Upano River. Rafting the Canyon of The Sacred Waterfalls

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UPANO: Morona Santiago Province, Sucua is the nearest town. Clase IV, IV+

The Upano is a dream come true. The river of the Sacred Waterfalls so deep in the Amazon jungle that its sheer solitude makes you be one with nature once again. Class IV and V rapids surrounded by waterfalls, deep green vegetation and jungle citizens that have inhabited the area for centuries.

If you want a vivid and real  description of the river run I recommend you read Rafters in the Mist by Germaine W. Shames, an essay that is part of the The Gift of Rivers by Pamela Michael and Robert Hassbook. It is a rather solemn and vivid description of the Upano. Here is a quote from her essay that stuck with me as it depicts not only this force of nature but the deep and silent connection to ancient tribes, the gatekeepers of the misty Amazon jungle.

It was the sacred waterfalls that drew me to Ecuador’s Rio Upano, the notion that these thundering cascades–so high they seemed to pour forth from the clouds–flowed not with the mere water but with ancestral spirits.

The Upano, tributary of the might Amazon, steals her crown of turbulence from the Andean Cordillera. A temperamental river, an unforgiving river, she has claimed this tangle of rainforest and canyon for her own, turning back would-be conquerors, toppling bridges, tempting prospectors with her gold, only to drown them in the reflection of their own dreams.

Below are three web resources were you can learn more about the Upano and the experience. ROW is the company that together with Peter Grubb did the first Upano commercial run. We know that their trips are of the highest quality and the guides are world class. However, we wish that they were actively seeking a more direct engagement with the local guides. Ecuador has world class rafting guides that can be used for this kind of trips. Sharing the training and knowledge they’ve acquired throughout their history running the Upano could be of great help to the Ecuadorian rafting community. As they say in their website, several of our US-based guide staff travel to Ecuador each winter to help guide Rio Upano rafting trips. I wish they would use more local guides and less of the several US-based guides.

  • 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.
  • Flowing from the Andes to the Amazon, Ecuador’s Upano pulses through a breath-taking jungle canyon laced with thrilling rapids, magical tributary waterfalls and wondrous colored birds and iridescent butterflies. Side hikes to rarely explored waterfalls, including one inside a cave, and visits with the native Shuar river community compliment this marvelous Amazonian journey. (source: earthriver.com)
  • The Upano River is the longest multi-day rafting trip in Ecuador. It’s located in the rugged, mountain Morona-Santiago province of Ecuador. The Upano River flows through the Namangosa Gorge where the Shuar Indians live. Flowing through a remote and mostly untouched region of Ecuador, the Upano River truly gives rafters a multi-day wilderness rafting experience, including great hiking, spectacular wildlife viewing, and exciting rapids. (source: Rafting.com)

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2 Responses to “Upano River. Rafting the Canyon of The Sacred Waterfalls”

  1. Eliana
    December 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

    As adventure entatsihsus and wannabe outdoorsmen, when given the opportunity to raft in the Adirondacks at the Adirondack Rafting Company, John and Laura jumped at the chance and booked the trip weeks in advance. This trip seemed to have a ripple effect, as roommate Ryan soon jumped on board just a week later. While dining (and cocktailing) in good old Portsmouth, New Hampshire on a bed and breakfast partyfest weekend trip with friends Stacy and Nate just a week later, 5 total were confirmed to join Jerry’s growing group as a modest group of 11. As a group that thoroughly enjoys exhilarating, exciting, and overall fun experiences, with an emphasis on togetherness, we knew this would be a trip we would not forget.The 5 happily climbed in the spacious 2004 Toyota Corolla with 3 men over 6 tall and two small females on the glorious cool Sunday morning of August 19th, ready for a day of fun. Although there were a few bumps in the trip from Saratoga to Indian Lake, DJ Ryan eventually fell into the role of queuing music of our childhood, and by the time we rolled up to the Adirondrack Rafting Company we were laughing and singing NSYNC a little too loudly (for 9:16am) and other embarrassing songs no grown men should be singing (Stacy and Laura got a pass on that one). Eventually as we were assigned our instructors, it came time for Jerry’s group to split into two. It only made sense that the 5 rugged Corolla travelers would stick together, as well as be on Dan’s boat as he had a special guest on board, creating two equal boats of 7. We became fast friends as Dan introduced his wife (aka wifey aka Sara aka Weefay) and we went over nicknames and the ghosts of parties past from the night before. As the trip worn on, we knew we were paired with the perfect instructor of our group. Dan fit in great with our group and clearly deserved the new nickname of Mayhem. We had a blast translating our commands to Spanish(?ish) and modern-day terms, such as albajo (back) and chillax (stop). We do not want to leave out that Mayhem was also completely knowledgeable and professional, and most importantly we would like to nominate Mayhem as #1 Rafting Instructor in the world. If this is not possible, please award him a plaque and many cold beverages for making our rafting trip a blast.Please be prepared for our return during BIG WATER season and a request of Dan Mayhem. Sincerely,Laura Boyce, Nate Brekke, John Dreimiller, Stacy Manny, and Ryan Washburn

  2. Uli Andelfinger
    January 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

    Hi everybody,

    we did the Canyon of the Sacred Waterfalls three days ago (5 kayakers, 4 people more in the raft of Tarkino (Tena), but the big rapids are still in my mind…….

    Wonderful Namangosa Gorge…..

    Thanks to Ecuador and
    http://www.ecuador-kajak.com

    Uli Andelfinger
    Holzkirchen, Germany

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