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Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare

Helliconia in the forest
Helliconia in the forest
We left the lodge the next morning at 7 AM sharp for a day of whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River with Exploradores Outdoors. The Pacuare is one of the favorite rivers for the sport. Its rapids reach Class V, stopping just short of the "certain death" level that some thrill-seekers demand. It was our first time (we've been back twice since), and it was the most fun my wife and I have ever had with our clothes on.

Our guide, who would only answer to "Henry," just made the trip...excellent command of the raft, great direction, and a wonderful sense of humor. We christened our raft crew "Los Viejos," "the Old Ones," since we and the two guys who joined us were the only people over thirty, and we ruled!

We got about 15 minutes of instruction from Henry on how to navigate when passing through the rapids. Imagine that you're in an inflatable raft and you're in a washing machine at high speed, and you get something of the picture. We practiced getting in and out of the water in case we got overturned or otherwise thrown free of the raft.

Then we were off. Every few minutes, we hit rapids, had a thrill ride through them, and a few hundred meters of relatively calm waters in between. We were the only group that never overturned or lost anyone overboard, for which I credit Henry's expert guidance and our seasoned experience (that would be the 15 minutes I referred to above).

[Photo 23: Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River]

Halfway down the river, we all landed, and the staff turned two boats over and spread out a beautiful lunch for us all, served on the boat bottoms.

[Photo 24: Lunch on the Pacuare]

One glorious sight will be in my memory forever: in a calm stretch between rapids, vegetation-covered canyon walls stretched up hundreds of feet on either side. A waterfall cascaded into the river on the right...and to the left, the breeze shook loose some leaves from a tree, all deep yellow. They were hit by the blazing noontime sun, glowing a brilliant gold, and for a moment it was raining gold!

Back at the Exploradores base, we all showered, enjoyed a local beer, and thanked Henry for a great trip before being driven back to Le Bergerac. Dinner at L'Isle de France was superb, and we were sad to leave the next morning.

[Photo 25: Final dinner at L'Isle de France]

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