Truful Truful River
- Class: III/IV
- Distance:10 kms (6 miles)
- Average Gradient:
- Maximum Gradient: waterfall, at the take-out
- Temperature: moderate
- Water Quality: excellent, clear
- Character: steady gradient, wavetrains
- Nearby Rivers: Trancura River - Lower, Trancura River - Upper, Palguin River, Liucura River
The Rio Truful Truful flows out of Lago Verde, one of the four lakes in the Chilean National Park of Conguillio and is a tributary of the Rio Allipen. Both rivers flow around the scenic, snow covered volcanic cone of Llaima (3125 meters). Volcano Llaima is one of the most active volcanoes in all of Chile with recorded eruptions occurring intermittently since the 17th century. Many of the lakes in Conguillio park were formed when lava flows from Llaima dammed the Rio Truful Truful. The Truful Truful river valley demarcates Conguillio Park from the National Park of China Muerte to the east. Both of these parks are spectacular natural wonders with an abundance of native plant life and animals. Here you can see forests of ancient araucaria trees (monkey-puzzle trees) and other indigenous species such as rauli, coigue and cypress. The landscape is so unique it was used for the filming parts of the PBS documentary series, ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’. When you enter the Truful Truful Valley you will think you are in another world.
Conguillio Park is known in Chile as the ‘Park of the Umbrellas’ for the distinct umbrella like shape the araucaria trees adopt when mature. Some of the trees in the park are over a thousand years old with diameters over 2 meters. The landscape of the park is a mixture of dense vegetation with barren lava fields, one so extensive it known as the Valley of the Moon, through which the Rio Truful Truful flows.
The origination of the name of the river is from the Mapuche language of the pre-Columbian people who populated this region. It means from “jump to jump” or “leap to leap” and was a descriptor of the Truful Truful Waterfall (Saltos). The river itself is class III/IV with the most difficult class IV rapid up top before the river mellows out to class III noise and wave trains for its 8 kilometer journey to the top of the falls. One of the most interesting things about kayaking the Truful Truful River is that it flows underground from Lago Verde, so that the water volume mysteriously grows as one descends the river. That said, however, most kayakers who visit the Rio Truful Truful usually do so for the spectacular scenery rather than the epic whitewater.
The Salto Truful Truful is the primary hazard here. This waterfall requires exiting the river as it is unrunnable at ordinary levels. Pay attention when you near the end of the run so as not to enter the rapids that lead up to Saltos Truful Truful. Reports have it that these falls have been run at low water levels but they should not be attempted by anyone but a true expert. Consider the last eddy above the falls a 'must make' eddy.
River Flows / Gauge Information / Season
The best time to attempt the Rio Truful Truful is December through February when the river is normally running about 1000 cfs (36 cms) and somewhat warmer. The river follows the normal 'snow fall' pattern in Chile with higher flows in the Spring that lessen in Autumn. The source of the water for the Truful Truful River is the glaciated slopes of Volcano Llaima.
Put-Ins and Take-Outs
- Put-in: Put in on the south side of the Parque Nacionale Conguillio just before the park entrance. Here you will find a parking area to leave your shuttle vehicle. You will need to scamper down a high volcanic escarpment to access the river a few hundred meters downstream of the parking area.
- Take-out: Take-out above the Salto Truful Truful. Use the spectator parking lot on river left to park your shuttle vehicle. The parking lot can be found by crossing the Rio Truful Truful east of the town of Melipeuco and looking for signs and an access road heading north to the parking area. It is worthwhile to scout the take-out scene and eddy at the top of the falls your first time down.
Preferred Route: From Temuco (or Route 5, the Pan American Highway) head east to the town of Cunco and onward to the town of Melipeuco to the southern entrance to Parque Nacional Conguillio. As of this writing the roads are paved up until Melipeuco and in excellent unpaved condition beyond.
Alternate Route: Enter Parque Nacional Conguillio from the north via the towns of Vilcun and Cherquenco. Drive to the southern gate of the park to find the put-in.
Places to Stay / Campgrounds
Plan on camping someplace in Parque Nacional Conguillio. This spectacular park is not to be missed. The campgrounds are fully serviced by park staff and have all the essential facilities. The town of Melipeuco offers a place to stock up on provisions but it is best to rely first on the larger cities like Temuco for the rarer items.
Maps & Outside Links