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Río Panimá-Matanzas, Upper, Main, & Ribacó, Guatemala (area: Cahabón-Polochic; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV+; Ave. Gradient: 11 m/km; Portages: a couple, in upper parts; Length: up to 50 km; Time: up to 9:00

Season: June to February; rafts? yes; Highlights: long IV run; Crux move: getting there

Water Quality: ok; Water Temperature: medium

PI: San Luis (610m) or Puente Finca San Rafael (440m) or Puente Pancoc (355m) or Cooperativa Sacsamani bridge (465m); TO: La Tinta (Río Polochic)

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

The Río Panimá-Matanzas offers some of the best class III/IV rapids in the country, in one of the prettiest and most remote valleys in the country. This remoteness, coupled with the poor roads, keeps the crowds away, but those that make their way in will be hugely rewarded. In the same area you have the Río Ribacó run to check out also.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: 1st descent was by the Area Verde guys in the 90's, and only a few times since then.

Flow Notes: There is an online gauge near the end of the run but it was out of commission at the time of writing. There is a functioning gauge downstream on the Polochic (graph below; note that the Polochic's contribution is a bit smaller than the Matanzas'). The Matanzas usually has enough water kayaks to get down it throughout the extended Caribbean rainy season, rafters may find it a bit bony during drier spells. My impressions are from an early February run with the Matanzas gauge down to 0.22. The graphs on the right are a compilation of historical data from the past few years, the weekly averages being the solid bars. I believe the more water the better for this run, though it could be quite a workout at higher flows (above 1.0). The Upper, and Ribacó, have more marginal flows, especially after October.

cfs graph

cfs graph

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: The scenery of the Polochic-Matanzas mountains is worth the trip in itself.

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