For lovers of river sledging: we got immersed in its crystal-clear waters and crossed the intense rapids of the lower Trancura River, with our sole bodies.
We wanted to go on some "alternative" excursion. Stepping aside from the traditional options usually opens the door to new sensations. With that idea in mind, we discovered that a travel agency in Pucón offered the opportunity to go down the Trancura River through the rapids on a kind of aquatic sled - not to be missed.
This modern adventure sport is known as river sledging. Obviously, we did not hesitate and, before we could notice, we were heading for the river in the company of the instructors.
The origin of this curious technique dates back to the mid 1980's in France. This sport was born when a group of adventurers dared to go down the dangerous thaw channels coming from the Alpine glaciers. As time went by, river sledging experimented a stressed evolution and today it has been applied to rivers with rough waters.
Fortunately, the weather was fine enough to swim in the fast-flowing rapids of the lower Trancura River. A cloudless sky, the evergreen foliage of the Valdivian rain forest both sides of the course, warm air that seemed to invade us as hours passed and a light breeze from the East promised that the river would be rougher than usual, which we found very much exciting.
Feeling the responsibility over our own shoulders
The sensation of speed
Let the river do the rest
The Coolness of the River
José (23) was the name of our young guide. Raised on the banks of the Trancura River, he told us that nobody knew the Class II rapids of this torrent as much as he did. “I have them sketched on the back of my hand” -he explained, inspiring tranquility for the instant in which he would have to cross them.
“The river sledging itself is an aerodynamic plate designed to sail in an individual fashion. It is rested on the body, then you dive and let the river do the rest” -he continued to describe.
In order to carry out this activity, we were provided with a special neoprene suit -five millimeters thick in the lower limbs and ten in the upper ones–, a life-jacket, a safety helmet, and a pair of flippers that would help us be propelled.
Furthermore, Miguel –another instructor in the specialty– would come with us, thus complying with the function of safety kayak.
Before getting into the Trancura, José gave us a safety chat so that we could have a timely reaction before difficulties which might arise during the excursion. “It is important to move in a row, and that you copy my moves” –the guide emphasized.
A total of five rapids ranging from level II to III was ahead. The floater was our shield against the rocks and, therefore, we had to hold it tight.
The Coolness of the River
We set off. The first few minutes were dedicated to adaptation. We soon learned how to maneuver the river sledge. We slid from one side to another, helping the movement with the flippers. We learned the "block" position in order to get on the "sledge" each time we approached a rock. Spectacular!
Feeling the responsibility over our own shoulders gave us a considerable dose of excitement, and let us show our skill in the water.
The sensation of speed we perceived each time we met the rapids was marvelous. After each turn in the course, we came across a new landscape.
Far from being individualists, as it usually happens in this kind of post-modern sports, we encouraged one another to enjoy the adventure to the utmost.
The instructors were constantly keeping watch over the whole group safety. As minutes passed, we started to make a stronger connection with the river, till we felt we were part of it.
Ahead, José indicated our first rapid, under the bridge. It was the shortest of them all, but it was a good way of feeling "welcomed" by the lower Trancura River.
We immediately crossed the "angler's rapid", the strongest with its class III difficulty. It has three pools and waves. We had to pay much attention when we crossed it, as we might turn upside down.
Once the "angler's rapid" was overcome, the river became calmer. Floating for some minutes was enough to settle. The adrenaline we had experienced in the last few seconds left us exhausted.
At Full Speed
Later, the "little train rapids" were next, followed by the "joint rapids". We crossed the former adopting the block position. A thousand rocks seemed to multiply around us and it was essential to cross it on the aquatic sled. The latter, slightly calmer, presented four waves, one meter high each, but without rocks. Therefore, we calmed down and we soon could go through it.
Time for relax. After the strong dose of adrenaline, José invited us to rest for a few moments on the shores of the Trancura.
We heard the sounds of the Valdivian rain forest. A kingfisher perched on a rock standing out from the water and with a curious look seemed to investigate us. A family of torrent ducks slid from the opposite shore with their particular synchronized movements. Around, the leafy vegetation seemed to wrap us among arborescent ferns and young mid-height coihues.
After the break, we set off again. There was one more rapid to go through: the "lioness' rapid". José and Miguel explained to us that the next one would be more technical. We had to cross it from left to right not to crash against some rocks. Therefore, we would have to make one last effort.
We headed towards it. The torrent was intense and the water surrounded us immediately. “Heave!” –the guide yelled, and in a desperate attempt no to hit any obstacle, we avidly crossed the last rapid in the lower Trancura.
After this last experience, we went directly to the coast. The tourist agency transfer vehicle was waiting for us there. When we arrived, the people from the agency welcomed us with a delicious cup of hot tea and exquisite sweet cookies, so that we would recover our levels of sugar, energy and body warmth.
Grateful for the experience we had just had, we started to retire from the lower Trancura area. Before we left, we beheld once more. We wished to keep that fresh image in our retinas. Fortunately, we managed to do it. We strongly recommend that you go on this excursion.
Marcelo Sola Aventur Turismo Aventura
Contact of the excursion or tour
Aventur Turismo Aventura
O Higgins 524 (4920000) Pucón, IX Región, Chile
Tel: +56 45-3214144
Cel: +56 81365238
Sol y Nieve
Lincoyan 361-B (4920000) Pucón, IX Región, Chile
Tel: +56 45-2444761
Cel: +56 88286571
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