Mexico isn’t exactly known for forested, whitewater-rafting spots. But cutting through the southern state of Chiapas, near the Yucatán Peninsula, is one of the world’s most stunning river gorges—a roughly 50-mile canyon, with near-vertical limestone walls, that snakes through pristine lowland forest.
Dubbed the Sacred Canyon of the Río la Venta, the gorge is occasionally run by outfitters during the rainy season, when runoff creates Class III–IV whitewater.
But if you go in the dry season, as Taylor Burk, a Vancouver-based photographer, and seven friends did this past April, the trip should be a little more relaxed. Over eight days, the group floated some 30 miles, watching as villagers spearfished, camping on deserted beaches, and seeing “a lot of strange bugs, birds, and bats,” Burk recalls.
On the sixth day, they reached the stretch of river pictured here, which boasts spring-fed waterfalls that tumble hundreds of feet. “I didn’t take any photos in the beginning,” Burk says. “I couldn’t stop staring. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and I’ll have that memory permanently etched into my brain.”