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Río Las Cañas (Shinshín), Guatemala (area: Low Motagua; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV; Ave. Gradient: 16 m/km; Portages: none; Length: 19 km; Time: 3 hours

Season: June to October; rafts? no; Highlights: non-stop rapids; Crux move: finding the eddies

Water Quality: decent; Water Temperature: warm

PI: Río Las Cañas (435m); TO: Puente Shinshín (124m)

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

The Río Las Cañas is the longest rapid in Guatemala, being absolutely continuous from top to bottom. The rapid is mostly class III washboard, broken up by several gorge-induced class IV mini-canyons with bigger boulders (mostly granite). The sandy-gravelly river bed means the eddies are limited. There are a lot of shallow rocks in the stream but you won’t see them through the yellow-brown water.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: I ran this solo in October 2014, with 300 cfs at the PI.

Flow Notes: The higher the flow, the better, and the Las Cañas is often hurting for water. The Gualán and Morales gauges on the Río Motagua can give a hint to the level. With those gauges at 2.0 and 2.1, I had a borderline low flow but it was still worth doing. The Chamelecón gauge in Honduras, and the Zacapa rain gauge, can also give some hints as to recent rain patterns.

cfs graph cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Valle Dorado water park.

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