Rio Tinquilco (Tres Saltos))
|Difficulty:||Class V- to V+|
|Flows:||75? to 200? cfs|
|Put-in:||Above the Falls|
|Take-out:||Pool below the falls|
|Shuttle:||0.0 miles, 25 minutes of hiking|
|Season:||End of December was low|
|Featured in Video #35, Chile 2010 Episode Three|
Tres Saltos translates to Three Waterfalls, which I find ironic because there were 4 or 5 waterfalls in this section depending on how you could it. The first one is unrunnable as it lands in about a foot of water. The second and the third and runnable at a wide range of flows, such as low like we had. We then took out above the small fourth falls that I think is not normally run. The final falls, which is seen from the trailhead is approximately 60 feet tall and needs at a minimum, medium waterfalls to be runnable.
Our trip to the Tres Saltos was after a few laps on Coilaco falls as part of our “A Very Park-n-Huck Christmas.” The two are very close together, perhaps only 5 minutes drive separates them. The Tres Saltos are on private property and the owners charge $1,000 (~$2US) for access. They were nice enough to let us check the flow prior to paying them. The Falls are also only moderately a “Park-n-Huck” as you have to hike steeply uphill for approximately 20 minutes, then portage down a steep slippery slope another 10 minutes to get to the goods. Certainly the most work I have put in for a “Park-n-Huck.” But oh so worth it. Which reminds me, ibuprofen and muscle relaxants were also worth it as the first runnable falls boofed some of us out onto green water. Oh well, we were still all smiling at the bottom.
Even if you are not going to boat the falls, I would recommend checking this place out as a tourist if boating near the Nevado, Upper Liucura, or Coilaco. The falls are quite impressive to see. The land owners have a well maintained trail that leads up between the second and third falls as well as picnic tables at the base of the fifth falls. Furthermore, while hiking up the trail, you are treated to some of the best views of Volcano Villarica that we saw during our entire trip. There was also a zip line descending from the top of the climb back down to the valley floor, I am sure that the owners also operate that for tourist.
- Immediately below put-in is a small rapid that you want to run down the right and catch an eddy on the right. This is important as there is a portage just downstream and this eddy is it as I recall. Also be warned, the rock here is very very slick and several in our group had problems getting out of their boat and up onto the slab.
First Falls (U). An unrunnable 25 foot falls lands in about a foot of water. We walked on the right in the wooded area. We used ropes to lower our boats. We then slowly slid our way down to the water with 50% of our group eating it on the slab below that was like butter. Alex was reasonably comical as he slide all the way down into the eddy before the lead in to the runnable section.
Second Falls (V- to V). Such a sweet drop, unlike some of the waterfalls in Pucon that start in pools and end in pools, this one makes you work for it. First, very in front of the wall, careful to not slip into the hole just off your bow. Then drive right to boof the first 4-5 footer. Then line up the final falls. The first 15 feet are a steep slide followed by 10-15 feet of vertical falls. Land with a little left angle and beware that it wants to boof you out a bit. All but Diane had sore backs the following day thanks to this drop.
Third Falls (IV+). It looks big, it looks intimidating, but in reality it is a zero move waterslide. Just enter and hold on. If it decides it wants to corkscrew you, there is nothing you can do by try to throw a kickflip. We all were treated fairly by it and landed upright. Use the rope that you set before starting down the river to climb up and out of the gorge just below before the next falls.
Forth Falls (V to U). At low flows it didn’t look good, but perhaps with more water you can go right. I don’t know. I am also unsure how you portage it if you still want to run the bottom falls.
Fifth Falls (V+). Looks straight forward in video… though it is some 60 feet tall. No thanks for me. It was too low anyways, otherwise our German friends who we were boating with may have been game. The pool at the base of this falls is at the trailhead and there will likely be spectators
Take-out: Follow the signs pointing to Tres Saltos. Generally, you will be heading towards the Nevado and the Upper Liucura. Make sure to set a rope at the base of the Third Falls before starting your way down the river.
Put-in: Go up the trail. Once at the top of the Third Falls, set a rope to climb out. You can also scout it and the landing of the falls above. Then continue up the trail to the top of the zip-line. Cross through the barbwire fence. On the other side, keep going upriver and you will quickly see a trail leading down to the water again.
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