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Trekking and Rafting in Piedra Blanca
Trekking Routes

Piedra Blanca is an fine base for trekking and hiking in Ecuador. There are many options - trekking into the local rainforest, hiking along Ecuador's old trade routes or a scenic trek high up into the paramo towards Salinas. This is really off the beaten track trekking... You should not expect to see many other tourists in this remote part of Ecuador.

Trekking in the valley of Piedra Blanca: Local guides can take you on overnight or one day rainforest trekking tours in the valley. You'll see waterfalls, towering cliff faces, caves, you can experience the birdlife and if you are lucky, some larger wildlife as well.

Trekking to or from Salinas: Trekking high into the paramo from Piedra Blanca to Salinas (2 days) is really recommended for adventurous travellers. Hiking through the beautiful countryside along rural "roads", tracks and paths, you will pass through a number of small villages and hamlets. It's an interesting and exciting mountainous trek, especially on a clear day. The town of Salinas is an interesting tourist destination. Trekking from Salinas to Piedra Blanca is an alternative and it takes less time (one day) as it's downhill. Ask in Salinas for a guide.

Historical trekking in rural Ecuador: You can also go "historical trekking" by the "Alcohol Contraband Route", near to Piedra Blanca. This is one of Ecuador's ancient trade routes that was first used to help colonisation from the Sierra to the coastal area. Later it was used to smuggle aguardiente (firewater alcohol) from the coast up to the highlands. This trekking route is particularly rich in history of Ecuador. You can visit guitar manufacturers, pyrotechnic & firearm workshops and the shrine to the Virgin of Guayco.

Rafting on the Rio Zapotal

Regarding rafting in Ecuador, the Piedra Blanca Community Ecotourism project offers something really unique. It's not whitewater rafting but there are parts of the river that are whitewater. Rafting takes a different form in this part of Ecuador - this is adventure rafting in replica design ancient Ecuadorean rafts.

You can spend a couple of days drifting through the warm tropical scenery of the lower parts of the provinces of Cotopaxi and Los Rios on a traditional wooden raft. Escape the crowds and enjoy the clear air of the countryside. You can practice your Spanish with the friendly rafting crew, try the local beverage and spend a night under the stars.

The Manteño Huancavilca tribes of Ecuador (pre-Inca) developed this type of raft for trade and travel. Some scientists suggest that these rafts were used to colonise Easter Island, thousands of miles west in the Pacific. Thor Heyerdahl replicated the design of the original raft for his famous Kon-Tiki expedition to cross 13,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean. We don't go that far, but you may achieve 30 km a day on the Rio Zapotal when the current is running fast. The traditional raft design has not changed much in a thousand years and was used until about 40 years ago to transport bananas and cocoa to the coast and beyond.
About the Author
For more information please visit the website of Piedra Blanca Community Ecotourism Project.
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