Kayaking in Colombia, River Log IV

- The first American kayaker in Colombia
- Cynthia is here again from America to paddle
- Cynthia makes first descent of 'El Feo'
- Mauro the new boat designer

Copyright © 2005, Oregon Kayaking and Mauricio Arredondo. No part of this page may be reproduced, linked, or copied without the express written permission of the Oregon Kayaking Webmaster and Mauricio Arredondo.

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..

Let me tell you about the first American paddler in Colombia, Cynthia

Hey Jason, I wanted to tell you about some history here, the first American I know of who paddled in Colombia. We made some first descents together, she taught us to boof, and showed us how to run the big holes here.

I met her online a few years ago, she paddled really well and speaking very good Espaņol, she told me she has been to Bogota a few times for some studies, so we share Emails and I invited her to come to Medellin to paddle, her name is Cynthia.

A few months later I was picking her at the Airport and we headed to the San Juan river.

Once in the river I showed her our put in on the San Juan, she immediately said: "We need to put in higher.."

So, we went upstream and we did a few miles to the Bolivar river right in to the confluence to the San Juan, Cynthia lead the way and we made our first descent of the class IV section in the San Juan.

I remember we scouted this rapid with a big hole, and Joja and I stood with some ropes to secure Cynthia, she went right in to the hole and got stopped, we got kind of worried, she began cartwheeling and after a few she got released and with a huge smile just said: "Maaan this hang over is killing me ha ha ha!, this river is wild.." and that's why we named the rapid (Cynthias Hole) after her..

Here's Cynthia, running the rapid we later named after her, she was the first person to ever run this rapid..

Here's Joja running a drop, on the section we first ran with Cynthia, in the upper canyon:

Well and Cynthia also came back six months later to explore the middle canyon in the San Juan, here heading for a new put in a few miles up since our higher put in.

The weather down here is hot all year round, right in the tropic, we use thin Lycra shirts but only for sun protection, during the run we have to take swims in the river to cool off as you see..

During the run it is very hot, so we take swims to cool off.. Here's Cynthia in the middle canyon run, cooling off.

Here's Cynthia, teaching us how to boof, here in the middle canyon..

Here I am..

Camilo running a narrow drop, while Cynthia watches from downstream..

Cynthia is back from America to paddle
Hey Jason,

Down here the summer is great not too many friends to go paddling but I have been a couple of times, last weekend Cynthia came to visit and stood in our house a few days, it's her third time visiting, this time she also left a boat an gear in my house so she can come more often without carrying all that shit, she travels a lot to Costa Rica an Ecuador guiding kayaking and surfing trips and she loved Colombia.

We had great time, we explore a bit more of that canyon, made some first descents, here are some pictures.

Glad to hear you are paddling, I guess your season is about to start, I hope lots of reports will be up in the future.

Take care amigo, hey thanks a lot for sharing the report, really cool hermano

Pura Vida Jason

Scouting a rapid with Cynthia..

Cynthia again.. nice boof!

There was this rapid nobody has ever run on the San Juan, we call 'El Feo' or 'The Ugly'. This time when Cynthia was here, she looked at this rapid and said she was going to run it.

El Feo has three sections, a corner, then a big hole, then it narrows between two huge boulders, then a final big hole at the bottom..

Checking the bottom hole of 'El Feo' or 'The Ugly' for hidden rocks before Cynthia's first descent of this rapid..

Cynthia makes the first descent of the rapid we call El Feo, ('The Ugly')..

The vision
Well got to tell you, Joja and Me have made most of the first descents just the two of us alone for many years before Cynthia came, but with the visit of El Mae Segura and Cynthia they opened the hardest parts of the river and gave us the vision to keep opening new lines.

Cynthia is a very special girl for sure, always happy and smiling, excellent boater, she help us with technical details, boats, gear, always ready to go out for some salsa dancing and wild water shots as well, we all definitely loved her!

Here Cynthia, running a waterfall near Medellin when Ben Stookesberry visited here in Dec 2003. She and Ben paddled this together when he was here..

Cynthia runs a big waterfall in 2003, when Ben Stookeberry came to visit..

Mauro the new boat designer
Hey Jason,

I'm here very lonely for the last 2 months, paddling solo for the lack of company, and as it's been raining like crazy and boating solo, I just run the lower section.

But I have a cool news, I just got together with a plastic industry owner, that makes water tanks and many many plastic things. They bought a sit on top kayak rotomold and have sold more than 800 boats for the last 2 years all over the country for lake, hotels by the sea, all recreational very well made, very close to the ocean kayak sit on top design, and you ain't gonna believe it, I'm designing a river boat !!!!
ha ha ha ha ha..

Dude, maybe that's my way out of trouble finding boaters here, if you consider the main problem is the lack of boats for the price and all the problems and extra cost of importing the boats.

My plan is to make a river runner boat, what I did is from all the boats I had, I took ideas that I like from each one and got all together in 1 boat, the idea is to make a boat 2 meters long, 15 kilos weight, comfortable room for knees and foot, flat bottom.

Ha ha ha, I cant believe it hermano, so funny, I'm not even making money with this, I may get a few boats for me, I don't care, what I want is that people can get a boat easily, if you consider the final price is gonna be around US $350 to $400 tops, man, that's almost what we have to pay only for the shipping when we buy a boat in the states!!! Now people down here is gonna be able to buy a boat. Lets see what happen, ha ha ha Life is weird..

Ok hermano, glad you got back safe and full of pictures and stories to tell, looking forward to hear from you again soon.

Pura Vida

Mauro the new boat designer ha ha ha ha ha..

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