Class: IV; Ave. Gradient: 10 m/km; Portages: none; Length: 26 km; Time: 4:00
Season: August to December; Rafts? no; Highlights: nice moderate IV run; Crux move: short solid class IV section
Water Quality: decent; Water Temperature: medium
PI: Vicente Guerrero-El Naranjo bridge (elev: 350 m); TO: Ostuacán
Description: (click here for general notes about my descriptions)
The Magdalena is a lovely trip through a little-visited part of Chiapas. It serves up a full portion of intermediate-plus rapids while limiting the solid class IV.
The first 1.5 to 2 hours is class IV- with a lot of boogie-water and many rapids that end at cliff-turns. The sizable Susnubac creek comes in river-right during the 1st hour. Then comes the hardest stretch, 20 to 30 minutes of steeper class IV rapids where the riverbed narrows somewhat. Passing that, you find a playful class III stretch (30+ minutes), then a longer class II stretch.
The fun ends at the Ostuacán car bridge.
Flash Flood Danger: normal, get an early start.
Descent History: The only known descent was by myself in September 2006.
Flow Notes: There is a convenient on-line gage at Sayula, not far downstream of Ostuacan, linked to below. In 2006, 3400 cfs on the gage was really 1000 cfs at Ostuacan (and gave 450 cfs at the PI). September to November are the most reliable months.
click here for the height graph
Shuttle Notes: The shuttle is a either a rough one or a long one, and you don't always have a choice. The TO at Ostuacán is easy to reach, about 20 km from the Las Peñitas dam on a paved road. The bridge over the river is at the far end of town.
The rough way to the PI is on river-left, crossing over the TO bridge and meandering through the hills a good 30 km to reach El Naranjo and the PI bridge shortly thereafter. On my visit this road was impassable and apparently is usually in poor shape in the rainy season. The long route circles around via Juarez, Pichucalco, Ixtacomitán, and Chapultenango, where the paved road ends. Take the south exit out of Chapultenango, take a right turn after 1.5 km, then continue 15 km more, passing Vicente Guerrero near the end.
Accommodations: There is at least one hotel in Ixtacomitán.
Nearby Tourist Attractions: Chichonal volcano with warm crater lake.