Ecuador has world-class conditions for white-water rafting. The rivers on the western slope of the Andes can be easily accessed from Quito, even in a day trip. The water levels are only high enough for rafting from January to May. The eastern slope enjoys rainfall all year and the rivers run through spectacular valleys and gorges on the way to the rainforest.
Rafting is open to anyone who´s up for it. You don´t need experience if you have a good guide, though you probably won´t want to start with a five day trip. It is growing in popularity (something to do with the tropical scenery and warm water) as more rivers are being opened up.
You can organise a tour in Quito, Tena or Baños although the locations are more widespread (see river guide below). Check the experience of the guides (they should hold a license) and the quality of the equipment. A good outfit will carry first aid, raft repair and reserve kits and the guides will have river rescue and first aid training.
Near Santo Domingo (Blanco Valley - western slope)
Río Caoni: class II-III
Río Toachi: class III/IV
Río Mulate: class III
Río Blanco: class III/IV
Upper Blanco: class III/IV
Quijos Valley (eastern slope)
Quijos: class IV/V - site of the 2005 World Rafting Championship, possible to raft October -February
Near Tena (eastern slope)
Upper Río Napo: class III - possible to raft all year
Río Jatunyacu class III - possible to raft all year
Río Misahuallí (lower): class IV -possible to raft October –February
Río Misahuallí (upper): class IV -more technical, possible to raft April – September
Río Anzu class II/III
Near Baños (Pastaza Valley - eastern slope)
Patate: class II/III - a 90 minute trip, I have read reports that the river is polluted.
Near Macas (eastern slope)
Río Upano, class II to class IV (around Nonagese Gorge)
You can make a 5/6 day trip starting near Macas and covering 120km to the end of the gorge. It is possible to continue towards Santiago and Peru and the river broadens and calms. Possible to raft October- February, consult Yacu Amu Rafting
Prices for tours tend to vary between $40 and $60 a day per person depending on the length of the trip, the location and the number of people. For that you can expect all equipment, guides, transport and a packed lunch to be included. The following agencies can help provide information and organise tours:
Small World Adventures
Yacu Amu Rafting