|Rivers, Streams & Creeks
|Driving around Catemaco during the dry season makes one wonder where those up to 15 feet of rain
water actually go to. Most streams are piddling drivels filled with rocks, and even the bigger ones
question the term "Rio".
But come the middle of June, water flow picks up, and sleepy creeks turn into menacing road eaters.
In Catemaco the former arroyos draining the surrounding hills have been channelized to run down main
streets, and the remaining area seems to absorb its rain by osmosis.
The most notable river, easily visited by car is the Rio Cuetzalapan rushing down via several waterfalls.
The Rio Grande is the only outlet from the Laguna.
|Laguna de Sontecomapan recibe la escorrentía del agua de ambos Volcán de San Martín y la Sierra de
Santa Marta. Por alquiler de barcos, algunos de estos ríos puede ser parcialmente explorada inicio en los
muelles de Sontecomapan.
|Rio Grande de Catemaco
|For many more details of the Los Tuxtlas watersheds, see:
Los Tuxtlas Geography - Rivers
|Rio Palma - from San Martin, through La Palma,
Rio Basura - from San Martin,
Rio Chuniapan - from Santa Martas,
Rio Sabalo - merges with Coxcoapan,
Rio Yohualtajapan - from Santa Marta´s,
Arroyo Ancho - hills of San Martin, near Diaz Ordaz,
Arroyo Negro - from above Dos Amates,
plus several other arroyos draining the San
Martin/Santa Marta corridor.
|The Rio Grande de Catemaco is the only outlet of Laguna Catemaco. The river runs from Catemaco City via the
with the Rio San Juan.
Sometimes the name Rio Comoapan is applied to the river, primarily by San Andrés residents.
The river´s primary feed is Laguna Catemaco, which in turn receives most of its waters from the Rio Cuetzalapan
and Rio Ahuacapan. Numerous other rivers merge into the Rio Grande along its app. 55 km length which would be
about 40 km along a straight line. The largest river to merge is Rio Hueyapan from the Sierra Santa Marta, followed by
Rio Comoapan, and Rio Tejalate from above San Andres.
The Rio San Juan ultimately merges into the Rio Papaloapan near Tlacotalpan and then enters the Gulf of Mexico near
Before the advent of the San Andres railroad, the lower reaches of the river were used for canoe traffic which
connected with larger boats plying the San Juan river between Alvarado and San Juan Evangelista.
|Laguna Catemaco is not part of the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve only borders the Laguna.
In 1937 the watershed of Laguna Catemaco was decreed a Protected Zone by the Mexican Government.
Since then the area has lost most of its tree cover, and decimated its fauna and flora.
A new cycle of decrees began in 1979, resulting in additional loss of tree cover, fauna and flora. The last
decree of 1998 created the Biosfere Reserve of Los Tuxtlas and protects partial areas to the north and east
of the Laguna. Since then, additional losses of tree cover, fauna and flora have occured.
The original 1937 decree is still in effect. If you like, read the original decree here.
|All of Catemaco is included in the Río Papaloapan watershed, one of the most significant rivers of Mexico.
Two major subsidiary watersheds are situated within Catemaco, and create distinctive ecological
Laguna Catemaco drains mostly a section of the central western hills of the Sierra Santa Marta, while
Laguna Sontecomapan drains mostly the northwestern fringe of the Sierra Santa Marta plus the fringes of
the northwestern volcano San Martin Tuxtla massif.
The southern part of Catemaco drains into Rio Hueyapan, a tributary of the Rio Grande. The Gulf of Mexico
drains the rest.
|The Laguna Sontecomapan watershed is part of the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve.
For some unknown reason the ecologically highly sensitive areas of Laguna Sontecomapan were not included in the
nuclear zones of the Reserve when it was created in 1998.
In 2000 the University of Veracruz obtained a 15 year Mexican federal concession to 375 acres of the most threatened
Los Manglares (The Mangroves) are now a nature preserve managed by the University of Veracruz. A small mangrove
replantation project has been completed and more are planned.
In 2004 RAMSAR, (International Convention on Wetlands) added Laguna Sontecomapan to its critical list.
See a trip report here.