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Rio Sarapullu to Rio Toachi

We finally did the Rio Sarapullu! Last year (in April) with Thomas Neime, we decided to visit the Santo Domingo area. The rivers in the West part of Quito are quite unusual runs but, nonetheless this area delivers good quality and a variety of white-water which was actually what we were looking for. 

The last time, the river flooded, which made the canyon of Rio Sarapullu un-runnable. But, one year later, here we are…

We finally arrived at the put in of the river after a 1h30 shuttle in the back of a cattle truck with all the members of the team (Thomas Neime, Kevin Gauthier, Michiel De Ruytter, and me: Arthur Bernot). Luckily, there we were, lost in the jungle with our beloved kayaks and the pristine and clear water, which comes from the Ilinizas volcanoes located in the Western Andes chain. The water level looked juicy; to be exact, it was 7 on the gauge under the bridge at the put-in.

Kevin Gauthier and Thomas Neime unloading the truck at the Put In of Rio Sarapullu by Arthur Bernot

For the first 3 kilometres, the river was open and surrounded by the jungle with class III-IV rapids. We found this perfect, since you can warm-up and enjoy the jungle, in particular, watching the birds.

After this fun section, we arrived at a long rapid with a series of boofs. This rapid ended up between two walls around 4-5 metres tall, which marks the beginning of the canyon. Sometimes, the river tightens suddenly, leaving space for just one boat, and that happens for around 6 kilometres more! We ran a couple of amazing class V rapids at times, but it wasn’t easy to set proper safety.

Then, the river flows into the Rio Toachi. The Rio Toachi source is from the Quilotoa Volcano. It is a pity that just after the confluence, a dam has been built (not finished yet). The entire volume of water goes inside a tunnel, which goes deep under the mountain. (Our taxi driver shared with us a curious fact: a crew of kayakers has passed through this mysterious tunnel!)

Thomas Neime and Michiel De Ruytter posing at the last main rapid on Rio Sarapullu By Arthur Bernot

So, it is mandatory to portage on the left side. We crossed the construction site, and thankfully the bodyguards were nor upset with our presence. We moved fast so as not to disturb the workers. After the dam, we started the Rio Toachi.

The river is double the flow, but still as narrow as the Sarapullu. Sometimes the river widens and then tightens again, forming nice waves and big holes, with some mandatory boofs. You have to get these boofs, otherwise the penalty is immediate.

We moved fast, and everything was almost read and run. We just scouted two rapids and portaged one that Michiel tried to run… but his line didn’t inspire us (beater). With Thomas and Kevin, we decided to portage it on the right side.

The river continues to flow between narrow lines and small flat water sections until the small town of Alluriquine, which is actually the take-out. At the end, only 500 metres remained to walk with our kayaks to our hostel where a swimming pool was waiting; perfect to relax after 4h and 21km of great kayaking.