Ecuador Backpacking & Whitewater

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(24 days)

Warm tropical rivers are the ideal classroom for learning raft guiding skills. -Sean Winters

Natural wonders abound within the small country of Ecuador. Between the remarkable Galapagos Islands and wilderness of the Amazon rainforest, exists the high Andean plateau. Exciting rivers spill off of the highlands towards the coast and into the Amazon basin, making Ecuador one of the premier backpacking and rafting destinations in South America. This course explores the Taochi, Blanco, and Upano rivers, towns of Quito and Tena, and the heights of Sangay National Park.

Imagine rafting class IV whitewater amidst a narrow jungle gorge, trekking on the slopes of ancient volcanoes, or bargaining in Spanish at the local market. Picture yourself learning swiftwater rescue techniques in warm tropical waters, guiding a paddle raft of your peers, or camping on a beautiful alpine lake watching the equatorial sunrise.

This comprehensive backpacking and white water course is the perfect setting to achieve your goals whether you are looking to become a professional guide, hone your technical abilities for personal adventures, or expand your leadership skills. It focuses on teaching students to be safe, efficient, knowledgeable and confident outdoor leaders in a class III river environment.

The Instructors and Guides of IWLS are widely recognized as some of the very best in their field and have practical leadership experience from around the globe. They are well trained and have an uncommon enthusiasm for sharing their skill and knowledge, borne out of a passion for outdoor exploration.

The International Wilderness Leadership Schools’ educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in the mountains. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

THE IWLS GENERAL CURRICULUM outlines the essential components for effective outdoor leadership. Here are a few points that your course will focus on.

  • Decision Making and Problem Solving: Over the course of 24 days, we’ll discover ways to assess problems, explore solutions and evaluate options in order to make effective and safe decisions in the field.
  • Expedition Behavior and Group Dynamics: Because this course is a true wilderness expedition, interactions between group members need to be supportive and contribute to the efficacy of the group. The daily dynamics of the group, combined with instruction, will teach participants not only how to be a member of a team, but how to influence and lead an expedition.
  • Weather: Will the storm arrive in the next 12 hours or the next 48? Understanding weather patterns and trends will help you plan successful trips in a wilderness setting.
  • Environmental Ethics: As adventurers in some of the most pristine environments on the planet it is our duty to respect the natural world. All of our courses practice and teach Leave No Trace ® principles.

-Bob Daffe

IWLS WHITEWATER CURRICULUM is designed for aspiring professional raft guides. Below is just part of this comprehensive program.

  • River Rescue: What do you do when you find yourself swimming in a Class IV rock garden? How do you extract a pinned raft from strong current? You’ll learn and practice the techniques to carry out a safe and efficient rescue on the river.
  • Hydrology: Rivers are a powerful force of nature. An understanding of river hydrology helps us to identify and assess features on the river for safe navigation. You’ll learn the fundamentals of pourovers, eddies, holes, standing waves and more.
  • Maneuvering a Raft: Whether in a paddle raft or an oar rig, the ability to steer a raft and avoid obstacles is vital for having a safe and fun rafting experience. You’ll have the opportunity to practice both types of rafting and develop a strong skill set for maneuvering down a Class III/IV river.
  • Paddle Captaining and Commands: The captain of the paddle raft communicates to paddlers how to maneuver the raft. Learning how to paddle captain requires managing a group of paddlers to provide a safe, fun, and rewarding experience on the river.

IWLS BACKPACKING CURRICULUM prepares students for exploration into remote, backcountry settings. Here are some points we’ll cover on your course:

  • Tents: Staying dry in the wilderness is an essential survival skill. You’ll learn how to repair a damaged tent, how to set up camp in high winds, and techniques to secure your dry space for the night.
  • Stoves and Campfires: The ability to repair a broken stove, make an emergency fire after being submerged in an icy river, and melt snow efficiently for water are key components for leading a group in the wilderness.
  • River and Stream Crossings: In river crossings, attention to detail and safety are #1. You’ll learn and practice safe techniques for wading across a small stream or doing a Tyrolean traverse across a raging river.
  • Geology: From plate tectonics to granitic batholiths, you’ll learn the history of the land you are exploring and how these forces create and influence the environment around you.

-Eli Fierer

IWLS INTERNATIONAL CURRICULUM is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of planning and leading expeditions in foreign countries. Here are just a few topics that will be covered:

  • Cultural History: As visitors to this remarkable location, we place a premium on being respectful and learning about the local culture and history. The rich Incan history of The Andean region of Ecuador provides great insight into the culture of the region today.
  • Language Skills: The ability to ask directions, purchase items, and communicate on any level is an essential element of leading an expedition to a foreign country. Throughout the course, we’ll develop our Spanish language skills through dialog and lesson plans.
  • Trip Preparation: Logistics in a foreign country have the potential to be complex and tenuous. You’ll take part in shopping at the local market, arranging transportation, and securing permits in preparation for your expedition to the wilderness of Ecuador.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL No previous experience is necessary for this course. However, with a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for adventure, this course prepares you for a lifetime of wilderness exploration.

<p style=”text-align: justify;”><strong>CERTIFICATIONS</strong> Upon completion of the 12-day semester, participants may qualify for the following certifications:<span style=”color: #ffffff;”><em>_</em></span></p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”><em><img class=”size-thumbnail wp-image-2705 alignleft” title=”iwls_logo” src=”×150.png” alt=”” width=”72″ height=”72″ /><strong>12 Day Guide Training Certificate of Completion</strong></em>
<em> </em>International Wilderness Leadership School</p>

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:_

Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Level 1
Rescue III International


Swift Water Rescue Technician
International Wilderness Leadership School


24 Day Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School


DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information._