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Río Maria Linda, Lower, Guatemala (area: Pacific Escuintla; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV-; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: none; Length: 9-12 km; Time: 1:30

Season: June to December; rafts? no; Highlights: extended-season dam releases; Crux move: calling ahead for flow

Water Quality: average; Water Temperature: medium

PI: powerhouse #1/#2 (157/110m); TO: CA-2 bridge

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

The Lower Río María Linda was for a long time my go-to training run. With dam-release flows (Aguacapa dam), it is the closest reliable water to Antigua. In recent years, however, a new dam (El Cobano) is under construction, which has already flooded the 1st km and will soon dry the next 2 km of the original run, half of the best part. So now there is less class III/IV- than before, but I will probably return to here from time to time to enjoy what’s left, especially in November-December when most other rivers are slowed to a trickle.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: 1st descent by Greg Schwendinger 8/19/03. It has been run up to moderate water levels.

Flow Notes: Except for the rare case that the reservoirs are spilling, all the flow is dam release. The upper powerhouse has three turbines which allow approximately 180, 360, or 520 cfs through. During a typical rainy season 2 or 3 turbines are always on during the day, and 2 continue to be used through November and sometimes December and January. I usually call ahead to be sure, to the Aguacapa hydro engineers’ phone number 4216-1732 (the operators’ names currently are Urí, Alexis, Luis Carlos, and Douglas).

The soon-to-be-operational lower powerhouse releases will logically be coordinated with the upper powerhouse, but since the lower dam is owned and operated privately, there is no guarantee. I don’t have those contact numbers.

Accommodations: The nearest town with a range of hotels is Escuintla, or Antigua is only an hour away.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: You are in-between Antigua, one of Guatemala's major tourist centers, and Monterrico, Guatemala's most popular beach hang-out.

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