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Futaleufu general information

CANCELLATION INSURANCE:

Trip Insurance for your flights and expedition is mandatory on all Futaleufu lodge trips. It is difficult to fill a spot that is left vacant by a cancellation and these small, boutique lodges are reserved and paid for by Earth River many months in advance. If by any chance you have to cancel your trip, only trip insurance will protect your investment. Insurance will cover every aspect of your trip including: your deposit, lost baggage and unforeseeable medical emergencies and evacuation. It will also cover additional transportation costs in case you have to be caught up to the expedition due to delays with your international flight.

ALL GUESTS must e-mail their flight information in and out of Puerto Montt to Earth River’s office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we know your schedule. The e- mail should include; Futaleufu trip date, date leaving US, flight # and arrival time into Puerto Montt as well as the flight # and departure time leaving Puerto Montt at the end of the trip.


GETTING THERE:

YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: International flight from your country to Santiago, Chile. Transfer (in same airport) to flight south to Puerto Montt. Fly to Puerto Montt (1.7 hrs.). Taxi to hotel in Puerto Varas (1/2 hr.)

EARTH RIVER'S RESPONSIBILITY: Van in morning to airport (1/2 hr.). Commuter flight to Chaiten (45 min.). Bus to river (*3 hrs.) 


MEETING PLACE: We will be meeting at the Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel in Puerto Varas which is located at: Imperial 0561, Puerto Varas, Chile. (http:hotelcumbrespatagonicas.com/en Phone: 065-222000.) You should plan to arrive at the hotel anytime on Friday afternoon (except for private charters and the Dec. 26th departure). When you arrive in Puerto Montt, walk outside the airport and hire a taxi (12,500 pesos or $25) to take you to the hotel where a room will be waiting in your name. The group will meet the Earth River guide that evening in the hotel lobby at 6:30 for our welcome dinner. The Earth River land guide in Puerto Montt, Maria, speaks English and will be there to greet you. In case you have any problems (travel related, etc.) she can be reached as follows: Cell phone (calling her from the U.S.) 011-569-93212995, Calling from Santiago, Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas; 09-93212995. Her email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure Maria's contact information is with you in case you have any problems. She accessible by phone at all times.

Important note: It is possible to do this trip in 10 days rather then 11. If you are only able to take a week off from work it is possible to do the trip leaving the U.S. on Friday evening rather than Thursday evening. In order to do this, you will need to schedule an international flight that arrives into Santiago early enough Saturday morning to catch a flight down to Puerto Montt that arrives no later than 10:30 AM. There are a number carriers that offer such flights. If you need help coordinating this please contact our travel agent, Gilda (see below).


WHAT’S INCLUDED:

All Futaleufu expeditions include: Hotel in Puerto Varas (night one), 7 additional nights in spectacular private lodges in the Futaleufu Valley,  R/T commuter flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, ground transportation from Chaiten to the river and back. All meals from dinner (Puerto Varas) day 2 until breakfast day 9  (wine & beer with dinner). Earth River transports you from the hotel in Puerto Varas to the river at the start of the trip and back to the Puerto Montt Airport at the trip’s conclusion.

Note:  A masseuse separate charge) is available at certain lodges. 


WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

International air to Santiago and inner country air to Puerto Montt, taxi from Puerto Montt Airport to hotel and other travel related expenses such as, but not limited to: insurance, passports, medical costs, or other transportation costs resulting from a deviation from our itinerary are not included. End of trip gratuities to the guides are also not included as is the masseuse. If you are delayed for any reason (missed flight) and unable to reach Puerto Montt in time to make the commuter flight to Chaiten, we can catch you up but you will be responsible for the cost of a new seat on the next charter flight and any extra hotels and meals as well as the ground transportation in Chaiten necessary to catch you up to the trip (an Earth River agent will help you arrange these things). Trip insurance will cover these additional expenses. 


GETTING THERE:

Airfare from the US to Puerto Montt, Chile is not included in the trip price and must be arranged either independently or through our travel agent, Gilda Guiterez. Gilda is Chilean citizen based in Florida. She is familiar with our trips as well as with Chile in gerneral for any extra travel you may want to do before or after the Futaleufu trip. She can be reached at G&G Travel, phone # 1-866-498-0530 or 786-206-0710. Her e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Gilda is an expert, often finds better deals than found on the internet and has save our guests thousands of dollars in waived fees and cancellations. Flights from the U.S. to Santiago range from $1,200 to $1,800 depending upon the time of year, availability and departure city. The portion of the ticket from Santiago to Puerto Montt is generally between $275 and $310. These tickets can be purchased from Gilda, who will not only secure an excellent rate, but will also alert you to any changes. She takes great care of Earth River guests. When booking your flight you will need to arrive in Puerto Montt on Friday except on private charters and the December 26th trip. If you're planning on leaving the U.S. a day late (on Friday evening) and skip the Puerto Varas portion of the trip, then you will need to arrive in Puerto Montt by 10:30 AM on Saturday morning in order to catch the commuter flight to Chaiten. On the return (at the end of the trip) you will be back in Puerto Montt by 4:00 PM from Chaiten so book your flight back to back to Santiago at the latest possible time that ensure you can catch your flight back to the U.S. . You do not need more than two hours between your arrival time in Santiago and your departure flight back to the U.S. departure back to Santiago. International flights to the U.S. from Santiago seldom leave before 9:00 P.M. and national flights are rarely delayed so there will be no problem making any connections in Santiago.

*Important note: If you are planning to arrive a day late (because of time constraints) and are delayed on your international flight and unable to make the national flight that arrives in Puerto Montt by 10:30 AM, you will still be able to do the trip but you may have to overnight in Santiago or possibly even Puerto Montt. The Earth River guide in Puerto Montt, Maria, (cell from within Chile: 09-95444941) will help take care of these logistics as well as catching you up to the trip when you arrive in Puerto Montt Saturday evening or Sunday morning. In order to you will need to purchase a new commuter ticket to Chaiten and hire someone to drive you from Chaiten to the river. You will be responsible for these additional expenses which is why it’s best to purchase trip insurance. Remember, travelers insurance should cover the additional expenses due to a delay in flights.


ACCOMODATIONS:

Your first night will be at the Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel in beautiful Puerto Varas. The seven nights in Patagonia will be spent at 3 small, but spectacular lodges. . 


