Hey guys, this is Bruno. Sometimes I also travel to other countries in South America besides Peru and this is something I wrote during my last trip to Chile.
The Futaleufu River is known to man as the most stunning river in the entire world, and that is partly because of the way its formation goes which also makes it one of the most challenging rivers to try water sports on. The powerful whitewater rushes and foams as you take on an exhilarating ride on its surface.
Futaleufu gets its name from it being so huge and amongst ecologists ‘The Greatest Whitewater on Earth’. In the local dialect it can be translated into something around the terms of big river. The river connects the water body to beautiful glacial lakes. Futaleufu river itself goes through a gap in the Andean Mountains which is one great sight in itself. The giant rapids thunder beyond the canyons and seem never ending. River sports enthusiasts make this a dream of a place to be in. The Futaleufu River is a true South American jewel and very few others can compare to the awe inspiring aura of the Futaleufu River.
Many trips will let you explore all of the river. You may even get to ride only the portions that you like.Near the river are plenty of lodging and options that range from functional to opulent. People backpacking through the area can camp here, or you may even take it up a notch and settle in a glamping spot. Outside your camp you can see the breathtaking countryside of Patagonia. You are finally at the center of all water sports action.
Trips will begin by you taking your rafts to begin your river journey on a glistening beach which looks to the towering Tres Monjas. An awaited area of the water body is the joining of this river with Rio Azul.
Visiting Futaleufu River means you will experience a water sports vacation balanced by some thrilling water sports action. But the adventure is not just secluded to that. Thanks to the region’s topographical location along with its diversity that the Futaleufu river is set against, when you are here your options for adrenaline pumping activities expand. Tourists can now indulge in sea kayaking,trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canyoning, and fly fishing.
1. Geography and Fauna
Patagonia’s geography shifts a lot by the way you might have seen the adjoining areas. Tourists will notice this firsthand when they travel to the other parts before arriving here. Towards the southern area of this country a lot of glacial structures have sculpted the place into Andean lakes as well as rushing river bodies, one of which is the majestic Futaleufu.
From the river’s vantage point one will notice lush foliage, icy mountain peaks, granite cliffs and gigantic spires. The river itself flows out dramatically from a canyon. The nearby forests offer trees that are a century old along with other resilient life.
Some of the most likely animals you may come across or spot are pumas, elks, and the ibis. The elk is an endangered species. Most camps are located downstream from the Futaleufu river.
2. Camping near Futaleufu
The most common form of accomodation at the Futaleufu River is setting up camp near the river. All the base camps are filled with amenities close to a glamping experience but not without the adventure. Every morning you wake up to a glorious view of the canyons. You will find a sunset bar on the riverside, here you can try an assortment of Chilean wines. There is also toilets, showers, a sauna, and massage studios. Visitors usually around the bon fire and have dinner every night. Most mornings people gather together to practice yoga. You can even book yourself a tent bungalow if you prefer.
3. What to Wear
Everyone who visits the Futaleufu is asked to pack a wetsuit. The water can seem freezing when you get out and have to face the crisp air.
4. Meals and Drinks
Camps provide guests with meals. Everything you try here will be made from locally sourced produce. With fresh ingredients guests will get to taste the exotic foods that is not served anywhere else on earth. Some of the daily staples at Futaleufu River include baked goods, and sweet pastries. Main courses are made from fish, meat and vegetables. The food is local and therefore without any chemicals. During the last day at Futaleufu, you celebrate with the culinarily sought after Chilean Asado. This meal consists of a lamb that is made over outdoor fire. Watching the whole process is part of the Fataleufu experience.
Patagonia Andes gets some of the most purest water on all of earth. This water at base camps is still treated. When you return to the city it is recommended that you choose mineral water.
5. Contact with the Outside World
One of the things to remember once you are living at the camp is that you might be completely shut off from the world outside Patagonia. Guides and camp workers are used to communicating through a radio. There are no network towers to offer internet service in the region.
This does however make for a perfect way to spend some quality time with mother nature without any distractions.
6. Electricity and Power
Even though it is allowed one should be mindful with the way they use certain electronic devices such as camera drones and loud music players as these disrupt the experiences of other visitors at the river. Many people who make their way to Chile’s Futaleufu are seeking solitude in the world’s most unique places and which is also unharmed by humans.
