Skip to content

Like ‘Disneyland’ for hardcore kayakers

September 17, 2009
Mexico's Huasteca region has a wealth of challenging waterfalls rapids and canyon runs for kayakers to test their mettle. Photo: Paul Gallant

Mexico's Huasteca region has a wealth of challenging waterfalls rapids and canyon runs for kayakers to test their mettle. Photo: Paul Gallant

Unspoiled region’s waterfalls `Disneyland’ for hardcore kayakers.

In a country best known for the hot sand and roaring surf of its resort beaches, Mexico’s Huasteca region comes as a lush, if smelly, surprise.

Through the steam of this hot springs pool at Taninul resort and spa near Ciudad Valles, you can see bathers with a brownish-green coating smeared on their faces and bodies, as they blithely ignore the mild rotten-egg smell of the sulphurous water.

Kayaking the exhilarating Micos River, Huasteca Region, Mexico.

Kayaking the exhilarating Micos River, Huasteca Region, Mexico.

The source of this natural skin treatment isn’t immediately obvious until I notice green blobs of algae floating on the turquoise murk.

I scoop some up with my hands and, on contact, it turns into soothing paste. For a more traditional spa treatment, there’s a large basin nearby where patrons collect buckets of mud to slather on themselves.

The Taninul resort is in the heart of Mexico’s Huasteca, so named after the indigenous people who live around the Pánuco River.

The Pánuco winds from the Caribbean lowlands of Veracruz state into verdant mountains that hold rain clouds all year long before opening up into arid flatlands.

The region has a cult following among Mexican vacationers, who buy mangos, oranges and peppers from roadside stands in tiny villages named, of course, Mango, Naranja (Orange) and Pimienta (Pepper), but is almost unknown internationally except among hardcore kayakers.

Extreme Kayaking in the Huasteca Region, Mexico.

Extreme Kayaking in the Huasteca Region, Mexico.

“It’s like a Disneyland for kayaking,” says Aaron Koch, an American who lives half the year in the region, running his water adventure business Kayak Huasteca out of Ciudad Valles, a city of 110,000. “There are waterfalls you can go over that are more friendly than dangerous and those are rare to find.”

Originally from Kentucky, Koch discovered the region four years ago, poking around on its river systems.

Within two years, he had partnered with Aventura Huasteca, which was already providing whitewater rafting expeditions on the local rivers Tampaón and Micos.

The tourist industry in the area is small and almost family-like: Koch installed the climb wall and zip lines at Taninul’s cave and is providing expeditions for Huasteca Secreta, a five-star eco-resort.

“The Huasteca is the kind of place when your van breaks down coming back from a trip, people will stop and pick you up and drive you back to town,” Koch says.

In a country that punches well above its weight when it comes to food, the Huasteca is known for its own distinctive cuisine. Enchiladas Huasteca are made with a perfectly cooked, thin, flat steak. The sacahuil tamale, cooked underground on hot coals, combines a mix of chicken, pork and beef with seven kinds of chilies.

“It’s a Saturday or Sunday meal that people make in the country and bring into town to sell,” says Koch. “We’ll pick some up. It gives us something to eat on the way to Tamul Falls.”

The 90-metre falls are fun for kayakers to paddle near the bottom – but not so friendly to go over.

Source: Toronto Star

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: