|Chris Baer Scouting the entrance rapid on the Estrecho section of the Rio Magdalena|
The original research for this trip put a lot of different possibilities in my head. On the positive side, unexplored canyons. On the negative side, was the always interesting U.S. media. They spoke of kidnappings, Guerrillas, and for me the scariest issue land mines?! As usual my determination for an all out adventure won. I booked a flight to Bogota Colombia.
|Collecting my gear in the Bogota Airport|
To my delight once again the boat got checked onto the flight. The adventure had officially begun. A quick flight from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, an eight hour lay over, and another smooth flight that was only delayed a few hours to Bogota Colombia.
Upon arriving in Bogota, I was deserving of a good nights sleep; but not until I got a quick walk about. My apprehension of a dangerous community quickly faded as I took few hour walk around the capital. It felt safe, at least as safe as any big city feels. Street food was on my mind, quickly I found myself immersed in the Colombian culture.
Classic, HURRY UP! and wait...
Bad beta meant taking a taxi cab to the bus station and waiting ten hours for the bus to arrive. Upon arrival the crowd made an awkward charge. Lots of big luggage was heading underneath the bus. The driver looked at me disgusted with the size of my baggage and waved me over. It took a couple minutes to shift cargo, but we got the kayak to awkwardly fit. Then the drivers hand went out, he was looking for a bribe. I offered a low number and he hit me back with a number that was substantially more then what I was thinking. After a few minutes of bargaining and talking to everyone that could possible be in charge, I slipped the driver more then what I thought fair. The bribe was still distinctly less then what the driver was originally asking for. He smiled at me; I think he truly enjoyed the bargaining process; all I wanted was my kayak to make it to it's next destination.
Twelve hour overnight bus ride
As the driver speed quicker and quicker into the curves, blasting his horn at every animate and inanimate object, the person sitting next to me stated to snore. It was about that time the child a row behind me let out a freakishly loud scream. I wasn't going to get much sleep. Arriving in San Agustin I was in full zombie mode. I paid too much for a cab, and too much for a hostel room. I needed to pass out for a couple hours and regain normal human functions.
|The local transport, Chiva|
|One of the classic stone carvings outside of San Agustin|
|Feeling small in the steep canyons of Colombia|
The second day in San Agustin I meet up with a french gentleman, Amid runs the local rafting company on the Rio Magdalena. A quick conversation with Amid, and he encourage me to join his commercial clients on the beautiful class 3 section of the Rio Magdalena. Por que no (why not) was all I could respond with. Rafts, kayak, two guides, eleven clients, and myself smashed into a pickup; we were on our way to my first Colombian river.
|Jared Page wheeling through a sticky hydrolic|
|Joel Fedak pulling hard|
|Joel Fedak deep in the Magdalena Canyon|
|The posy loading boats|
|Chris Baer trying to find that tight line|
|The Magdalena Valley, yep there's white water down there|
After paddling the Estrecho section, my eyes were wide open. Colombia has kayakable river drainages everywhere. The next section was targeted quickly, it's a small creek that is viewable on the drive to San Agustin. Rio Naranjos is a tributary to the Magdalena, and has a relatively steep, low volume characteristic that looks promising. Both Keeys and Giorgio had paddled the section before, but it had been quite awhile (5 years). Our beta once again was marginal at best. Keeys even told us not to use the information he had written for the Colombia Whitewater guide book.
The water level at the put in looked pretty low. The rumor was there was another tributary that was going to add substantial flow to the river. To me it looked like an acceptable personal first descent level; low enough water to deal with the unpredictability of the run at river level.
|Jared finding a fun boof in the upper Naranjos|
|Looking for an exit in the Rio Naranjos|
|Classic beauty in Colombia|
|Another adventure by Chris Baer|