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Río Lanquín, Upper & Middle, Guatemala (area: Cahabón-Polochic; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: III+/IV; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: one; Length: up to 9 km; Time: up to 2:30

Season: June to Februrary; rafts? Upper; Highlights: beautiful green water; Crux move: recognizing the portage

Water Quality: good; Water Temperature: medium

PI: Lanquín (elev: 290m); TO: Chichún bridge

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

The wonderful Ríos Lanquín and Cahabón make this area ground zero for Guatemala river running. The beautiful water and long season, as well as the local tourist facilities and attractions, make it a must-see on any river-running itinerary. The Lanquín has a creeky feel to it, though it is usually big enough for small rafts to run the upper section (III+). Below, the drops are too technical for rafts, and one especially is too technical for just about everybody.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: The first descent was in November 1986 by Guatemala Kayak and Spelunking Club members Roberto Arimany, Gabriel Dengo, Guayo Portocarrero, Alejandro Alguilar, Edgar Nanny, Santiago Selle, Jens Possardt, along with Max Wilson and Tammy Ridenour.

Flow Notes: There is no useful online gauge. The Río Lanquín has been run, and is fun, at a wide range of levels. It gets quite pushy at high flows. I find the holes stickiest at around 700cfs.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: The Lanquín area is one of Guatemala's most popular tourist destinations, mostly because of the Semuc Champey pools but partly because of the Lanquín and Cahabón rivers. The Lanquín bat caves are also worth a visit.

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