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Río Negro, Lower, Guatemala (area: Río Negro; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: V; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: yes; Length: 32 km; Time: 5-6 hours

Season: June to December; rafts? a challenge; Highlights: being in the heart of Guatemala's mountains; Crux move: some class V

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: Sacapulas (1180 m); TO: Puente Chocox (940 m)

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

The Lower Río Negro reprises the striking gorges and rapids of the Upper section. The valley is remote and long, and has a couple of challenging parts. As the most downstream section in this region, it is the only place to find boatable water when the creeks get low. Unfortunately, it is also the place to see the most trash in the bushes.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: This was first run by kayakers Ben Harding and Filip Sokol in 1977, before the Chixoy dam was built, on their epic exploratory all the way to Mexico. (Read Filip’s story on page 264.) In 1995 an Area verde Expedition raft-kayak group made the second descent, see the names on page 258.

Flow Notes: The Río Negro almost always has enough water to run during the rainy season, and often into December. (Historical streamflow at Sacapulas is shown on page 199.) The Río Negro (phone) gauge is helpful, and late in the year the INDE report is also. My impressions are from a trip in November 2006, with 450 cfs at the PI.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Sacapulas is close to the scenic Ixil region.

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