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Río Guajoyo, El Salvador (area: west; click here for the El Salvador table of rivers)

guajoyo

Class: III+; Ave. Gradient: 6 m/km; Portages: none; Length: 6 km; Time: 1:30.

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: very warm.

Season: year-round!; rafts? yes; Highlights: dam release; Crux move: III+ horizon lines.

PI: Apuzunga water park (elev: 380m); TO: Masahuat village or Zapotillo village.

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

The Guajoyo run is short but sweet, with its biggest selling point being that it has reliable dam-release flows, a true luxury in Central America. The water comes out bathtub-warm from Lago de Guija on the Guatemalan border (which probably increases its bacteria content). The run from the Apuzunga "balneario" (water park) down is sold as a commerical rafting trip at Apuzunga, with advance notice.

The main run is 7 km from Apuzunga down to Masahuat at the confluence of the Río Lempa, El Salvador's largest river. The rapids are all in the 1st half of the run, which is through a fairly narrow and fast-moving and pretty basalt gorge, with a number of significant horizon lines to deal with. The 2nd half is an easy float. At high water kayakers can zip through the whole thing in 40 minutes.

Shortly after the confluence you come to the "El Carmen" hammock bridge near Masahuat village. Past Masahuat you can add another 3km of bigger-water class II on the Río Lempa down to the river-left TO at El Zapotillo village, or continue even further (see the middle Lempa page).

During the rainy season, kayakers looking for more exercise may be able to PI 6km above Apuzunga on the main road coming from Santa Ana. There's not really any rapids to speak of in that section though. (I'd recommend extending the bottom on the Lempa rather than the top on the Guajoyo). The dam-release water comes in 1.5 km above Apuzunga.

The Apuzunga balneario has a website: http://www.apuzunga.com. The owner is Raul Sanabria, a helpful guy. The balneario has a scenic riverside restaurant.

Flash Flood Danger: Low. You are through the shallow canyon early on. (Unless you put-on higher up, and late.)

Descent History: unknown; many commercial descents. I've run it three times myself.

Flow Notes: water is dam-release from Apuzunga down, from the CEL Guajoyo hydroelectric plant right on the Metapan road. I do not know the release schedule or typical flows; for more information call Apuzunga, or you can try the CEL engineer, Rodolfo Caseres, at 2211-6312. There is an online gauge at El Zapotillo, downstream on the Río Lempa and shown below, which can be helpful to determine if the daily releases have been regular and at what time. The minimum flow I have seen is 900cfs, which was in the dry season. Unless the dam is spilling—hard to know—the maximum release is 1500 cfs. I would say be extra careful with (unlikely) flows above 2500cfs.

cfs graph

cfs graph

click here for the SNET boletín,

or go to the maps

Shuttle Notes: To get to Apuzunga, go north from Santa Ana on the Metapan road, turn right 1.5 km past the CEL plant and follow the signs, turning at the village of Conchagua. To get to Masahuat, go straight through Conchagua (east) 6 km more, crossing the Río Lempa on the way. In Masahuat, go straight through 0.5 km more to get to the El Carmen hammock bridge, or turn left to go to Zapotillo, 3.5 km on. Raul at Apuzunga can probably arrange a shuttle and/or driver. The Masahuat road is little-travelled.

The upper kayak PI is at the highway bridge, 3.6 km before the CEL plant.

Accommodations: There are hotels in Metapan.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: El Trifinio park near Metapan, Lago Coatepeque near Santa Ana.

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