It is necessary to note that there is no service available for cellphones. If you have decided to bring some of your electronic devices to the raft make sure it is stored in waterproof casing.
Before you set off for South America ensure you get your license for fishing online. You can also get one from Puerto Varas.
Futaleufu River is known to be abundant in salmon and different types of trout. All guests can set up a fishing spot as they like. Usually a camping package the includes fishing gear, however in case you are not sure if it is inclusive, best pack your own fishing rod. You can do this from the shores or if you like from a boat.
Tourists who are interested and f there is plenty of time before or after your day trip you can ask your guide to accompany you in the river water. Of course that cost you extra, so most people either do that or resort to making a fishing group with other enthusiasts who are on the trip with them.
However if you have a packed itinerary you still have to inform your guide to make this a part of your adventure.
8. Get Acquainted with Whitewater
Futaleufu River is an intense water body. It stretches between 9 to 15000 cubic feet per second in volume. It harbours class four and five of rapids while boasting clear turquoise waters that lure in tourists from all over the world. Some descents are difficult and tourists have to hike around them. Do not underestimate the sweeping class four rapids, they are just as thrilling as the harsher ones.
9. Work Out as Prep
The truth is that spending time around the Futaleufu River and indulging in all the water activities is taxing physically. When one is preparing for their trip make sure that you get exercise routinely three months before you leave for Chile. You do not have to begin an intensive regime for this. Simply do regular push ups, squats and exercises that focus on your core. A great idea would be to take half an hour at least three times a week to go on a brisk walk. If you have a pool, take advantage of it and swim for a bit of aerobic exercise.
10. How a Rafting Experience typically Goes
The river categorises its rapids on a scale of five. This can be incredibly adrenaline pumping especially if you have never gone rafting before. There is a guide with you throughout the boat ride so there is no reason to feel scared. Before you make your way into the river, your guide will also explain to you what you should do in case your raft turns over, or that you fall into the water.
After you combat class four of the rapids, there is a point in the river which is called the Terminator. This is a half kilometer rapid with a hole in the center where boats usually flip. At this point your guide will tell you to paddle side to side to prevent this from happening. Once you are past this, you feel a lot better about the challenge you just overcame.
At the end you can either walk on the rocks at the side of the river, or jump into the water and swim your way through.
11. You are a Team Now
You may have come alone but on the Futaleufu whitewater rapids you are a team. No one can face the Futaleufu River alone. Only with the collective rhythm of a team can you make your vessel move on the whitewater. A good idea is to remind yourself that it is not every person for themselves or every person against the other, but instead all of the people against the merciless river.
You may also find yourself noticing how people’s energy affects you. Confident people on the raft will make you feel just as confident too. Likewise, people who panic will make it contagious..
12. Prepare to be Adaptable
Leave fear at home. Before you take on a rapid usually everyone in the raft comes up with a game plan for the team. Most of the times your time on water goes exactly as you expect it to with no surprises, but half of the time this is not true and people have to face the reality of coming up with a plan b on the spot.
Your experience on the Futaleufu River will teach you to go with the flow and to always expect the unexpected and accept what comes your way. Only with that attitude will you come up with a solution for the problem.
13. Best Time to Go
The Futaleufu River is situated in the northern region of Patagonia. Here the months from December to March are considered sunny and mild. The night time is generally pleasant but it can rain sometimes and the rapids make the surroundings wet. It helps that before you leave, make sure that you check the weather forecast.
14. Get Travel Protection
It is recommended that as you plan for your trip to Chile, you apply for travel protection. Not only is it meant for your safety it is also meant to ensure that all non refundable payments are returned to you just in case you cannot make it or cancels some events. Other popular insurance options include getting an emergency evacuation policy.
15. Restrictions on Travelling with a Child
Tourists who have never visited Chile before may not know that the country has a lot of restrictions when it comes to the entry of people younger than 18 years old. Even if someone is travelling with their parents they are supposed to show evidence of their relationship with the adults. The best way around it is for the parents to keep a copy of the birth certificate of the child or young adult along with your passport documents.
If a minor is not travelling with a parent it is important that a notarized letter is amongst the papers of the minor. This is crucial even if the minor entered the country with a parent but is not leaving with them.