Trying Different Outdoor Adventure Activities in Ecuador

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As part of my voluntourism project and adventure tour of Ecuador, I got to try out a variety of different outdoor adventure activities. I had never done most of these sports before, so I learned A LOT about what I liked (and didn’t like). Continue reading to find out the different activities we did!

Surfing

During our 4 days in Montañita, we learned how to surf! We spent about an hour the first day on the beach learning the basics, like how to paddle and stand up properly. That was super helpful, because there are so many technical aspects that I never would have thought.
After the basics, we hopped into the water to start practicing. We stayed pretty close to the beach and rode waves that had already broken until we got the hang of standing up. We were on 8-9 foot boards, which are considered “beginner boards”. After a few tries with the instructor, I finally got up!
On the second day of our lessons, we went to a different beach for more advanced training. This time, rather than riding broken waves, we had to paddle out past the breaking to fresh waves. This part was really hard for me because I have absolutely no upper arm strength. The waves were beating me up pretty bad, so my instructor finally just started towing me around. But once I got out there, it was a lot easier to catch the waves. I got up numerous times the second day, and I even rode a wave all the wave into shore!

learning to surf

Sea Kayaking

White Water Rafting 

Another fun adventure activity we did while in Ecuador was white water rafting! We went down the Pastaza river which has rapid levels from I-V as it comes down off the Andes Mountains. We split into small groups and rode down the river on Level III rapids. It was a lot different than rafting I had done in Colorado, because the river was much more windy. But our great guides made it a lot of fun and we all felt totally safe!

What was especially amazing about this white water rafting experience was the sound of the boulders rolling under the waves because the current was so strong. It was one of the coolest things I had ever experienced. They sounded like the echoes of gunshots just pounding down the river! I developed a new appreciation of the power of water in nature.

white water rafting in ecuador

 

Apuenting (Bride Bungee Jumping)

Crowded together on the San Francisco bridge on the city limits of Banos, our group prepared to go apuenting or bungee jumping off the side of the 60 meter bridge! The bridge spans the Pastaza River and is an absolutely beautiful sight. Everyone else was super nervous about the jump, but for some reason, I was filled with pure excitement. I was so enthusiastic about the whole experience, I just couldn’t wait for it to be my turn to jump.

For safety, our tour guides strapped us into a body harness so that during the fall you won´t feel any whiplash like you would during bungee jumping. When it came to my turn, I hopped up on the platform the hung off the side of the bridge and looked down. While the nerves kicked in during the few seconds before I jumped, I was still too excited that I just dove out into the air. The feeling of free falling was so cool, and I wish I could put it into words. The whole jump only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was by far the most exhilarating things I’ve done here. It was absolutely amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

bungee jumping

Waterfall Rappelling

Another adventure activity we did was waterfall rappelling down 3 separate waterfalls. The guides trained us in the proper techniques but I was pretty bad at rappelling. Apparently I don’t just trust the ropes enough so I don’t lean back far enough making it very challenging. On the second waterfall, I actually slipped into the waterfall, and it was really painful. The force of the water is really intense and it completely knocks the wind out of you.

So after that experience, I was not enjoying the rappelling, and really freaked out on our last waterfall. The 3rd one was a 45 meter waterfall that did’´t have any walls. So you basically just free fall downwards into the canyon below. Even though I wound up rappelling, I was really scared and didn’t enjoy the experience as much as everyone else. But I’m still happy that I got to do it, because the views going down were absolutely amazing.

P1040824

Mountain Biking 

This was one of the adventure activities I was most nervous about. I like biking, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it on rough terrain. The guides fitted us for our bikes at the bottom of the mountain, and then hooked up a trailer to a truck which we rode up the hill. Thankfully, we stayed mainly to paved areas which made me feel much more comfortable.

We biked right along the Pastaza river on a beautiful sunny day. We could see for miles of mountains! We also took a break at one area where we could take a trolley across the canyon. I jumped at the chance, and rode the trolley several hundred feer over the Pastaza river. It was so beautiful, because there was this amazing waterfall right by the trolley.

The bike ride lasted for about 2 hours, and I am happy (and surprised) to report that I loved every minute of it. It was actually my favorite adventure activity of them all!

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Are you ready to volunteer abroad? Learn more about the project International Student Volunteers sponsors at their website.

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Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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