CONDITIONING:

The Futaleufu trip takes place during our winter and passengers should make sure that they remain in good physical condition. This trip is an “active” vacation, as you will be paddling rafts, inflatable kayaks, packrafts and standup paddle boards. You will also be canyoning, riding horses, hiking and mountain biking. Obsession Lake is the most spectacular and beautiful natural feature in the Futaleufu Valley. Hiking up there and back in one day is the most arduous activity on the expedition. It is worth getting in shape for. For those guests not wanting to do the Obsession hike we have a wonderful alternative which includes horseback riding up the turqupoise Azul River Valley and then inflatable kayaking the class 2-3 lower Espolon River.


EXPERIENCE:

Because half a day is dedicated to raft training, it is not necessary to have previous whitewater experience. We have had many first time rafters paddle the entire Futaleufu (see a number articles on web site which were written by first time rafters), but this is up to the guides and the individual. *Note: Anyone not wishing to do the strenuous hike up to Lago Obsession can do a number of other things including a shorter hike or a longer horseback ride.  *Note: Because Earth River can not screen the paddling ability and physical condition of participants prior to the expedition, the guides will ultimately decide who paddles and where. We ask you to respect their professional opinion not only for your own safety, but also for the safety of others. The results of your flip drill and swim test will help the guides with this determination. Running certain portions of the river are water level dependent and there are high water cut offs for some of the more exposed class 5 rapids.  

PASSPORTS:

You will need a current passport for traveling in Chile. You do not need a special visa for Chile, Argentina, or Peru. If you plan on visiting Brazil, a visa must be secured before leaving the USA. If you are planning a side excursion and renting a car, you should consider acquiring an International Drivers License. The Automobile Club of America (800-222-4357) issues them for a nominal fee. It takes about one month to receive your license by mail.


ADDITIONAL TRAVEL WITHIN CHILE:

If you have an additional week or few days we highly recommend combining the Futaleufu with a trip to Torres Del Paine National Park. For more information onsetting this trip up, please call our office. If you have less then a week there are a number of excellent possibilities to visit the Chilean lake District or Easter Island. Our travel agent, Gilda, (see Air transportation section above) is from Chile (based in Miami) and is an expert on travel within Chile. She will be able to secure your additional flights, car rentals and hotels. The Earth River office can also help you with a brief itinerariy for your extension. Gilda also has some excellent possibilities for extensions as well.


FINAL PAYMENT:

The final balance is due 90 days prior to the trip's departure. If you paid you deposit by credit card, your balance will automatically be charged to you ard at the stated intervals.


SINGLE ROOMS:

If you request a single room for the duration of the trip (8 hotel/lodge nights) you will be charged an additional $2,400 U.S.D. . If you are willing to share a room with a guest of the same sex, there will be a subsidized (by Earth River) rate of $1,200. If a single traveler pays this amount before a roomate is available and we later find that person a roomate, Earth River will refund the $1,200 (note: it is also possible to share a room with someone of the opposite sex if both parties agree. Individuals have done this with no problem in the past to avoid paying the single suppliment fee.)


GEAR:

Earth River provides wetsuits. For a list of all additional gear you will need to bring for the expedition please see the gear list.


ADDITIONAL MONEY:

Generally, $700 per person will be adequate for the taxi, any shopping and river guide tips. If you are planning a side excursion you will want to bring considerably more. Remember, Chile is not inexpensive and most things are similarly priced to the U.S. Car rentals and gasoline are considerably higher while public transportation much lower. You will be able to exchange money at the airport when you arrive in Santiago or at the airport in Puerto Montt. The exchange rate at the airport is similar to what you will find at a bank and much more convenient (banks often have long lines).


GRATUITIES:

Gratuities for the guides and help are not included. If you think the guides and help have done an absolutely outstanding job, 10 percent of the expedition cost per person is considered a generous tip. Usually a member of the group will collect the tip and hand it to the trip leader who will distribute it evenly among the guides and employees.


*IMPORTANT PACKING TIP:

Each season a few people (approx. 2 %) end up in Chile without their belongings. By the time they receive them from the airline, often the trip is nearly over. Because this is a real possibility we highly recommend the following steps to protect yourself. Pack all necessary river gear (fleece, paddle jacket, river shoes, hat, sun glasses, bathing suit, etc.) into the largest legal carry on bag you can find and don’t check it. Pack everything else in a regular suitcase. This way if you become separated from you checked bag you will have the most important things for the river as well as the clothes on your back for camp.


GEAR STORAGE:

Because space and weight are limited on the charter plane from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, you will be allowed one bag, which cannot weigh over 28 pounds. The Earth River representative, Maria, will give you a medium size duffle bag for the trip to the river. Any additional things needed for extension trips and the personal bag you flew down with can be left with Maria and safely stored until you return to the airport at the end of the trip. Remember unless you’re spending additional time in Chile before or after the expedition, pack only what’s on the Earth River gear list which will fit into the duffle bag Earth River provides. Once you reach the river, we can collect your passports and other valuables and safely store them until the end of the river portion of the trip. NOTE: Upon your return to Puerto Montt, at the trip’s conclusion, the bags you left will be waiting for you at the airport with the Earth River representative.


WEATHER:

The Futaleufu is in Northern Patagonia and although December, January, February, March and April are mild months, the weather can vary from sunny in the low eighties, to rainy in the sixties and even fifties. The nights are generally in the low fifties but can go into the forties and on occasion upper thirties. You will definitely get wet from running the rapids or possibly rain and although the river water is 60 degrees, all participants must have on  a wetsuit. (We will supply you with a sleeveless, farmer John wetsuit.). You must also have high quality paddle gear and a good rain jacket with a hood.  Note: It is not possible to get an accurate current or future picture of the weather for the Futaleufu area via the internet. Often what you will be seeing is the weather for the Puerto Montt area, which is far cooler and wetter. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU BRING ALL THE WARM THINGS INCLUDED IN THE PACKING LIST IN CASE WE HAVE SOME COLD WEATHER WHEN YOU ARE DOWN THERE.


