Mad Mexico: Crazy Whitewater Kayaking in Michoacán

In the second episode of First Descent: Michoacán, Rafa Ortiz takes us to the jungle – and the city.
By Josh Sampiero

When you're pioneering first descents in Mexico, everything is an adventure. From broken-down vans to broken legs, Rafa Ortiz, Dane Jackson and friends give us a quick taste of what chasing whitewater involves in the video above, both on and off the river.

Their destination -- Michoacán, Mexico -- has long been known as a hotbed for violence surrounding the narco industry.

Kayakers Rafa Ortiz and Joel Kowalski on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Joel Kowalski and Rafa Ortiz © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool

Despite the danger, there is river to explore and lines that have never been dropped -- and the appeal of first descents leads this international crew of paddlers south of Mexico City.

It's clear the crew has safety on the brain when the first waterfall they check out is deemed simply too dangerous, despite the opportunity for a first descent and incredible action footage. As Dane Jackson says, “We'd at best be surviving the drop -- we wouldn't be running it with style!”

Kayaker Rafa Ortiz on a Michoacán Expedition in 2013
Rafa runs the Rio Cupatitzio © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool

The highlight from this episode: whitewater action right in town, where the help of a local lets the boys scout an easy but fun line that offers up a kayaking rarity: urban paddling. Click play, enjoy -- and check out Rafa's exclusive POV footage here.

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