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Río Esclavos, lower, Guatemala (area: Southeast; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV-; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: none; Length: 13 km; Time: 1.5 to 3 hours

Season: June to November; rafts? yes; Highlights: nice jungle; Crux move: 1st rapid

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: medium

PI: Sinacantán bridge (245m) or CA-2 bridge (124m); TO: Parcelamiento Bebedero

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

The Lower Río Esclavos still has a little punch left and a nice jungly canyon to enjoy. It is a fun juicy ride when the water is high, and also makes a nice easier option when the water is low.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Flash Flood Danger: low, the canyon is not too narrow.

Descent History: 1st descent by Paul Heesaker, Max Young, Roberto Rodas, and Manolo Rodas, in a raft, in 1995.

Flow Notes: The Lower Río Esclavos has a kayakable flow all rainy season long, and for a few weeks after. In dry spells it can get shallow, especially for rafts. The gauge upstream will help guide you: in 2016, 1.2 on the gage gave 2,200 cfs, and in 2013, 1.15 on the gauge gave a 1,300 cfs flow.

Note that there is a hydroelectric dam between the upper and middle sections but it has only minimal impact on boating. The reservoir is shallow from silt build-up so the dam is always spilling in the rainy season or anytime the power is off for more than a day. The actual releases through the turbines are only 50 to 100 cfs, so are a negligible component in the rainy season and do little to help boaters in the dry season.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: beach at Monterrico.

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