This post is part 12 of 18 in the series Carretera Austral Travel

Great rivers like the Rio Baker are both born and made, enriched along their length as they subsume lesser waterways. Travelers along the Carretera Austral in the Patagonia region of southern Chile can easily witness one of these epic moments as the Rio Baker, the largest river in Chile by volume, gobbles up the not-insignificant Rio Nef in a mighty confluence of raging water.

Baker Nef confluencia drone

This aerial shot, taken with our drone, clearly shows the point where the bright blue Rio Baker meets the cloudy Rio Nef.

The journey of the Rio Baker

Near this confluence point (called a confluencia in Spanish), the Rio Baker tumbles down two small waterfalls, gaining speed and white water before joining the Rio Nef (sometimes spelled Neff). After that confluence point, the Rio Baker flows a little more than 10 miles (16 km) to a confluence point with the Rio Chacabuco which can be witnessed from a turnout across from the main entrance to Patagonia National Park. Between these two confluence points, the Rio Baker flows through extremely tight and steep canyons where it churns into huge rapids and waterfalls that offer world-class kayaking opportunities.

Threats to the Rio Baker

All of this would have been lost if the Aysen Dam Project had gone through in 2008 as planned. Luckily, we still have an undammed Rio Baker–one of the largest remaining undammed rivers in the world–thanks to a movement dubbed Patagonia Sin Represas (Patagonia Without Dams) which helped cause the multi-dam project to be abandoned in 2014.

It’s fair to say that the Aysen Dam project helped galvanize Tompkins Conservation–the organization created by Doug and Kris Tompkins which has become a major force in Chilean and Argentinean conservation as the group buys and rewilds vast tracts before donating them to local governments as national parks and other types of protected areas–as they stepped up to join the increasingly political and high stakes fight against the Aysen Dams.

Today, travelers can witness the confluence of the Rio Baker and the Rio Nef for themselves by following a short and mostly-flat trail from a small parking area on the Carretera Austral (Ruta 7) about 12 miles (20 km) north of the main entrance to Patagonia National Park. From a viewpoint over the confluence, you can see the two rivers descend dramatically before the raging blue Rio Baker consumes the raging milky turquoise water of glacier-fed Rio Nef.

Our favorite photos from the confluence of the Rio Baker and the Rio Nef

above Baker Nef confluence

Another aerial drone shot shows the bright blue Rio Baker flowing down toward the point where the Rio Nef joins in.

Baker Neff rivers confluence

From this riverside viewpoint, visitors can watch as the Rio Baker (right fork) and the Rio Nef (left fork) converge in an epic confluence of water in the Patagonia region of southern Chile.

salto baker river falls

The Rio Baker makes a dramatic descent before joining with the Rio Nef.

baker river water falls

The Rio Baker’s descent is rapid enough to form white water.

baker nef confluence chile

The water of the Rio Baker (right) is clear and blue while the water of the Rio Nef appears cloudy thanks to minerals deposited by the glacier that feeds the Nef.

confluence point patagonia chile

You can feel the power of all that water as you watch two rivers meet head-on.

baker nef confluencia chile

A series of small falls adds to the drama of the confluence point of the Rio Baker and the Rio Nef.

baker river canyon

After the confluence with the Rio Nef, the Rio Baker descends through narrow steep canyons…

Confluence Baker & Chacabuco Rivers

..then reaches a second confluence point where the Rio Chacabuco (right) joins the waters of the Rio Baker (left).

See more Rio Baker and Rio Nef confluence action from above in our drone travel video, below.

Here’s more about travel in Chile

Here’s more about Carretera Austral Travel

Here’s more about Patagonia Travel

See all of our Photo Essays


Series Navigation:<< A Worthy Detour off the Carretera Austral – Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda, ChileLeones Glacier by Jet Boat, Floating Hotel Rooms, and More – Puerto Guadal, Chile >>

Share via