Palena River

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Quick Facts

General Description

The Palena River is long, flowing all the way from the border of Argentina to the Southern Pacific Ocean in Chile. It offers the flatest all-water pathway through Chile and is traversible by expert sea kayakers for the entire distance, save for one portagable Class III+ rapid near the town of Palena. Whitewater enthusiasts will primarily be interested in the "Border Section" which offers great beginner and intermediate runs.


The border section of the Palena is fairly hazard free except for the Class III+ La Difficulté near the village of Palena at the end of the run. At high water the river becomes appreciably more difficult. From roughly the Rio Tigre confluence to the village of La Junta the Palena River is characterized by continuous class II/III whitewater with many oxbows and dangerous downed trees that must be avoided.

River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

This river is seasonal with flows depending on snow melt and local preciptation. The river can get quite high during periods of rain and snow and drop very low during the dry months making the river quite shallow in places.

River Sections

  • Border Section: This introductory whitewater run starts at the border of Chile and Argentina and goes the bridge in the town of Palena.

Rapid Descriptions

Border Section:

  • La Difficult√© (Class III+): This rapid lies just outside the village of Palena and can be portaged (with effort) on the right. The rapid is primarily a boulder garden with many possible lines, depending on the water level. Take time to scout the rapid especially at higher water.

Put-Ins and Take-Outs

Border Section:

  • Put-in: Put-in just before the Argentina Border along Route 235. Look for an access road on the left where the canyon widens. Follow the road until you come to the confluence of the Rio Encuentro and Rio Palena.
  • Take-out: Take-out at the bridge going into the village of Palena.


Route 235 runs from Puerto Ramirez through the village of Palena to the Argentine border. Use the highway and local access roads to get to the river.

Places to Stay / Campgrounds


Maps & Outside Links




Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright ¬© 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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