HEALTH INFORMATION:

There are no required shots or health precautions that you need to take when traveling in Chile with the exception of a current tetanus booster, which is a good idea for any international travel. Although the water in the cities is generally safe to drink, we recommend that you drink either bottled water or soft drinks during the land portions of the trip. We boil the drinking water on the river. If you should need medical attention, there are modern clinics and hospitals throughout the country.


EMERGENCIES:

We have a sat. phone on the trip and can have a helicopter to the river in two to three hours. We also carry a defibulator on the rafts.  The guides are all EMTs or Wilderness first responders.


EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION:

In case there is an emergency at home while you are away the following phone number should be given to a relative or friend: 845-626-2165 or 845-626-4361. The person should ask for Troy or Eric. In most cases we will be able to get important Information to you within a few hours. Remember, these numbers should only be used in case of an emergency. If you have a problem with a delayed flight while still in the U.S. contact Troy or Eric at the above number. Once you arrive in Chile if you have any problems or flight delays please contact the Earth River land guide, Maria. (Calling from Santiago, Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas; 09-95444941. Her email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Make sure to take her number with you.

General sign-up information

SECURING SPACE:

To secure trip space on the Magpie or Yavero expeditions, an initial deposit of $600 per person is required. On the Futaleufu multi-lodge trip, a deposit of $1,000 is required. The deposit on the multi-lodge trip is signifigantly higher because the rooms in the three lodges must be secured and payed for far in advance and are non-refundable.  You can make his payment by credit card (Visa or Master Card) or by check payable to: Earth River Expeditions. Your deposit should be mailed to the Earth River office (180 Towpath Road, Accord, New York, 12404), along with a completed registration form, signed liability release and signed terms and responsibility release. The hidden link section of the web site (small circled “c” in copyright) includes all the general information you need for the trip. Please fill out the medical form and sign the releases and send them back in the regular mail to the Earth River office (180 Towpath Road, Accord, New York, 12404). The Balance of Payment is due 75 days prior to the trip’s departure and may be paid by check or credit card. For your convenience, we will charge the balance to your credit card 75 days prior to trip departure.

 

Futaleufu Letter

Dear Futaleufu multi-camp, wilderness Participant:

 

Thank you for joining Earth River on this unique journey, the only multi-lodge river journey in Patagonia. Every effort will be made to make your trip a safe and enjoyable experience. This hidden link section of the web site was designed to help you prepare for your trip. Enclosed you will find information on equipment, weather, travel and other necessary information. Please read it carefully. If you have any further questions please contact our office.

Your expedition has been limited to 12 guests with the exception of December holidays which are limited to 16. Although we can accommodate more clients we have chosen not to. Smaller groups lessen waiting times during multi-sport activities and insure the intimate nature of the expedition. Often trips fill up and it is difficult to replace a late cancellation.  The lodges are also paid for in advance. Therefore it is mandatory that you purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect your investment in case you are unable to join the expedition.

The Futaleufu trip takes place during our winter and passengers should make sure that they remain in good physical condition. This trip is an “active” vacation, as you will be paddling rafts, inflatable kayaks, packrafts and standup paddle boards. You will also be canyoning, riding horses, hiking and mountain biking. Obsession Lake is the most spectacular and beautiful natural feature in the Futaleufu Valley. Hiking up there and back in one day is the most arduous activity on the expedition. It is worth getting in shape for. For those guests not wanting to do the Obsession hike we have a wonderful alternative which includes horseback riding up the turqupoise Azul River Valley and then inflatable kayaking the class 2-3 lower Espolon River. 

As soon as you have secured your flights down to Santiago and connecting flight to Puerto Montt, please e-mail this information down to Earth River’s New York office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we know your schedule. The e-mail should include; Futaleufu trip date leaving US, flight # and arrival time into Puerto Montt, as well as the flight # and departure time leaving Puerto Montt at the end of the trip. Remember you should arrive in Puerto Montt on Friday (except dec. 26 and private charters) and should book your flight out of Puerto Montt at the trip’s conclusion after 4:30 PM. If you can not leave for Chile on Thursday but can leave on Friday, you can still join the trip as long as you can arrive into Puerto Montt by 10:30 A.M. Saturday morning to catch the commuter plane over to Chaiten. If you have any problems on you travel down (flight delays, etc.) please contact or land guide Maria. In Chile she can be reached by dialing 09-95444941.

Sincerely:

Eric Hertz

President 

Fu Big-Map

Frequently Asked Questions Multi-Camp

 

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 27 years and have never had an incident of any kind.

What is the difference between the “multi-camp” and "MULTI-LODGE" trips?

Although both trips run the entire river, the trips and itineraries are vastly different (see day by day itineraries). Both trips begin in Puerto Varas and are the same amount of days.  The multi-lodge trips utilize three, small, comfortable, secluded lodges and the multi-camp trips utilize four exclusive river camps.  Multi-camp trips are limited to 18 participants where as Multi-lodge trips are limited to just 12.  Both trips include the hotel in Puerto Varas and the R/T commuter flight in and out of Patagonia.   

Why is there not a price difference between the multi-camp and the multi-lodge trips?

Being a relatively new trip (this will be our third season offering it) we have tried to keep the multi-lodge trip competitive with the other trips offered in the Futaleufu Valley. Obviously, with a smaller maximum group size, a higher guide/client ratio and 7 nights in exclusive lodges, the the Multi-lodge trip is a signifigantly more expensive trip to run.  NOTE:We are planning on raising the price of the lodge trip in the Future.  

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 18 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. By staying at three of the four wilderness camps multiple nights, there is half the packing an unpacking associated with a regular multi-camp expedition like the Salmon or Colorado Rivers.

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 (min. of 2 hour travel time between the International and National airports in Buenos Aires and an 8 hour drive from Bariloche to the river). It is also more expensive (approx. $635) to come in through Argentina because the flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche is between $650-$700 as compared to $250 - $300 for the inner Chile flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt. Additionally you will need to hire a taxi ($75 R/T) between the Buenos Aires Airports and pay a $160 reciprocity tax that Chile does not charge. 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?

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.

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 45 minute commuter flight (included in trip price)
  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.
  8. Argentina charges a $160 reciprocity tax which must be paid on line before leaving the U.S.. Chile does not charge this tax.
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.

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. We have taken numerous families on this trip with children as young as six. If you call or e-mail our office we can send you out a high definition video on a flash drive depicting this incredible family adventure.

