ACTIVITY LEVEL
Medium
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SierraRios

DETAILS

Ri­o Usumacinta, the "Sacred Monkey River," is a beautiful, huge jungle river flowing through the heart of the classical Mayan world in the deeply impressive "Gran Canon" in Mexico. Experience the river yourself on a rafting and kayaking expedition as we tour Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras, camp on giant pristine beaches, listen to howler monkeys, and navigate the big-water rapids of the Gran Canon de San Jose. This is a family-friendly trip that is also ideal for first time rafters - no previous experience is required.

Relax in the hot winter sunshine on giant beaches, swim in warm clean water, traipse through the tropical jungle to spot toucans and jaguar tracks, shriek from the dinosaur-like gaspy roars of howler monkeys, visit two major Mayan archaeological sites, and paddle through some exciting whitewater in the canyon. Everyone is welcome: kayakers, IKers, oarsmen, and raft passengers. We plan to have several rafts to support our group, so even beginners can take a shot at paddling a kayak. We'll have at least two local Chol-speaking guides along with us for positive interactions and safety. The pace is relaxed, with one layover day planned. We have a full set of rafts, catarafts, kayaks and inflatable kayaks available and guides to cater to all group or individual needs.

Message Operator
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Medium
OPERATOR

SierraRios

Itinerary

List View

This is the departure/launch day. Most groups will rendezvous during breakfast at Hotel Lacandonia at 7 am where we’ll load into the van for the 3-hr drive to Frontera Corozal (our put-in on the Mexican side of the Usumacinta). At the put-in, we'll finish rigging the rafts, adjust kayaks, have a safety talk, and paddle to Yaxchilan where we'll camp (we have a special arrangement with the park). Note that you can leave valuables either at the SierraRios depot in Palenque or in the vehicles, which should be safe with our shuttle drivers in Frontera until the day we take-out.
We will spend the morning touring the ruins of Yaxchilan. After lunch, we'll load back on the rafts and make it downstream about 20-30 km going through our first class II rapids.
In the morning we'll paddle through the first big rapid of the trip (Chicozapote; class II-III), pass Big Springs where we'll refill water, bathe and swim, and make it down to the giant El Playon beach for lunch and possibly a hike/swim. We’ll continue downstream in the afternoon with a stop at the Cenote Tumbado just before arriving to Piedras Negras camp.
We'll check in with the military and caretakers at Piedras Negras and spend the day hiking around the ruins, the dry cenote, and jungle, then playing in the water, practicing kayak rolls and other paddling techniques, or simply relaxing in camp.
We'll pass El Porvenir then enter a class II gorge with Cola del Diablo and several other rapids, and arrive at and explore the beautiful travertine waterfalls of Cascada Busiljá that drop directly into the Usumacinta. After lunch, we continue downstream, sometimes stopping to explore/kayak the final few drops on Rio Chocolja (if there are interested kayakers on the trip; to do so requires a paddle/hike upstream). We then enter the main Gran Canon de San Jose and paddle through several big rapids: La Linea (III+), Baluarte (II-III) and Whirlpool (III-). We'll set up camp at a more open section before the next gorge and big rapids.
We'll paddle through the final part of the Gran Canon San Jose with two of the biggest rapids the river has to offer: San Josecito (III) and San Jose (III+), and then the final rapid, White Wall (II). The remainder of the river has no rapids as it goes through the final gorge at Boca del Cerro, but we may still stop at a crystal clear side stream for a swim and/or explore a cave where the gigantic Boca del Cerro/Tenosique dam is to be built. We'll then arrive at the take-out around mid-day, de-rig, clean and dry items (~2 hr), and drive back to Palenque (1.5 hr).
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