What a fun weekend!
Off we went with the team to Tena. Unfortunately, the team was not complete since one was sick. So with the six of us, we drove in Rebecca’s Trooper to Tena around 17 pm. We were really excited for this trip to have a moment with the team outside the office. Some have been to Tena already while for others it was their first time. For the first timers, it was extra exciting to see what this village in the Amazon has to offer. Tena is more or less, a 4-hour drive from Quito through the beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. It is located in the Napo province in the Amazon rainforest. The best thing about driving in the dark to Tena is a number of stars you can see up in the sky due to very little light pollution. Of course, what is a car ride without singing along with hits like Fast Car and dancing along with the biggest Reggaeton hits like Despacito. We are in Latin America after all! There is no doubt the fun already started for us in the car.
After four hours of driving and 100 road bumps later, we finally arrived in Tena. We stayed at this adorable hostel Casa del Abuelo. There we met our tour guide Toby together with Henry, and also Greg who was going to film our rafting adventure the next day. The rafting guide, Toby explained a bit of what we could expect for tomorrow. After getting to know everybody we went on to have some dinner. The food was very good with all sorts of dishes and fish as the traditional dish of the region but we all especially liked the rice. It really is true, the lower the altitude the better the rice. After dinner, we went for a drink and explored the town a bit before we went back to the hostel to have a well-needed rest.
The next day started already very early. Breakfast was served at a quarter past seven since our guide was going to pick us up at half past seven. Our guide Toby together with Henry arrived and we drove to the starting point. With three cars off we went to the starting point of the rafting tour which was taking place at the shore of the Jatunyacu river. After a car ride of 45 minutes from Tena, we arrived at our starting point. Here we got our vests, helmets, and paddles. We got an explanation from our guide about safety issues and how to use our equipment. After the explanation, we had to hike down to the river which was already a challenge itself because it was bit steep. Once at the riverside we had to wait a few minutes until another other group was ready. They always try to go with another boat for safety reasons and it is also more fun.
There we went. We stepped in the boat and since we were still waiting for the other group we practiced a bit with paddling and how to splash each other with water. Also, good to mention is that each boat will be accompanied by a ‘rescuer’. This is an experienced person who is in a kayak and will be guiding the way and also saving you when is needed. So, yeah all the precautions are taken when going on this tour, so we had nothing to worry about. Once the other boat was also ready to go we could finally start our rafting adventure. With the six of us plus, the guide we paddled to the first of the many rapids to come. The river Jatunyacu is not playing and there was already a big wave at the first rapid. This was a sign to listen very well to our guide. Going into the rapids gives you so much adrenaline that it is nearly impossible not to scream. The best thing is that every rapid has something unique. One is more technical, the other has a bigger wave than the other but that doesn’t make it less exciting. Also one rapid has a wave where you could ‘surf’ with your boat and yes you get very wet. Some rapids have a big rock where you can ‘bump’ onto and where you will be launched into the air. The funny thing is that when you are in the calm parts of the river you can jump of the boat and swim, if you like of course.
After 2 hours of rafting we had a lunch break at this beautiful little community. While arriving we were already greeted by the kids who were swimming in the river. Once we got out of the boat our guide invited us to play a game with the other team and the little kids. While we were playing games with the kids the others were preparing our lunch. Having lunch after two hours of rafting is not a bad idea. The lunch was good and there was more than enough for all of us. There were wraps, fruits and even cake for everyone. After a well deserved lunch and some rest, off we went again.
After lunch Toby told us there was around 2 hours of rafting left. With new energy we continued our rafting adventure. According to our guide Toby, there were still a lot of exciting rapids left. Our guide did not lie, the rapids were one by one really fun again. There was a rapid where we needed to paddle with the team very well otherwise you would hit a big rock. This shows that you really need to work with each other. At the end when the rapids were not as heavy as the previous ones we tried something new, the so called ‘rodeo’. The rodeo is when a person sit in front of the boat like someone is sitting on a bull. With only one hand holding on the boat makes it pretty hard not to fall in the water. So, Adri and I tried the rodeo. Even though I fell in the water it was so much fun and it looked fun for the others too, I guess. In the end you will see two different rivers come together, the river Jatunyacu and Rio Anzo. This give an amazing scene of blue water of Jatunyacu and the brown water of Rio Anzo coming together. Our guide Toby told us to put our feet in the water and surprisingly we could feel a difference in temperature of the two rivers. After this amazing experience there was one rapid left of our rafting adventure. We made sure to enjoy the last rapid before we reached a little ‘beach’ where our rafting adventure ended.
When we got out of the boat we walked to a place where we could take a shower and jump in the pool to relax from our adventure. After some drinks it was time for us to go back to Quito. Of course, we had a stop to have dinner at a local restaurant in Baeza where we had this amazing Trucha al Ajillo (Trout). Then it was really time to go back home. Overall it was an amazing experience with the team.