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Río Las Cañas, Upper & , Guatemala (area: Mid Río Motagua; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV-, IV(IV+); Ave. Gradient: 15 m/km; Portages: possibly; Length: up to 26 km; Time: up to 7 hours

Season: June to October; rafts? no; Highlights: nice canyons and gorges; Crux move: Baranquilla canyon on Río Plátanos (Lower)

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: cool

PI: Palencia bridge (1004 m) or Agua Caliente bridge (830 m); TO: lower Río Plátanos (590 m or lower m)

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

The Río Las Cañas is the closest run to the capital and offers some great creeking action when the water is up. Yes, the water is polluted but not as bad as we first feared. The Upper section is easier with only a short section of class IV. The atmospheric Lower section, alongside the old Atlantic railway, has lots more technical stuff, plus the optional class IV+ Baranquilla canyon run-out.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: Nils Saubès and I first ran this in October 2014. We had 150 cfs at the Upper PI and 1,500 cfs at the Río Plátanos TO.

Flow Notes: The Río Las Cañas is not easy to catch. The Lower always has some water, but the first part is not well channeled so extra water is helpful. (If you catch a decent flow, there is a good chance the Río Plátanos run-out will be pretty big.) The Gualán gauge is your best hint to levels; in 2014, 2.0 on the gauge gave a low but doable 300 cfs at the CA-9 bridge. The rain gauge in Guatemala City is also helpful to confirm recent precipitation.

cfs graph cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: IRTRA's Agua Caliente warm springs resort at the Río Las Cañas bridge.

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