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Tacos, Waterfalls and Tequila: Rafa’s beta for kayaking in Mexico

Part I, The big picture

Mexico is radical. Over the past couple of years I’ve been watching my backyard exponentially grow into one of the top destinations for creek boating.  Not just the amount of people that we see now on the river has exploded, but the relation between tacos, tequila and waterfalls is getting stronger. Bienvenidos a Mexico.


Certainly the question that I’m most often asked hurts my pride, but also bewilders myself: “Is it safe?”

Of course it is safe. Hurts me the fact that some sensationalist news reports can damage the outsider’s image of my country. And I’m not going to say it is safer than staying home, but I do travel all over my country on a regular basis. And I don’t look much different than you, expect maybe for the moustache. But I am always smart about something that seems clear: don’t drive at night. The best piece of advice I heard was from an older lady near the border with Texas. She explained it clearly: “these guys start drinking when it starts getting dark. On the day nothing goes down. It’s when they get drunk that bad things have happened in the past”. And it’s not just anyone they are after. So please don’t stay at home, explore.

The big picture

So here’s the big picture for paddling in Mexico. There are three main boating areas and I can’t get into details about every place, but I do want to share my liquid gold beta of the places I do know.

North (San Luis Potosi, Chihuahua, Durango)- visit

East (Veracruz)

South (Chiapas)

Basically the best time to visit Mexico is during the Fall, from July to December, which is the rainy season. Except Chiapas, if you want to get the big drops of Agua Azul and Santo Domingo you need it low (Feb-April).

Getting there

East- Mexico City is central and not too far from Veracruz (4 hrs), and I do recommend fly in here as you’ll get cheaper tickets and deals. You can also fly into the airport of the city of Veracruz, but its still 3 hours from the Alseseca area. For the Alseseca you are going to Tlapacoyan.

South- If you want to hit Chiapas you can drive from Mexico City (12+hrs), but you rather look into tickets to Tuxtla Gutierrez. The boating meccas are based both in northern Chiapas and down south, so you will end up driving a lot anyway. If you are going to Agua Azul, home base is Palenque. If you are going to the Santo Domingo, home base is Comitan.

Rental cars are a popular option, as well as buses. You can visit this website and find the bus options. (Mexico Tapo station is close to the MEX airport).

Terms to know

Chacaleo (ˈja-kəl-eo)

1.- Refered to that time when you are getting ripped off by a taxi driver, or a cop wants your money. What to do? Negotiate, always negotiate.


I’m off to the Amazon for now, but more bits of beta soon. In the next parts I’ll share the details of specific areas and rivers, Veracruz coming up soon.

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