Explore Matacanes, a stuning canyon in Santiago Nuevo León México
January 1, 1970
by Elena De La Torre
The Matacanes Canyon… What an experience.
Extreme mountain journey in one day
I had the opportunity to go twice, obviously, when I was a crazy daredevil young lady. Have to say I didn’t know what I was up for all I knew is that I needed to jump in to the water and swim and that the water was cold, that’s what they told me.
So my trip to Matacanes began at 4am, I met up with my cousin and he drove all the way. I remember looking at the incredible mountain scenery just barely with the dawn sky, trying to pick out the smell of dew and feeling goosebumps just looking at the wonders that I had in front of me, it is simply just breathtaking.
So we got to the top, we put on all our equipment like the harness, ropes, helmet and life jackets, backpacks with food, water and goodies and a water camera, for the memories. We started our trip walking and walking (around 45 minutes) until I heard water falling, the time came for us to get into the water, the first jump was like 2 meters high, it was fine for me so I jumped… splash! … Oh my God, the water was so freaking cold! It popped into my mind the scene from Titanic where Rose (Kate Winslet) is about to commit suicide and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) says “I’m a lot more concerned about that water being so cold… it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body” I´m telling you IT IS TRUE, it really feels like that but he forgot to mention that also your head feels like it’s going to explode.
Ok, so the water is really cold, that´s something I will never forget, after that first jump comes the first rappel. I was excited because I knew how to do it and I like it, makes me feel like I´m some kind of spy or super agent or something. It was like 27 meters and into the water again. Freaking cold water, you just need to keep swimming and get use to it.
When we got to the second rappel you go into a big cave, going inside you have to climb some rocks and after that I remember that my cousin said to me –now you have to jump—and I was like where? He pointed at the water with a flash light but I could barely see it was pitch black, and then he throws a backpack so I can see the water moving then I jumped, wooh! That was high, I bet it was around 5 meters at least, and adding to that it was like jumping into a black hole, so dark. Right after that jump I remember hearing people screaming just like if they were jumping from a very high place, because the screaming was so long but then I saw it was a natural water slide, in the dark so extreme.
Keep on moving
After more swimming, diving and sliding you come to another cave, well it’s more like an underground tunnel. This for me was scary and challenging, just swimming through a shallow, long and dark tunnel where the only light that you can see is at the end. I didn’t want to think about what was under the water, the only thing I wanted to do was to get out of there so I kept swimming towards the light.
One of the many waterfalls
The big jump
Ok, so right up next was the big jump, the highest jump of Matacanes. It is optional because you can jump from a lower point or you can even just climb down, but not me, I had to do THE JUMP. It is 12 meters high, and of course I kind of step into a rock just to get a little higher. There I was standing with my heart pumping so rapidly with the adrenaline rushing and butterflies in my stomach feeling so weak at the same time just thinking about how much I wanted to jump but I just couldn’t do it but then suddenly without thinking I overcome my fears I bend my knees and push the rock with my feet took a big jump lifting my arms so high and the I did it! I couldn’t believe that I jumped. I was so excited that I had to go twice so I did it again. That felt awesome!
Turquoise water, crystalline springs, underground rivers, waterfalls, amazing landscape, natural caves formations, jumping, swimming, sliding and rappelling makes The Matacanes Canyon an extreme outdoor journey.
It took us 7 hours from start to finish. Usually people do it between 5 and 8 hours, depending on how big the group is that you are going with and how fast your pace.
I definitely will do it again and I will take my girls with me, I know they have the same extreme spirit like me. At 9 and 11 years old they already have jumped from a 5 meter diving board.
Best season to go
Starts in spring March 21st and ends in late August or early September, it all depends on the rain and hurricane season. It can be suspended at any time according to the river level. The river level is reviewed daily by residents of Potrero Redondo, Las Adjuntas and Nuevo León Civil Protection.
How to get there
The Matacanes Canyon is located in the Sierra Madre Oriental in the magical town of Santiago in Nuevo León, half an hour from the city of Monterrey. To access from the national highway Mexico-Laredo 85 reaching the town of El Cercado you take the highway Santiago-Cuahuila 20 until Puerto Genovebo (10KM). Take a left towards Potrero Redondo to the river Las Adjuntas, (9km). This is where the tour ends when you make the river down, to start the route downstream you will have to follow some 9 km more to Potrero Redondo. Up there you can talk to some people that can take your car back down to Las Adjuntas so it will be there by the time you finish the route.