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. You will only be charged a single supplement fee of $160 if you request a single room at the hotel Cumbres Puerto Varas the first night.

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 *10 participants in early December, January and February. Groups smaller than 10 can reserve a private departure during this time but will need to pay for 10 places. Private departures between Dec. 17th and Jan. 4th must have a minimum of 15. 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. * Private departures as small as 6 may be booked from the last week of March until the middle of April.

Frequently asked questions base camp

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 25 years and have never had an incident of any kind.

What is the difference between the “multi-camp” and "base camp" trips?

Although both trips run the entire river, the trips and itineraries are vastly different (see day by day itineraries). Both trips begin in Puerto Varas and are the same amount of days.  The multi-lodge trips utilize three, small, comfortable, secluded lodges and multi-camp trips utilize four exclusive river camps.  Multi-camp trips are limited to 18 participants where as Multi-lodge trips are limited to just 12.  Both trips include the hotel in Puerto Varas and the R/T commuter flight in and out of Patagonia. The day by day multi-camp itinerary is more structured where as it is easier to do an alternative activity on the multi-lodge trip. 

Why is there a price difference between the multi-camp and base camp trips if they both raft the same river?

Being a relatively new trip (this will be our third season offering it) we have tried to keep the lodge trip competitive with the other trips offered in the Futaleufu Valley. Obviously, with a smaller maximum group size, a higher guide/client ratio and 7 nights in exclusive lodges, the Multi-lodge trip is a significantly more expensive trip to run then the multi-camp trip. NOTE:  We are planning on raising the price of the lodge trip in the Future.

Can I join the trip through Chile?

Yes. You may join the trip through Chile by flying into Santiago and then down to Puerto Montt. Upon arriving in Puerto Montt, you would need to take the commuter flight to Chaiten. Joining the trip through Chile makes the most economic sense if there are two or more people in your party. This is due to the expense of hiring R/T ground transportation from Chaiten to the river ($600 for a van). You will also need to buy a R/T commuter flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten ($250). All flights, vehicles and logistics can be arranged by the Earth River office.

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 trip, 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 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.

Can the trips be shortened by a day, without missing any of the river portion, so I only have to take off one week from work?

Yes. It is not possible to arrive in Bariloche in time to meet the bus when it leaves for the river on Saturday morning, so that arriving a day later would necessitate taking a taxi from the Bariloche Airport to the Chilean border where we will pick you up and transfer you to the river.

What is the typical group size?

The trip is limited to 12 participants. 

What are the  LODGE accommodations like?

You will be spending your evenings in wonderful, remote lodges.  All the lodges are small,  on water and have exspansive decks with hot tubs and gorgeous views.  The rooms have private bathrooms with showers.  There is electricty at all three lodges.  A massesuse  and internet access are only available for the the two nights at the Uman Lodge. 

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.  By far the most strenuous day is the hike up to Lago Obsession. There is an beauiful horseback ride up the Rio Azul Valley for those people who prefer not to make the strenuous hike up to the lake.

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 Bariloche. Your extra bags will be stored with the Earth River guide and meet you at the airport at the end of the trip. 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. 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.
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 Bariloche. Your extra bags will be stored with the Earth River guide and meet you at the airport at the end of the trip. 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.

Are electricity and internet available on the trip ?

Electricity for charging batteries and internet are available on the base camp trip.

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.

Are children welcome?

Families with children usually join us over the December holiday departures. This is the Harry Potter of adventure trips where both the parents and children equally enjoy it. 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 on this trip with children as young as six. If you call or e-mail our office we can send you out a high definition video on a flash drive depicting this incredible family adventure.

Is there a single supplement for solo travelers?

There is no additional fee for solo travelers so long as they’re willing to share a hotel room the first night. If you request a single hotel room, you will be charged an additional $300 for the night at the Llao Llao. On the river, solo travelers may have private accommodations depending upon the group size. They will share a room at the Llao Llao Resort with someone of the same sex unless a single supplement is specifically requested and paid for in advance.

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.

Futaleufu itinerary

 

 MULTI-LODGE DAY BY DAY

DAY 1: U.S.

Participants take an evening flight (On their own) from the U.S. to Santiago, Chile.

DAY 2: SANTIAGO / PUERTO MONTT / PUERTO VARAS

Arriving in Santiago this morning, we pass through customs and transfer upstairs (in the same airport) to our hour and a half flight south to Puerto Montt. We arrive in Puerto Montt in the late morning, walk outside and take a taxi to the Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel in the gorgeous Chilean town of Puerto Varas where a room will be waiting in your name. With Mount Fuji, snow-capped, Vulcano Osorno, rising directly out of it, Puerto Varas is one of the most beautiful towns in all of South America. The afternoon is free to explore the town. In the early evening we meet the Earth River guide, Maria, in the hotel lobby and go out for a welcome dinner.

DAY 3: PUERTO VARAS / RIO FUTALEUFU / ESPOLON LODGE

After breakfast Maria escorts us to the commuter flight to Chaiten. The 45 minute flight is spectacular as we follow a rugged coastline of lush deep fiords that connect to wild rivers framed within a verdant rain forest to the snow line of the jagged Patagonia Andes. Just before landing we get a bird's eye of the still smoldering Chaiten Volcanoe which erupted in 2008 burying much of the town of Chaiten in cement-like ash. We board the van and drive past roaring turquoise rivers, hanging glaciers and deep blue lakes to our starting point on the Futaleufu. After a safety talk and flip drill we run a series of marvelous class 4 rapids including Mundoca, Wina and Tiburon. Two safety catarafts escort us down the river. In the afternoon, we take out and drive half an hour to beautiful 7 mile long Espolon Lake. A gorgeous 30 minute ferry boat ride takes us deep into the Patagonia wilderness to the isolated Espolon Lodge. Situated in its own private valley, the lodge is ideally located between the upper and lower Futaleufu Canyons. This unique wilderness lodge, on the far side of eight mile long Lago Espolon, is only accessible by horseback or boat.  The lodge has a large wrap around deck and wooden hot tub with stunning lake and mountain views. Void of internet or phone service, electricity is generated by the lodge’s own mini turbine.  Within walking and boating distance of the lodge are half a dozen, adventure activities including; canyoning, sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, fishing, hiking and horseback riding. The view from the dining room, deck and wooden hot tub of the snow-capped mountains rising from the water is the type of view that people imagine when they think of Patagonia.

