In the early 1980’s I was involved with a lot of river exploration in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala and is only a day’s drive from Belize. Chiapas is a very mountainous region covering the central highlands that run the length of the country, and the eastern side of these mountains receive an enormous amount of rainfall. This results in a multitude of whitewater rivers which course through the rainforest wilderness before spilling onto the coastal plains. Many of these rivers contain unique travertine formations and are a bright blue color due to the limestone bedrock they flow though. Starting with some TV shows documenting several fist descents of these amazing rivers, I continued running rivers in this area for many years, and started up a commercial operation on several of the larger rivers during the winter months. These rivers flow through virgin rainforest and contain the most unique whitewater found on the continent, typified by the world famous cascades of Agua Azul National Park, located a few hours north of Palenque. It was through being in Chiapas for many winters that I first found Belize and then started our sea kayak trips there as a supplement to our Mexican river operation.
Just last month a guide book on the rivers of Chiapas and Belize, ‘Mayan Whitewater’ was published by Greg Schwendinger and Rocky Contos, and I have been featured as a guest contributor in many of the pieces since in many cases I was the first to run many of these rivers. Although most people will never see the wonders of the rivers of Chiapas firsthand, this book details all of the rivers of the region that have been run by kayak and raft, and is an incredible resource for those interested in exploring this incredible corner of Mexico.