The Rio Claro is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, based within the Siete Tazas National Park in the Maule Region of Chile. I have always dreamed of running this river and I got my chance to kayak this glorious canyon near the end of quarter 2. Throughout my stay in Chile and my entire time in the south, all I could think about was freefalling on the Claro. When we packed up and Word Class started heading north, I knew it was game time.
The first day on the Claro, we paddled the Siete Tazas (Seven Teacups) Waterfalls. This section is amazing, there are 7 waterfalls and you can only scout the first waterfall. Meaning, after your initial strokes and the first waterfall, you are committed. The first falls is a sloping 15-footer and immediately makes all dreams comes true, boofing on the Claro! Once you take your boof, you fly and have a massive skip out. High fives and stoke all around before heading down to the next waterfalls. Following the first falls, there are 4 more small drops arriving at the final 2 waterfalls on the section, a 15-footer and 18-footer.
The 6th waterfall is another 15ft drop, going off the river right side and plugging the drop because our low water providing little in the means of a soft landing at the bottom. Such a cool feeling to calmly paddle up to the lip and then fall out of nowhere! The final waterfall is the opposite; an 18ft drop where you want to be left of center to miss the auto boof flake, again at low water, soft landings are hard to come by and getting vertical is key to a happy back! Although I boof them anyways because it is fun!
Throughout the week, I got the chance to run the Veintidos Saltos (22 Waterfalls) section of the Claro. This section has 22 epic waterfalls, from small boofs to simple 20-footers and unique twisty drops! This part of the river is unbelievably gorgeous; the put-in for this section is like Siete Tazas because once you run the first drop you are locked in and committed. My personal favorite drops on this section were the perfect 20-footer, the ski-jump, and the twisting 25-footer. The first drop in clean and perfect, you paddle up to the lip and stare down the landing as you fall. The ski-jump, driving right to left towards the left wall and take a massive boof stroke off the curler instigating flight mode! The last of my favorites was the 25-footer with a twist in the entrance. You want to drive towards the right wall and as you do that, the river turns left and drops 25 feet. It’s one of the sickest drops I have ever run!
The Rio Claro is one of the most gorgeous rivers I have ever paddled, with crystal clear water, and massive basalt canyons, this is a river I will return to.
Words by: Catherine Hardman
Images by: Kalob Grady