El Río Azul – “The Blue River”

The Blue River" is a unique site with a pristine river located deep in the Cuchumatánes mountains. The area is just starting to be recognized for mountain biking.
View of Jakaltenango
The Town of Jacaltenango ©2010 MTBguatemala.com

El Río Azul “The Blue River” is located deep in the heart of the Cuchumatánes mountains of Guatemala the small town of Jacaltenango. Here the landscape cleaves with steep valleys, deep canyons and fast flowing rivers that descend from the country’s highest peaks.


Jacaltenango is located at the temperate altitude of 1400m, far below the 3800m summits of the neighboring mountains. The climate at this altitude is warm and rich, and the area’s primary agriculture is small plot artisan coffee growers. Río Azul, and mountain biking are drawing an increasing number of tourists to the town.

Travesia Rio Azul
Photo: Juan Jóse Lopez J ©2020 MTBguatemala.com

Why is the Río Azul River So Blue?

Limestone cliffs guard the high peaks of the Cuchumátanes, it is this mineral that gives the rio azul its spectacular color. El Río Azul is not the only blue river in the region but due to the ease of access it is the most famous.

Mayan History

The area of the Rio Azul and Jacaltenango is rich in Mayan history. Locals here speak Jakalteko or Poptiʼ a Mayan language spoken by less than 90,000 people. In the surrounding area of Río Azul and the Cuchumatánes you can find several large stone mounds, the remains of excavations with vestiges of Mayan artifacts.

Travesia Rio Azul
Photo: Brendan James ©2020 MTBguatemala.com

Explorando el Río Azul

In 2020 local biking club, Jacaltekos Bikers Team organized the first edition of Explorando el Río Azul, a mountain bike race and Competition descending to the blue river.  The event was coordinated alongside the biggest celebration of the year in Jacaltenango: the town’s patron fair of the of Virgen de la Candelaria. 

With over 160 participants in its first year Explorando el Rio Azul was a an overwhelming success. The event promises to draw more people and mountain bikers to this remote region of the Cuchumatánes. 

Read more about Jacaltekos and their event here.

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