Where: Mexico’s central gulf
Best Season: October is great for massive whitewater waves and migrating birds
Best Sights: Amazing scenery – from tropical jungles to alpine landscapes
Remember to Bring: Clothes for hot and chilly conditions
Watch out for: Mighty waves – the unitiated should always go with a guide
The state of Veracruz is located on the central gulf coast of Mexico. There are more than forty rivers that run from the inland mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, making it an ideal place to go river rafting. In fact, Veracruz has everything for the adventurous traveller; besides the rivers, there are severalvolcanic mountains, including the 4274-metre high volcano, Cofre de Perote, where many of the rivers in this trek begin, and Pico de Orizaba which is Mexico’s highest peak at 5611 metres. You can hike both these peaks, along trails that wind through tropical jungle and up to alpine scenery. The state of Veracruz is also important historically; this was the first place that Cortes landed in April 1519, so starting Spanish domination of Central and South America.
– Riding the whitewater of the crystal clear Rio Actopan.
– Exploring the ancient ruins of Cuajilote.
– Swimming in at the foot of 80 metre high, El Encanto Waterfall.
Our Journey Path
The challenge in this trek is to navigate two rivers. First, we start on the Rio Filobobos. Near the junction with the Asaseca River is the 80-foot high El Encanto waterfall. Continuing on downstream, we visit the archaeological ruins of El Cuajilote. From here, travel to the Rio Actopan, to tackle it’s Class 3 and 4 whitewater. For shear excitement the Rio Actopan is hard to beat. More a creek than a river, the crystal clear waters runs narrow and swift through a combination of mango plantations and semitropical forests. From the river source of Descabezadero where springs gush out of a fern covered natural limestone amphitheatre to the take out, 20 km downstream, the river offers almost non-stop Class II and III whitewater. The rapids are perfect for first timers as well as technical and challenging enough for experienced river runners to enjoy. This is a great trip if you just have one day in the area.
The biggest whitewater waves for rafting in Veracruz occur in October, but you can raft all year round! The weather is hot and humid – you’ll be glad that you can easily take a dip in the rivers to cool off.
Be environmentally cautious when on overnight trips, outfitters take portable toilets. This is so that when you leave, your waste goes with you! It’s the best way to keep the rivers crystal clear.
Don’t forget to visit some of the area’s salsa bars – Veracruz is known for its music and is considered one of Mexico’s most festive and historic cities.
Did you know?
Veracruz is one of the best place to view the migration of raptors. The numbers of passing raptors are estimated at five million birds each fall, surpassing numbers sighted at the world-renowned migration sites of Eilat, Israel and the isthmus of Panama. More than 200 species of neotropical migrant birds migrate throughout this region. Nearly the entire world’s population of Broad-winged and Swainson’s hawks and Mississippi kites pass through Veracruz each spring and fall, with most birds passing in a two-week period in early October. Wading birds number in the hundreds of thousands and include white pelicans, anhingas, wood storks, and white-faced ibis.
The layout of El Cuajilote reflects the natural topography of the surrounding mountains and the site, along with its sister city Vega de la Pea, was a ceremonial and trading center between theAztec cultures of the Altiplano and the coastal cultures of what is now Veracruz. One of several ruins along the rivers of Veracruz, Cuajilote was discovered in 1992. It’s believed that the site was inhabited by Nawa Indians, who considered it an important site for fertility worship. No one yet knows for sure how old these ruins are, although they do predate Mexico’s great Mayan civilisations.
Veracruz was the first place Cortes landed when he came to the Americas in april 1519. By 1523, all of the Gulf Coast was in Spanish hands.
The Pilot crew worked with Eco Expeciones de Far Flung Adventures, the Mexican arm of Far Flung Adventures.
Expediciones de Far Flung Adventures
Texas 79852 USA
Tel: 011 52 228 8401680-8107356
Fax: (915) 371 232
Main Image: Jalcomulco, Veracruz, Mexico, Jack Fiallos, Flickr Creative Commons