Reminder- All explanations of rivers are subjective and everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a difficult move or the consequences involved. Ecuador is mostly a tropical climate with multiple volcanoes that also contain their own “sub-climates”. Be ready for fluctuating water levels and if the river is brown and it is raining, be smart and don’t get in over your head. Go to a larger watershed or wait for the rain to stop and water levels begin to drop.
The Middle (IV) and Lower Jondachi (III)- The put in for the Middle Jondachi is right off of the main highway that goes from Baeza to Tena. There is no hike-in and you can see the water level from the bridge. I go off of the “if the water is clear (ish), the level is good” idea with the Jondachi. If you can see the bottom of the river through clear (ish) water and not loads of dry rocks in the middle of the river, there should be enough water to have a successful run. Especially for a first run down this section.
The put-in for the Lower (or the takeout for Middle, if you don’t want to do the Lower) is pretty slick (with mud) and jungly. You will need to hire porters to get your kayaks in or out if you want to even slightly enjoy the hike. Don’t feel bad when the pregnant Ecuadorian woman grabs your kayak from you, hikes it all the way up the hill, then comes down for another. The money she is making will buy her beans and rice for the rest of her family at the end of the day. The hike takes about 30 minutes hiking in and about 45 hiking out.
The Middle and Lower section together consist of about 33 kms of classic Ecuadorian whitewater. Be ready for a pretty continuous day of super fun class 3-4 with a few must make moves that could have class 5 consequences. This is typical Ecuadorian creek boating. It is pool drop with short, but moving, pools between rapids. There are some amazing boofs and very fun “boogie” rapids. But, a swim on the Middle Jondachi would not be very ideal and you may come out pretty bruised. I would advise having a bomb proof roll on the Middle section, but for the Lower, maybe a combat roll 60% of the time would suffice.
The put-in rapid of the Middle is pretty important, make sure you go right and get the boof on the far right side of the river. There is a sieve on the left that is easily avoidable when entering the rapid on the right side.
Most of the Middle and Lower are read and run. Find an eddy close enough to the entrance where you still have an exit incase the rapid is “closed” for any reason. Be on the lookout for wood and landslides as they are both likely, especially if there has been a big rain. When in doubt, always scout. There is a double drop rapid mid way down the Middle that has a sieve on the left side and an undercut at the bottom right, I would advise a scout on the left side with a pretty easy portage on the left also.
The last 12 kms of the Lower are after the confluence with the Hollin and depending on what that watershed is doing, the river could turn into a big water class 4 or hang out at a manageable low water class 3. If the Hollin is brown, the river will have loads of very big waves and holes that are easily seen from a ways away. There is one possible scout on the Lower that consists of a few ledge holes in the entrance and then a hole that goes about half way across the river, from river left. There is a pretty big pool below the rapid if you have an out of boat experience.
All in all, the Jondachi, in general, is not to be missed on your trip to Ecuador. If you are unsure about the Middle, you can start on the Lower to get a feel for it. River People Ecuador also can bring a raft on the Lower section if there are rapids you are unsure about as a class 3 boater. Be prepared to wander into the land of perfect boofs, butterflies flying around your head, and so many shades of green your eyes might explode. This is a magical canyon and spiritual for many of the people who live nearby.