We’ve got three words for anyone serious about intense white water rafting in Guatemala’s Santa Rosa department: Rio Los Esclavos (sometimes spelled “Los Esclaves”). Though it flows year-round, mid-June through as late as November is when adventure-seekers will have the opportunity to tackle rapids that range from intermediate class III to some intense class IV+, including the infamous “El Raton Loco.” What does this mean for you? Well, most of the paddling is done fast-and-furious style through a beautiful 8 km stretch of canyon along northern Los Esclavos, so previous white water experience is highly recommended. You’ll also want to be in good physical condition, since some portaging is to be expected. In other words, first-timers should look elsewhere before tackling this one.
For those making the journey from Antigua or Guatemala City, your most likely points of entry will be either Santa Rosa de Lima or just east of the town of Barberena (depending on which group you go with). These tours don’t cover much more than 15-20 km, typically ending close to the Los Esclavos Dam, so single-day trips are the norm. We’ve included some helpful links to get you started; now all that’s left for you to bring to the party is a little previous rafting experience and a big appetite for adventure. Good luck.