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Río Gracias a Dios & San Pedro branch, Guatemala (area: Río Dulce; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: III+; Ave. Gradient: 4 m/km; Portages: maybe; Length: up to 25.5 km; Time: up to 7 hours

Season: July to February; rafts? yes; Highlights: travertine slides; Crux move: staying alert on a few of them

Water Quality: poor; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: Seacal bridge (85 m) or Chinacadena (55 m); TO: below Arenal (19 m) or San Pedro bridge (10 m)

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

The Río Gracias a Dios, and its parallel channel the Río San Pedro, are medium-sized lazy rivers on the southern edge of the Petén with just enough travertine slides to keep most people happy. The birding is also good, with many kingfishers, cormorants, egrets, and herons. Besides the travertine, the other remarkable feature of the river is a huge island that separates the northern-left San Pedro channel from the main channel for over 30 km.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: I first explored these runs in 2009.

Flow Notes: There is a gauge at the highway, shown below. If I’m very curious about the flow I call Felipe at Oasis Chiyú at 4826-5247. The flow varies quite a lot during the rainy season but the river doesn’t need a lot of water to be fun. At very high water some slides can be a rough ride and some holes pretty sticky. According to historical records the San Pedro channel has a bit more water than the main channel, but I haven’t been able to see much of a difference.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Río Dulce canyon boat trip and Garifuna culture in Livingston.

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