Photostory: Paddling the Rio Tulijá

Browse through photos of pro kayakers riding the blue waters and large waterfalls of the Agua Azul.
By Josh Sampiero

The blue water that runs through Agua Azul, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, looks like it belongs somewhere in the Caribbean and has long drawn tourists from all over the world. But that's not what pro kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Aniol Serrasolses, Casper Van Kalmthout and Martina Wegmen came for. It was the whitewater to be found on the Rio Tulijá.

"Five years ago, it used to be pretty risky," Rafa tells us, who grew up in Mexico City. "You really couldn't stop on the river and the photographers would be hiking through Zapatista territory." The descent involved a series of five waterfalls that range from 8m to 24m. The approach wasn't easy. "The river is about 300m wide, so it's tough to paddle out into the middle, see the horizon, and pick the right line."

For Rafa, who has paddled these falls before, the trip was about sharing his country with fellow kayakers. "These guys are used to the slick, sharp rocks of America's Pacific Northwest. This scene is totally different."

Check out the Teva clip of the expedition here.
 

Pro tip: use your keyboard to jump between photos
The crew takes in the view
The crew takes in the view Led by Rafa Ortiz (far right), the crew takes a break atop some Mayan ruins. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Part of the Mayan ruins
Part of the Mayan ruins The beautiful Mayan ruins takes over the landscape near the river. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Loading up the gear
Loading up the gear The team is ready to go and conquer some waterfalls. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Fun with the locals
Fun with the locals The crew takes a break to show the locals their gear. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
The Rio Tulijá
The Rio Tulijá Check out the winding path of the Rio Tulijá. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Enjoying the scenery
Enjoying the scenery The crew takes in the breathtaking scenery of the Rio Tulijá. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Team meeting
Team meeting The crew goes over the plan before they head out on the Rio Tulijá. © Lane Jacobs/Red Bull
Taking it all in
Taking it all in Rafa Ortiz takes in the powerful forces of the Rio Tulijá. © Lane Jacobs/Red Bull
The waterfalls of the Rio Tulijá
The waterfalls of the Rio Tulijá The Rio Tulijá features a series of five waterfalls along its path. © Lane Jacobs/Red Bull
Front-row seats
Front-row seats The locals watch the action as one of the pros drops down. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
The Rio Tulijá
The Rio Tulijá A look at the blue waters of the Rio Tulijá. © Lane Jacobs/Red Bull
Waterfall drop
Waterfall drop Looking for clarity and a spot to land. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Total control
Total control Taking on the Rio Tulijá and ready for landing. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
Getting vertical
Getting vertical Dropping down the Rio Tulijá waterfalls, completely vertical. © Lane Jacobs/Red Bull
Keeping an edge
Keeping an edge Getting the right angle before the lip is essential for a safe landing. © Tony Czech/Red Bull
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