DAY 4: ESPOLON LODGE / MOUNTAIN BIKING / HORSEBACK RIDING / INFLATABLE KAYALIN / ESPOLON LODGE

This morning we ride horses and mountain bikes deep into the upper Espolon Valley. This is a rare glimpse into old world style Patagonia. Far from electricity, telephones and the modern world, the homesteads in this area have not changed in hundreds of years. The gorgeous 5 mile ride takes us along a crystal clear, green river and beneath towering snow-capped peaks. After an hour we reach our kayak put in on the class 2 upper Espolon River. We paddle down the beautiful, crystal clear, class 2 stream down to Espolon Lake. With the wind at our backs, we paddle another mile arriving at a vast expanse of white sand where our dinner where he have dinner on the beach; a traditional Chilean Asado (roasted lamb over a fire). Our evening is at the Espolon Lodge.

DAY 5: ESPOLON LODGE / LAGO OBSESSION / ESPOLON LODGE

This morning we transfer by ferry and a 20 minute drive to the Obsession Lake trail head. We hike two and one half hours steeply out of the Azul River valley through an enchanted forest of ancient hardwood trees, passing thousand foot walls and impressive waterfalls. The strenuous, 2,500 vertical foot hike takes us past beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking vistas of the turquoise Azul and Teal colored Futaleufu as they course through the rugged snow capped Sierra Nevada Range. We crest the ridge and arrive at stunning Lago Obsession. With its dramatic landscape of sculptured stone, snow and ice, this miniature, hanging blue lake is a masterwork of nature’s artistry and a rarely visited scenic highlight of Patagonia. Rarely does one find so much dramatic scenery in such a relatively small area. Shrouded in a vast expanse of old growth lingue trees and clinging to the canyon’s northern wall, the views in every direction from the stand up paddle board are astounding. Cut by the glacier, the intimate 10 acre body of water is like a giant bottomless swimming pool. There’s a surreal feeling from the deck of a stand up paddle board as the water suddenly goes from a few feet to an over one hundred deep blue abyss. The lake is surrounded by native old growth forest on 3 sides. A dramatic 2,500 vertical foot partially ice-enshrouded granite tooth is on the fourth. Cut by the glacier, in a wind free bowl, the glass-smooth water often reflects a perfect mirror image of the other worldly landscape. Condors can often be seen soaring in the updrafts. Later in the afternoon, we hike back down and transfer to the Espolon Lodge for the evening. NOTE: Optional day’s activity: For those people not wishing to make the strenuous hike up to Obsession Lake there will be a gorgeous horseback trip up the turquoise Rio Azul Valley.

DAY 6: ESPOLON LODGE / INFLATABLE KAYAKING CLASS II/III ESPOLON RIVER / UMAN LODGE

A spectacular hike this morning, along the mile long Espolon cataract as it spills from the lake, takes us to our inflatable kayak put-in on the lower Espolon River where we spend the next three hours running the class 2-3 rapids down to the 1,000 acre Uman Lodge property and a gorgeous beach at the confluence of the Espolon and Futalefu Rivers. (Note: Clients who prefer not to go in individual kayaks have the option of paddling in a small raft.) A 10 minute hike takes us up to the hand-crafted wooden cliff-side lodge which sits on a sheer precipice 500 feet above the upper Futaleufu Valley. This lodge is among the most dramatic to be found anywhere in Patagonia, or for that matter, in all of South America. The 180 degree view of the upper Futaleufu Valley and surrounding snow-capped mountains from the expansive deck, hot tub and infinity pool is other worldly. The massive 30 foot picture widows in the dining room and great room, almost gives one the feeling of being outside. A ‘Room with a View” is perhaps the best way to describe this unique one of a kind lodge.

DAY 7: ESPOLON LODGE / FUTALEUFU RAFTING / UMAN LODGE

Today, *depending upon water levels, we run the class 5 Infierno Canyon, with four major Rapids; Infierno, Purgatorio, Danza De Los Angels and Escala De Jacoba. We then spend the next hour running some class 3+ rapids down to spectacular class 5 -6 Zeta Rapid. Here the river flows through a narrow Z-shaped flume cut into solid granite. On the cliff just below the Zeta is a 10 to 42 foot high cliff jump into the aerated blue pool below the rapid. The aerated water cushions the impact by nearly half. Lunch is served on smooth ledges at Zeta. In the afternoon we raft a series of wonderful class 4 including; Isla, Caos, Wild Mile and Casa Salvaje (Wild Thing). Below the last rapid, we pull over and a half hour drive takes us back to the Uman Lodge for the evening. *Note: If the water’s too high, we will drive around inferno Canyon and put in below. *Option: Class 4 participants have the option of hiking on a trail around short sections of the bigger rapids. Often people who chose to walk around Inferno Canyon earlier in the trip feel more comfortable and run many of the large rapids today. This decision, however, is always left up to the guides.

DAY 8: UMAN LODGE /INFLATABLE KAYAKING RIO AZUL /  RIO BLANCO CANYONING / UMAN LODGE

This morning we take a ten minute drive to our inflatable kayak put in the class, 3, turquoise Azul river. We are now well trained in kayaks and spend the next hour negotiating wonderful class 3 rapids on the Azul down to the confluence with the Futaleufu. (a small raft is available for those not wanting to kayak). From there we board the rafts and spend the next hour rafting some fun class 3+ - 4 rapids down to the confluence with the Rio Blanco slot canyon.  After a safety briefing, we begin a remarkable journey through this hidden cleft in the Patagonia Andes. Hiking, climbing, swimming and rappelling is the only way to traverse this incredible natural labyrinth of white boulders, clear azure pools and stunning waterfalls. Lunch will be at the base of one of the falls.  When we exit the canyon, we board the rafts and run some of the most exhilarating rapids on the trip including; Terminador, Kyburz Pass and Himilayays (with the biggest waves on the river). A short drive and boat ride take us out to the Espolon Lodge for the evening.

