Chilean Adventures – Part 2 – The River: Adventures on The Liacura & The Trancura
Location: Pucon, Chile
My first adventure to Chile some years ago gave me a taste of some of the white water that Region X (10) has to offer. The Futaleful Valley delivered with beautiful canyons, challenging rapids and a thriving white water community. I have been longing for more and so when the opportunity arose to travel to the mountain town of Pucon, Chile, set beneath the still active Volcano Villarica, cloaked in Araucaria forests (Monkey Puzzle trees) and surrounded by clean flowing rivers, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t!?! Traveling by bus with Santiago Berrueta and Nick Cunliffe we arrived in the small pueblo and were welcomed by an active, smoking Volcano.
The town was quaint and definitely geared for adventure tourists but we had arrived in low season and from the beginning we felt like we had hit the jackpot! There were great hostal options, amazing food and friendly people all set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. Our excitement had been building as we flipped through the Whitewater Chile guidebook, it was all we needed to get a little bit of info and a whole lot of stoke about paddling in the region. We took a walk through town, found the friendly Ben May at his storefront of KayakChile.net, where we were easily able to arrange boats, paddles, a river shuttle and some great conversation on the way to paddling both the Liacura and Trancura rivers close by the city.
The lower Liacura and Lower Trancura rivers are class II/III, both weaving their path through river valleys and with some fun and challenging sets of rapids. It was enough to get our faces wet and to feel the pulse of the river back underneath us. I have stepped away from whitewater boating in pursuit of surf kayaking and longboat surfing on the ocean, but have so enjoyed my return to the river, reading it’s messages and being reminded that ‘you can’t push the river’!!
After feeling confident in our skills and settling into our rented equipment, we were all set to take on the upper section of the Trancura. This section is a class IV river that took us higher up the valley with the volcano in clear sight as the rivers’ waters flowed over the black, once-molten rock that told the explosive the story of Villarica volcano.
It was a challenging and amazing river! Complete with pushy water, pool-drop rapids, a few must make moves, a portage and a few sweet play-spots with good eddy service, the river served up everything we needed! The most wonderful feeling for me, was found in the process of scouting a line, making moves on the water with intention, arriving at the bottom only to look up, smile and see a volcano staring back at you through the forested mountains and the blooming flowers of springtime. Ya… I know that all sounds dreamy, but unfortunately that was how it felt! The combination of moving through a new and beautiful landscape and the challenge of running unknown whitewater gave me pause to be particularly greatful. I was also happy to be able to travel with my Kokatat Drysuit, and PFD, my Seals Spray Deck and my Sweet Helmet, in a relatively small package and roll into some sick whitewater in Chile.
From breathtaking sea kayaking and longboat surfing on the beautiful Chilean coastline, to whitewater adventures in the Andean mountains, this trip has rekindled my love for the river and inspired me more deeply to experiment with the push of water. I feel very lucky indeed!