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Old 10-11-2010   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 69
Best winter paddling, class III & IV?

Looking for opinions on the best country/specific rivers for tropical paddling in late December, for some good class III & IV? Been thinking about costa Rica or Mexico... But any beta would be welcome. Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-11-2010   #2
ashland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 222
Ciudad Valles in Mexico is hard to beat. Where else can you paddle up to 25' waterfalls with class 3 skills. Plus the Santa Maria is a great run as well. Grant Amaral has a camp right on the river. Check out
agua AZUL Whitewater Kayaking in Mexico
I went 10 years ago and had a blast. Going earlier in the season is better than later (more water) Someday I'll go again

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Old 10-11-2010   #3
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407
Agree with pretender

I was down there to Grant's setup around 2001 january-ish. A great trip and based on my time down there it is recommended - as instead of spending time finding places to go and shuttle, Grant has all that dialed in. We flew into VeraCruz and then took the bus into the interior. If I did it again, I would schedule several days to just hang out in VeraCruz. We did an afternoon and evening there before the flight out the next AM and there is a lot to see in that city.

Great fun and Grant knows the area and is a good guide.

At that time his camp cook was one of the best at "Mexican" cooking I have ever seen and I have boated a lot in Mexico, Central and South America. And, she did it all in a two burner coleman gas stove and a black pot in the fireplace. Her Chicken Mole was to die for and I remember one night when we came in very late she had a big pot of some sort of meat and we ate that meat, frijoles and tortillas way into the night.

Grant's accommodations were pretty rustic but being right on the river made it work.

We were on a week of waterfalls and the Santa Maria was classic. The take out climb up the vertical side of the canyon using ancient wooden limbs wired together is something I still close my eyes and give thanks for reaching the top. The boating was mucho fun but that climb was one of the most scary things I have ever done outdoors!!!
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Old 11-11-2010   #4
Turrialba, Costa Rica
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 15
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Hey Mocha,

We're running III/IV trips all season here in Costa Rica. The trips dates are below and here's the link if you want to check it out: Kayaking Costa Rica: Whitewater Kayak Costa Rica's Famous Rivers

Sat. Nov. 20, 2010 - Sat. Nov. 27, 2010 Available
Sat. Dec. 04, 2010 - Sat. Dec. 11, 2010 1/2 Full
Sun. Jan. 02, 2011 - Sat. Jan. 08, 2011 Available
Sat. Jan. 15, 2011 - Sat. Jan. 22, 2011 1/2 Full
Sat. Jan. 29, 2011 - Sat. Feb. 05, 2011 Available
Sat. Feb. 05, 2011 - Sat. Feb. 12, 2011 Available
Sat. Feb. 19, 2011 - Sat. Feb. 26, 2011 Available

Costa Rica Rios
Costa Rica Adventure Travel, Kayaking and Canoeing Trips.
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Old 11-11-2010   #5
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Kayaker, SUP Paddler., Mexico, SLP
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23
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Mexico is awesome right now. We are here in Ciudad Valles and water levels are great. Check out We have about 20 boats and all equpiment if you don't want to haul it with ya. We also offer SUP clinics...

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Old 11-12-2010   #6
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 158
Ecuador is where it's at for winter paddling.

Check it out here: Ecuador kayaking, whitewater rafting, river whitewater adventures - Small World Adventures in Colorado.

You can find videos and photos of the rivers in Ecuador, along with a schedule of trips.

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Old 11-13-2010   #7
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Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 228
Aaron, how is safety in Valles from your perspective? Would you recommend flying down? If driving, what is the best approach? I heard something about crossing the border early in the morning, is better. Juarez sounds like the most dangerous town (possibly outdated info); is it better to cross at Nuevo Laredo?

I emailed Grant Amaral, and he replied that he has shut down his santa maria trips for 2010 - 11, because Valles is "out of control."

Here is an Oct 17 2010 article about "Romero*, the son of a wealthy Mexican empresario, currently on the run from the drug war which has recently overtaken his hometown of Ciudad Valles, Mexico."

“It’s like Iraq here,” Javier told me on a Skype call today from San Luis Potosí, “There are grenades and helicopters and shootouts everywhere. The only difference is they’re not using tanks yet.”
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Old 11-13-2010   #8
aspen, Colorado
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4
put up a big it good...goodbye mexico
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Old 11-13-2010   #9
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407
Valles Mexico Sad to hear cartel violence

When I was down there around 2001 with Grant's setup, Valles was a neat town. Never felt insecure there. I remember there was one little ice cream shop we stopped at several times. Their specialty was "brain freeze" a kind of milk shake with your choice of rum etc added. The bet was if you could drink two of the large ones and still walk a straight line Grant would pay your bill otherwise you paid his. Several of us took the bet. Grant never lost!

Lots of stories about this town and fun after boating adventures there.

San Luis Potosi at the time was also a great town to visit and see the sights.

If the news about drug cartel action is true, this is really sad and the Santa Maria area is one of the classic runs down in Mexico.

very sad to hear this.
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Old 11-13-2010   #10
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 161
Originally Posted by darcyg View Post
Ecuador is where it's at for winter paddling.

Check it out here: Ecuador kayaking, whitewater rafting, river whitewater adventures - Small World Adventures in Colorado.

You can find videos and photos of the rivers in Ecuador, along with a schedule of trips.



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