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Río Motagua, Middle, & Río Pixcayá, Lower, Guatemala (area: High Motagua; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: III+; Ave. Gradient: 7 m/km; Portages: none required; Length: 14 km; Time: 2 hours

Season: June to November; rafts? yes; Highlights: family rafting?; Crux move: applying sunscreen

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: medium

PI: Vega de Godinez (720 m) or Pixcayá bridge (754 m); TO: Concua (620 m)

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

The Middle is where the Río Motagua’s gradient takes a little break, and the shore becomes wider rock beaches, scoured by floods. The main river feature in this part is the joining of the Río Pixcayá, a significant side stream and additional paddling route. The Middle section is perfectly paced for kayakers moving into class III.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: The Middle Río Motagua was first run by rafters Tammy Ridenour (Maya Expeditions founder), Tom Boice, Axel Álburez, and others, circa 1990.

Flow Notes: The Middle Río Motagua has been run at a wide range of levels, even flood stage levels of 8000+ cfs. The closest online gauge is way downstream at Gualán. Flows do not correlate very well. In 2012-2014, 1.5 on the gauge gave between 350 cfs and 1,200 cfs at Vega de Godinez; 3.0 gave ~6,000 cfs. The gauge at Morales is even further downstream.

cfs graph cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Mixco Viejo Mayan ruins near the PI.

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