World-Class Creeking In Veracruz, Mexico

Two hundred miles from Mexico City, the small city of Tlapacoyan lays nestled in the thick of lush Mexican jungle. “The scenery is like something out of a movie,” says Rafa Ortiz, who grew up in Mexico City and started rafting on the Alseseca River in Veracruz at age nine.

Best known for running big drops, Ortiz now travels the world as a professional kayaker, but will never stop visiting Veracruz.

“I’ve traveled a lot, and have friends who’ve paddled hundreds of rivers around the planet, and we pretty much all agree that the Alseseca River has the most awesome whitewater,” Ortiz says.

Seemingly countless sections of the Alseseca keep drawing paddlers to the region. “It’s one river where you can spend a couple weeks and not get tired of it.”

Though a great day on the river for Ortiz may include 40-foot falls, there’s something in Veracruz for everyone. You’ll easily find whitewater within a class III and IV comfort zone on the Alseseca and other rivers nearby, plus a community of boaters to help you push your limits. “It’s a great place to run your first waterfall,” says Ortiz.

Don’t miss…

The Alseseca Race takes place on the famous roadside section of the river every January drawing competitors, volunteers and spectators from around the world.


Fly to Mexico City and catch a bus to Tlapacoyan. It’s an easy trip, though less convenient with a boat on board (see below for gear advice.) Car rentals are available at the international airport.


Adventurec in Tlapacoyan has cabins and camping for kayakers, as well as guides, raft trips, equipment rentals and a variety of adventure and cultural activities. It’s a great place to meet other boaters (


If you’re visiting Veracruz for less than 10 days, rent a boat from Adventurec. If you’re there for longer, bring your kayak, says Ortiz. Keep in mind that big impacts on Alseseca’s steeps are notorious boat breakers.


The rivers in the area can be challenging, and there are many canyons. Though online beta can be helpful, it’s smart to find a guide or connect with boaters who know the region well. 

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This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2015 issue of Rapid magazine.


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