam and Rene enjoying the "boogie water" on the Piatua.  Gotta love the boogie water!
Our torrents trip was made up of: Sandra, Brien, Dana, Katherine, Steve, Tim and Rene who both joined us for 2nd week.   Sometimes that happens--the kayaking in Ecuador is just so good that people often can't go home.   I really can't blame them!

 Guy, Sandra, Steve and Katerine entering the amazing basalt canyon below Curvas Peligrosas on the Quijos.  

I've been teaching kayaking for a long time now and I one strange habit I have picked up is to give people nick names to help me remember them in years to come.   This crew had some good character and thus good nick names (read on to find out people's new names...)
 Guy and Rene super stoked the animal crackers.  But Rene wants to know, "doesn't it come in a bigger bag?"

We kicked off the torrents with the Upper Cosanga.  Luckily, Chibolo didn't live up to its name (bump on the head) but it did manage to give Sandra a bumpy welcome to Ecuador.

 Rene--master baker (not to be confused with something else...)--having a great line through Chibolo.  

Our second day we  paddled the bottom of the Oyacachi and carried on through 2 more sections of the Quijos--we put in some serious river miles today!

 Dana boofing her way down Ejector Seat on the Oyacachi

I don't think I mentioned it to Steve but, after seeing him boof on the Oyacachi, I started referring to Steve as the Boof Master General.
 Tim on the last rapid of the Oyacachi.  This river became Tim's favorite over his 2 weeks of kayaking in Ecuador.  And for good reason--this river is unparalleled!

On the last rapid of the Oyacachi Katherine caught an edge and was forced to roll in some pretty bumpy water, a few attempts but no luck. I was pretty sure I was going too see a swim; however, Katherine held in tough even as she bumped off rocks and then rolled up in the eddy. In my head I rechristened her as Iron lungs Katherine.

 Liam lining up to take a big last stroke at the bottom of Serpentine on the Oyacachi

This  is a great section that suits the 'torrents trip' as it starts creeky on the Oyacachi  and then transforms into hole dodging, welcome-to-the-jungle fun big water fun as its meets the Quijos.

Liam and Katherine trying to be like the otters at a lunch break on the Piatua.  They both got pretty good at attaining.  But then they found a pour over that acted like a natural massage-bath and got distracted!

One of the highlights of the trip was the infamous Gringos Revueltos (Scrambled White Dudes).  With tidy lines and powerful strokes everyone managed to get through without being scrambled.
Liam, Rene and Tim enjoying short sleeve paddling tops, clear water and big boulders

The rest of the week we were lucky enough to paddle the Piatua, the Lower Cosanga, El Chaco Canyon on the Quijos, and Bridge 2 to the lodge at a healthy flow on the last day!

Kayakers preparing for a sweet run down the Cosanga

It's not all about the paddling though. Some of the dry land activities really make the holiday for people.

Baby Monkey!
 One of my highlights of the week, and I know Tim felt the same, was visiting the town of Puerto Misahualli. A riverside town near Tena that is home to a gang of tame(ish) monkeys. I was glad of Tim's company as he seems to find them quite as hilarious as I do. He was also a good deal braver than me and I got to watch as he wrestled a over a piece of duck tape with a boisterous young monkey. This was the moment I started referring to Tim as Tim the monkey whisperer. As a side note: I have met this monkey a couple of times since and now refer to the monkey simply as'Tim'.
Sandra dropping into the "Poop Shoot" on the Piatua as Darcy and Tim look on

Another great week for me here at Small World so I owe another big thanks to:

Tim the monkey whisperer
Sandra--Princess of the Ottawa
Yoga Dana
Seven Summits Brien
Rene the Swiss Master chef or 'dad'
Iron lungs Katherine
And Steve the boof Master General

 Giovanna, Fabian and Marco (our friends and taxi drivers) watch at the kayakers start their journey down the Piatua. 

Now, kick back and enjoy the rest of the photos from an incredible week of boating.

Liam explaining the best line in "Breakfast in Bed"

Our incredible lodge staff--Lauro, Liliana, and Jhimena

Now you know why Liam calls him Boof Master General