2 Meters Per Kilometer / 8 Feet Per Mile
Often overlooked amid all the class 3, 4 and 5 rivers to be found in Pucon, the class 2 Rio Tolten is big, beautiful and much warmer than the upstream rivers: Trancura and Liucura.
The Rio Tolten is a scenic float and a fisherman’s paradise. The river has no big rapids but has very continuous current with some pushy turbulent whirlpools and eddy lines. It is a great river to do with children and on family outings.
The put in is at the exit of Lago Villarrica (213 meters elevation) and the takeout is at the confluence of the Rio Pedregozo ( elevation is 188 meters). The run is over 20 km in length and takes a solid 4 hours. A safe place to leave your vehicle at the put in is the pescadero launch where the local fishing guides launch their wooden boats. You can also contract one of these fisherman to take you drift fishing in their wooden dories for 25,000 pesos per person per day which includes equipment and shuttle.
Another shorter Tolten float trip option brought to our attention by David Hughes of PuconKayakHostel is the following.
You can putin at the lago overflow to tolten at a fisherman’s land. Segundo’s daughter will run your shuttle for 5.000 pesos. About a 5 mile paddle with shuttle run is hard to beat. there is also a 2.000 farmer access fee.
Directions as if you were coming from Temuco toward Villarrica.
1- Cross Tolten and take first left.
2- Take second left on dirt road crossing potholes until you half circle around a place on the corner of the lake outlet that offers fishing trips.
3- Segundo’s place is overlooking a nice aluminum dock with a ramp and steps. Ask for Segundo.
The river can be run year round with low summer flows of 1200 CFS and winter flows in excess of 20,000 CFS.
To reach the takeout (from the Tolten bridge in Villarrica) drive 16.3 KM towards Temuco to Puente Pedregozo. You can park your vehicle just before the bridge on the left hand side in front of someone’s house. There is a steep but good trail down to the river in front of the same house.
Another option is continue downstream another 20 KM or so to another takeout point called Balsadero Coipue and/or the town of Pitrufquen. The river is much calmer in this stretch and requires another 5-6 hours of paddling. For the adventurous types or those looking for a multi day trip switch into sea kayaks