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Río Verdugo, Honduras (area: south; click here for the Honduras table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV; Ave. Gradient: 17 m/km; Portages: 1+; Length: 10km; Time: 3:30

Season: June to October; rafts? no; Highlights: box canyons; Crux move: hike-in

Water Quality: ok; Water Temperature: warm

PI: San Carlos (elev: 300m); TO: Reitoca bridge

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

The Río Verdugo drops through some remarkable multi-colored box canyons in the middle of remote mountains. "Verdugo" means green, and there's plenty of that around in the bushes and the water, though what grabs your attention are the hues of red, brown, and gray in the side-cut bedrock. (Actually the water is more gray-green at preferred flows.)

You'll have to work to earn the Verdugo prize, because an hour hike-in is required, from the village of San Carlos to river. It's mostly downhill though.

Once there, you'll start out spending 30-45 minutes negotiating some tight rapids, some of it in short box canyons. Watch out for some sticky holes. After that comes an hour of class II/III. Then comes a long and beautiful section of bedrock gorges, some of them boxy, which is sprinkled with rapids up to class IV, and which ends with a tall powerful 6m drop which is a good level of difficulty harder than that. After this drop the river eases to class III. You'll encounter the Río Reitoca confluence a little over 1km before the TO bridge.

Flash Flood Danger: high, start early.

Descent History: only known descent on 16.6.05 by Greg Schwendinger (solo), with about 350 cfs at the PI.

Flow Notes: The Verdugo had an online gauge but hasn't worked for years. The only partially-working gauge in the area is on the Río Texíguat. So the only way to get a real idea of the flow is to go to the TO bridge, which is a slow 10km off the highway; note that the river there includes the water of the larger Río Reitoca.

Shuttle Notes: The PI is found off the Tegucigalpa-Sabana Grande road; halfway between is a signed turn to Ojojona. Take it (west) and once there the pavement ends and you will need to ask for the way to Malpaso and San Carlos a good 20km further. In 2005 the road was absolutely terrible (4WD/high-clearance required) but they were working to improve it. At San Carlos you may be able to find people willing to guide you and help carry down your kayaks, but if not you can't go too wrong following any trail due west. The river will show itself to you in 3 to 4 km. The TO is 10km of decent dirt road, again off the Sabana Grande road, about 17km south of Sabana Grande.

Accommodations: There are hotels in Sabana Grande.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: You are in a very untouristy and hot part of Honduras. Enjoy the water.


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