Photos: Chasing Waterfalls with Rafa Ortiz

Want to know what it's like to take a big drop over gushing waterfalls? Start by looking at these.

Rafa Ortiz's Chasing Waterfalls was an exploration into rivers new and old in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Among his adventures were dropping Big Banana Falls and negotiating with mercenaries. Check the photos below to see what it's like to take a ride with Rafa.

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Rafael Ortiz kayaking down a waterfall of the Agua Azul river.

Follow me

Ortiz's rear-mounted GoPro records the action from the back of his kayak, looking forward. Hope that camera has a leash.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Locked and loaded
Rafael Ortiz posing for a portrait.

Locked and loaded

Going over big waterfalls requires more than a pair of swim trunks and a paddle. Ortiz is geared up and ready to ride.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Attack mode
Rafael Ortiz chasing the wild water of the Agua Azul river.

Attack mode

Ortiz holds the record for making the world's highest descent of a waterfall at the 57-metre-high Palousse Falls (not pictured here.) He has fought streams and stones that have cost him hyper-extended shoulders, a strained back, and stitches in his chin and eyelid.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Chasing waterfalls
Rafael Ortiz chasing a multistep waterfall on the Agua Azul river.

Chasing waterfalls

The big highlight of Agua Azul? Not the blue water, but the five-drops-in-a-row series of waterfalls, where only skill and careful navigation will let you successfully send them all in one run. Rafa Ortiz has that skill.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Red zone
Rafael Ortiz chasing a multistep waterfall on the Agua Azul river.

Red zone

Mexican kayaker Isidro Soberanes going over while a drone heli-cam looks on. Says Rafa: “Isidro Soberanes simply kills it!”

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Pausing before the drop
Rafael Ortiz chasing the wild water of the Agua Azul river.

Pausing before the drop

Ortiz and friend preparing for the next segment of the multi-stage waterfalls. Taking the wrong line or getting knocked off course means almost certain injury.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Wide approach
Rafael Ortiz dropping down a waterfall.

Wide approach

Despite the breadth of this waterfall, rest assured that the drop in Ortiz's line is carefully selected. Even though this was the third time Rafa ran the falls, he had to study his lines again due to the rock formations potentially changing over the course of time.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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In a white room
Rafael Ortiz kayaking down a waterfall.

In a white room

Surrounded by cascading water, Ortiz fearlessly prepares for the impact. For big drops, kayakers intentionally land nose-first to purposely submerge the boat – a flat landing means a broken back.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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Not feeling blue
Rafael Ortiz celebrating after dropping down a waterfall.

Not feeling blue

Although the waters surrounding them in the Agua Azul are famously blue, the kayakers are anything but as they celebrate a successful running of the Veracruz.

© Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool
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