Futaleufú Whitewater & Multisport Trip Highlights

  • Raft the world-class turquoise waters of the Futaleufu and its tributaries
  • Enjoy an exciting biathalon ‘saddle and paddle’ day in which you’ll horseback ride through pristine wilderness to where you’ll descend by inflatable kayak or raft
  • Stay perched above the river in a safari – style basecamp and relax with massage, hot tub, and riverside bar after your day of adventure
  • Take advantage of multisport opportunities and go mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, kayaking and do yoga
  • Run the Inferno Canyon and master the Fu on summit day, recognized as one of the world’s best stretches of whitewater

Itinerary Overview

Patagonia’s Rio Futaleufu offers some of the most stunning scenery and exciting whitewater in the world. This multisport adventure combines world-class whitewater rafting with opportunities to mountain bike, horseback ride, kayak, hike, fly fish, and do yoga. Spend your evenings with gourmet cuisine, massage, bonfires, riverside hot tubbing and more at your safari-style, luxury basecamp.

Rafting in Patagonia

DAY 1 • San Carlos de Bariloche

Arrive to Bariloche. Shop for Argentinian leather goods, visit sidewalk cafes and walk the lake-front before a welcome dinner and trip briefing.

DAY 2 Overland Andes Crossing

Drive over the Andes and cross the remote border post into Chile. Vast grasslands give way to temperate rainforest, turquoise rivers, and aquamarine lakes. Arrive to basecamp along the shores of the Futaleufu River.

DAY 3 Futaleufu

Warm up and practice rafting session on the upper Futaleufu with continuous stretches of whitewater. Try fly fishing or hiking in the afternoon.

DAY 4 Futaleufu

Journey further down river and raft vast sections of class 4 waters. For those who choose, have a taste of class 5 whitewater as well. Return to basecamp for a massage and a soak in the hot tub.

DAY 5 Futaleufu

Captain your own inflatable kayak or guided mini-raft down the class 2 and 3 rapids of Rio Espolon, and, if you’re still energized, mountain bike through the forest back to camp. For dinner indulge in a traditional Patagonian barbeque.

DAY 6 Futaleufu

Horseback ride through the pristine Rio Azul Valley at the foot of the Andes. Ride back after lunch or trade in the saddle for a paddle and raft down class 3 and 4 Río Azul.

DAY 7 Futaleufu

Raft the exciting Inferno Canyon section of the Futaleufu and enjoy a comprehensive tasting of Chile’s finest wines in the evening.

DAY 8 Futaleufu

Summit Day! Raft what is often considered the best day of whitewater in the world. Pull off at basecamp for lunch before continuing downriver on this incredible marathon day of rafting.

DAY 9 Futaleufu to San Carlson de Bariloche

Depart from Bariloche.

Is It For Me?

An exciting multisport trip on the banks of the mighty Futaleufu combining whitewater rafting with kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fly fishing and yoga. Ideal for experienced rafters as well as novices looking to improve their skills.

Knowmad has vast knowledge and operations in Chile; this is a private trip and we are happy to modify excursions, accommodations, and the flow of the itinerary to perfectly suit your travel style and interests.

Have questions? Talk to an expert: 612-315-2894

Important Info

COSTSPatagonia after adventure dinner

  • $3,600 per person / 2 travelers 

Rates quoted are per traveler, based on sharing double accommodations.

  • $175 single supplement – If you request single accommodations you are required to pay the single supplement. If you are a single traveler and would like to be paired with a traveler of the same gender, Knowmad Adventures will try to accommodate this and, if we are able, will refund the single supplement following the trip.

Type Fixed date group trip, departures available between December and March

Moderate trip Activities are flexible and can include rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, yoga, & cultural opportunities

DEPARTURES Fixed date departures weekly between December and March. Inquire for specific start/end dates.

Length 9 days             Begin / end Bariloche, Argentina

Air Travel

INTERNATIONAL Airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. For reservations we recommend you contact the airlines directly. Also, web search databases such as www.kayak.com and www.priceline.com can be helpful to do preliminary searches in order to identify which carriers may have the best fares, however we strongly recommend then calling and booking directly with the airline.

REGIONAL  Adventures can arrange your regional airfare. Roundtrip flights from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche fluctuate based on the time of purchase and flight dates. If you would like to arrange your own regional flights, please consult us prior so we can verify the departure and arrival times.

What's Next?

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Signing up is easy. Call us at 612-315-2894 or email travel@knowmadadventures.com and reserve your spot. Or simply download our registration form, fill it out, and send it back to us along with your trip deposit. Please refer to registration form for terms & conditions.

