Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page

Text and Photos ©2012 by J. Pint

unless otherwise indicated.

Photo Gallery

Rappel down First Waterfall

A Jalisco Vertical canyoneer rappels down the last (and biggest) of 12 waterfalls in Aquetzalli Canyon, after walking and swimming about two kilometers along the Jalpa River.

Emile Boudey at Fall 1

Emile Boudey enjoys a swim in the cool waters of the Comala Cascades.

Jalisco Vertical Canyoneers arrive at Fall 2

Jalisco Vertical canyoneers arrive at Waterfall Two after following the Jalpa River down Aquetzalli Canyon (See detail below)

Laura Fantinello does the chute

Laura Fantinello slides down “The Chute” of waterfall number two along the Jalpa River on her very first Canyoneering adventure..

 Meli and Xela Lloyd

"Brrr!" Everyone has washerwoman hands" on reaching the last of the falls in Aquetzalli Canyon. Meli and Xela Lloyd.

Swinging from a rope
High cliffs on the sides of the waterfalls provide convenient places to anchor ropes for Tarzan-style stunts. Photo by Adriane Mohl.

John Pint writes his report
"Finally, a decent place to write!" John Pint reports from Paradise using his portable Word Processor (also known as a clipboard).




Caves beneath the dunes? Check out our Saudicaves page:

The Desert Caves Project






The Aquetzalli Canyon is Straight out of Indiana Jones

By John Pint

Fall 2, Rio Jalpa, Aquetzalli Canyon, Jalisco, Mexico Recently my canyoneering friends—members of the group Jalisco Vertical—decided to rappel all the waterfalls of the Jalpa River as it passes through Aquetzalli Canyon, located 65 kilometers southwest of Guadalajara.

Although I’m not a canyoneer, I decided to tag along hoping to catch up on my writing in full view of a spectacular cascade where I could periodically cool off in a deep pool of deliciously refreshing, clean water. After all, the word Aquetzalli, I was told, means “crystal-clear water” in Nahuatl.

Just check out the video of my first visit to this amazing place:

Canadian Chris Lloyd gathered together a group of around twenty people for the event, including several children and newcomers who had never “done” a canyon before. It took us two hours to drive from Guadalajara to a little bridge over the Jalpa River where the canyoneers would abseil down their first waterfall. I then proceeded by car down to the end point of the river run, the three gorgeous waterfalls (each with its own deep pool) of Comala.

It was a Sunday morning and I was amazed to find not a single person at these incredibly beautiful falls…it was, after all, the first week of June, probably the very hottest week of the entire year in this part of Mexico.

I hiked to Fall Two with nature photographer Carlos “Charlie” Contreras. The scene in front of me was spectacular enough to be the backdrop for an exotic Hollywood movie: two cascades side by side rushing down a golden rock wall into a wide, deep, translucent green pool—and all for me alone, as Charlie had gone hiking upriver.

I alternated between writing and swimming, figuring it would take the canyoneers all day to negotiate twelve waterfalls along two kilometers of river. To my surprise, less than three hours later my friends suddenly appeared at the top of the fall and were soon sliding down the natural chute or leaping into the pool from on high.

As they emerged one by one from the final waterfall (also spectacular, naturally) I found them all shivering slightly and with “washerwoman hands” after being in the cold water so long, but at the same time laughing and in great spirits.

Justus Mohl dives at Waterfall 3, Jalpa River I asked Italian Laura Fantinello, an Italian educator working in Guadalajara, what the experience was like. “This was my first time canyoneering,” she said. “I couldn’t believe what the river was like—the scenery was something right out of Indiana Jones. At one point, I stood at the edge of a waterfall four meters high and they told me ‘Jump!’ Well, I don’t like deep water and this turned out to be one of the most challenging moments of my whole life. It was an intense experience and I could feel the adrenaline racing. But standing there on the edge, I felt the support of the whole group. So I jumped and for a second I experienced total silence, like being in a vacuum and then I was in the water. ‘Wow,’ I said to myself, ‘I’m safe!’ Later I discovered that there had been a trail around that waterfall and I could have bypassed it, but I’m glad nobody told me. Without a doubt, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I did it.”

We first visited this little community years ago when it was known by the rather less than charming name of Agua Puerca (Pigwater). Of course, we had imagined that any place with such a name must be located near a big bat cave in which smelly water would abound. “Such is not the case,” the local people told us, “We have no caves around here.”

We left with no explanation of the appellation Pigwater nor even a hint that here one could find spectacular—and nice-smelling—waterfalls that might make Hollywood film makers drool with envy. We never did find out where the name Agua Puerca came from, but rest assured, it does not refer to the magnificent falls southwest of the town, whose crystal-clear waters are clean and abundant all year round.

The high banks on the sides of these pools provide lots of strategic spots for diving as well as convenient points for anchoring ropes for swinging over the water Tarzan-style or for canyoneering. All in all, these cascades really do provide all the fun of a water park, without the plastic, and—for the moment—any charge whatsoever. Of course, there are no changing rooms, restrooms, refresco stands or other facilities, but all this may change in the near future, hopefully not to the detriment of the place’s natural beauty.

If you bring along shoes that can get wet, you’ll have no problem crossing the shallow river below the first fall, to reach a rough trail on the other side which takes you to the next two falls and continues on upriver.

I should also mention that a short distance downstream, you can find several convenient places for picnicking or camping alongside the river, under the shade of tall fig trees where you may see—as did we—a pair of noisy, chattering Cuclillos or Squirrel Cuckoos (Piaya cayana) frolicking above you. These gorgeous, long-tailed birds get their name in English from their habit of jumping from branch to branch like squirrels.

This is a great place to visit any time of the year, but at the height of the dry season, it's a must!

How to get there

Head south out of Guadalajara towards Colima. After 28 kilometers, be sure you get onto highway 80, signposted Barra de Navidad, which will take you through the towns of Villa Corona and Cocula. Thirty kilometers past Cocula, look for a sign saying Ayotitlán. Turn left here and drive southwest on a well paved road to Chiquilistlán. Just after the plaza, turn right onto Constitución Street and head southwest out of Chiquilistlán towards Jalpa. Ten minutes later (and ten kilometers) you’ll see a sign for Comala. Turn right. Only four minutes later you’re in Comala where, at N20 03.614 W103 55.791you turn left onto a steep, narrow, rough dirt road (high vehicles only) trending northwest. Follow it for two kilometers. You have to open (and then close) two iron gates on your way down to the falls and watch out for a Y at 1.3 kilometers past Comala. Bear left here. At last you must drive right across the Jalpa River, but it looks a lot worse than it is (as long as you’re in that high vehicle! In the rainy season, this might present a problem).  Three minutes later, you’ll be parking at the foot of the first waterfall, located at N20 03.241 W103 56.481. Driving time from Guadalajara’s Periférico (Ring Road): about two hours.

Paradise at Comala, Jalisco, Mexico near Chiquilistlan

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