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Rio Lacanjá – The River That Runs Through North America’s Largest Rainforest

The Rio Lacanjá is the first leg of an amazing 17 day river trip in South Central Mexico in the state of Chiapas. Our goal was to paddle 7 days on the Lacanjá which would join the Rio Lacantún for 2 days, then enter the Rio Usumacinta for another 8 days. The Usumacinta used to be popular in the 80s and early 90s until bandidos made rafters feel unwanted. Only a handful of people run the Usumacinta nowadays. We wanted to visit some Mayan ruins that hid in the dense jungle just beyond the Usu’s riverbank. But first we must run the Rio Lancanjá through the heart of the Lacandon Rainforest in the heart of Mayan culture past and present.

The Lacanjá is very small compared to its larger rivers downstream. Rarely anyone runs this river, and we had to employ local Mayans w/ to accompany us through their sacred lands. Our whole expedition was arranged by Rocky Contos ( Rocky was our guide every paddle stroke and step of the way! The Lacanjá is known for its travertine waterfalls, more than 60 of them in 70 miles. The falls ranged in height from 2 feet to close to 12 feet.

This was an epic adventure that I was proud to share w/ 4 other friends and SOAR owners, Larry Rice, Fran Rulon-Miller, Stan Pulley and Marty Brenner. This was a very tough, but amazing adventure.
Day 1 & 2, we ran over 25 falls. At the end of Day 2, we hiked from our bushwhacked river campsite to the spectacular Mayan ruin Bonampak.

Day 3, the river split into 2 channels and became very slow backed up by downfall and jungle encroachment. Our guides macheted more than 35 passages for us to squeeze under, around or over.

Day 4,5 & 6, we ran more cascadas and had to make a very arduous portage through an overgrown rainforest jungle around a 40 ft waterfall.

Day 7, the Rio Lacanjá slowed down and joined the Rio Lacantún. The skies opened up for the next week, and the rest of the river journey was epic in its own way.