Weather & When to Go to the Futaleufú River Valley

One may experience many different weather patterns in the Futaleufú River valley including frequent storms off the Pacific. This also means that the river level can change dramatically if an unseasonable tormenta or rain storm passes through. We raft only on days when the river is at a safe level. The sunny months are usually December through March. Temperatures typically average around 70 degrees farenheit during our season of operation, but range widely.

Northern Patagonia

Prior to your departure, you are provided a detailed pre-trip information packet including a recommended pack list, information about the regions you’ll be visiting, suggested readings, up-to-date health information including any recommended vaccinations and more.

 

Accommodations

Our trips feature comfortable accommodations that complement their surroundings. We seek out intimacy and character, but never sacrifice cleanliness and security. We also find the best value for quality. In general, our physically moderate to vigorous trips feature hotels classified as 3+ to 4 stars, while less physically demanding trips feature 4+ to 5 star hotels.As South American travel specialists, we’re experts and have inspected hundreds of properties. Knowmad is happy to suggest upgrades and alternative hotels based on your preferences to ensure your trip is perfect for you. Photos below are from this itinerary’s preferred accommodations. For more specifics, call or write to request more info, or download the detailed trip itinerary.Where to stay in Chile Patagonia

Accommodations featured in this itinerary are the following:

  • Vill Huinid located in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Adventure Spa Basecamp located in Patagonia, Chile

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1  San Carlos de Bariloche

After arriving to the San Carlos de Bariloche airport from Buenos Aires, a Knowmad Adventures representative will meet you at the Bariloche airport and escort you to the “Switzerland of the South” that lies on Lake Nahuel Huapi. Check in to a lovely hotel with lake views located within walking distance of town. Your afternoon can be spent swimming, walking around town, shopping for Argentina’s famous leather goods, sampling Bariloche’s delicious chocolate or going for a walk along the lakefront. There is also an option to go for a longer hike near Bariloche’s ski resort. In the evening we will gather for a group welcome dinner at one of our favorite restaurants where you can indulge in an Argentinean steak off the parilla while getting to know your guides and fellow adventurers. After the short flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas, Patagonia, transfer from the airport to Hotel Rey Don Felipe (www.hotelreydonfelipe.com). Enjoy a welcome dinner while your trip leader briefs the group.

DAY 2 Overland Andes Crossing

After breakfast we will board our private vehicles and begin the drive south to the Futaleufu as it flows into Chile. This is a beautiful drive down the east side of the Andes and is nothing short of breath taking! We will drive through the frontier gaucho towns of Esquel and Trevelin that were settled a century ago by Welsh farmers. This region of Patagonia was made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! The terrain alternates between lush forest and emerald green valleys, aquamarine lakes, and the windswept plains of the Patagonian steppe. In the afternoon we will reach the remote, rugged outpost that serves as the border between Argentina and Chile where you will get another stamp in your passport as we enter Chile. The dry, rugged scenery of the Andean rain shadow quickly gives way to lush, green temperate rainforest as we get our first glimpse of the Futaleufu River and then follow it downstream to our multisport Adventure Base Camp. On the way to camp, we pass a few farms that are carved into the ancient rain forest allowing us a glimpse of frontier living, Chileno style. We arrive at the Base Camp where your private tent bungalow on a raised platform, complete with river views and comfortable beds, will be waiting for you. Our enthusiastic guides will lead you to your sweet new “home away from home” on the river! After a short hike or a swim, you may want to soak in the riverside hot tub or enjoy a hot shower. Then, we gather in the sunset bar for our first welcome happy hour. We will introduce the entire crew and go over the week’s 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.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp

DAY 3  Futaleufu

Awaken on the banks of the Fu and enjoy your first morning in camp! We rise with the warmth of the sun and have breakfast around 9 am. A pre-breakfast yoga class is available on our customized yoga platform with river views! Mornings tend to be crisp so prepare to dress warmly – a fleece is perfect. Today is a river day. We will launch our rafts from base camp after a thorough safety briefing. In a safe ‘eddy’, a short distance downstream, we’ll do a set of practice rescue drills. This allows the crew in each raft to hone their skills and prepare to raft as a team.

We use a cataraft combined with ace safety-kayakers as part of our “safety net.” Each raft is captained
by a highly trained and intuitive river guide, who guides the boat from a stern-mounted oar frame. Guiding with oars does not detract from the paddling experience. The advantage to the oar frame is greater control in pointing the bow straight through holes and 15-foot high “haystack” wave trains. High siding is also an actively used “paddle” command. This style is consistent with any high volume, strong current river where rapids graded 4 to 5-plus rage on. This is the Futaleufú!

