Rio Tolten

20 Oct

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.

Tolten put in under the bridge

The put in is at the exit of Lago Villarrica (213 meters elevation) and here in this river write up we presents three takeout options.

  1. First take out is 8.7 KM from the Villarica bridge heading towards Temuco. Make a left at the green fishing sign(the sign is on the right but turn towards the river on the left) and pay 2.000 Chilean pesos to access the private takeout. This trip option is about  2.5 hours / 9 km. You could do the shuttle yourself or hire someone 5.000 Chilean pesos to run the shuttle for you if you only have one car.
  2. Second takeout  is at the confluence of the Rio Pedregozo ( elevation is 188 meters). This is a trip of 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.  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.
  3. Third take out option would be to 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

Thanks to David Hughes of Pucon Kayak Hostel for  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.

Tolten Family Fun


The river can be run year round with low summer flows of 1200 CFS and winter flows in excess of 20,000 CFS.


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