Updated: April 13, 2006
Rafting Chile 's Rio Futaleufu
Remote, uncrowded, and pristine, the Futaleufu (pronounced foo-tah-lay-ah-foo) River in the Patagonia Region of Chile is one of the most incredible international whitewater runs. Its turquoise green and frothy white waters awe and inspire each person who has the opportunity to navigate the rapids. In the native Araucanian Indian language, "Futaleufu" means "Big River" and it definitely lives up to its name. The river is divided into an upper section called Inferno Canyon, and a lower section, beginning with Terminator Rapid and ending at Casa de Piedra.
The Upper Futaleufu - Inferno Canyon This is Class V paradise as this run has everything that legends are made of: big water, numerous continuous rapids, and portages. Here you'll run (or portage) the famous Class V rapids The Gates, Zeta, and Throne Room. Although this section is the upper stretch of the river, it is usually saved for last, as the other sections are better to warm-up on.
The Lower Futaleufu - Terminator through Casa de Piedra The lower section is divided into several shorter runs, ranging in difficulty, many of which have easy access from the road. The stretch begins with Terminator, a big-water class V rapid that is great for thrill seekers. It is the largest, longest rapid on the river. The class IV and V rapids following it are often dubbed the "Terminator Section." In between Terminator and Casa de Piedra, is the Bridge-to-Bridge stretch with great class III and IV rapids. Bridge-to-Bridge provides a great warm-up run for class V rapids and is usually run before the upper section. Casa de Piedra is the last rapid and it is one of the most technical class V's on the Futaleufu. It is the perfect ending to one of the greatest whitewater runs in the world.
The first thing that you'll need to do is get yourself to Chile. This means flying to Santiago which is the capital. Then you'll want to take a 14 hour bus or simply take a flight to Puerto Montt. In Puerto Montt, you can take a boat ride to Chaitan where you'll have to find a ride up the Andes to the river.
Most visitors will choose to boat with a commercial outfitter. In this case, your rides will be figured out for you and shuttles will be handled.
If you're a private boater, you should bring your own boats and head to the town of Futaleufu where you can hire a shuttle driver for help. The rafting outfitters aren't very helpful to private boaters, so you'll need to be a trooper to figure it all out. The main road will get you to the different put-ins and take-outs which aren't too hard to figure out.
Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.
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