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Whitewater rivers Talca - Chillán  

Whitewater Rivers
between Talca and Chillán

Río Maule

From Talca, the international pass road keeps following Río Maule to Argentina. Beyond the La Mina police station lies a resort complex by some hot springs, as well as a bridge which is suitable for put-in. Before you leave, take a look around Laguna del Maule located further up. From the put-in, Río Maule takes off at Class V+ down towards La Mina.

The next section to where the river joins the reservoir is Class III to IV, and very scenic. Beware: the river has been turned into a canal in order to pump water in two places. Before you get to the Colbún lake, you will pass spectacular falls dropping 80 m over basalt rocks into a lagoon.

The lower portion of Río Maule, which winds its way slowly through the plain between two mountain ranges west of the Panamericana, is well suited for canoes. This is where the Chilean canoe championships are held every year. Put-in is at Talca into Río Claro coming from the north and flowing into Maule further to the southwest. It is followed by a railroad line all the way to the coast, but there is no road. Theoretically you could stop anywhere, flag down the train, and ride it back to Talca.

The last section before you get to Constitución does not have much of a current anymore. Plan on two days for the entire length.

Río Ancoa

Río Ancoa receives its water through a tunnel from Río Melado. From Linares, take the road to El Peñasco. A logical input is where the water from the Melado surges from the tunnel into Ancoa. Starting here, the river is Class IV and V, and there are two portages. The gradient on this section is about 19 m/km. For take-out, use the dam or the bridge after it. If you follow the road up the valley all the way to its end, you will get to Refugio Melado.

From here, you can do fascinating tours into the surrounding area, e.g., in Los Bellotos National Park: Waterfalls, lakes, horseback riding and rafting in the midst of practically virgin jungle.

Río Achibueno

This river that wends its way through one of the wildest sceneries in Central Chile like a turquoise snake, can also be accessed from Linares. The bluish-green lagoons, the cypress forests and granite walls are a little reminiscent of Yosemite National Park in the US, just not as well-known. A poor road follows the river and ends at a horse ranch under construction. From this road, the various sections up to the confluence with Ancoa can be explored easily; Class III to IV - a kayaker's dream!

Río Ñuble

For purists, the real kayaker's paradise starts with this high water volume, bluish-green river northeast of Chillán. There is a good road from San Carlos to Los Sauces via San Fabián de Alico, with good spots for camping along the river. This section is Class III with two passages of Class IV and interesting bends; the gradient is mild at 8 m/km. Starting with Nahueltoro bridge it gets easier, and the valley becomes wider.

If you want to, you can rent mules at Los Sauces for having your boats carried further upriver to explore the upper reaches. A gorgeous, three to four day trekking tour leads to Laguna Trucha mountain lake - a real insider tip.




Siete Tazas
In the famous Siete Tazas of Río Claro



El Caminante



Adventure Handbook Central Chile

The rivers described here are an extract from the guidebook.