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Río Cahabón, Yutbal Canyon, Guatemala (area: Cahabón-Polochic; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV+/V+; Ave. Gradient: 14 m/km; Portages: there’s the rub; Length: 3.5 km; Time: 2:00

Season: year round; rafts? no; Highlights: deep canyon; Crux move: V+ Yutbal falls

Water Quality: decent; Water Temperature: warm

PI: Sejchilil (245m); TO: Los Encuentros (195m)

Description: (click here for general notes about my descriptions)

The Río Cahabón passes through many deep canyons—unrun and currently the scene of much hydroelectric construction activity—on the remote stretch from San Pedro Carchá down to the spectacular Semuc Champey cave. A final gorge remains before the Main run starts: the Yutbal Canyon above the confluence with the Río Lanquín. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, and there are a good number of fun class III/IV rapids on the way. There are two big drops in there, however, to give you serious pause.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: The first descent was by George Pratsinak and me in November 2004 at about 1,400 cfs. My second descent was with Maarten Bleijerveld and Simon Wulffraat from Holland in February 2008, with about 600 cfs.

Flow Notes: The Río Cahabón always has enough water in the canyon. So, again, the only question is if there is too much.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Semuc Champey.

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