DAY 9: ESPOLON LODGE / RIO FUTALEUFU RAFTING /  YELCHO LODGE 

Today we run a dozen major rapids including; Puente Colgante, Alfombra Majica, El Cojin, Toro, Mundoca, Wina and Tiburon, among others. We end the day with two big class 5 rapids (optional) Mas O Menus and Casa Piedra. After the last rapid the canyon boasts some of its most impressive scenery with grand vistas of towering mountains and glaciers.  In the early afternoon we take out, board the bus with the trip leader and drive 1 hour to the Yelcho Patagonia Lodge. The Lodge rests within thousands of private acres on the edge of a gorgeous lake framed within snow-capped peaks. The resort has a mile of wild lake front property and numerous hiking trails. We spend the night at the lodge or in comfortable cabins. That night we have a farewell dinner.

DAY 10: YELCHO LODGE / CHAITEN / PUERTO MONTT / SANTIAGO

After breakfast we board the van for the 1 hour drive to the Chaiten airport. We board the plane for the flight back to Puerto Montt. Upon landing we meet the Earth River Guide, who helps us transfer to the main airport to catch our domestic flight to Santiago and then our international flight back home.This morning we drive 3 hours to the Chaiten Airport where we board the commuter flight to Puerto Montt. In Puerto Montt, we transfer to our flight to Santiago and then on to the U.S..

DAY 11: United states

This morning we arrive in the United States and transfer to our connecting flights.

Futaleufu Multi-camp wilderness itinerary

DAY 1: U.S. / SANTIAGO

Evening flight from the United States to Santiago, Chile.

DAY 2: SANTIAGO / PUERTO MONTT / PUERTO VARAS

Arriving in Santiago this morning, you transfer (in the same airport) to your flight south to Puerto Montt. Reaching Puerto Montt in the late morning/early afternoon you take a 30 min. taxi ride (on your own) to the gorgeous Hotel Cumbres Puerto Varas in the quaint Chilean town of Puerto Varas. With panoramic views of Lago Llanquilhue and snowcapped Mount Fuji like Volcano Osorno rising from it's eastern shore, Puerto Varas is one of the most picturesque towns in all of South America. The Hotel has sweeping views of the lake and volcano from all it's hotel rooms and gathering areas and is a welcome reprieve from the long trip down. There is wonderful shopping in the town for hand-made woolen goods like sweaters and hats. That evening we meet our guide, Maria, in the Hotel lobby for a trip orientation and welcome dinner out on the town.

Important note: For those people who can not commit to taking off the extra day (leaving on Thursday) and are only able to leave Friday evening, there is the option of arriving a day later (Sat.), skipping the Puerto Varas day/hotel and meeting us directly at the Paloma Airport in Puerto Montt at 11:00 AM. Saturday morning. There are a number of international flight that arrive early enough into Santiago to make this itinerary possible.

DAY 3: SANTIAGO / PUERTO VARAS / TERMINADOR CAMP (FUTALEUFU RIVER)

After breakfast at the hotel this morning, Maria escorts us by van to the commuter flight to Chaiten. The 45 minute flight is spectacular as we follow a rugged coastline of lush deep fiords that connect wild rivers, framed within a verdant rain forest, to the snow line of the jagged Patagonia Andes. Just before landing, we get a bird's eye view of the still smoldering Chaiten Volcanoe which erupted in 2008, burying much of the town of Chaiten in cement like ash. After a brief tour of the town, we board the bus and drive 1 hour past waterfalls, granit walls and hanging glaciers to a trailhead where we do a spectacular 2 hour (R/T) hike to view a glacier meeting a rainforest.* The deep valley is laced by numerous waterfalls and the contrast between the rainforest vegitation and the blue ice is striking. Boarding the bus we drive another 2 hours beneath giant snow-capped peaks, hanging glaciers and past roaring turquoise rivers and deep blue lakes to the Terminador Camp trailhead. The first of Earth River's four stunning private camps on the Futaleufu, the Terminador Camp, has a mile of private river front and sits on a dramatic tree lined bluff over the raging river. A beautiful trail winds through the trees the entire length of the camp offering stunning views of the mile long rapid which churns the water into every imaginable shade of azure, white and turquoise. Hidden in the trees are 14 private, two person, hand-hewn wooden cliff dwellings each with beds and a bird's eye view of the surging flow, which creates dozens of waterfalls as it spills over giant, sculpted white granite boulders. Located near the center of the camp is an 18-person wooden hot tub with a cypress deck The deck is scribed around trees and giant rocks and tucked behind a truck size boulder that acts as both a screen from the river and a natural veranda. Just below the deck at water level is the stone couch. This smooth, mableized chunk of granite seats up to six people and has an unimpeded view down the entire mile long rapid. *NOTE: The glacier hike is weather and time dependent and may not be done on all expeditions.

DAY 4: RAFT TRAINING / INFLATABLE KAYAKING (RIO AZUL) / TERMINADOR CAMP

This morning we hike out of camp and take a 5 minute bus ride down to our raft training put in. After a safety talk and flip drill we run a series of marvelous class 4 rapids including; Mundoca, Wina and Tiburon. Two safety catarafts escort us down the river. In the early afternoon we take out and drive 15 minutes to our inflatable kayak put in on the Rio Azul, a beautiful turquoise tributary of the Futaleufu. After kayak lessons we run the class 2 Azul down to the confluence with the Futaleufu and then kayak the Futaleufu down to the Terminador Camp where we spend the night, Note: In?atable kayaking on the Azul is subject to water levels. If the Azul is too high or too low, we will kayak the Rio Espolon or an easy section of the Futaleufu.