The first section that we raft, from camp down to Puente Futaleufú (the Futaleufú Bridge), is only 10 km, but offers more rapids per 1000 meters than anywhere else on the river. It is the perfect warm-up run and it is non-stop fun! The rapids of note are “El Cojín”, the Cushion, and “Mundaca”, a local family name.

At take-out, we meet our vehicles for a 20-minute ride back to camp. Those who would prefer a “lower body” workout to complement their paddling are welcome to run back or ride one of our mountain bikes from take-out to camp. When we get to camp, you can choose to go fly-fishing, try out a kayak, practice yoga, nap in a hammock, enjoy the sauna, have a massage, go for a hike, or soak in the hot tub. Taking a hot shower, either indoors or under the big sky, feels very luxurious while camping in the remote wilderness of the northern Patagonia! Of course, for the hardy, the river provides a cold bath and refreshing swim.

As the sun sinks behind the mountains, enjoy a game of chess or cards at the sunset bar. Every late afternoon is “Happy Hour” with an open bar stocked with beer, wine, soda, and fresh juice. Then, we gather together in the open-air kitchen/dining area, the “Galpon”, for a candlelight sit-down dinner featuring fresh locally grown produce 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.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp 

DAY 4 Futaleufu

Officially day two of our rafting extravaganza, our aim is to settle into a river rhythm that will be utilized in order to successfully raft the next few sections the Fu. After breakfast, we will launch our rafts from camp and have lunch on the river. After we pass the Puente Futaleufú (yesterday’s take-out), we immediately round the corner to meet a big stomping continuous cascade of waves known as “Mas o Menos”, translated, “More or Less”. This is a good stepping-stone towards our first true blue class V technical rapid, “Casa de Piedra” (House of Rock) which is right around the next corner.

We will get out of our rafts to scout this massive rapid from the banks of the Fu before making our thrilling descent. Note that running class V rapids is not mandatory and can be subverted for those not wishing to run them.

After this rapid, we will run the remaining class 3 and 4 rapids as our hearts resume beating at their normal rates. We will drift into a nice long calm section that offers perfect fishing from the rafts aswell as a great place to get into some hard shell kayaks. The next three miles we will have a floating happy hour and reach our take out spot just above Lago Yelcho. Upon return to camp, we will continue to celebrate the day, enjoy the spa and get ready for another fabulous dinner prepared by our jovial crew and talented chef.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp

DAY 5  Futaleufu

Today we become experts at navigating our very own river crafts, known as inflatable kayaks or IK’s. If there is interest, before we paddle we will have a chance to stroll around the quaint little town of Futaleufú.

We venture up canyon to the source of the Rio Espolon as it cascades out of the Lago Espolón to find gin clear water and gentle class 2 and 3 rapids that offer a perfect learning opportunity to become a great captain of your own boat. There is something deeply satisfying paddling your own boat down river, knowing that your destiny is in your own hands. Of course our highly trained guides will be there to coach you, watch over you and provide safety should you need to be rescued. Or if you’d like you can join a guide on a miniature raft known as a pickle boat for an exciting ride along with a guide. The Rio Espolon is one of the major tributaries to the Futaleufu river and flows into the Fu right above the Inferno canyon which is where we take-out in the early afternoon. For those ready to try out a hard shell kayak, this is the perfect class 2-3 river to do it on!

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp

DAY 6  Futaleufu

Surf and Turf up and down the Rio Azul valley! After breakfast we take a short drive to the stables where we will find our trusty steeds saddled up and ready for adventurous riding. After a safety briefing, we ride alongside local gauchos and our own river guides who will gladly join the posse up a glorious, pristine side valley where the Rio Azul flows unhindered from its glacial headwaters. After a 3 hour ride, we stop for a picnic lunch and then trade in our saddles for paddles to test our talents on the challenging and fun Class 3 and 4 Rio Azul, a significant step up in difficulty from the Rio Espolon. This is a full biathlon day and you will be glad to return to camp, enjoy the soothing hot tub, a cold beer or glass of wine as you wait your turn to get a well deserved massage! Night six is also a likely candidate for our wine tasting which will gives you a fantastic overview of the best South American wines.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp

DAY 7  Futaleufu

We will have an early breakfast in camp then travel 25 kilometers up the road to Rio Espolon to launch our rafts for the Inferno Canyon day! On the Rio Espolon we have a chance to warm up on this low volume river before it joins and helps form the mighty Futaleufu as it gets squeezed into the narrow Inferno canyon. This upper canyon requires aggressive class V paddling and is potentially the most intense section of white water on the river. Many other options exist for those who choose not to participate in Inferno Canyon.

