Chile Rivers: A Whitewater
Guide to Rivers in Chile & Argentina
As whitewater kayaking in Chile and Argentina becomes more and more popular the need for information about the rivers in Chile and the rivers in Argentina becomes greater and greater. With this in mind, we at Expediciones Chile developed this whitewater guide to Chile and Argentina for whitewater kayakers making the journey to Patagonia. One of the things we felt to be important was the incorporation of geographical information in any river guide, as people are not familiar with the Chile or Argentina and will have difficulty finding and getting to the rivers. We also wanted to keep the guide interactive by allow the kayaking community to contribute information to this page. Therefore our guide was developed in two parts. The first is a "Chile River's Locator" which will let you locate any river in Chile or Argentina and relate that to nearby populated places. The other is a user editable "Chile Whitewater River's Wiki" which contains information about the rivers themselves.
Chile Rivers Locator:
To find a river in Chile and Argentina click on the banner below. Use the drop down menus to bring up the river you are interested in and click enter. This will show you the river's location in Argentina or Chile relative to the major population centers. For information about the river, click on the displayed link which will take you to the Chile River's Wiki.
Chile Rivers Wiki:
To find information about a river in Chile or a river in Argentina you can access the Chile River's Wiki by clicking the banner below. Here you will find information about river difficulty, flows, water temperature, put-ins and take-outs, and the best places to stay or camp. If you are planning a trip to Chile or have paddled in Chile before please consider becoming a Chile River's Wiki Editor and help the rest of the paddling community by contributing your knowledge to the Chile rivers' guide.
From the Lake Espolon to the confluence of the Futaleufu, this aquatic paradise is nothing short of spectacular in beauty. It runs from the Lake Espolon to the village of Futaleufu . From here the river continues its journey until it enters the Futaleufu River two miles downstream from town. In the summer this river runs between 800 and 2000 cfs. Imagine water the color and clarity of the ocean surrounding Tahiti . The Espolon originates in the pristine mountain lake, Lago Espolon and plunges through the awe-inspiring, un-runnable “Cascades of Espolon”. At the base of the falls, the river transforms into a tame Class 2 river for the next 5 miles heading towards the Adventure Center with numerous deep clear pools, white sand beaches and very manageable rapids. This is an excellent river for first time rafters or sit-on-top kayakers as well as for fly fishing. The water is so transparent it feels as though you were hovering over the river bottom on a magic carpet. A trail from our lodge winds through the trees near the river where you see the numerous swimming and fishing pools teeming with brown and rainbow trout.
This river joins the Rio Futaleufu, 22 kilometers downstream from town under the shadow of the Tres Monjas peaks. The riverbanks are lush and green with ferns, which contrast with the soft, white-sandy beaches. This glacier-fed river can range between 600 to 2000 cfs, depending on rain and snowmelt in the mountains. This is a great warm-up for the Class kayak and raft 3/4 trips. The Azul is one of the great alternate rivers in Cjile when the Futaleufu is running too high. Technical and defined, the Rio Azul takes its name from the aquamarine water color.
This tributary near the Argentina border runs through a national reserve for the Huemul which are small native deer. Mountain ike and horseback riding trails take you through this remote valley along the border. The small river enters the Futaleufu River near the border with Argentina upstream from town. We have walked sections of it and need to scout more before we plan a first descent with correct water levels. This is Class 3/4, with possibilities of unknown falls.
The Rio Palena
(Whitewater Kayaking, Sea Kayaking)
About one hour from the village of Futaleufu lies the Rio Palena. The Palena originates in Argentina and cuts a clear path all the way across Chile to the Southern Pacific Ocean . The entire river is traversable by expert sea kayakers and it contains mile after mile of class II/ III whitewater rapids. Whitewater kayakers will primarily be interested in the upper section which contains some significant class III/III+ rapids. This is a river we frequently visit with our class II/III trips and our kayak school students.
The Rio Tigre
A tributary of the Rio Palena, the Rio Tigre lies to south of the village of Palena . Like the Palena, the Rio Tigre originates in Argentina with headwaters in some high alpine lakes. The class III section is about 10 kilometers long ending at the confluence with the Rio Palena. The upper section of the Rio Tigre is Class V where the river is known as the “Saltos de Tigre”. This is a river we frequently visit with our class II/III trips and our kayak school students.
The Rio Michimahuida
Off the side of Volcan Michimahuida lies the class IV-V Michamahuida River . To kayak this river flows must be just right as it drops steeply through a narrow gorge. The river can be run in one day or over a span of two days with a bivouac between. Above the Class IV/V section is a class II/III section that is suitable for beginner kayakers at most water levels. Be sure to check out the Amarillo Hot Springs on your way in or out of the Michimahuida Valley.