Rio Rafting – Jalcomulco, Veracruz State, Mexico

Poor Veracruz state. While other areas of Mexico inspire at least some recognition around the world, most people (us included) don’t know much about Veracruz except that it’s biggest city, Port of Veracruz, hosts what some claim to be the second largest Carnaval celebration in the world after Rio de Janiero (and we’ve met Mexicans who didn’t even know that much). 

Sadly, we didn’t make it to the city of Veracruz in time for Carnaval. However, when we learned that Veracruz state is also home to some of  the best and some of the first white water rafting in in the country we had to go check it out. Here’s what we found on the water in and around the rafting mecca of Jalcomulco–and look for more eye-opening discoveries from Veracruz  state in our next few posts. 

This part of Veracruz state has two things which are crucial to a good white water river: mountains and rainfall. In fact the highest mountain in Mexico, 18,490 foot (5,636 meter) Orizaba volcano, can be seen from Jalcomulco on a clear day. And the area averages almost four feet of rain each year.

It was nearly 90° where we pulled over and took this picture near Jalcomulco, however, the weather on top of 18,490 foot Mount Orizaba was still wintery.

Folks started running the rivers here decades ago and today there are around 40 different rafting companies to choose from. 

We chose Mexico Verde, which has been running the rivers around here for 16 years. They also run a very unique “base camp” on five acres of land that was once cleared and turned into a mango orchard (the arms of the massive old trees still provide welcome shade and more mangoes than you can shake a stick at). The jungle has crept back into the orchard over time and current owner Mauricio and his staff have gently carved out a wonderful retreat in the midst of it all–thanks in part to the United States Army. 

Who knew an army surplus tent could be transformed into a 3-star suite with a private bathroom?

Mexico Verde’s overnight guests are accommodated in army surplus tents bought in the US then brought to Veracruz and transformed into four bed rooms with shared spotless and roomy bathrooms or suites with their own bathroom. There are beautiful rugs on the hardwood floors, and nice sheets and private decks. Even Wi-Fi. 

At Mexico Verde your 3-star tent suite comes with morning coffee service on your front porch.

The army tents aren’t the only things that are being recycled at Mexico Verde. The company reclaims and reuses all water via a cutting edge on-site system. All garbage is sorted and either composted or recycled. And there’s even a nursery where indigenous plants are being grown and replanted around the mango trees. 

In case you didn't get wet enough after a day of white water rafting there's always Mexico Verde's pool--the small hot tub is particularly inviting.

Three delicious meals a day, a refreshing swimming pool and a soothing hot tub don’t hurt either… 

The well-traveled owners of Mexico Verde love the Grand Canyon and this bridge spans a small creek that's been labeled "Barancas Grande" or Grand Canyon.

Every Mexico Verde rafting trip is accompanied by a safety kayaker whose job it is to scout the rapids and be on standby to pluck any swimmers out of the water as fast as possible if need be. Mexico Verde also has a roster of highly-experienced and highly-trained and certified guides who speak English in addition to Spanish. Our guide, Coba, is from the local area but spent years guiding in the United States on many rives we’ve only dreamed of rafting. He’s also a biologist, by the way and helped us identify a lot of birds during our trip, including a juvenile eagle. Of the 40 or so river rafting operations in and around Jalcomulco, Mexico Verde is one of the few that employs predominantly local river guides like Coba. 

Off for a day of white water fun.

You can watch us and Coba (okay, mostly Coba) in action on the Rio Antigua in this video. 

[youtube width=”470″ height=”287″][/youtube] 

Our raft and our raft-mates negotiating a rapid on the Rio Antiqua in Veracruz state.

We were rafting in the low-water season when the 10 mile trip down the Rio  Antigua, which plummets roughly 3,000 feet in just 70 miles, is at it’s most placid–which was still a lot of fun. In the high season (July/August) this same trip, which took us about two hours and rarely approached class III rapids, whizzes by in less than an hour hurtling through a never-ending series of class IV and V churns. 

Our raft and our raft-mates negotiating a rapid on the Rio Antiqua with the help of our guide, Coba, in the back of the raft.

Just look at how spastic we all look coming out of this rapid, like a bunch of clowns in a bathtub. Now look at how calm our guide Coba is there in the back of the raft. It looks like he's meditating as we flail about in the water.

Our raft and our raft-mates negotiating a rapid on the Rio Antiqua in Veracruz state.

Waterproof housing for our Flip video camera  (good up to 30′ deep) which let us shoot the video in this blog post
Chaco sandals which are slip-proof  and stay on our feet no matter what the river throws at us.


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Support us on Patreon

3 comments on “Rio Rafting – Jalcomulco, Veracruz State, Mexico

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rafting Rio Antigua with Mexico Verde Jalcomulco Veracruz

  2. Hi Karen!!
    I’m so glad you enjoyed whitewater rafting! I knew Mexico Verde would not disappoint you guys… Can’t wait to read another story about my state =)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge