FAQ’s pertaining to "multi-camp" trips from Dec. 2012 - April 2013
How long has Earth River been in business and what is your safety record?
Earth River was founded in 1989. We have been running the Futaleufu for 22 years and have never had an incident of any kind.
What is the difference between the “multi-camp” and "base camp" trips?
“Multi-camp” wilderness expeditions begins in Puerto Montt, Chile and do a continuous, top to bottom wilderness journey down the river utilizing four company owned, outfitted camps along the way. Multi-camp trips are limited to 16 participants and individual travelers get private accommodations on six of the seven river nights. "Base camp" trips begin in Bariloche, Argentina and participants do multi-sport "day trips", returning to the same outfitted base camp each evening. Base camp trips may have up to 24 participants and single travelers usually have to share accommodations every night. The multi-camp trip has significantly less driving to and from the river due to the commuter flight.
NOTE: Participants of both trips have the option of running the entire river.
Why is there a price difference between the multi-camp and base camp trips if they both raft the same river? There are signifigant cost differences in terms of investment, infrastructure, maintenance and personnel running four outfitted camps rather then a single base camp. The multi-camp wilderness expedition is better suited for smaller groups and is therefore limited to just 16 guests. The nature of a base camp trip allows us to take 24 guests. The multi-camp expedition includes a R/T flight into Patagonia which makes the drive to the river signifigantly shorter than the base camp trip which comes in through Bariloche, Argentina and does not incude a r/t flight.
Can trips be shortened by a day, so I only have to take off one week from work, without missing any of the river portion?
Yes. The trip can easily be done in 10 days instead of 11 (one work week and two weekends) as long as you arrive in Puerto Montt by 10:30 AM Saturday morning in time to catch the group commuter flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten. There are a number of carriers from the U.S. that arrive into Santiago early enough to accomplish this. Note: A $100 per person credit will be issued to people not staying at the hotel in Puerto Varas.
What is the typical group size?
Multi-camp, wilderness expeditions are limited to 16 participants.
What are the river accommodations like?
You will be sleeping in hand-hewn riverside cliff dwellings and tree houses with spectacular river and lake views. Cliff dwellings have beds, warm sleeping bags, thick sleeping pads and pillows. They are located away from each other and from communal gathering areas like hot tubs and camp fires to assure privacy and a restful sleep. A flannel sleeping sack and pillow case accompany your personal gear from camp to camp. Private camps are exclusive to one Earth River group at a time.
Can I join the trip through Argentina?Yes. You may join the trip through Argentina by flying into Buenos Aires and then down to Bariloche but it involves a lot more travel time (2 hour taxi between the International and National airports in Buenos Aires and a 9 hour drive from Bariloche to the river). It is also quite a bit more expensive (roughly $500 more dollars to come in through Argentina) because the flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche is between $650-$700 as compared to $200-$250 for the inner Chile flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt. Additionally you will need to hire a taxi ($75 R/T) for the 2 hour taxi ride. Joining the trip through Argentina only makes sense if you are already planning on being in Buenos Aires. If you would like to join the trip through Argentina the Earth River office can help you with the logistics.
When is the best time to go in terms of weather and water levels? The Futaleufu Valley is in a temperate, micro-climate and during the summer does not receive the intense wind and rain often associated with Patagonia. The weather does not fluctuate that much during the four months we run our trips, with days between 60 and 85 degrees and nights between 40 and 60. It rains between 2 and 3 inches per month (roughly the same as the north eastern U.S. in the summer). The river is fed by glaciers and rain fall which keep it running throughout the season. Rain, which can happen any time, can raise the water level making it necessary to walk around some of the larger rapids. The water temperature is a constant 60 degrees all season long.
How do you accommodate guests of varying experience levels and abilities?
Guests from 6 to 80 years old and of all abilities and experience levels have enjoyed our Futaleufu trip. Whether you are a rafter, horseback rider, photographer, hiker or fisherman, you will be able to customize your trip using any combination of these interests without impacting other members of the expedition. All multi-sport activities, including the rafting, are optional. Participants also have the option of paddling in rafts or riding on extremely stable safety-catarafts (mandatory for children under 13). A beautiful hiking trail follows the river making any or all of the rapids optional. One can choose to either raft, hike, ride a horse, fish or any combination of these activities to journey down the river. The trip can be customized by an individual without impacting anyone else's trip.
What kind of physical condition do I need to be in? Futaleufu trips are designed to accommodate people or all levels of fitness. A modest workout, three times a week, will enhance your experience. Because there are so many options, people of all different fitness levels can push themselves as hard as they wish without impacting anyone else’s experience.
What do you do with my excess bags and valuables when I’m on the river trip?
We will supply you with a duffle bag in Puerto Montt. Your extra bags will be stored with Maria, our land guide until you return to Puerto Montt at the trip’s conclusion. When you arrive at the first night’s camp, valuables (passports, money etc.) can be given to the trip leader who will safely store them until the end of the river portion of the trip.
What are the main differences between joining the trip through Chile vs. Argentina?
1 ~ The International and National airports in Buenos Aires, Argentina are two hours apart. The Santiago, Chile facility houses both airports.
2 ~ Santiago is a safer city but Buenos Aires is more interesting in terms of history, art, architecture, shopping and nightlife.3 ~ The internal flight within Argentina costs roughly twice as much as the flight in Chile.4 ~ Bariloche is a small Argentina city (pop. 110,000) and Puerto Varas is a quaint Chilean town (pop. 16,000). Both sit on beautiful lakes with Bariloche's being more heavily developed. 5 ~ Coming in through Chile requires a 1/2 hour charter flight.
6 ~ Coming in through Argntina requires two additional border crossings.
7 ~ The drive through Chile is much shorter than through Argentina and the scenery through Chile is more dramatic.
In case of a medical emergencies, what are the evacuation procedures?
Evacuation by four wheel drive vehicle is possible in many places in the canyon. An injured or sick person could then be driven to a modern hospital in Esquel, Argentina two hours away. In the more remote locations like the Tree House Camp and Cave Camp it may be necessary to call in a helicopter (one hour away). The guides are Wilderness First Responders.
Families, private charter groups and solo travelers?
Are children welcome?
This is the Harry Potter of adventure trips where both the parents and children equally enjoy it. Families with children usually join us over the December holiday but are certainly not limited to those departures. On the other hand, all the dramatic natural and man made features that make this such an amazing experience; tree houses 35 feet up in the air, cliffs, granite climbing towers, rapids and deep lakes and ponds are all potential hazards to children who do not listen. We have taken numerous families with children as young as six. Children under 13 do not do a few of the largest rapids but are able to ride a extremely stable safety cataraft though wonderful rapids as well as partake in all the amazing multi-sport activities. The following Shutterfly photo diary is from one of the dozens of families over the years that have joined us on this expedition. Click here to view photo gallery.
Is there a single supplement for solo travelers?
There is no additional fee for individual travelers. Solo travelers will receive a single accommodation every night with the exception of the Tree House Camp.
Do you have special group rates?
Depending upon the size of the group, private charters may be eligible for a group discount. Please call our office for information on group size to qualify.
How many participants do I need for a private charter departure and are customized trips available?
Private groups must have at least 6 participants. Groups smaller than 6 can reserve a private departure but will need to pay for six places. Owning the four private camps along the river allows Earth River to customize private trips in whatever way your group chooses. We have a fifth camp, accessible by horseback, with hand-hewn log cabins which is also available to private groups. We have had family reunions, weddings and corporate retreats. Private departures can be customized by itineraries and activities as well as by food and wine.
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