To get to the river, were picked up at 7AM and traveled approximately 70 miles. A good part of the driving (3-4 hours) was spent descending into the western lowlands along a precarious winding road that travels through the Cloud Forest. The road is currently being widened but for the most part is still two lanes. It appears to be one of the major commercial trucking routes bringing goods in from the coast. Due to slow-moving trucks, passenger cars constantly attempt to pass via the oncoming traffic lane. I saw many close calls during our trip and I have to believe there must be many fatal accidents. In many locations, the drop-off from the side of the road appeared to be several hundred and in some cases over a thousand feet!
After passing through the town Santa Domingo, we took a short drive down a dirt road to a river (I can't remember the name). After inflating the rafts and a short crash course in river rafting, we started drifting down the river which contains mostly class 3 and some class 4 rapids. During the 3 hour journey down river, we enjoyed the scenery which consisted of lush tropical rain forest. On one harrowing occasion, our raft became stuck in a back wave for over a minute as we struggled to paddle free. At one point, I thought the whole raft would capsize. In fact the second raft ran into ours and two people were thrown out but were quickly retrieved. What fun!
We had a tasty lunch at our pick-up point but were unaware of the mosquitoes! They were enjoying a tastey lunch on us!
On the trip back to Quito, the vans clutch was having trouble. Our driver managed to somehow nurse the van along. After arriving in Quito, I told the driver that he is the only one to every drive over the Andes without a working clutch!
As we were quite exhausted, we ordered pizza (Papa John's!) and stayed in at the hotel. To our pleasant surprise, we were notified that our flight had been changed and that we would have a chance to sleep in until our pick-up at 10AM.