Most of the commercial whitewater sports (rafting, kayaking) activities in Ecuador are held in the rivers close to the cities of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Baños or Tena. But the Second National Slalom & Down River Kayak Championships held in Bucay, in the Chimbo river was a good opportunity to explore new rivers and meet new people.
The little town of Bucay, which lays between Riobamba and Guayaquil, is not a place of whitewater kayaking tradition. It is such a small town that there wasn’t a decent hotel for those coming from the rest of the country for the competition. But in this town, a group of teens managed to learn and practice whitewater kayaking.
The Canoeing Association of the province of Guayas gave them 10 kayaks about a year ago, and somehow these kids learned how to kayak by themselves. The only instruction they receive is by a canoe instructor that knows nothing about whitewater. Most of them can not do the eskimo roll (one of the basic moves in whitewater kayaking).
They are great swimmers and they are not afraid of big waves. There were about 8 young competitors from Bucay and a few more from the rest of the country. An 18 years old from Bucay won the tournament.
Diego Altamirano, Barefoot Expeditions’ CEO and co-founder (Ecuador Adventure Travel) got second place and now he is thinking about running commercial whitewater trips to the Chimbo river.