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Quick Facts

  • Class: IV
  • Type: Drop-Pool and Wavetrain
  • Length: 100 meters (330 feet)
  • Alternate Names: Shark
  • Previous Rapid: Condor
  • Next Rapid: Home Free
  • Interactive Map: Futaleufu River Valley
  • River Section: Lower Futaleufu, Bridge-to-Bridge


A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Tiburon
A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Tiburon

Tiburon is a deceiving rapid. It looks easy, a ramped drop leading into a large exploding wave-hole, followed by a series of exploding waves, finishing in a calm pool below. However, below the wavetrain the river narrows and takes a dog-leg turn to the right. The main wavetrain, which is quite pushy, and unpredictable leads directly into a river-left eddy and an undercut section of the canyon wall. The main current follows the contour of the canyon wall setting up something of a conveyor system.

High an Low Water

Unless you really know what you are doing stay away from the left wall at all levels.


Boat scout from the main eddy on river-left. An alternative is getting out and scouting above the rapid on river-right.


Heading down the central wavetrain in Tiburon.
Heading down the central wavetrain in Tiburon.

This rapid is rated Class IV because of the hazardous nature of the undercut wall that interfaces with the big river-left eddy. The wall is recognizable because of the rock protrusion at the center of it, shaped like a Shark’s Mouth. (Tiburon means shark in Spanish.) The significantly undercut Shark’s Mouth is not the most dangerous element of the rapid. The eddy current, upstream of the Shark’s Mouth leads into an undercut canyon wall and a powerful subduction zone. This eddy, although it looks calm, has currents and boils that push paddlers toward the undercut wall. A swim in this eddy should be avoided at all costs. Dawdling on the central wavetrain or under-estimating its power will often get paddlers in trouble with these two river features. Tiburon has been responsible for one fatality to date and a few close calls.

Play Opportunities

For those with faster and longer kayaks the Aquarium Wave is a great place to stop and surf before heading down Tiburon. It is located above the rapid in the center. It has a glassy face and if the Futaleufu is running clear you will be able easily see the rocks (and fish) swimming beneath you. You will need to sprint to catch-it-on-the-fly as the Aquarium Wave has no eddy service.

Where to Swim

Paddling hard toward river-right in Tiburon.
Paddling hard toward river-right in Tiburon.

A swimmer should try to get out of the main current as quickly as possible by heading to one of the eddies on the river-right side.

Where to Rescue

Having a more experienced paddler waiting in one of the eddies below the drop, in the event of a swimmer is a very good idea. Preventing a swimmer from drifting in to the hazards on river left is essential. Rescues have been performed by very experienced paddlers from the hazardous eddy on river-left. This is not routinely done and should be considered a true river emergency should it occur. There is a Slot in the wall where a swimmer can be pulled from the water. We know of a successful rescue of a kayaker, that included CPR while laying prone in that slot.

Where to Portage

It is possible to portage this rapid on river-right, but it won't be easy.

Running the Rapid

All eyes on the undercut Shark's Mouth in Tiburon.
All eyes on the undercut Shark's Mouth in Tiburon.

This rapid should be run with the aim of getting to one of the eddies on the river-right as quickly as possible. Access to the “End it Now Eddy” can be gained by accurately punching the weak area of the wave-hole at the bottom of the entry ramp. Should you not find the weak spot, there is another large calm eddy downstream on river-right that will serve as a consolation prize. Remember, just one roll in the explosion wavetrain could mean that you are heading to the hazardous river-left eddy. Don't blow it here!


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. This guidebook is based on Expediciones Chile's twenty years of experience running the Futaleufu River. However, the diagrams and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get here. 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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