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Río Paz, Upper, Guatemala (area: Southeast; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: V; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: in higher part; Length: up to 58 km; Time: up to 9 hours

Season: June to October; rafts? no; Highlights: remote class V; Crux move: remote class V

Water Quality: decent; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: CA-1 bridge (896 m), Río Paz (754 m), or Caparrosa access (503 m); TO: El Jobo border bridge

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

The Upper Río Paz presents a beautiful and serious challenge for advanced kayakers. In fact it is one of the more satisfying class V runs in the country, with its numerous and unique bedrock/bouldery rapids in a remote setting with dry tropical forest scenery. The full run is a lot to bite off in one day, especially when rain threatens during the day, but there are some intermediate accesses to shorter sections for those who prefer not to carry camping equipment.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: I descended once from Caparrosa, in September 2004, with 350 cfs at Caparrosa. I got on the upper part in September 2007, with 450 cfs at the PI.

Flow Notes: The Upper Río Paz is usually too low to run, though when the El Jobo gauge is working you have a much better chance to catch it. September and October have the highest average water levels. In 2007, 2.2 on the gauge gave 450 cfs at the higher PI and 1,900 cfs at Caparrosa. My impressions of the upper part are limited to a run with fairly high water, and my impressions of the lower part are limited to a run with low water.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: not much in this area.

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