- Class: Lower III/IV, Upper V, Salto del Soldado Section V/VI
- Distance: 22 miles (35 kms)
- Average Gradient: Upper: 130 feet/mile (25 m/k) & Lower: 80 feet/mile (15 m/k)
- Maximum Gradient: saltos / waterfalls
- Temperature: cold, glacial run-off
- Water Quality: gray and silty, glacial till
- Character: Upper: boulders, constrictions, slot canyon, Lower: boulders & ledges
- Nearby Rivers: Maipo River, Volcan River, Yeso River, Colorado River, Mapocho River
The Aconcagua River lies in the Valparaiso Region, Region V, of Chile, about 80 kilometers north of the capital city of Santiago. The river cuts across the entire country of Chile begin in the high Aconcagua sector (6962 mt/ 22841 ft) of the Andes Mountains. The length of the river is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from headwaters to mouth, just north of the costal city of Vina del Mar. The headwaters of the Rio Aconcagua, the highest in the Andes Mountains, at Laguna del Inca (Lake of the Inca) near the famous Chilean ski resort of Portillo.
The Rio Aconcagua is set-up similarly to Idaho’s North Fork of the Payette, bordered by a road on one side (International Highway, Route 60) and the Trans-Andean Railroad (to Mendoza, Argentina) on the other, making much of the river easy scout and easy to access.
The Salto del Soldado slot canyon between the Upper and Lower sections of the Rio Aconcagua is class V+/VI. Here the river constricts to a point that it was reportedly jumped on horseback by a soldier in the Chilean Army. This section is for experts only and should be portaged by those who want to connect runs on the Upper and Lower Aconcagua River. In the early 1990s the Salto del Soldado was considered one of the most difficult pieces of whitewater in Chile. Much of the Salto del Soldado can be scouted from the highway or railroad, worth a look even if you are planning to portage. If you are running the Upper Aconcagua don’t miss the take-out before Salto del Soldado.
The Lower Aconcagua can be challenging at flood, producing huge holes, strong current and few eddies in which to catch your breath or pick up the pieces after a swim. There are also a number of river wide ledges to look-out for.
River Flows / Gauge Information / Season
Above the Salto del Soldado sector the Aconcagua river is a large volume steep creek that can be running anywhere between 500 – 5000 cfs (14 cms - 140cms), depending on the season. Below the Salto del Soldado section the Aconcagua river picks up volume as tributaries begin to add to its flow making for a great class III/IV “big water” kayak run at the right time of year.
Real-time Steamflow Data
To get Real-time Steamflow Data for the Aconcagua River click here: Real-time Streamflow Data
- Upper Aconcagua: 05410002-7 Aconcagua Chacabuquito, Region V
Put-Ins and Take-Outs
Upper Rio Aconcagua River:
- Put-in: Put-in roadside at the approximately Rio Blanco / Rio Aconcagua confluence near the village of Rio Blanco.
- Take-out: Take-out roadside before the class V+/VI Salto del Soldado slot canyon.
Lower Rio Aconcagua River:
- Put-in: Put-in roadside after the Salto del Soldado slot canyon.
- Take-out: Take-out just before the city of Los Andes.
From the capital city of Santiago, head north on Route 57 (not the Pan-American Highway, Route 5) toward the city of Colina and onward to the city of Los Andes. This is the same route as the one to the Portillo Ski Resort. The total distance is about 82 kilometers (50 miles) from Santiago de Chile to Los Andes. From Los Andes head east toward Mendoza, Argentina for another 34 kilometers (21 miles) to the put-in at Rio Blanco.
Places to Stay / Campgrounds /Attractions
The Aconcagua River Valley is one of the centers of viticulture in Chile, producing some of the nation’s best wines. Plan on doing some wine touring and tasting if you are heading to the Los Andes region. The sector is also noted for its numerous hot springs and thermal baths. Plenty of private campgrounds can be found in and around Los Andes and the Aconcagua River Valley.
Maps & Outside Links
Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.Read More: Disclaimer