DAY 5: RIO FUTALEUFU / EARTH RIVER CAVE CAMP

This morning we hike 1/2 hour out of camp and drive an hour to the put-in on the upper river. Soon we enter the wild, sheer- walled Class 5 Infierno Canyon. A beautiful trailI follows the river above Infierno Canyon for those people who would rather hike. Racing between imposing walls, hundreds of feet high, the pulsing river boasts a number of impressive rapids including; Infierno Purgatorio and Escala de Jacobo. Each rapid in Infierno Canyon is separated by a swift pool which allows leaves time for rescue and recovery if necessary. In the early afternoon we exit the canyon and raft down to Cave Camp. Centered around Zeta Rapid, the 1,000 acre Earth River Cave Camp is the most exotic and diverse river camp in the world. The camp got it's name from a massive overhanging white granite slab that rests on two boulders. There is a sand floor, two large, natural skylights and giant centrally located fireplace in the rear wall that draws smoke through a crack. With an interior space of over 1,600 square feet, it is large enough to ride a horse inside and can keep an entire group warm and dry under any conditions. Meals are served here only during times of inclement weather. In front of the main stone shelter is a beautiful spring-fed pond/lake called Laguito Azul (Little Blue Lake). Set within a bowl of massive granite towers as high as 300 feet and surrounded by lush vegetation, Laguito Azul resembles a giant Japanese garden. Its brilliant blue water is so pure you can drink it and so clear you can see giant German brown trout and salmon of up to 25 pounds swimming 30 feet down. Kayaks are available and gliding over the transparent water feels almost surreal. A few hundred feet beyond Laguito Azul rages the most spectacular rapid on the river, Zeta, a Class 5-6, Z-shaped flume cut into solid granite. Just downstream of Zeta, carved into the granite by the river in higher flows, is a heart-shaped, three-foot deep water-filled pothole, which we heat to 105°. With smooth, 45° sloping walls to lean against and fresh water every day, this chemical-free stone hot tub comfortably fits twelve people. The smooth granite ledges around the tub are ideal for relaxing and slope gently into the calm aerated blue pool below Zeta making transition from hot to cold water extremely easy. Soaking at night with the brilliant stars of the granite slot is something you'll never forget. In the vicinity of the cliff dwellings is a large cliffside dining area, a second hot tub made of wood. The cliff dwellings, hot tub and dining area are all well hidden from the Futaleufu, yet through the trees they command the river's most impressive camp view. A series of dramatic hand-hewn log sky bridges, 30 feet off the ground, link the Zeta dining/sleeping area to the main stone shelter so that in times of inclement weather the transition between the two areas is effortless. Downstream from Zeta Rapid is Lost Beach . This private beach is so tucked away that people float right by it on the main river without ever knowing it is there. The camp also has flush toilets and hot showers.

"The Earth River Cave Camp is a natural adult-size playground. Like a grown up version of a tree fort, it's the type of never-never land that would make Peter Pan and the Lost Boys jealous." -American Way Magazine (American Airlines) (view here)

DAY 6: CAVE CAMP / TYROLEAN TRAVERSE / TREE HOUSE CAMP

This morning we set up a dramatic Tyrolean traverse across the river. Wearing a climbing harness attached to a pulley, participants pull themselves across a rope stretched between sheer granite walls over the heart of Zeta rapid. Although not risky or particularly strenuous, hanging and then crossing over the class 6 rapid is extremely exhilarating. Upon reaching the other side, we begin climbing out of the inner canyon. The moderately strenu stenuous 1,500 vertical foot hike takes us past a beautiful 100 foot tributary waterfall and breathtaking views of the river and Cave Camp with dramatic peaks rising above it. After two hours we crest the top of the inner c canyon and enter a wonderful old growth hardwood forest. Tucked away in the center of this enchanted, moss-draped land of giants is a 10 acre, 50 foot deep Lake Lake of the Frogs Cut out by the glacier, the lake drops straight off the edge like a giant, bottomless swimming pool. Surrounded by native old growth forest on three sides, with dramatic mountain views on the fourth, this intimate body of water offers wonderful swimming and ca and canoeing (there are two canoes.) A natural wood deck and a hand made 16 person hot tub sits on the edge of the lake. Hidden back in the trees is a hand-hewn log gazebo structure with a fireplace in case of inclement weather. Just beyond the gazebo, 35 feet up in a majestic closely-knit stand of old growth giants are 8 wonderful, hexagon shaped tree houses. They are connected like the spokes of a wheel from one central tree and a circular staircase. These amazing architectural gems are each unique and were hand crafted by a Chilean master carpenter. Each tree house was designed to be self-supported and not a single nail was placed into the trees. In the afternoon there is the option of swimming and relaxing in the hot tub or taking a short hike to the breathtaking Tree House Camp Canyon Overlook. Engulfed by snow-capped mountains on all sides, this wonderful spot affords us 360 degree views including two gorgeous lakes and seven miles of the turquoise Futaleufu River canyon stretching as far as the eye can see. Condors are frequently seen soaring in the updrafts. We spend the evening above the lower canopy with stunning views of the lake, surrounding forest and mountains.

DAY 7: TREE HOUSE CAMP / CAVE CAMP (ZIP LINE, CLIFF JUMP, TOWER CLIMB & GIANT RAPPEL

This morning we hike an hour and a half back down to the river. From the trail we can see aerial views of the river, surrounding canyon and the majestic Tower of the Winds which we will be climbing and rappelling down later in the day. The trail ends at a 250 foot zip line. Like a giant "fun ride" we hold a loop handle attached to a pulley over our heads and leap off a 25 foot cliff, shooting 250 feet down an angled rope letting go into the pool below Zeta Rapid. A soak in the nearby 105° natural stone hot tub is the perfect transition from the 60° river.On the cliff just above the hot tub there is a 10 to 42 foot high cliff jump into the aerated blue pool below Zeta Rapid. The aerate aerated water cushions the impact by nearly half. Lunch that day is served near the stone hot tub on the smooth ledges at Zeta. After lunch we receive a climbing safety briefing and put on our climbing harnesses for the Tower climb. For those people not wishing to make the climb, options include; swimming at Lost beach, kayaking on the Blue Lake, trout fishing or relaxing in the stone hot tub. The tower climb involves a dynamic three-part rock climb r rock the backside of the 320 foot granite Torre de los Vientos (Tower of the Winds). No previous climbing experience is necessary, and people from 5 to 78 years old have made the climb. Once on top, we venture out on the dramatic Knife's Edge, crossing its narrow natural bridge, with sheer 300 foot drop offs on either side. The views of Zeta Rapid, Laguito Azul and the surrounding canyon from the Knife's Edge are exquisite and among the most impressive found on the river. To descend from the tower we do a dramatic, 320 foot, two-stage rappel (self lowering by rope) off the Tower's sheer north wall. For most people switching ropes at the mi a mid-station is as exhilarating as any of the river's class 5 rapids*. Once reaching the bottom of the tower, a short trail leads to the Huck Finn lake crossing which saves a mile hike around Lago Azul to get back to the clif the dwellings, hot tubs and dining area. We spend the night at the cave camp. *Note: An optional, less demanding, 100 ft. rappel off the back side of the tower is also available.

