All the info for intermediate to advanced kayakers looking to safely run waterfalls, improve skills, explore canyons, and get epic kayak experiences



Safety and expert tips are given throughout this guide based on our expert knowledge of Pucon and the surrounding area. If you’re looking for the best experience, join us on one of our trips with included meals, lodging, transportation, instruction and more!

Expert class V level Chile waterfalls to kayak are not included in this guide. Chile’s Andean slopes and volcano drainages are full of basalt canyons and kayakable waterfalls. A kayaker’s playground the waterfalls include safe first time waterfalls for learning, intermediate drops to practice safety tuck positions, advanced drops for mastering freestyle and advanced skills, expert waterfalls for the big drop hucksters, and plenty of first descents for explorers.

#6: Palguin 20 Footer

(6.8 M)

Upper Palguin

(Intermediate to Advanced)

“Palguin 20 Footer” the Upper Palguin’s largest and easiest drop on South America’s most kayaked waterfall basalt canyon. 20 Footer as it is most commonly termed has two sides offering multiple lines. There is a more dynamic right side spout for advanced kayakers and an easier left side. Bottom of both drops has a large eddy with several points for safety rope and media setting. There is a merging seam between the drops that is excellent for half slices to squirt and whirlybird around for fun and media.

Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

Right Side Spout – shoots water away from the lip allowing numerous dynamic moves such as tuck protection discipline, pitch control and entry angle, boofing, stomping, eardipping, race lines,
Left Side Waterfall – a slow rolling lip idea for beginner waterfall funners. Tuck and protect positions, master keeping kayak straight, entry angle, and rolling for the fist pump.  

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions work on foundational moves including safety position tuck and plug; paddle and boat pitch control; boat edging control; pitch entry; boofing; stomping.
Expert Progressions include freestyle and expert moves such as ear dip, ear dip to stomp, boof to stomp, and waterfall freestyle.  

Kayakers taking boof stroke may land flat or left stroke may shoot the kayaker into right side eddy/rocks. Some kayakers swimming have had kayaks and/or body pulled behind the open veil. This is rare but prudent safety is advised. Rope throws can be made to all points from the rock island between falls. We recommend a sound whistle system to communicate safely from bottom to top eddy. 

Primary safety – should be set with a kayaker in a boat. There is a spot on the opposite wall of falls to sit in a boat perched on rock so to shoot media or quickly slide in for rescue.
Secondary safety – should be set rope on a rock island between the two falls. 

Wanna lap it? Below “Pescador” in the next walled in canyon, kayakers can hike back up and lap the drop. It’s a bit of work and is best with a friend or guide to pass kayaks up bank. Consistent laps will hone your abilities to run this drop!

#5: Wall Falls

(6.5 M)

Upper Nevado Canyon

(Advanced to Expert)

Wall Falls is the most advanced drop on this report. Within the Upper Nevado canyon Wall Falls is one of three 6.5 M waterfalls, several six to 4 M drops, and a sick extended high speed slide. The Wall Falls approach slides at low angle toward the 12 degree tilting lip. The drop falls off the overhanging lip just 3 meters in front of the drop’s namesake wall.

A mandatory advanced subtle righty turn stroke or lefty pushing stroke turns the kayak so it squirts left upon impact vs. pitoning into an oncoming wall. The higher the water the easier the drop as kayakers can’t cheat left further away from the wall. Lower water squeezes the drop closer and closer to the wall becoming progressively more consequential. Pool at the bottom is a calm pool.

Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions must be able to pull or push a waterfall lip stroke to turn kayak.
Expert Progressions a pushing left side stroke is the safer stroke as it ensures the kayak bow staying low versus the pulling right stroke that often over boofs to a flat landing. Experts may catch a rarely seen Hat Trick with 3 micro challenge eddies above drop.

Go with swiftwater rescue trained and experts that know the Nevado canyon and access points. The lip is sloping uphill to the left. The further left the greener the water and more likely the over boof to flat impact. The further right the more squeezed toward the oncoming wall and need to turn the kayak left. There is no portage option. Once kayakers run Wall Falls they are committed to canyon.

Primary safety – set in kayaker bottom of drop. There is a spot on the opposite wall of falls to sit in a boat perched on rock so to shoot media or quickly slide in for rescue.
Secondary safety – secondary kayaker in boat hangout below waterfall veil to assist with rolls.

If this drop is a bit too much, you can hike out of the canyon easily as the canyon is just starting. If you like this drop, then game on.

