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Whitewater rivers around Santiago de Chile  

Whitewater Rivers
around Santiago

Río Mapocho

Who would have thought that people would want to practice watersports on what runs through Santiago like a dirty and smelly cesspool. Above the capital, however, Mapocho's waters are still clean, and they form a few interesting eddies. However, unless you have the lofty goal of "doing" all Chilean rivers, this is one you can skip. While its upper reaches are very rocky, lower down it has been altered hopelessly, and it is lined by fierce dogs.

Access is via the road to Farellones. From its confluence with Río San Francisco, the Mapocho drops over 5 km at a rate of about 28 m/km and with Class IV-V rapids all the way to the bridge for the road. Below, there's another 5 km of Class IV until you get to El Arrayán bridge.

Río Maipo

The best-known river for rafting and kayaking in the Central Region owes its popularity to its proximity to Santiago rather than any special attractiveness. The upper Maipo valley has long been densely settled, and there are more and more fences making access to the banks difficult, and the brownish-grey glacier water does not look especially attractive, either.

Access via San José de Maipo further up the valley. The uppermost sections of the river are only for daring experts: Below El Manzanito hydropower station, there is an 8 km Class V section which is easy to scout out from the road. Do not overlook the Class VI spot in the "death gorge"! The most popular put-in is at the confluence with Río Yeso, which is crossed by a bridge a little ways beyond the police station. This bridge is where a 35 km Class III to V with a gradient of about 14 m/km starts. Beware: At the railroad tunnel, there is a difficult Class V+ spot, and soon after, another one. Take out at San José at the latest.

Río Volcán

This Maipo tributary offers little water, lots of rocks, and Class V+ rapids between Baños Morales and the town of El Volcán. Further below, it runs for about 4 km at Class IV and a gradient of 20-25 m/km.

Río Yeso

This Maipo tributary is more like a "wet gravel pit". The road to Yeso lake starts at the road into the upper Maipo valley. This river is hard to get to; it runs for about 4 km at Class V and drops 25 m/km to the bridge. Only for hardcore extreme types.

Río Colorado

Upper Colorado, also a Maipo tributary, can only be used with permission from the Military. From the checkpoint on the road to Maitenes, this river races at Class IV and with a gradient of more than 20 m/km back towards the main road through the Maipo valley. Its steep gorge makes it practically impossible to get out anywhere on the way. According to some reports, some sections cannot be run anymore; make sure to check it out thoroughly before you go!




Hang in there!



El Caminante



Adventure Handbook Central Chile

The rivers described here are an extract from the guidebook.