High Water and Adventure on the Río Verde

High Water and Adventure on the Río Verde

Diverse Colombia is a land of bountiful rewards for those willing to brave it’s often difficult access and unpredictable nature. The delightful Río Verde (also called the Río Samaná Norte) is one such a place–majestic, remote, and named for its clear emerald waters, which, thanks to a heavy rainstorm, had become a raging, silty brown when Freak’n Creek’n was there this past March. We were going down the river with members of media incubator Espacio Medellín, who are filming a series of documentaries about the effects that cities and their consumption of natural resources have on the agricultural pueblos that support them. In order to bring the pueblo to the río, the rafting trip was open, for free, to the public, and so we were three rafts and three kayaks of film crew, local friends, and new faces. To add to this special moment, our guides were represented by by four women and two men, a first in Colombian whitewater history.

Our group convened in the early morning in the town of La Piñuela, off of the Medellín-Bogotá highway, where we organized cars and drove onward. With a few premonitory drops, the sky split open and poured upon us, thunder ripping overhead and and the clouds crackling with lightning while torrents gushed down the street and rooftops cascaded. The storm relented, though didn’t cease, as we had breakfast in San Francisco, and we continued down the increasingly bumpy road to Boquerón, the village at its end perched amidst mountain ridges. As the clouds began to clear the air was filled with birdsong, and it was time to load the boats and camera gear onto the mules and make our way down the one-hour track to the river, where the next stage of our journey would take place.

When we arrived at the river, it was high and brown–Dan Dunn, Freak’n Creek’n co-founder, said that the rock where we tied the boats off was usually a rock that people jumped off of. This would make for an even more exhilarating day on the river, with bigger waves and faster-moving water. Floating downstream, we saw waterfalls on all sides, colorful butterflies, and massive ceiba trees. At the confluence with the Río Calderas the water was coming in an even more chocolate color, which meant that the storm had been a big one.

We made it through El Guayabo, the biggest and longest rapid, with one raft flipping at the bottom. We stopped at a rocky beach for a delicious fiambre lunch and some camera time. The rest of the trip went smoothly..

It was all smiles and hugs at the Puente Samaná take-out as we packed up our gear and said goodbye. It had been a fun, safe, and exciting trip–all that a person could ask for. We look forward to seeing what will come of the future documentary, and are happy to report that the licenses to build a dam on the Río Samaná have been rescinded and the project suspended. It is our wish that we and the generations to come will continue to share and enjoy these marvelous natural wonders of Colombia.

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