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Río Ciénaga, Upper & Middle, Guatemala (area: Río Dulce; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

(photo by Peter Zurflieh)

Class: IV, III; Ave. Gradient: 8 m/km; Portages: none; Length: up to 21.5 km; Time: up to 4 hours

Season: September to January; rafts? no; Highlights: pretty Middle canyons; Crux move: catching the water

Water Quality: good; Water Temperature: medium

PI: Ciénaga Sumache (208 m), or Sahilá (64 m); TO: La Ciénaga

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

The Río Ciénaga (or “swamp river”) is a small creek with a few pretty spots. Probably the highlight is the easy-access Middle stretch with some class III and a pretty gorge. A good flow is not easy to catch however. The Upper part has even less water and with all the driving and hiking is not really worth the hassle in my opinion.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: George Pratsinak, Peter Zurflieh, Tom Morrison, and I explored this one in January 2013.

Flow Notes: This small river does not come up too often, and there is no online gauge.If unsure of the Upper’s flow, I would scout it at the PI for the Middle (Río Sahilá confluence).

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Río Dulce canyon boat trip and Garifuna culture in Livingston.

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