Rio Oyacachi (Lower)
|Stretch:||End of the Road to the Quijos|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V (or IV to IV+)|
|Distance:||7.9 miles (or 5.6 miles)|
|Flows:||No gauge. Visual only…|
|Gradient:||190 fpm for 2.3 miles, 107 fpm after|
|Put-in:||Either of the foot bridges across the river|
|Take-out:||Confluence with the Quijos|
|Shuttle:||10 miles mostly on dirt road|
|Featured in A Wet State: #82 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Ecuador 2013 Day 2, 5, and 12:
The plan for the day was to do a quick run on Bridge to Bridge of the Quijos and then head to San Rafael falls with our friends Nate and Lori. At breakfast however we ran into Phil and Mary DeReimer with whom Diane had traveled several time before. They invited us with them to run the Oyacachi on their pre-client scouting trip and so our plans changed. We never did end up seeing the falls, which is too bad… but I guess that gives us something to return for.
The Oyacachi has two optional put-ins. The upper put-in (not to be confused with the Upper Oyacachi) contains 2.3 miles of class IV+ (at low water) that is a full step harder than anything below the lower put-in. The rapids are continuous, the holes can be sticky, and there are rocks to dodge the whole way down. There are three of four standout rapids in the top section that will get your attention but all are great fun. The lower section starts off with a band with one of the largest rapids just below the foot bridge. The lower contains several class IV rapids and countless class III in-between rapids.
The first day we did it, with the DeReimers, we put in at the lower put-in and had nice sunny warm weather. The second two times we put in with large groups at the upper put-ins and had rain and cloudy haze. Certainly the sun was nice, but something about seeing the clouds tangled up in the vines of the jungle makes the experience feel a little more like an adventure… rather than a kayak trip where there is a taxi waiting for you at the bottom.
This proved to be one of our favorite rivers we got on. It is the only section we boated three times and should be high on every class IV or above’s boaters list when in Ecuador. I should also note, we had low water, as in very low water, all the days we ran it. I think higher it would be a whole different beast. That is why I rated it with ranges.
As a side note, the first time down was also Christmas Eve, so we went to Endless Adventure International for their Christmas Eve party at their beautiful house in Borja.
Also, as this area is popular, I am sure all of the rapids on these rivers have real names… but I don’t know them.
- Action Starts (IV). Underneath the put-in bridge the action starts immediately. We worked our way down the right channel
Boogie (IV). A few fun boogie rapids present a warm up. Just follow the water down them. I imagine if these have macking holes in them, it is time to get nervous.
Boof (IV). One fun boogie rapid leads to a nice ledge with a super clean boof on the far left.
More Boogie (III to IV). Really this river is just about all boogie, some bigger, some smaller… the rapids that stick out in my mind are just the crescendos amongst the boogie.
Down the Right (IV to IV+). One of the bigger rapids comes up fairly quick, we ran down the right. In the middle there was a good size hole to punch through. This then led to a move directly in front of a sieve on the right shore. There was a line on the left too but apparently that one gets close to an undercut.
Flying High (IV to IV+). Run down the center and boof the left side of the rock at the bottom. My first time I got a sweet boof that put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. The second time not so much. You can also go around it to the right.
Bend (IV). On the sharp right hand bend leading to the bridge there is a good size rapid that goes just fine. We always ended up far left and ferrying back across to the middle at the top.
Bridge in Sight (III+ to IV-). From the bridge, this rapid doesn’t look very big at all, but at river level it steps up. Run down the left side of the ramp to avoid a rock in the middle that is underwater.
- Lower put-in footbridge offers an easier way to experience the Oyacachi
Around the Corner (IV-). On the first corner the river drops over a long set of rapids. The first is run down the right over some nice waves and through a few holes. There is a small recovery eddy before the next part which is class II+ down the left before it picks up steam again and drops over a folding hole that is run far left or right. Really good way to start the lower section. Stamilo proclaimed “that is what I imagine heaven is like!”
Bigger Boogie (III+ to IV). The run has a lot of boogie in it. Early on there is one that feels much larger than the rest. We ran down the left through the top and then exited in the middle.
- Fan Rock (III). A fun section of boogie leads to an interesting fan feature. We ran down the right.
More boogie (III). More fun boogie…
On the Corner (III+). There was a hard left bend that seemed to be a washed out rapid. I am sure this rapid changes from year to year… in 2013 it was junky. We went around it hard left to avoid the junk potential in the middle.
Crux of the Lower (IV- to IV). There are a couple of lines on this one. You can head far left or run down the middle. The middle involved punching a few holes where as the left was more of a ramp. Either way, it all looked clean to me.
- Under the Bridge (III+ to IV-). Downstream a few hundred yards from the Crux rapid is a foot bridge. We found it cleanest to run far left to avoid the pocket hole next to the rock on the right half way down.
Highway Bridge (III + to IV-). With the highway bridge overhead is one last rapid. You can either run left through a large hole or down the middle which is more straight forward. Exit right.
- Quijos Confluence (IV). Stay on the left half of the river as you run the confluence. The right half turns into a macking hole. At some flows clean leans here were just a wave train, at other flows it had us back endering through laterals. Good fun. Go to the beach on the left immediately after to take-out
Take-out: Take-out is on the E45 just downstream from El Chaco. Just after crossing the bridge turn right on the first dirt road and follow it to the parking turnouts and gate.
Put-in: In the town of El Chaco, turn up the road… only one of them keeps going. I think it was named something like Coliseum or something. Anwyays, follow it up the river (there really is only one road that goes all the way up the river). The lower put-in is down a spur road 100 yards off this road. Or continue until it ends at another footbridge.
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