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Whitewater rafting adventure tour of Chile's Rio Futaleufu

Futaleufu Wild Whitewater

Example 9 Day Tour
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Patagonia's Futaleufu offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. This Chilean river adventure begins in Puerto Varas before traveling further into the heart of Patagonia. Days are spent splashing down the river, through Class III, IV, and even a Class V rapid! Luxury camping, horseback riding, kayaking and beautiful landscapes also await this Patagonia adventure. This is a great Patagonia tour for the experienced rafter, or the novice looking to improve their skills on one of the most exciting rivers in the world.
Heading into Inferno Canyon on a rafting tripHaving faith in LorenzoThe whole crewWhitewater rafting Casa Piedra rapid on Chile's famous Rio FutaleufuMorning yoga-not a bad view, huh?"Welcome to Chile!"Jorge, our safety boaterOur incredible guidesFirst day of our journeyEverybody getting their groove on during the first dayEntrada RapidGood hit!Alex on safety catAnnie and I getting a turnCataraft negotiating a rapid on the Rio FutaleufuWhitewater rafting adventure tour of Chile's Rio Futaleufu
Highlights
  • Tackle the world famous rapids of the mighty Futaleufu
  • Explore the Futaleufu's surrounding river valleys and canyons
  • Try your hand at river kayaking and horseback riding along the Rio Azul
  • Enjoy invigorating yoga, paddle boarding or fly fishing from camp
Activity Level: Challenging
Requires high-intensity physical efforts that push the limits of one's fitness. May include tours with multiple days in a row of strenuous physical activity or single requiring more than 7 hours of activity. Recommended for travelers maintaining a demanding fitness level.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Santiago | Fly Puerto Montt

Arrive in Santiago, Chile. Collect your luggage, pass through Customs and then re-check in for your domestic flight to Puerto Montt: gateway to Patagonia!

After collecting your bags in Puerto Montt, take a short taxi to the meeting point for your adventure, Hotel Las Cumbres in Puerto Varas. The Taxi ride will be in the ballpark of $40.00 USD, (about $39,000 Chilean Pesos). It is recommended to have Chilean peso cash on hand for this (about the equivalent of $100 USD, $85,000.00 CLP). On your ride, you might experience stunning views of Volcano Osorno, weather permitting. Enjoy strolling the streets, famous for its wooden homes built by German immigrants. Depending on your arrival time, rafting, fishing, or a tour to Lago Todos los Santos and Saltos de Petrohue can be arranged. (Not included in trip price - ask your trip planner about adding this!).

Meet your group at 7:00 pm in the hotel lobby bar for introductions and a welcome briefing to be followed by a group welcome dinner, where you can indulge in a steak off the parilla or try Chile’s famous seafood! Overnight in the lovely Hotel Cumbres, right on the lake.

Day 2: Bio Bio Base Camp

After breakfast, drive to Puerto Montt airport to take your short, but incredibly scenic, 30 min flight to Chaiten. Drive through the temperate rainforest, passing countless waterfalls and hanging glaciers surrounded by jagged mountain peaks!  Along the way if time permits, enjoy a short hike and a picnic lunch in Pumalin National Park. Pumalin is one of the largest and most diverse conservation efforts in South America. The 715,000-acre Park is located in the Palena Province of Chile, and stretches from the heart of the Andes to the fjords of the Pacific Coast. Protecting a pristine Valdivian temperate rainforest, this is one of Doug Tompkins Conservation Initiatives.

Along the 2-hour drive to Bio Bio basecamp, pass beautiful Lago Yelcho, multiple hanging glaciers, jagged glaciated peaks, and temperate rainforests. Your private tent bungalows sitting upon raised platforms, complete with river views and comfortable beds, will be waiting for you upon arrival to camp. Enthusiastic guides will lead you to your sweet new “home away from home” on the river and provide time to settle in!

After a short hike or a swim to stretch your legs, soak in the riverside hot tub or unwind and enjoy a hot shower. Then, gather in the sunset bar for the first welcome happy hour. Meet the entire crew and go over the week’s schedule and agenda. After happy hour, a hearty dinner will be served. It does tend to cool down quite a bit when the sun sets below the peaks so we dress warmly in the evenings. 

 

Day 3: Meet the Futaleufu!

The Futaleufu called to you all night – today you'll answer!

Start the morning with a pre-breakfast yoga class, hosted on the customized yoga platform with river views or in the indoor Yoga Loft if the weather is inclement. Mornings tend to be crisp and dewy so prepare to dress warmly - a fleece is perfect.

The morning begins with a comprehensive training session with world-class guides, followed by a set of practice drills. Your warm-up session is only 10 km long, but possesses more rapids per 1000 meters than anywhere else on the river. In the afternoon you may choose from mountain biking, hiking, fly-fishing class or the most popular, intro to hard shell river kayaking clinic. 

Every late afternoon is “Happy Hour” with an open bar stocked with beer, wine, soda, and fresh juice. Gather together in the open-air kitchen/dining area, the “Galpon”, for a candlelight sit-down dinner featuring fresh produce, grown right in the property garden, and fresh-baked breads. After dinner, enjoy the campfire and the stars before retiring to your cozy tent on your private platform. The sound of the river will lull you to sleep and send you off dreaming of the next day of adventure in Chile. 

