Nuble River

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Quick Facts

  • Class: III-IV+
  • Distance: 25 kms (16 miles)
  • Average Gradient: 45 ft/mi (8m/km)but varies with long stretches of flat water
  • Maximum Gradient:
  • Temperature: runoff, snow melt river, be prepared for cold water.
  • Water Quality: Excellent (Clear Turquoise)
  • Character: Drop Pool & Riverbed Boulders

General Description

The Nuble whitewater section is centered around the small, mountain village of San Fabian de Alico, Bio Bio, Chile. At moderate flows the river offers a great (but long) day of class III/IV+ whitewater kayaking. The river is characterized by large boulders in the riverbed and the features generated from them as well as some drop pool rapids and lots of flatwater. The scenery on this river trip is amazing. Because the river is remote expect to camp overnight while kayaking the Rio Nuble.


This river is run frequently enough, but don't expect it to be clear of obstructions. Scout where you don't feel comfortable and keep your eyes out for strainers and other hazards.

River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

This is a run-off river with no upper reservoir serving to either moderate flows or temperature. Running the Rio Nuble requires one to keep an eye on the weather and snowpack. Decembers can be high with the river beginning to lose significant volume by the end of February.

Real-time Steamflow Data

Reporting Stations:

  • Rio Nuble at San Fabian de Alico: l08106002-9 Ñuble en San Fabian, Region VII

Rapid Descriptions


Put-Ins and Take-Outs

  • Put-in: Head out of San Fabian de Alico going up the Nuble River Valley to the east. The road will run through the diminutive to almost non-existent towns of Los Puquios and La Puntilla. After La Puntilla the river will split into a northern and southern fork. The southern fork is actually the Rio Nuble. The northern fork, which the road follows, is the Rio de los Sauces. You will want to follow the road and the Rio de los Sauces until the road dead-ends. Put in at the small footbridge that spans the Rio de los Sauces. You will kayak down the Rio de los Sauces until it confluences with the Rio Nuble.
  • Take-out Options: Because the river is so remote most groups will want to run the entire 25 kilometers back to San Fabian de Alico and enjoy the scenery of the spectacular Nuble River Valley. The upper three fifths of this run is class III/IV with the last two fifths being class III in character. It is possible to take-out around the fifteen kilometer mark and skip the lower class III stretch.


Starting from the city of Chillan (Che-jan) drive north on Route 5 until you come to the city of San Carlos. Another kilometer or so north, out of town, turn right on the road to the village of Sauce, then on to Cachapoal and onward to San Fabian de Alico. The total drive is about 70 kilometers from Chillan to San Fabian de Alico. This small village will be your base-station from which to shop and make camping arrangements for your stay in the Nuble Valley. The other villages (Los Puquios, La Puntilla) up river of San Fabian de Alico are too small to rely on for support.

Places to Stay / Campgrounds

The Rio Nuble Valley is a popular place to 'weekend vacation' for the citizens of the nearby city of Chillan, so don't expect a pristine wilderness experience. There are plenty of riverside campsites around, but they tend to fill quickly, especially during the peak Summer months of January and February. Your best bet is to enquire in the town of San Fabian de Alico early on the day you arrive in the valley.

Outside Links & Resources

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