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Río Paxhilhá, upper, Chiapas, Mexico (area: Palenque; click here for the Chiapas table of rivers)

river photo

Class: V- ; Ave. Gradient: 14 m/km; Portages: maybe 1; Length: 22-28 km; Time: 7-8 hours

Season: July to January; rafts? no; Highlights: deep narrow canyon; Crux Move: Slickrock drop (V-)

Water Quality: good; Water Temperature: cold

PI: Guadalupe Paxilhá (elev.: 560m); TO: highway bridge

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

The upper Agua Azul is an all-but-unknown creeking gem with one of the more spectacular canyons you will ever pass through. It is so narrow that it is positively cave-like; in fact, you do pass through a short tunnel at one point. The long canyon is tiring and committing, however, and offers the threat of nasty strainers requiring creative portaging.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater: Chiapas & Belize guidebook.

Flow Notes: There is a streamflow gauge downstream on the Río Tulijá, linked to below. Only a fraction of the flow here is from the Paxilhá, though. Most of the year this section has low water and you will need fairly recent rains to float it. I would think twice about putting on at rare high flows (> 1800 cfs at the TO). My impressions are with 900 cfs at the TO (300 cfs at the PI), and from a report from another group who saw 1500 cfs at the TO. Below I also show historical flows at the Tulijá gauge.

cfs graph

click here for the height graph

cfs graph

Accommodations: The closest accomodation are the cabañas at the Agua Azul Falls park to the north or the town of Bachajón to the south. Otherwise you've got the larger towns of Palenque farther north and Ocosingo farther south.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: This area has many natural and historical tourist attractions, including the Agua Azul Falls downstream, the nearby Misol-Há waterfall, and the Mayan ruins at Palenque being the biggest ones.

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