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Río Valparaiso, Upper, Middle & Lower, Guatemala (area: Northwest; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV, IV, V; Ave. Gradient: 22 m/km; Portages: yes; Length: up to 15 km; Time: up to 7 hours

Season: August to October; rafts? no; Highlights: challenging creeking; Crux move: careful scouting

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: Caserio El Palmar (967 m) or Panamerican Highway (845 m) or El Zapote bridge (765 m); TO: Puente Selegua (635 m) or above

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

The Río valparaiso offers some excellent advanced and expert creeking near the Mexican border. It suffers from a high population density along the river (mostly hidden though), so you have to be tolerant of trash. Also it is not easy to catch a good flow. I have only run most of it once, and the hardest part not at all, so don’t expect a definitive description here.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: Gary Lee Chrisman and I first ran the Middle in October 2004. I tacked on the Upper and Lower parts in August 2010.

Flow Notes: There is an online gauge downstream in Mexico on the Río San Gregorio. The Valparaiso supplies only a small fraction of that flow however. In 2010, 13,000 on the gauge gave a higher than normal 350 cfs at the Panamerican bridge and 800 cfs at the El Zapote bridge. Less than half of that and you’d be hurting for water.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: not much in this area.

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