White Water Kayak Chile-Upper Trancura River
White water kayak Chile-Upper Trancura river is Pucon Kayak Retreat’s backyard run. Just a six minute shuttle to putin and you paddle right to the retreat for a cold beer and hot shower. The Upper Trancura offers action packed rapids with pour overs, boofs, challeng moves, slots, fun moves, and even two world class V big water rapids for the pros. And you’ll take out right at the retreat property for your convenience. With the Pucon valley’s volcanos, Andean peaks, creeks, and rivers all flowing into the Trancura River the various sections guarantee exciting whitewater year round. The Lower and Upper Trancura are great for advanced to expert kayakers even attracting the world’s elite to notch class V rapids like Marimon and Last Laugh. The development features are excellent for boofing, piercing high speed eddies, challenging kayakers with rapids, and high speed ferry moves.
Favorite Challenge Features. The more you run the Upper Trancura the more you discover remarkable challenge features. Retreat owner David Hughes claimed it took him a decade to discover the many Trancura challenge features where most kayakers paddle right past the gems. Best to go with a guide.
Ledge Drop (III to V pending levels and line). River wide 3 M high 45 degree angle ledge offers several boofs, sneak lines, and one class IV+ boof the hole tight ass kicker line. Most kayakers go far river right or river left.
Far River Right skirts around the ledge and offers a couple of back to back boofs.
Far River Left slides down the slide with a boppy boof. At higher flows there is a hydraulic that has surfed and caused more than one swimmer.
Pros Boof Ass Kicker. Just to middle of river left channel is a high level boof over a deep pocket hydraulic. The boof is fast and without it is 90% swim. An easier version of this line is to skirt the right corner of the hydraulic crossing right to left above and away from hole. You can start by well missing the hydraulic to the right to feel how close you can get to hole. PRO level is to boof the hole.
Gargantua (IV). This is the longest rapid on the Upper Trancura with several eddy challenges. Note, two thirds down rapid is a curler that tossess kayakers river right toward a sieve. You MUST CHARGE left to avoid the toss. Or you can run the right side line and cross hard left. Sneak (III+) far far far river left.
Gargantua Spout (V). The only waterfall on the Trancura is an awesome and tight spout that shoots out at bottom of Gargantua. You actually miss Gargantua rapid due to having to paddle left of an island. Spout requires going with someone that knows exactly where to align the boof as there is no eddy scouting. Line must be a delayed left to right movement boofing to right. There is a boulder 2 M downstream of drop that lines without movement to left can cause severe problems. Must follow experienced Spout runner and have high level boof skills.
Feo aka Ugly. Satirically named due to it’s postcard photo opp in front of Volcan Villarrica. Feo offers a sneak line, several boofs and our favorite “Ride the Lightenig” lines. Ride the Lightening approaches from river right perpendicular aimed at river left bank as a meter wide smooth tongue of water drops and turns down river 90 degrees as it catches upstream current and accelerates. The Lightening is to ride that current and make the smooth yet aggressive turn. An easier version is to shoot across the upstream current. Sneak line is far river left. Easy portage available.
Slalom Loop Challenge. Record 42 seconds. Below a river right best wave on river is a slalom loop challenge. The loop hones boat control skills, stroke control skills, increases aerobic capacity, and is just awesome to challenge yourself.
Mariman Rapid. Mandatory fast roll both sides. Most kayakers portage this class V rapid that attracts pro kayakers to hone their BA skills on a big water fast approach toward a 3 M waterfall with hydraulic. The crux is a riverside right boof that is apt to flip or push kayakers toward the left away from the sweet boof off right side of hydraulic. The boof when in the correct spot is soft and cuddly offering pro kayakers freestyle, race and big water training. Advanced kayakers can earn their biggest rapid ever kudos. Want to get great? Lap it.
Ultimo Sonriso o Last Laugh. Mandatory fast roll both sides. An eddy below Mariman is the Ultimo Sonriso offering a variety of class V to IV lines including a sneak. At high water the left of center boulder boofs over a big volume squirrelly hole apt to flip kayakers. Water moves fast towards a jumble of boulders above the last rapid stage. The right of boulder boof may be the Trancura’s best boof and at big water it’s spectacular and underphotobgraphed only due to photography location challenges. The bottom of this boof is easier to deal with than the left side at high water yet often more intimidating. Again, rapid pushes fast toward middle boulders arriving fast. From the middle of Ulitmo Sonriso there are several challenge ferries and run out lines to play with forever. Hero line from mid-rapid right eddy is to ferry out and boof one of the center boulder threading needle between island of boulder. Catch eddy behind boulders, and ferry to river right micro eddy. Choose your runout.
Thread the Needle. A few rapids below Ultimo Sonriso mid fast current are back to back boulders with a difficult angle to thread. The top boulder has a square face that causes boofers to piton at mid-high levels. The bottom boulder causes folks to flip or flush left. It’s one of the tightest lines on the rivers for pro kayakers to miss. Fun reward is to loser buys beer… thread the needle then look back upstream to watch your friends flip or miss the needle. Or celebrate with them if they stick it for a beer celebration at the retreat.
Runout to Middle Trancura (II to III). We often race or just have a boof fest for the next 2 KM of runout below Needle. Beginner kayakers can join Upper runners at the Middle Trancura putin. Middle T has beaches and big eddies for roll practice. Class II+ rapids offer tons of easy to catch eddies and areas to work on ferries. Truly a beginner kayaker’s gem with a couple of challenge rapids just upriver of the retreat takeout.
Retreat Takeout River Left above Bridge. Take out and join us for a celebration cerveza right at the riverside kitchen. Or if it’s 6:45 PM afternoon lap then appetizers and cervezas. Sooo… awesome to take off river at your new riverside home.
Raw video, Kayak Chile Upper Trancura River by Kyle Thomas.
White Water Kayak Chile Skills Required
solid combat roll
eddy catching and piercing
Access Put in/Takeout
Requires Bike or shuttle driver, or two drivers.
Put In: 9 KM above PKR base river right or left. Need shuttle.
Take Out: PKR guests take out at retreat.
Upper Trancura River Character
The run is full of fun moves, development features, lots of boofing and slot drops to run. Non-experienced kayakers often miss the many fun slots and boofs below Last Laugh. High water is fluffy, fast and fun. Last Laugh can be intimidating and being upside down will require super solid roll. Few experts will run Marimon at high water. At high water there is a sweet 8’ high spout left of the island at Garganta.
All rapids are portage-able but are helpful with Trancura experienced guide. Sieve on right at Garganta; log on right below Feo; Marimon is only for experts with kayak safety at bottom recommended; Last Laugh is for experts only.
Instructor Tips & Challenges
There are many fun challenges that folks that don’t know the run will miss out on. Thread the Needle is about a 30% move even for the pros but super fun to try; ask a guide about our one minute slalom course challenge below the wave; at medium to high flows have a guide lead you off the Garganta Spout; lap Feo on the right; see how many slots you can stick for the runout below Last Laugh; how many eddies can you catch at Feo.
More Advanced White Water Kayak Chile Rivers
Other advanced rivers descriptions coming soon: Coilaco 30 Footer, Maipo (Lower & Upper), Rio Nuble, Futaleufu
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