Day 4: Rafting the Futaleufu

Today’s rafting journey takes you further down the river, where you come face to face with the Futaleufu’s more aggressive personality.
To prepare, start your day with a soothing yoga class. After breakfast, Your adventure launches just after Puente Futaleufu (yesterdays take out). Your first big set of rapids is the continuous cascade of waves named, "Mas o Menos", and into your first Class V technical rapid, "Casa de Piedra" – House of Rock!  If rafting class III and IV rapids are enough adrenaline for you, there is an option to stop and circumvent the class V rapids and resume rafting down the river.

After the tough rapids, opt to switch gears and take part in a hard shell kayak lesson in the calmer waters, or the river provides perfect conditions for fishing from the rafts. The next few miles provide a "floating happy hour" until the take out spot at Lago Yelcho. Upon return to camp, continue celebrating the accomplishments of the day while enjoying the amenities camp has to offer. Opt for a soak in the hot tub, massage, or relax in the common areas while preparing for another fabulous dinner prepared by the talented team. Tonight, relax as the sound of the river lulls you to sleep.

Day 5: Rio Azul Adventure

This morning, venture up the canyon to the Rio Azul, one of the main tributaries to the Futaleufu, and one of the most scenic canyons in Patagonia. Here you will find crystal-clear water forming gentle Class II-III rapids that are the perfect arena to learn how to navigate your own craft. Today, gain experience navigating your very own inflatable kayaks. There is something deeply satisfying when paddling your own boat down river, knowing that your destiny is in your own hands. Of course your highly trained guides are there the entire time to coach you and provide safety should you need assistance.
Alternatively, fishing, mountain biking or relaxing around camp are always options in the late afternoon. 

Day 6: Futaleufu Valley by Horseback

After yoga and breakfast, take a short drive to the stables where the trusty steeds are saddled up and ready for adventurous riding. After a safety briefing, ride alongside some local expert equestrians and your trusty river guides who will gladly join the posse up to a beautiful overlook of the Futaleufu Valley and a glimpse of one of the larger rapids – ‘Throne Room’. This is a full day and you will be glad to return to camp, enjoy the soothing hot tub and cold refreshments as you wait your turn to get a well deserved massage!

Day 7: Inferno Canyon

Today, get back to the mighty river! Breakfast will be early this morning before heading 25km/ 15mi up the road to the Rio Espolon, the put-in for the adventurous day ahead of rafting in Inferno Canyon. The Rio Espolon provides a chance to warm up the paddling skills as it joins into the mighty Futaleufu just before Inferno Canyon.
 This is a very adventurous day of rafting that requires intense paddling through a three-mile canyon of Class V whitewater.  Many other options exist for those who choose not to participate in Inferno Canyon. You can either join the group below the Inferno Canyon rapids or opt for another activity. After exiting the canyon, enjoy a calmer section of river and rest your arms! You will float down to "Zeta" and "Throne Room" rapids which must be portaged (walked around). Enjoy lunch on the rocks while watching your expert crew "ghost" the rafts through these wild rapids. After lunch, resume paddling the exciting “Wild Mile “- a continuous corridor of class IV fun rapids. You tread lightly and safely through these exciting and humbling waters with some of the world's best raft guides. At the Rio Azul takeout, the rafts are left for the night, tethered on shore. Return to camp in the late afternoon for massage, hot showers, or just resting in one of the two hot tubs. Another sumptuous dinner is served before heading to a deep sleep.

Day 8: Summit Day

The best of the river is saved for last! Wake up to a beautiful morning and get ready for the grand river-rafting climax! Start the day with invigorating yoga and a nutritious breakfast. The adventure picks up where it left off yesterday, at the rafts waiting at Rio Azul. As the day on the river begins, take in the stunning blue glacial run-off from the Rio Azul River as it merges into the Fu from the right. The views of the snow capped mountain peaks and jagged ridges of the mountain “Las Tres Monjas” (translated, “the three Nuns”) are absolutely breathtaking. A six-kilometer stretch of warm-up rapids leads to the longest and toughest rapid, “The Terminator.” Take the plunge, and hold on for the next three miles of non-stop wild rapids. Calm waters return – just in time – and you float into base camp for lunch.

After lunch, you have the choice to spend your last afternoon lounging at camp, further exploring the area via hiking or biking or returning to the river and raft the whole section of river from camp to below Casa de Piedra. At take-out, cold beers and sodas are waiting. Makle your triumphant return to camp to celebrate the time spent exploring Futaleufú valley and river. Celebrate into the night – feast to your heart’s content on a traditional Chilean Asado -  roasted lamb, ensalada, potatoes, and fresh bread. Toast your wonderful whitewater adventure and the mighty Futaleufu!
 

Day 9: Transfer to Chaiten | Fly to Puerto Montt

  • 1 Breakfast
Early morning drive back to Chaiten and puddle jumper flight back to Puerto Montt. Take connecting flights home or on to the next destination!

*It is highly recommended to leave a comfortable “window” to make it back in time for any connecting flights, so book connecting flights from 17:00 hrs and later. You may also choose to spend another night in Puerto Varas on your own.

*Any of these rafting days can be substituted for a day of horseback riding, inflatable kayaking, fly fishing, mountain biking, or even repeating one of the more relaxing, less intense rafting days.

Accommodations

Puerto Varas - Hotels

Futaleufu - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$6,050 2-3 travelers

Notes

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Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Gear Rental
  • Puerto Montt - Chaiten - Puerto Montt flights
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Arrival Transfer
  • Departure Transfer
  • Airport Departure Tax
  • Internal Flights - Puerto Montt - Chaiten - Puerto Montt Santiago - Puerto Montt - Santiago

Map

When to Go

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Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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