For experienced rafting enthusiasts, this is the best multi-day rafting expedition in Ecuador. Combining jungle hikes, indigenous cultural encounters, riverside camping and plenty of Class IV and IV+ rapids on the Upano River you will be sure to enjoy every moment. Over the 5 days you will discover Ecuador like no one else, from rafting to self exploring you will soon uncover the unspoiled landscapes and its flora and fauna.
Sacred Waterfalls Rafting Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Transfer from Quito to Macas (D)
We start out adventure in Ecuador with a scenic jungle drive from Quito to Macas (approx. 6 hours). Spend the afternoon strolling through the town whilst we explore on our own. In the evening, we will enjoy a welcome dinner and a short trip briefing to prepare us for our epic rafting journey that begins tomorrow.
Day 2: Raft the Upper Upano & Shuar Community Visit (B,L,D)
After an early start and a hearty breakfast, we drive to our put-in on the Upano River and begin our whitewater adventure. The upper part of the Upano is wide and relatively tranquil, with mostly Class III rapids and the occasional Class IV section where we navigate steep boulder passages. This reasonably laid-back start to our expedition helps us get used to paddling as a team and gives us the chance to appreciate the stunning rainforest scenery and wildlife around us.
The thatched-roof huts of the Shuar are visible along the riverbanks and local Shuar families can often be seen washing clothes or fishing from the shores of the upper Upano. After setting up camp on the riverbank near the town of Sucua, we head out to visit the nearby Shuar community where we will learn about their culture and ancient rituals including the practice of shrinking the heads of their fallen enemies. After our visit with the Shuar we will head back to our campsite where we will enjoy a tasty dinner and a peaceful night’s sleep on a sandy beach by the river.
Day 3: First Day of Rafting the Gorge of Sacred Waterfalls (B,L,D)
Breaking camp early we continue down the Upano River and pass under the Patuca Bridge where we will enter the beautiful Namangosa Canyon where the Upano quickly changes her mood. As the canyon deepens and narrows, the riverbanks rise into towering walls and he water is channeled into a boulder-choked gorge. Water volume and speed increases and the Upano becomes a power river that propels us through almost constant IV and IV+ rapids.
The Shuar call the Namangosa “The Gorge of Sacred Waterfalls” for good reason: tall white waterfalls are the only thing that interrupts the lush green of the canyon walls. The Namangosa is covered with pristine primary forest which creates the perfect opportunity for us to see numerous species of jungle plants, tropical birds and colourful butterflies as we paddle down the river. The breathtaking setting and sustained rapids make this long run truly unforgettable. We stop around halfway through the canyon to camp at a pleasant site called Mina.
Day 4: Final Day of Rafting the Gorge of Sacred Waterfalls (B,L,D)
The pace during our last day is a little more laid back as we stop a few times to explore hiking trails and hidden caves along the banks. We will also swim in many of the tributaries that flow into the Upano, each with a different temperature, water volume and speed. In the afternoon we reach our take-out site where our vehicle is waiting for us to drive us back to Macas. We enjoy our last evening in the jungle at out riverside hotel.
Day 5: Transfer from Macas to Quito (B)
After breakfast, we have the rest of the morning free to explore Macas and its surroundings on our own before heading back to Quito (approx. 6 hours).