The whitewater was incredible… warm, clear, and there were oranges floating by. For more of Rio Antigua and the bike/raft traverse over Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft.), click here.
Rivers, low water, January 2013:
- El Salto and Cascadas Micos
- Alseseca (Roadside and Big Banana)
- Antigua (Barranca Grande)
- Rio de Oro
Big Banana was the most incredible river I’ve ever been on. Sadly, in order to keep up with the kayaks we didn’t get much footage. We portaged the class V’s, swam the 22-footer, “Mordor,” and a few other rapids.
Alpacka’s Cargo Fly zippered packrafts have now been pressure tested to 30 feet! More discussion / packrafter’s beta below the pictures.
The Rio Antigua is probably the best destination for paddlers that want class III, IV-lite water. Water was low in mid-Jan, but even at higher levels everything could be portaged.
For more technical water, I’d recommend basing out of Aventurec, Tlapacoyan, to hit the Alseseca and neighboring rivers. Aventurec was incredibly friendly, the hostel rooms were nice and cheap, and they can drive shuttles to wherever you want to go. It is also the best bet to find other paddlers; we needed the big group for Big Banana. I wouldn’t want to go in there with less than four for safety and help chasing down the packrafts.
Driving north to Micos was pretty brutal, and the water was too low, but a fall or December trip to Micos and El Salto would be incredible. Micos has essentially no hazards. We got pretty worked on the big three rapids of El Salto.
The sprayskirt was pretty useless in everything above splashy class III. I’d love to see a deeper bite on the combing and cord-lock adjustable tension on the skirt to really tighten it up. I have complete confidence that I will get pulled out of thigh straps and skirts in the packraft- the boat’s buoyancy is so great that you can’t possibly stay in. I took one swim where Todd said the boat disappeared… I felt like I was in a one of the vacuum tubes you see at banks… sucked right out of my boat.
The zipper never gave any hint of stress or failure; pressure-tested to 30 feet, our biggest drop. We were impressed.
The travertine ledges (Micos, El Salto) were very sharp and the boats wouldn’t be able to survive much more boating at such low water.
I am now using a kayak back-band instead of the Alpacka or Feathercraft inflatable back rests. I have the back band clipped into my thigh-strap D-rings. The support is incredible and it has helped my roll.