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Exit of the second caveMatacanes Canyon


Car approach: 25.4 km.
Hike in: 4.2 km.
Hike out: 2.1 km.
Hike duration (including the canyon): 8 h.
Date: 04/16/2010
Gear: 2 x 60m ropes, wetsuit and life jacket.

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The Matacanes (and Chipitín) canyons are in the Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey. These are world class canyons, not only for their fun jumps, spectacular waterfalls and emerald waters but also for the sculpted walls and exuberant vegetation. We did Matacanes as part of the activities during the 2010 Rendez-vous organized by the Mexican branch of the ACA.

One particularity that makes the Matacanes Canyon so famous is the 2 underground caves it goes through. Another incredible feature is the water curtains dripping from the moss colonies hanging from the walls

These canyons are only accessible as part of an organized trip by one of the local outfitters and is unlawful to attempt them in any other conditions. On top of that, the local authority requires that every canyoneer wears a life-jacket.


First waterfallFrom the Hotel Hacienda Cola de Caballo, follow the paved road NL-20 uphill for 6.6 km to the Puerto Genovevo pass (WP PtoGenovevo). Leave the road and turn left sharply down the dirt road at the Civil Protection gate and head for Las Adjuntas (WP LasAdjutas) at 15.1 km from the hotel. This fire road is in good conditions, but beyond Las Adjuntas it narrows and deteriorates. It climbs up the rugged terrain of the Parque Cumbres de Monterrey offering magnificent views in the distance but intimidating when you realize how close the edge of the road is from your vehicle’s window. After 8.8 km from Las Adjuntas, you get to the tiny village of Potrero Redondo. Here you will turn sharp to the left and continue driving for another 2.5 km. to where you will leave the second car (MTSecondCar).

Pack your gear and start walking on the same dirt road crossing the fence 50 m ahead. At the next fork, take a left and keep walking down on a much worse dirt road. After 4 km. you should get to the streambed of the river. This is the end of the Rumorosa Canyon and the beginning of Matacanes. Don’t gear up yet, walk downstream 100 m., downclimb to a river junction (MTRiverJunction), keep right and put on your wetsuit and harness at the next turn left.

Cesar jumping

Description of the canyon:

Around the corner you will find a 2m jump to test the water temperature before the first Matacanes waterfall and rappel. If your group is big, you may want to bypass the jump to avoid getting cold waiting at the rappel. The first rappel is 30 m. high and has a couple of possible anchors. The view from the top gives you an introduction of the awesome scenery you will enjoy during the descent. You will rappel next to the waterfall down to a big pristine pool. At about 4 m. from the water you can stop on a small ledge on the canyon left and jump from there instead of disconnecting in the water.

The hike through the canyon is abundant on slides and jumps. There is one particularly fun slide where if you keep your feet out of the water when you enter the pool, the hydraulic will flip you backwards and spit you out. In several occasions, to get to the higher jumps, you’ll have to climb on the side walls looking for a higher platform.

Judit jumpingBefore the entrance to the first cave, there is a 15 m. rappel on the canyon left next to the water flow. Swim to the rocky gravel across the pool and admire the spouts pouring water down from the ceiling. Get used to the darkness before moving on. Walk next to the wall on the canyon right. There is 2 m. jump in the dark!! Your guide should point out where to land. Of course, you can use you lamp, but is more fun to do it blind. You’ll be walking and swimming in pitch black for the rest of the cave. The exit is wide and as you get closer and light filters in, you’ll be able to explore the rock formation on the walls and the different spouts and dripping features on the ceiling.

The entrance to the second cave is even more spectacular. You come down a slippery slope on the canyon right with beautifully sculpted walls on both sides and all types of ferns hanging from the cracks and ledges. You go under a powerful spout and then jump 3 m. into a pool. Once inside the cave, you swim towards the exit, one of the highlights of the canyon. The water flow takes you to the end of the short tunnel, peacefully floating and admiring the wonderful walls in the twilight. The light coming from the low clearance exit filters through the water in a greenish color. Hanging from the edge of the exit ceiling, ferns decorate the swim out of the underground world.

Hike out:

The rest of the canyon keeps you amused with more jumps and toboggans until it finally opens up gradually. From the point we took off our gear (MTWetSuitOff) to Las Adjuntas there are around 2.1 km., where you first car is parked.

All pictures by Amilcar Barbosa.

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