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Río Torola, middle, El Salvador (area: east; click here for the El Salvador table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV; Ave. Gradient: 6 m/km; Portages: one 4ft dam; Length: 15-48km; Time: 2:00-7:00

Season: June to October; rafts? yes; Highlights: big water, pretty scenery; Crux move: squeeze between house boulders

Water Quality: average; Water Temperature: warm

PI: Llano Verde (elev: 475m); TO: Perquín road or Agua Caliente

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

The Río Torola is a pretty run in an area otherwise lacking in big water. The rapids are fast-moving and some are technical enough to require scouting, even for kayakers. For rafters it is a IV+ challenge. Two rapids at the beginning are worth mentioning specifically for rafters. 1km below Llano Verde the river is almost completely blocked by several red-colored house-sized boulders, just below some III waves. Here you will need to eddy out and climb up the boulders to see the best way through, for rafts it is a very tight squeeze. Then five minutes later comes probably the most technical rapid of the day, also worthy of a scout.

The rapids continue in an intermittently intermittent sequence, sometimes through beautiful shallow bedrock gorges. You will pass the Agua Blanca bridge (difficult car access) by the 2:00 mark, and get to the Cacaopera bridge (20km) by the 3:30 mark. 15 minutes before the bridge you will have to negotiate a 4-foot dam which is easily portaged. Continuing further to the Perquín road near Osicala (another 1:30) rewards you with a couple more nice IV rapids, then an easier III stretch where you can admire the scenery more fully. After the Osicala bridge are more great rapids, mostly III but with two IVs in the middle. If you float past the Agua Caliente hammock bridge you will hit the reservoir formed by the El Chapparal dam. The rock features and forest scenery are very nice the entire run.

Flash Flood Danger: normal.

Descent History: The 1st and only descent was by Greg Schwendinger in Oct '08 (solo), at about 1600 cfs.

Flow Notes: There is an online gauge at the TO (today's graph below), what could be simpler? At 1.35m, it was very raftable. If the gauge stays consistent, look for flows above 1.0/1.2 for kayaking/rafting. September and October have the most reliable flows. The TO bridge is the quickest place to scout the flow in person.

cfs graph

cfs graph

click here for the SNET boletín,

or go to the maps

Shuttle Notes: The PI road to Llano Verde is in poor shape, so a 4WD vehicle with high clearance is required. There is no public transportation. To get to Llano Verde: From Corinto (departamento de Morazán), take the dirt road north of of town, soon angling left, and follow it for 5km to a T. Take a left, and follow that road a further 5km down to Llano Verde and the river. Plan on about a 3 hour trip from San Miguel. The TO is the bridge on the Perquín road. The intermediate access at Cacaopera is 1km north of the town, which can be reached via the Perquín road, turning either near Osicala or near San Francisco Gotera. There is a dirt road linking Corinto with Cacaopera and Osicala which shortens the shuttle. Agua Caliente is reached by turning of the Longitudinal del Norte highway at San Simon and following the road through San Isidro.

Accommodations: San Francisco Gotera is the nearest town with a hotel, San Miguel will have more options.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: beaches in eastern El Salvador.

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