#4: Ski Jump

(5 M)

Rio Claro Basalt Canyon

(Advanced to Expert)

Ski Jump is one of 22 drops on Rio Claro’s Venti-dos Saltos canyon. Other canyons include Siete Tazas, Entres Saltos, Cinco Tazas, and Garganta del Diablo.

Sitting in a calm clear pool kayakers await their one shot of the run at Ski Jump. The banking basalt wall has been carved and polished for 66,000,000 years by the forces of plate tectonics, volcanic eruption and basalt core flow, glacial impact, and raging flows just for us to kayak.

Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

Look over the calm lip to see the left wall curling and sloping out to an extended highest point, the middle section with a lower ramp, and the right section sliding at a steep angle down. Pick your height, speed and move. “Is my Go Pro on?” Drop lands in a large calm pool.

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions – Recommend middle to left depending on the level and your confidence. If the level is low the left higher line mandates a stomp to avoid flat impact. A high left line with a pushing righty will also ensure keeping bow down.
Expert Progressions – Charge that left side with confidence you can keep your bow down with a stomp or righty push stroke. A right side stroke freewheel would be an expert move with conservative consequences.

Landing flat. Three ways to keep your bow down: 1. Stomp it; 2. You can push a right stroke; 3. Take a conservative right side line.

Primary safety – set in kayaker bottom of drop. There is a spot on the opposite wall of falls to sit in a boat perched on rock so to shoot media or quickly slide in for rescue.
Secondary safety – secondary kayaker in boat hangout below waterfall veil to assist with rolls.

If your bow angles left too hard, then the left higher sloping side of Ski Jump may cause an over elevated bow impossible to recover. Set media opposite of bottom eddy. 

#3: Las Leonas

(8 M + 5 M)

Rio Fuy

(Advanced to Expert)

Las Leonas is actually a series of waterfalls most notable for the 8 M Leona waterfall. Leonas lies in the middle of one of Chile’s most popular classic waterfall canyons, the Upper Fuy.

This series of waterfalls will give you one of the best rides of your life, with high skill required.



Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

Salto Leon, 8 M. View Leona with the tourists from the famous Hotel Baobab overlooks. Kayakers tend to ignore the guard rails and walk to lip as normal for scouting. Optimal flows create a blue spout near to the right side. Most common lines include tuck and brace, boof to stomp, and edge to edge transitions. Higher flows present lines on both left side and throughout the waterfall veil. The pool below is rescuable at normal flows with proper safety. With a buddy kayaker explore paddling behind the waterfall veil out the other side for an unique experience. 

Higher flows threaten moving water into the next series of Leonas.

Leonas Second Drop, 5 M. Scout in advance from the river right tourist path in the case you are forced to run direct after Leon. Normal flows require running the middle of the drop with a patient delayed last minute right boof stroke. Higher flows open up a right channel a bit taller with a quality slide to right stroke boof. The wall just below Leonas Second Drop is worth noting to aggressively paddle away from. 

Leonas Third Drop. Scout from either side eddy. The river volume flows into the obvious middle channel and appears from eddy to be a slide. River is super fast crashing into a rock mid slide. Line is to charge hard left with the left side of the kayak arriving to the left side wall mid-slide. 

Sneak or Portage. There is a sneak on the river left. Drop 1 M into a slow moving channel. Then paddle back out into the current. 

Bird Sucker. Because it sucks birds out of the sky. A river wide 2.5 M waterfall is beautiful at low to normal flows. Boof far right side. 

At high flows the Bird Sucker hydraulic is terrifying. With more than a 6 M backwash and a river left undercut 15 M deep cave this rapid should be considered terminal. Recommend portage from Leon at high flows. 

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions – Recommend practicing best practices in scouting, portaging, safety and rescue standards. Go with a solid crew that knows this section and is certified in swiftwater rescue.
Expert Progressions – With proper safety boof to stomp and edge to edge transitions. Lapping is an available trail system. Practice good safety and rescue standards. 

HIGH FLOWS TERMINAL DANGER. High flows aggressively push down river toward a potential terminal hydraulic with a cave. Recommend portage from Leon to below Bird Sucker. Go with an expert that knows the run. 

Primary safety – set in kayaker bottom of drop. There is a spot on the opposite wall of falls to sit in a boat perched on rock so to shoot media or quickly slide in for rescue.
Secondary safety – secondary kayaker in boat hangout below waterfall veil to assist with rolls. 

If your bow angles left too hard, the left side of Ski Jump has caused many advanced kayakers to have an over elevated bow impossible to recover down. Set media opposite of bottom eddy. 

