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Whitewater rivers Santiago - Curicó  

Whitewater Rivers
between Santiago and Curicó

Río Cachapoal

This river is accessed from Rancagua via Coya. The approx. 12 km section between the dam and Coya has Class IV to V rapids and a 12 m/km gradient, however, it often does not have enough water (when it is pumped to the El Teniente copper mine, which then returns it full of chemicals lower down.) Below Termas de Cauquenes the Cachapoal is suitable for beginners' classes.

Río Tinguiririca

While this river is not recommended for rafting, it offers kayak enthusiasts some technical challenges. To get there, follow the bumpy gravel road from San Fernando to Termas El Flaco (80 km) which is one-way only, up in the morning and down in the afternoon. About 12 km before you get to the hot springs, the road crosses the river; at this bridge is a good put-in.

Starting here, a deep gorge offers 40 km of whitewater distinguished by the fact that it gets harder rather than easier, and that you cannot get out on some sections. The river is rated Class III to IV; and there are several portages. The gradient on the first 20 kilometers, which are entirely above the treeline, is about 24 m/km. The river is guarded by high mountains on either side. It doesn't take much luck to spot condors here.

Following this section, there is another 22 kilometers at 13 m/km to the Negro bridge. The last section down to the Panamericana consists of about 15 km of easy paddling between Class II and III while still offering very scenic views.

Río Teno

East of Curicó, a good gravel road leads to the resort of Los Queñes. About 17 km upriver, Río Teno squeezes through an enormous gorge. Below these cascades is a good place to put in to do a few kilometers of Class III to V rapids and a few portages. After that, the river runs at Class III to IV to the bridge located about 4 km beyond Los Queñes. The gradient should be around 15 m/km.

In its upper reaches, Río Teno is forced through a narrow valley in between rugged mountains, its lower reaches are partially lined by trees. Its clear tributary Río Claro, that joins in Los Queñes, is also worth checking out for whitewater enthusiasts.

Río Mataquito

West of the Panamericana the Teno flows into the Lontué and continues as Río Mataquito to the Pacific. Because of its slow current, it can easily be navigated with a canoe. This scenic section that is easily accessed at several bridges is well suited for one- or multi-day tours of the river. Its wide valley can be very windy. Beware at its mouth on the Pacific: High waves and a strong current can easily create dangerous situations.

Río Lontué

This river is hard to get to, but it's worth a nice kayak tour. There is a road that runs from Curicó southeast towards Upeo; before it turns north, stay on the river and try to put in from one of the properties across from Culenar. 17-20 kilometers of Class III-IV in clear water, through vast fields.

Río Claro

This Río Claro (one of many with the same name) is known for the famous cascades of Siete Tazas and the Nature Preserve of the same name. There is a good gravel road from Curicó via Molina. These cascades are navigable - but only for professionals. The objective is not so much running the river as plunging down the waterfalls without breaking one's neck. Put-in is either directly above the highest waterfall (at 8 m) or 500 m above that. A sign-posted trail goes from the road to the best take-out by the lowest "Taza".

A visit to the adjacent Nature Preserve is an absolute must. Southern Beech forests with pictureque gorges provide opportunities for several days of hiking.

 

 

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Adventure Handbook Central Chile

The rivers described here are an extract from the guidebook.