Rappelling is one of those activities that you either love or hate. Sometimes you know that even before doing it. But for adventure lovers, it is a must-do, at least once in your life. For a family that loves adventure like Gringa Traveling Mom’s, the experience ended up being an amazing Sunday.
Among the many things that aren’t advertised about Guatemala abroad, I’m not sure why, are its many rivers that provide tons of fun areas for rafting, canyons for climbing and gorgeous waterfalls where you can go rappelling.
If you pay attention these adventures are promoted all over Costa Rica, not because they are the only ones who have it, but because until recently, not a lot of people in Guatemala thought of them as natural beauties to enjoy.
I have taken some time to explore it. I am still light years away from experiencing everything there is to do; still, I have been able to find some fun stuff. That includes a large waterfall in the southern department called Santa Rosa.
I first heard of it from friends. They were talking about a fun Sunday adventure that they had been on, so I started making research on it and came across a promotional video of the activity and immediately fell in love with the idea. I only had two concerns. Was this a safe activity for my teenagers? And do the few companies offering this tour have the right equipment?
TravelingMomTip: Before you book one of these tours, ask if they offer the rappelling part. Some travel agencies will take you there, but only to see the and swim under the waterfall.
So I finally found a travel agency that does these types of tours and has equipment to fit small bodies. However, they said that they wouldn’t accept kids under 13 years old. The reason? They need to be able to focus. This is necessary to deal with the initial stress rappelling can cause as you go down the rock wall for the first time.
I ended up going without kids. I wanted to experience it first to make sure they would be ok.
All About the Rappelling Tour in a Guatemala Waterfall
The tour started when we hopped on the 4 x 4 pickup truck that would take us to the waterfall. There we met our three guides. Although they offer this as a private tour, we took one of the public ones. So yes, there were more of us; still, there were only enough to occupy two double cabin pickups.
We took the highway headed to the southern coast. But way before we reached the coast, we made a left turn into a smaller highway. It kept on becoming smaller and more narrow as we continued. About 1.5 hours later, we made another left turn. This time it was onto a dust road that barely allowed the vehicles to pass through. The adventure started here.
The road was bad and only kept getting worse. At times, we thought the trucks would get stuck in the mud. Finally, we reached a small bridge. We were told we could walk across the bridge or stay put and cross the river in our vehicle. It was scary, but I decided to stay inside. I regretted my decision only once: at one point, the water reached almost a third the way up the pickup’s doors. Fortunately, we made it to the other side safely.
After that, we were only about 15 minutes away from the waterfall.
I have seen a lot of waterfalls all over Central America. Most of them are thin and tall, hidden by a thick, tropical forest. But this one is completely different. It is wide and surrounded by a plain with few trees. The weather is also really hot and dry.
Los Amates waterfall is around 35 meters tall, making it good for an exciting rappelling experience. Still, it isn’t so tall that it would be complicated for complete beginners to enjoy it.
Now for the rappelling Part
One of the guides invited us to descend one of the sides of the waterfall, through a narrow path into the natural pools. There we were told that we could to jump in the water and enjoy its coolness while the other to stayed behind to set up all of the ropes.
This was great! I am not a huge fan of swimming but with the heat that day, being able to sit on a rock in the middle of a small and cool natural pool felt amazing.
About 20 minutes later, we were told that those of us who wanted to take the introductory chat for rappelling had to go back up. There we got all of the instructions and watched as one of the guides demonstrate it to us. Then they set us up with harnesses, helmets, and gloves and the fun began.
My first decent was terrifying. My knees felt weak and felt sure that I would fall to the rocks and die. But when I finally reached the base of the waterfall I felt excited and empowered. So I went for it again.
They allowed us to descend as much as we wanted until it was 2 p.m. and time for lunch.
After lunch, we started the trip back home through the same rugged roads.
This was definitely one of my favorite nature adventures in Central America. It’s one I would like to repeat as a private tour with my two sons once they are both old enough.