"First Ascent Of The Tower Of The Winds" (story, click here)

DAY 8: CAVE CAMP / RIO FUTALEUFU / CAMPO MAPU LEUFU

A short float this morning takes us to unrunnable Throne Room Rapid where the boats are pushed through empty (ghost boated). The next couple of hours are spent running a series of long, exciting class 4+ rapids, down to lunch on a beach at the confluence of the Futaleufu and turquoise Rio Azul River. After lunch we paddle some more exciting class 4+ rapids down to the Earth River 

Mapu Leufu Camp. Situated on a secluded bluff, 120 feet over the river with dramatic 360° views, this 300-acre camp has over two miles of private riverfront. Hand-hewn wooden cliff dwellings offer breathtaking views of granite towers rising from the turquoise river. Dramatically perched on the cliff is an 18-person wooden hot tub. Meals are served outdoors at the cliff-side dining area with stunning views of granite spires rising from the turquoise river in one direction and glacier-capped, Alp-like peaks in the other. There is also a tributary stream with waterfalls and deep pools and a deep, spring-fed pond for kayak lessons for anyone interested. The camp also has flush toilets, hot showers, a hand-hewn gazebo-like shelter and a covered dining area if it rains. In the afternoon, we have the option of horseback riding or mountain biking on beautiful trails on the other side of the river accessed by a manual cable car or canyoneering through the 400 foot deep Rio Blanco slot canyon. Wearing wetsuits and river shoes, we hike, climb, and swim through this incredible natural labyrinth of white boulders, clear azure pools and waterfalls. Those people not wishing to partake in the Rio Blanco canyoning, can relax at camp.

DAY 9: RIO FUTALEUFU / CAMPO MAPU LEUFU

Today is one the most impressive commercial rafting days in the world. * Within minutes of pushing off we enter class 5+ Terminador Rapid, the most demanding rapid on the river. Immediately downstream of Terminador are the 15 foot waves of the Himalayas. In this stretch the rapids flow together making nearly a mile and a half of non-stop Class 5 action. (Class 4 clients can hike around the most exposed sections on a beautiful trail and run the rest). After the Himalayas there is a series of giant Class 4+ rapids (some nearly a mile long) and two Class 5 rapids: Cojin (the cushion) and Mundaca . After another long stretch of Class 4+water, we have lunch. In the afternoon we run two of the most difficult Class 5 rapids on the river; Mas o Menos and Casa De Piedra. After the last rapid, the canyon boasts some of its most impressive scenery with grand vistas of towering mountains and glaciers. In the early afternoon we take out and drive a few minutes to the Mapu Leufu trailhead and hike 1/2 hour on a beautiful trail into Mapu where we spend the night. Our farewell dinner that evening is a traditional Chilean Asado (roasted sheep over a fire) prepared by our neighbor and friend, Sugundo Zapata.

*Option: Class 4 participants have the option of hiking on a trail around short sections of the bigger rapids. Often people who chose to walk around Inferno Canyon earlier in the trip feel more comfortable and run many of the large rapids today. This decision, however, is always left up to the guides.

DAY 10: MAPU LEUFU CAMP / CHAITEN / PUERTO MONTT / SANTIAGO

This morning we board the bus for the three hour drive to the small airport in Chaiten. We board the commuter plane for the spectacular 45 minute flight back to Puerto Montt. Upon landing in Puerto Montt, we are met by the Earth River guide who helps us get on our domestic flight to Santiago. That evening we board the flight to the United States.

DAY 11: UNITED STATES

This morning we arrive in the United States and transfer to our connecting flights.

Through Argentina

DAY 1: U.S. / BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Evening flight from the United States to Buenos Aires, Argentina

DAY 2: BUENOS AIRES / BARILOCHE / ESQUEL

This Morning you arrive in Buenos Aires International Airport and tranfer on you own by taxi to the National Airport. (A minimum of two and a half hours should be left for this transfer). A late morning flight from Buenos Aires gets you into Bariloche in the early afternoon. A taxi ride (on your own) takes you to the comfortable lakeside hotel in Bariloche (to be announced in September). That evening you meet the guide and have a welcome dinner. The next morning you board the bus for the trip to the river. The first hour of the ride takes you past a series of beautiful mountain lakes. Leaving the mountains, you enter the wild and desolate Patagonian Steppe, a dry landscape made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who fled to this region in the 1800’s. With the Andes off in the distance to the west, you reach the border in the late afternoon. After passing through the Argentina and Chile borders, you are met by an Earth River representative and vehicle. Crossing into Chile, the landscape dramatically changes from the barren Argentina pampas to the lush mountains of the Futaleufu Valley. We reach the Mapu Leufu Cliff camp trailhead in the late afternoon. (bags are transported by ox cart). (See "day by day" in itinerary menu for the rest of the intinerary and camp descriptions.)

Travel Times Bariloche to Futaleufu River:
  • Taxi Buenos Aires international airport to National airport: (2.5 hrs.)
  • Buenos Aires to Bariloche (flight): 2 hours
  • Bariloche to Esquel (bus): 5 hours
  • Esquel to border: 1 hour
  • 2 Border crossings: 1 hour
  • Border to Cliff Camp on Futaleufu River: 1 hour
Add. Costs:
  • Taxi between International & National Airports in Buenos Aires: $80 R/T
  • Reciprocity tax: $160 note: this tax must be payed for in the U.S. (on line) before you travel to
  • Argentina
  • Flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche: $675
  • Taxi to hotel in Bariloche $35
“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."
“Earth River runs the only continuous, top to bottom, multi-camp, wilderness expedition on the Futaleufu. A week without roads, electricity or cell phones.”
“I’ve been on nearly all the commercially run rivers in the world and Earth River and the Futaleufu stand out as the very best of the best.”—Fred Wiedemann, Co-founder
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River’s conservation effort on the Futaleufu is Herculean and represents the single largest river land trust endeavor ever initiated by a commercial outfitter."—Ronald Dodson, Pres."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“Earth River’s Futaleufu trip is an astonishment. The amazing camps, all different from one another, but all surprisingly and ingeniously comfortable”—David Rakoff
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
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