Kayaking in Colombia, Part 2

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Many long-time visitors to my site have read about Mauricio, a kayaker who has pioneered the sport in Colombia. I originally posted a page detailing the adventures of Mauricio and his friends a few years ago, and since then we have corresponded many times.

Mauricio also included his email address in the original report, and has been contacted by a number of paddlers from around the world; several of which have paddled in Colombia with Mauricio since then.

Most recently, Mauricio travelled to America and paddled in the Southeast with some paddlers he met online as well. I never cease to be amazed at the power of the internet to bring people together, and to allow us to explore worlds we would otherwise never experience..

What follows are the first in a series of notes in Mauricios River log that he has shared with me. Hopefully, someday, this log will show photos of Mauricio in the Northwest, creeking with me and the usual suspects..

Mauricio's River Log


Hola hermano, a couple of pictures from last Saturday on the way to the river, this is what we call a "bus de escalera" ladder bus, is all in wood, hand painted and the typical bus in the Andes towns for cargo and passengers, even in the roof you see people, animals, cargo..... this one was full of BMX bicycles, and what about the mules full of sugar canes in the road..

A ladder bus

Finally after almost two years I went up on my motorcycle to explore the river way up, I got to tell you, we are paddling only a third of the river , man and the hard part still to explore!

If we break the San Juan river in 3 parts, lower, middle and upper we are paddling the lower, the middle is this canyon we are getting into already but we have about 8 to 10 miles up to explore. Up from there is the upper for more than 10 miles very similar to the lower, classic III+, and some IV-, but for sure in the canyon there's hard stuff and difficult to see from the road.

The upper miles of the Rio San Juan we still have to explore..

Here are a few pictures from the road, one is a the top of the Andes call Ventanas, lots of white water!

The others are Puerto Valdivia a shore town in the Cauca River, there are big canoes that are the river taxis or cargo to so many towns on shore, the other is the San Jorge River but there is no gradient there, is the plain area once you go down the Andes to the caribbean, down here is been raining non-stop.

Last time I went to the river (last Saturday) it was high and very dirty, muddy, by the half of the run my other two friends got stuck in the same hole at the same time and both swam.

I had to rescue the paddles and the boats by myself and it took me some time, the water was fast, so we got separated and they didn't feel like getting back in the water, so I paddled solo to the take out, almost half of the run and it was a great experience. I had a lot of fun, it gave me lot of confidence, yesterday I was talking to Joja my paddling friend how great that was. Man if it's been raining, got to tell you, the river is been high for months, weather is always warm, so is the water, but with all this rain is high and dirty, here are pictures from last Sunday.

Now I miss the clean water days, the river in this level is going so fast that you don't have much time for fun, but I got to tell you I have been paddling much better, this level make you concentrate more and "don't miss that move"..

Joja on the river at high water


Hola Jason, I just read the Sandy Gorge report, man what incredible beauty.

Down here still raining hard, what a long season, already 35 people killed by the rains this week in the country, lots of areas flooded, crazy. We went paddling last Saturday once again, just Joja and me, lots of fun, here's a shot..

Paddling the Rio San Juan at flood; that's me in there..


Hola Jason, como estas, I just got back from the Motorcycle trip I told you to the caribbean, man it was great, Just Naty my wife and me, not even a minor problem, so great, lot of army on the road.

Here around three hours on the way, the highest point on the road, is call "El Alto de Ventanas" (windows). Well, never that high for snow, down here near the Ecuador line has to be really high altitude for snow, but it is almost cover every day in very heavy in fog. I found a few incredible rivers in this area, have to check the map for the names, there's some point on the road that you have this side view and sometimes you have the other side to the left were I found another great creek.

This is the Same river but all the way at the end of that canyon, around half mile to the confluence to the Cauca river in since the night before rain hard the river is high and brown, but I have seen it and it's normal color is totally clear. This is a typical tropical forest.

This is the town called "Puerto Valdivia", here's where those two rivers on the pictures ended in this huge river called Cauca River. On the on the other side of the mountain is another creek, incredible gradient, both with lots of water.

The town of Puerto Valdivia

An unknown steep creek near the town of Puerto Valdivia

And finally the reward, hahahaha, whiskey in hand, hahaha, take care amigo, I found a new report in your web site to read, seems like you also had a great time in California, chao y mucha suerte.

Hola Jason, como estas, well down here we went paddling last Saturday, finally the hard rain stopped and we found the river in an incredible level, we had a great time and we took a few great shots, also we where six kayakers on the river, something very unusual to see.

Hey remember the pictures from the motorcycle trip I sent you last week, well very close from "ventanas" around twenty minutes from there, two days ago the guerrilla stopped a few trucks, burn in just a few minutes and left, they also almost killed the drivers for no reason, just to make terrorism, man one of those trucks it was from our company, check the pictures, so sad, nothing left. It is the third truck they burn us in the last three years.

We made it to the Rio San Juan last weekend and this morning, the weather is great, very hot and sunny, and also, it rained very hard the night before last saturday up in the river, we found more water than we like, but even it was great to feel all that water and power going down very fast, it was dark brown water and at least five feet above the optimal level.

Big water on the Rio San Juan

The shuttle..

Hola Jason, how are amigo, man I just got back from my trip to Florida & South Carolina, I got just great time over there, we run the Chattooga river, man that is some beautiful place.

Man I made that paddling trip thanks to you having me in your web site, if you remember one of this guys read the story and wrote me and now that I was going for vacations over there in Florida he invited me to South Carolina, very friendly people!

Mauricio on the Chattooga river in South Carolina

Mauricio (second from right) and his new American Friends on the Chattooga..

If you want more info on boating in Colombia, feel free to contact Mauricio at: kayak@epm.net.co