Darin McQuoid Blog Reviews Tutorials River Directory

Argentina & Chile

We made it. Finally in Chile we head south from Santiago. Stopping at the Rio Claro seems like the perfect way to break up the drive to Pucon. A strange side effect of an earthquake in 2010 is that the Rio Claro lost water for over a year as it went underground. Then it cane back and kayakers rejoiced. The "Twenty-two Waterfalls" and "Seven Teacups" sections of Rio Claro are well known in the kayaking world, yet beta is lacking. Go to the bottom of the page for beta.

Camping in the middle of the small town Molina was not the most ideal situation.

We quickly find our way up to the Rio Claro but have no real beta. So we ask locals. This goes as well in Chile as it does Stateside. Non-kayakers just don't know rivers, and we spend an extra hour carrying our boats through the woods.

Fabian Bonanno and Igor Mlekuž.

We back track a to where some flags and a trail had "not led to the river" earlier. Thankfully this time they do lead to the river, and we find low but gorgeous water.

Andrej Bijuklic at put-in for the Twenty-Two Waterfalls.

Rok Sribar runs the first waterfall.

Fabian Bonanno, entry falls, the canyon is quite stunning.

Fabian Bonanno, plunges over the largest vertical drop of the section.

Andrej Bijuklic, this is with a fisheye giving a 180 degree view of the canyon, it's really quite tight in here.

Igor Mlekuž launches one of the best.

In such a tight canyon, a few of the lines are unusual, like this one under a log chocked in a small channel.

Andrej Bijuklic on a fun clean slide.

Fabian Bonanno, this place is really unreal.

We finish the Twenty-Two waterfalls with smiles despite the low water. It's afternoon at this point but we decide attempting the "Garganta del Diablo" is a good idea. Except we don't really know where to put in and take out. After getting more local beta Rok and I walk down to the take out where we are informed that's actually the put-in for the Seven Teacups. So we hike back up to a side road, where according to our new beta, the put-in is.

Rok Sribar at the side road.

With light fading all too fast we bomb down to the much documented Garganta del Diablo - Throat of the Devil. I'm surprised every image I've seen of it so far has focused on just the drop, because the canyon itself is quite the venue for mixed emotions. The drops are not terribly hard, but a rescue would be quite challenging to put it lightly.

Fabian Bonanno

Igor Mlekuž

Rok Sribar

Superlatives don't do it justice, Andrej Bijuklic & Fabian Bonanno.

We were all worried about the Throat of the Devil, little did we know that the crack drops where the real hazard. Locked into the gorge the Rio Claro flows through two very tight crack drops. With our low flows they are just wide enough to fit through and drop considerable gradient as they are not filled in.

Team members who forgot their elbow pads...wish they had not.

Igor Mlekuž exits the magic.

We have beta for take out but it's not conveyed correctly, and we venture too far downstream. Un-runnable, un-portagable. It's a good thing Andrej Bijuklic has plenty of rock climbing experience and is able to lead an egress back upstream with technical climbing.

Darkness is minutes away as Rok Sribar executes the crux move of our escape

Tarantulas are all over the take out trail. Good thing we're not bivouacking on the river. It's almost dark as we load kayaks on the car. The group dynamic is split, some of us are keen on staying to run the classic Seven Teacups section tomorrow. I'm all for maximizing whitewater and minimizing driving, especially as there is a low probability of returning here in the future. We go the democracy route, vote, and head into town to party. Town is pretty much closed down, we manage to find dinner and then sleep in the dirt of Molina again. Wild times.

On to Pucon!

This Rio Claro (one of many in Chile) is located inside Radal Siete Tazas National Park. From Santaigo it's almost 200km South on 5 to the town of  Curico. Just past Curico exit on K-15 and drive through the small town of Molina. In town make a left onto K-175 and follow it for some miles into the country until a right onto K-275. Follow to the obvious park entrance and be sure to stop and pay your fees. In 2012 they had no problem with us kayaking in the park. The Rio Claro is split into three sections. To get to 22 Waterfalls, drive to the top of the road where it ends with a few buildings and a gated road over the river. We hiked up the river right side for about 2km. The trail to put-in was flagged and seemed to be under development. From there, kayak down to the bridge you started out.

The "Throat of the Devil" section is just downstream. To avoid a few portages, go downstream just a little ways on the road and hike down a steep road to the river, as seen in the photo above. We are not the only group to have missed take out...when you see the obvious wooden platform and stairs on your left, take out, don't be tempted by the nice 10' drop just downstream.

The last section is simple, from the Seven Teacups sign hike upstream on river right for ten minutes, take out at the overlook. There is nice pay camping just outside the park, and it's worth spending at least two days here.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...