A Whitewater guide to the rivers of chile

Rio Pichapinga or Llaima

Known as the Rio Pichapinga in it´s upper section and Rio Llaima in the lowers stretch this is a winter/springtime creek run in Chile´s 9th Region de la Aruacania. The river flows northwest of the flanks of Nevados de Solipulli into the Allipén drainage. Put in bridge Directions: It is a 2.5 hour drive from […]

Rio Huichahue

When the winter rains hit Chile there are a ton of rivers to kayak that are dry in the summer months…One of these is the Huichahue Ben May Rio Huichahue Located in the 9th region of the Araucania, the river flows out of the Cordillera Melo just west of the Llaima Volcano. It is a […]

Rio Curacalco

A Native Mapuche word perhaps meaning ¨rock magic¨ Cura-rock, Calcu-witchcraft Located in the comuna de Cunco, Region de la Araucania, Chile´s 9th region… A low elevation run flowing off the north western flank of the permanent snowfields of Nevados de Solipulli with adequate water levels in the winter-early spring months from August to mid October […]

Rio Codihue

A fun creek run flowing off the Cordillera Huerere into the Northwestern corner of Lago Colico in Chile´s 9th Region de la Araucania. The roadside run is low volume with good gradient, and crystal clear water flowing through a still predominantly native forest. Codihue is a local Mapuche (Mapudungun) word meaning ¨place of rocks¨ Class […]

Rio Pilmaiquen

Big volume, warm water playboating in Southern Chile. Draining Lago Puyehuehue, the river forms the boundary between the 14th Region de los Rios and the 9th Region de los Lagos. Easy logistics and a nearby town make for a fun day of boating. Hike in to Pilmaiquen From Ruta 5 take the Osorno exit and […]

Rio Curaco

Draining Lago Colico in Chile’s 9th region is a continuous, friendly class 2-3 whitewater river best run in winter or early summer only when lake is full at peak snowmelt. Since the river is lake fed its volume changes very little in summer even after large rainfall. The river is very clear and not so […]

Rio Trafanpulli

A rumbling steep creek coming off the permanent snowfields of Nevados de Solipulli is the Rio Trafanpulli. In local Mapadungo language the meaning is “junction of the valleys”. French kayaker Valentin Grollemund I first started looking at this creek in 1995 but it was not until 2009 that I was able to get back to […]

Río Bío-Bío (El Nacimiento)

The famed Bío-Bío, Chile’s second longest river, originates in the heart of Mapuche-Pehuenche territory. The nacimiento, or birthplace of the river, is primeval and unforgettable. Araucarias, one of the Earth’s three oldest surviving tree species, stand sentinel along a shore framed by distant peaks straddling the border between Chile and Argentina. Float this headwater run […]

Río Bío-Bío (Lower)

Although the upper canyons now lay dormant under man made reservoirs, the lowest section of the Bío-Bío still offers intermittent whitewater, easy access, and pleasant scenery and a reminder of what was lost upstream. Its class II-III rapids will challenge, terrify, and delight the novice. During the mellow interludes, you will have plenty of time […]

Rio Dillo

To reach the put-in from Curracautín go west on the paved road towards Victoria and you will cross Puente Dillo in 4-1/2 kilometers (first you will pass over Puente Amantible). After crossing the bridge immediately turn right and drive up a private road until you reach a locked gate. We were given permission from landowner […]

Rio Captren

The Captren flows off the snow-covered, north western flank of Volcan Llaima (3125 meters) and has it’s headwaters within The Parque Nacional Conguillio at Laguna Captren. The river, however, is not runnable in its upper reaches but instead provides the right combination of gradient and flow for it’s final 3 km descent to the confluence […]

Rio Blanco (Cautín)

The Rio Blanco is an easy access, class 3 run flowing off the snowfields on the southern flank of Volcan Tolhuaca. Tolhuaca Volcano view from put in The run is best done during peak spring runoff or after extended periods of heavy rain. The water is ice cold. It is perhaps the only run in […]

Rio Calbuco

Draining the South Western flank of Volcan Llaima (3125 meters) is the deceivingly innocent Rio Calbuco. After meandering thru braided debris flows coming off the flanks of the volcano, the river tightens up at Puente Calbuco for it’s thundering 8 km descent to the confluence with Rio Quepe below town of Cherquenco. Fields Marshall at […]

Río Machín (Upper)

The best stretch of boating on the upper Maichín consists of a section of a class III-IV rapids above Puente Basas. Approximately 1 km below the put-in, the river flows through a 1.5 km long-columnar basalt gorge. The drops are straightforward and boat scoutable from eddies. The cold, clear river flows through a bucolic countryside […]

Rio Chalquilvin

Very similar in character to the nearby Río Ralco, the Chalquilvin is the Lomín’s other major tributary. Its sustained gradient creates many boat-scoutable, pool-drop rapids in a tight, shallow gorge. Unfortunately, when the bridge collapsed over the Lomín, easy access to the Chaquilvin was lost. Now only die-hard boat hikers or horses make the journey […]

Rio Cautin

This is a 9 km run with a drop of 124 meters or average of 16 m/km (80 FPM). Best run in spring or early summer when flows exceed 700 CFS but can also be run well into summer at lower flows. The river originates from the snowfields on Volcan Lonquimay 2865 meters so the […]

Rio Llancalil.

This river, although interesting, is not worth going out of your way for. If you are in the Pucon area and more specifically up near the headwaters of the Liucura near the “Los Posones” or Termas de Huife hot springs you might want to check it out. Polk Deters on Llancalil portage To get to […]

Rio Sollipulli

Flowing off of the permanent snow fields of Sollipulli is an ice cold tributary of the upper Maichin. It is short, not very difficult but incredibly beautiful. I ran this with Zack “Del Sapo” Cowen in early December 2004 I would not go out of way to run this river but given its simple logistics […]

Rio Blanco (de Caburgua)

This novelty run is only for those curious folks who are in the Pucon area and have already done every river imaginable. It is one of dozens of rivers named Rio Blanco in Chile. I first looked at this river in 1994 but it was almost impossible to scout. Although there is a road above […]

Rios Queupude & Alpehue

The Queupude along with adjacent river the Alpehue both flow off Northern side of Volcan Solipulli and along with Rio Truful-Truful eventually merge into the Allípen. In early January 1995 I drove up this drainage with John Foss, Clay Wright and Josh Lowry. What we found was a pair of the strangest kayak runs imaginable […]