Five distinct rapids form a narrow sinuous river passage creating a wet surge and a “full on” adrenaline rush. As we come out of “Exit”, the last rapid, we enter into a long calm. The current remains swift and we cruise many miles downstream arriving at the mandatory portage around the fierce “Zeta” rapid. We have lunch on the rocks as the crew “ghost” boats the rafts through this treacherous rapid.

After lunch, our first obstacle is “Throne Room,” a class V+ rapid for kayaks, a ghost boat rapid for rafts. By walking around this rapid, we get a great bird’s eye view of an almost ‘river wide’ hole that could destroy a raft. Back on board our rafts, we are dealt a Royal Flush; a continuous class IV corridor of rapids does not let up until we get to our take-out spot at the Rio Azul footbridge. The rafts are left for the night, tethered on shore.

Early evening is spent in camp getting ready for the evening festivities. Blanca and her partner Umberto, locals from a nearby farm, cook a very special treat for us. They merrily prepare a delicious dinner called “Curanto” that is typical of the south of Chile and the island of Chiloe. We spend the evening by the bonfire on the beach singing and dancing the night away.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp 

DAY 8  Futaleufu

Today, we must be mentally and physically well prepared for the river. We call it the “summit day” as we aim to top our already great paddling days with the best day of white water in the world. After a nutritious breakfast, we head up river to the footbridge where we left the rafts yesterday. As our day on the river begins, the blue glacial run-off from the Rio Azul River 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 us to the longest and toughest rapid that we will raft, “The Terminator.” We scout and study our line, then we take the plunge and drop in. “Left turn, right turn, dig it in —

hard forward!” are a few of the commands that might be heard. The next three miles are non-stop rapids. After an aerobic workout, we pump through the enormous haystack wave train known as the “Himalayas”.

Just when we need it, a calm returns and we float gently into lunch, served at our base camp. After lunch, we return to the river to complete the last task for the day, tackling as much white water as possible. We raft the whole section of river from camp to below Casa de Piedra. At take-out, cold beers and tea are waiting. We make a triumphant return to camp to celebrate our days spent exploring the Futaleufú Valley and its majestic river.

For the evening’s festivities, Rolando and Nelli will prepare a typical Chilean asado — lamb roasted over a bed of coals, ensalada, potatoes and farm fresh bread. We toast the river and give thanks for our safe passage. Under a bright starry sky, we will spend our last night together as a group on the banks of the mighty Fu with the guides and crew.

  • B, L, D – Adventure Spa Basecamp

DAY 9  Futaleufu to San Carlson de Bariloche

We start early today. After loading up your personal gear, our bus and transport will take you to Bariloche or Esquell to catch your flight to Buenos Aires. An evening or following day flight returns you to Buenos Aires. If you wish to spend a day or two learning tango and exploring the city we are happy to make arrangements for a trip extension.

We hope that when you board the airplane you will look back upon your time in Patagonia and think of the friends you have made and the beauty of the Futaleufú River and Patagonian wilderness. Ciao amigos. Ciao Ciao Chile.

  • B

Extend Your Adventure

Wine Country

Bike from vineyard to vineyard on gentle country roads, tour the cellars, taste fine wines, eat gourmet cuisine and stay in charming boutique hotels. With premier wine growing valleys just an hour from Santiago, a few days in wine country is an ideal extension to your adventure and a good example of the diversity of landscapes and lifestyles within Chile.

Atacama Desert

Looking for unique? Earth’s closest thing to Mars, Atacama will not disappoint. Your trip to this surreal landscape offers countless cultural and adventure excursions to choose from during the day, while spending nights in a true oasis, the Tierra Atacama boutique hotel and spa. Return for a dip in the pool and enjoy a local cabernet with gourmet cuisine. Don’t forget to take advantage of the world’s best moonscape and stargazing. 

Easter Island

A tropical paradise with history, culture and mystery at every beautiful turn, a visit to Easter Island – the world’s most isolated speck of land – will captivate any traveler. Meander through the picturesque countryside dotted with volcanoes, and learn about the mysterious Moai statues erected by the original Polynesian tribes who inhabited the island. Still today little is known about the statues or their creators. While circumnavigating the island on visits to the diverse Moai sites, you’ll have opportunities to relax on deserted, white-sand beaches, explore volcanic caves with petroglyphs and walk the rim of a seaside volcano. 

Let The Journey Begin

Let the Journey Begin - Knowmad Adventures

Planning a trip to South America might seem a little overwhelming at first. Knowmad offers door-to-door trip planning: first, we listen, and then we help you navigate the seasonal differences and itinerary options, resulting in a holistic, seamless, and custom-crafted experience, all at a guaranteed best value.

The simplest way to get started is to give us a call at 612-315-2894or to fill out this short form so we can learn more about your travel preferences.