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Río Sachichaj, Guatemala (area: Cobán; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV; Ave. Gradient: 14 m/km; Portages: yes; Length: 22 km; Time: 8+ hours

Season: June to January; rafts? no; Highlights: exciting and committing creek; Crux move: careful scouting, and the exit

Water Quality: good; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: below dam (580m); TO: Finca Temal (280m) or lower Río Chixoy

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

The Río Sachichaj holds a special place in my heart. Besides being an especially scenic creek, it was my first first descent in Guatemala. Though if I had been in possession of a good topo map at the time, I may never have tried it—at least not solo—since the maps show that the middle section descends at 50 m/km! The PI used to be at one of the prettiest swimming holes in Guatemala located at the base of the Sachichaj waterfall. Now, a new hydroelectric project has come in and diverted most of the falls’ water and raped and pillaged the beauty of the spot. This dam pains my heart more than most. I don’t know the structure of the hydro project, but hopefully, the diverted water will be returned to the river shortly below and not aff ect the downstream run too much.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: I explored this solo in January 2003. I got caught out overnight and unprepared (story on page 134). The only other person to see it is Andrew McEwan. On his short 2007 Guatemalan river tour it was his favorite run.

Flow Notes: The Río Sachichaj needs recent rain to go. I believe the odds are best August to December. The hydroelectric plant will probably be releasing during high water times but may hold water back during the day when the water is marginal.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: not much real close.

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