Rafting on the highway of the Maya
visiting sites Piedras Negras /Yaxchilan / Bonampak / Palenque /
Tikal passing through the Lower Canyons.
R IO USUMACINTA " RIVER OF THE SARED MONKEY"
Save the river from a hydroelectric dam. By a continual presence
we are assuring this magnificient river will not be drowned into
obscurity with the development of a HUGE Dam;.
Season: Nov -June 10 days /9 nights
Minimum Age - 8 years Class:beginning Code PNRAFT
This trip has been designed to allow scientists to study the waterway
of the Usumacinta river with regards to its possible use by the
Ancient Maya as a "road". They will be mapping and studying
the rapids and the surrounding land.
The following itinerary is flexible while on the river, but will
arrive to Palenque and Flores on said dates.
See below the proposal for the study of this trip. We are also,
wanting to use this float as a protest to the Dam that is being
planned for the Usumacinta by the Mexican government under the auspicious
of the Plan Pueblo Panama.
RIOS mayaS USUMACINTA RIVER TRIP 2004
PROPOSAL: USUMACINTA RIVER NAVIGATION SURVEY
FIRST OBJECTIVE: Document use of the river as a Commercial Highway
We will map all rapids, determine their classification on the international
scale of river difficulty, and identify up as well as down routes
Frontera Corozal and Boca del Cerro, Mexico.
In addition, we will search for and document any traces of possible
navigational improvements such as: channel clearing, landings, towpaths,
stone bollards, slipways, wing dams, and associated minor sites.
near-shore mapping will be surface survey only, with no digging
SECOND OBJECTIVE: Record hydrologic and morphological features of
Usumacinta River corridor.
We will use a modified Rosgen classification, periodically measure
current speed, and map the approximate extent of annual wet season
BACKGROUND: Driving the effort is the threat to the river corridor
Boca de Cerro Dam. If built, most likely within the next 9 yrs,
would flood more than 70 km upstream, past the ruins at El Cayo.
would drown 16 known Maya sites, including large second order sites
Chinikiha, Ojo de Agua Usumacinta, Lindavista, and possibly El
Cayo/Macabilero. There would be major ecological damage to the selva
and the centlas below. Panhale, a Maya fortress in the Boca del
had a key role in the Pomona-Piedras Negras wars, but it is at the
site. Only partly surveyed, the ruins would be destroyed by construction.
The opportunity to thoroughly document the river corridor may soon
A navigation survey would define the role of the river in commercial
and military history of the Classic Period of Maya civilization,
the local rivalry between Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras and in larger
networks spanning the Maya world.
(By Ron Canter)And in the words of Dave Pentecost:
This trip is one part of a larger effort establish and publicize
importance of the Usumacinta River in both ancient and modern Maya
Later in the spring, Charles Golden of the University of Pennsylvania
conduct his second season of archaeological surveys in the Sierra
Lacandon. This is the jungle on our right (on the Guatemalan side)
during the entire float from
Yaxchilan to La Linea. His work will discover new Maya settlements
frontier between the ancient Maya kingdoms of Yaxchilan and Piedras
If dams are built on the Usumacinta, at Boca del Cerro and other
this region, at the heart of Maya trade, culture, warfare, and art,
be flooded, preventing study and discovery in the future.
Other work will include examining the biological consequences of
the river, and working with the electrical commission to devise
alternative energy generation projects to meet Mexico's needs. We
shooting a video documentary of river trip and our other projects,
raise public awareness and create a record of the wild river.
If we are successful, this trip will be an important element of
campaign. If dam construction proceeds, it may be a last chance
to see the
river in its natural state, and to imagine it as a highway for kings,
travelers and traders over a thousand years ago.
March 26 Earlly morning flight to Flores. Van to Bethel, overnight
at Posada Maya
Dave meets us there.
March 27 After breakfast leave by launch, pick up others in Frontera.
are inflated and loaded, either there or farther downstream. 3 hour
to Yaxchilan, camp on beach just beyond landing.
March 28 Spend day in Yaxchilan ruins.
March 29 Leave Yaxchilan, float past "Tower" guard post
Beach," one hour above Chicozapote.
March 30 Through Chicozapote Falls to Desempeno. Or beyond, past
Jerusalen, to "Zarahuato" beach, one hour above Piedras
March 31 Through Rapidos Caribe, past PN beach landing, to El Porvenir.
Camp. Meet the Defensores. Arrange for tour with them the next day.
April 1 See Piedras Negras ruins, explore possible portage route
April 2 Leave PN, through Cola del Diablo rapids, to Busilha Falls.
April 3 Morning at Busilha Falls. Float through rapids to camp above
April 4 Past Rio Chancala and La Linea, through rapids of Upper
Canyon. Camp at Francisco Madero.
April 5 Through Lower San Jose Canyon rapids, paddle slow water,
through last rapids, meet lancha from Tenosique for tow out. Through
del Cerro, meet Manuel Oca, van and truck at bridge for ride back
April 6 Visit site of Palenque and museum.
April 7 Return to Guatemala City by way of boat to Bethel and then
van to Flores where we catch our afternoon flights.