#2: Double Drop

(1.5 M + 3 M)

Upper Palguin

(Intermediate to Expert)

The Upper Palguin’s Double Drop wins our #2 Chile kayak waterfall rating due to it’s dynamic challenges, instructional and learning value, the drop’s safe development for first timers, pro race and freestyle moves, safety, and access.

When Pucon Kayak Retreat built the ladder it was a game changer allowing kayakers to lap at will and session the Upper Palguin’s highest skill level feature. Due to the ladder, Double Drop may be the most run waterfalls on the planet.

Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

First Drop, 1.5 M. The river funnels from middle and left to the left steeply sloping wall. Current rebounds with pillow down and right forming a sometimes semi-sticky recirculating right wall eddy. To the left is a cave that is good to reset in at lower levels, and pushy and scary at high flows. Leftside landing deals with a converging seam from cave and down river flow. Right side landing has a nice highway moving toward the second drop. 

Second Drop, 3 M. – Second Drop is dramatically easier than First Drop. Yet, so many novices botch the 1.5 M that the 3 M is fun entertainment for your friends. Again, the river pushes to the left wall permitting a natural right stroke boof. After First Drop approach from river right wall toward the 3 M lip. The pool below is calm and deep enough to plug, jump into, swim, roll… 

The Ladder & Immediate Video Feedback. Pucon Kayak Retreat build a game-changing ladder. Now kayakers lap this drop over and over mastering skills, getting immediate video feedback, and serious improvements. With such ease of lapping and aggressive features Double Drop may very well be the best boof training feature on the planet. 

First Drop

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions – Learn boof stroke timing, boat edge to edge transitions, and paddle placement on a legit steep pillow feature. Miss your stroke and the feature will teach you with a piton, surf, or flip. Try seeing how late and far you can boof over hole.
Expert Progressions – Hero line is a single stroke, land and cruise; Race line is approach from middle right pull a righty boof stroke that draws kayak to right side speed highway; Pro level ear dips… due to steepness only committing pros can get under their boat to stick ear dips and get back over the boat; hero ferry above drop; eddy catch challenges; freestyle between drops.  

Second Drop

Intermediates and Advanced Progressions – If the water is not high then catch the cave to help setup to get your kayak to the right side wall that pushes you toward the left boof corner. If you can run directly off First Drop with an advanced righty draw boof stroke, you may land on that right side highway lining you up for a right to left side of 3 M boof.
Expert Progressions – Once kayakers master the approach they can practice boofs, boof to stomp, ear dips, freewheels, and backward boofing. 

Any line and every line has happened at Double Drop and it’s hard to recall an injury. There is a trail direct in and out of the drop and ladder. The most common problem is first timers approaching the drop blind. The river right eddy above is challenging for non-experienced creekers and often causes the unintended blind run. 

Primary safety – set safety kayaker at bottom of second drop in case of swims. Recommend one safety boater in bottom eddy at all times.
Secondary safety – secondary safety can be a kayaker in a boat at top eddy or an on shore rope between drops. 

Go with experts to receive immediate video review, proper coaching, and safety.

#1: Salto Blanco del Sur

(12 M)

Rio Cautin

(Intermediate to Advanced)

This park and huck special is a rolling vibrant blue lip landing on the biggest softest foamy pad and giant pool. Did we mention the warm up 2 M to the lip? When it comes to waterfalls intermediates can paddle safely we have not seen any in this universe as safe, beautiful and perfect to huck. Kayak huckstars will need master a safety position tuck to protect body impact.

Upper Palguin - III to IV Chile River

Kayakers seal launch into the eddy just 2 to 3 meters calmly floating toward the lip. The lip is rolling and that means you’re not likely to overpitch by tucking too hard. Yet, this is a legit big drop and requires discipline to lock in and stay in your safety huck position… no matter how bad you may pitch to one side or the other. The giant foamy landing pad softens potential hits. Some are soft. Some hit hard. 


Safety Concerns and Tips. Flat to vertical impacts may cause injuries to back, face, wrist, shoulders, and pride. Safety begins with practicing safety tuck positions and discipline to hold position. Warming up and stretching body to loosen prior to hucking is recommended. Primary safety is kayaker in big eddy. Secondary safety is onshore with rope communicating at lip. There is are medical facilities 20 minutes from drop. 

Media is shot from multiple top and bottom angles. This is your day to get solid media capture. We can immediately review and improve your lines. Bring your GoPro.