Trancura River - Upper

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Quick Facts

General Description

The Rio Trancura (sometimes referred to as the Rio Pucón or Rio Minetúe by the locals) is situated east of the village of Pucon in the Chilean Lakes District. The headwaters of the Trancura River drain the southeastern region of Villarrica National Park, including the slopes of Volcanoes Villarrica, Quetrupillan and Lanín. The Rio Trancura flows initially to the north until it joins with the Maichín River, then it turns to the west and discharges into Lago Villarrica past the village of Pucon. Other major tributaries of the Rio Trancura are the Rio Carileufú, Rio Turbio and Rio Liucura.

The Trancura river (since 1987) is one of the top commercially rafted and kayaked rivers in Chile along with the Rio Petrohue, Rio Maipo and Rio Futaleufu. The Rio Trancura is divided up into two sections, the Upper (Alto) and the Lower (Bajo), offering something for beginners and experts alike.

  • The Upper Trancura: The Upper Rio Trancura is a classic Class IV/V+ run with a mandatory portage around a waterfall in the middle. This section of river is rafted by a number of companies out of the village of Pucon and is billed as the “expert” section. When not constricted the Upper Trancura is fairly wide with the river flowing over numerous basaltic ledge drops. There are five major drop-pool rapids on this upper section that should be scouted. The forth drop, Salto del Mariman, should be portaged on the left. If you know the lines, and don’t stop and play, the Upper Trancura can be run in about two hours. Many kayakers will combine the upper and lower sections of the Trancura to get in a fuller day of paddling.


The main hazard on the Upper Trancura is the Salto del Mariman V+ (waterfall). It is the forth major rapid on the river appearing after Salto Feo (the Ugly Waterfall or “Ugly” for short). These falls have been run (on both sides), however, all but true experts will want to take the well worn portage trail on the left.

River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

A typical flow for the Upper Trancura is around 2000 cfs (57 cms), however, like all rivers in the region water levels can change dramatically with local precipitation. The commercial rafting and kayaking season on the Rio Trancura runs from December to March, but the river can usually be run year round. Expect lower flows during the summer months.

Rapid Descriptions

There are five major rapids on the Upper Trancura. One naming system is: Salto Chico, Puerta del Infierno, Salto Feo, Salto del Mariman (V+, portage) and Problema del Diablo. Roughy translated as: Little Falls, Door of Hell, Ugly Falls, Mariman Falls and Problem of the Devil.

Put-Ins and Take-Outs

  • Put-in: Head out of the village of Pucon, east, on the International Highway (Route 119) toward the village Currarehue. After about 25 kilometers you will come upon the village of Llafenco. Just after the village, on the left hand side, where the river runs along the highway, look for the put-in, at a small bus stop. If you enter the village of Catripulli you have gone too far.
  • Take-out: The take-out is Puente Metrenehue, the bridge that crosses the Rio Trancura on the way to the town of Caburgua. This bridge serves as the put-in for the Lower Trancura. For a longer day of paddling, add the Lower Trancura after the Upper and take-out at the Passarella Quelhue.


From the city of Freire, on the Pan American Highway (Route 5), take Route 119 (southeast) to the town of Villarrica and onward to the village of Pucon. The trip from Freire to Pucon is 80 kilometers. If coming from the south on Route 5, head east to Villarrica after passing through the city of Loncoche.

Places to Stay / Campgrounds

There are numerous campgrounds in the Pucon Valley even along the Rio Liucura itself. In the high season finding a quieter one can be difficult as they are often full of outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Pucon area. You can also find plenty of non-camping lodging options in the resort town of Pucon.

Maps & Outside Links





Pucon Outdoor Center


Municipality of Pucon

Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • 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.

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