After Lowri and Niamh heroicly got our boats out with the help of a lovely local raft guide called William, it was time to actually paddle our kayaks. We headed for a 2 day big volume class III/IV run called the Chicamocha, which had come highly recommended. It isn’t often rafted because the road to the get out is really badly damaged by landslides and the cost of transport is quite prohibitive. But Johana was really keen to get all our new friends together on the river for a special trip, so soon we had 6 kayaks and a raft all loaded up.
Once on the road we had the usual problems – leaking radiator, dodgy brakes and major road works. At one point we all had to get out and walk down the highway because the weight of a trailer, a raft, 6 kayaks, 13 people and all the equipment was too much for the van to handle!!! The roads in general are pretty good in Colombia but they are REALLY steep with loads of switch backs.
We got on the river at 2pm, starting off really sedately with some class II and III. The beautiful canyon scenery definately put a smile on our faces. Towards the end of the first day was the longest and hardest rapid. It was approximately 2 km of class IV/IV+: a great way to end the day.
A bridge over the river signalled the pueblo of Jordan where we would spend the night. It was a beautiful town of only about 60 people (apparently more used to live there but they deserted the town in fear of guerillas a few years ago). We strung up our hammocks in the town square and set ourselves up for an evening of cards and wine. Burro being the game of choice.
As it turns out hammocks are really uncomfortable to sleep in so we got hardly any sleep and were rudely awoken by the baking sunshine!! After a breakfast of egg soup (!!??) we were ready to rock and or roll. Day 2 provided us with yet more spectacular scenery. The most memorable rapid was where the river constricted down through a narrow little gorge creating some big waves and holes, which the locals named The Box.
We got to the get-out at about lunchtime and started the hike up the steep hill in the blazing heat, cursing our kayaks all the way to the top. After 30 minutes of leg burning work we reached the vans in a sweaty mess… then had to go back for our kit! Who says kayaking is all in the shoulders?!
Dainer, the hero of a raft guide, put us all to shame by portering the rolled up raft all the way on his own. The drive out of the canyon was pretty sketchy but what an amazing road and stunning views. It was obvious why not many people made it down here. We celebrated our trip with a couple of shots of rum in the nearest town; completing a pretty perfect couple of days.