For the sixteen of us who just returned from Patagonia Chile, there have been a myriad of questions from friends and relatives. I will do my best to give you a flavor of this incredible country and trip.

There are truly no words to describe what we experienced on this journey. Even though the time change was only four hours, it took almost 30 hours to reach our destination. It was, without a doubt, the most adventurous and aggressive trip in the most remote area we have ever taken…quite different from a cruise in the Med! On the other hand, it was a trip we will never, never forget...a trip of a lifetime bonding with wonderful friends where nine adults and seven teenagers all got along and no one complained or quarreled once.


Dear Earth River,

Even though I’m a correspondent for Outside Magazine—I’m on the masthead—I am frightened of everything. That’s my baliwack at the magazine. In fact they send me to do things that scare the hell out of me (for some sick comedy effect). But nothing seemed as terrifying to me as rafting the Futaleufu. The minute I accepted the assignment, I regretted it. I spent the weeks leading up to the departure, crossing Manhatten streets a little less energetically, in hopes that a cab might hit me and break my leg and get me out of it.


Dear Earth River;

Early this morning, the river trips of my life suddenly started cascading around in my mind with such intensity that I though I’d better write you. As I’m sure we’ve talked about before, whitewater rafting has been “my thing” over the years. It’s a marvelous way to see wild country and there’s always a fine group of folks who are nearly always like minded about their enthusiasm for river running.

Earth River and the Futaleufu stand out in my memory as the very best of the best. I’ve been on nearly all the challenging, commercially run rivers in the world and I must say that your group on the Futaleufu gets the very highest laurels. The scenery could not be grander, nor the water swifter, clearer or more pristine. The spectacular camps were superior, the food a camping gourmet’s delight and the river guides and their safety precautions of superb caliber.

It was my good luck to select the Futaleufu and Earth River Expeditions for my “swan song” as a river runner.

Fred Wiedemann,
Co-founder Outward Bound
Veteran of nearly 50 outfitted trips

Thank you for the incredible experience


"I want to thank you again for the wonderful experience you made possible for ABC Sports on the special we shot on the Futaleufu. Your guide team in Chile could not have been more helpful, professional and enthusiastic. You have brought together quite a group of people. During our week of shooting, we worked hard and accomplished a tremendous amount, but also had a great time. Personally I can't wait till I have a chance to return."


Dear Earth River;

I could write the most amazing letter and it still wouldn’t do this experience justice. The days I was with Earth River on the Futaleufu had to have been the best 7 days of my life. It´s hard to describe, but there are so many categories in which to grade a trip; scenery, accommodations, activities, food, staff and so many other facets. Every category scored so high above anything I could have imagined. It was just a jaw dropping, mind blowing experience. I told Robert and the other guides, probably to the point that they were tired of hearing it, I was having the greatest time of my life. In just one day´s experience a person would be hard pressed to do and see as much in a week. The Earth River camps were incredible. The locations are stunning. Where you ate and slept each night, beyond belief. I know Eric mentioned to me before I came down, that you had a number of groups each year that just hiked from Camp to Camp and never set foot in a raft. I now understand why.


Chicago Sun Times, January 3, 2012

Some people go to Florida, Arizona or Mexico over Christmas break. Others go skiing. Most stay home and celebrate with family and friends. Not Chicago’s new first family. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his wife, Amy Rule, and their three children — Zach (14), Ilana (13) and Leah (11) — spent an exotic holiday exploring South America. Tanned, rested, but no less driven, Emanuel returned to work on Tuesday and offered up an oral report: “Every year, we try to take the kids to a different part of the world. The family went to Chile and Argentina on a white-water rafting trip. We did about 70 miles of whitewater on the Futaleufu [River] down in Chile with Earth River Expeditions. We went fly fishing and hiking and then spent New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aries,” the mayor said. When a reporter asked the mayor to “tell us about your vacation,” Emanuel was initially tight-lipped. “It was good,” he said. Pressed to “tell us more,” he said, “It was really good.” Pushed further, he said, “It was unbelievably good.”


Eric --

I would be utterly remiss if I waited even one more day to tell you how much I loved our trip. Over the course of a week, I saw, experienced and was challenged by an amazing landscape as well as a river I am certain is made of real diamonds... The staff was incredible--upbeat, friendly and singular in their attention to our needs and well-being. I never once questioned their ability or my safety. Together, they were the picture of precision, passion and physical perfection. I was hypnotized by the sheer mastery of the "ghost rafting" and the seemingly effortless technique exhibited with complete delight and abandon day-in and day-out. What a treat it was to be surrounded by such talent and joy. The corporate world? Not so much. Oh. And did I mention the meals? Whether it was a cliff-side snack or lunch by the Rio Azul, the food was a culinary treat and one of the highlights of the trip. I doubt I can forget the taste of the delicious soups or the creative hors d'oeuvres served at sunset by the hot tub! Unfortunately, though, I have been unsuccessful in [mentally] returning and find myself staring off into space during meetings thinking about canyoneering through the Rio Blanco or picturing the magnificent view from atop the Tower of the Winds or watching a condor soar miles above me at Canyon Overlook. Quite frankly, I'm still awestruck and completely Fu-sick. I have even changed the weather app on my phone to keep me apprised of the Futaleufú forecast. (Looks as though the next seven days are completely sunny...) While it goes down as one of the most challenging trips of my life, my Earth River Futaleufú expedition was the most rewarding.




Unlike restaurants and hotels, outfitters on multi-day trips spend long periods of time with their guests and get to know them personally. We love receiving "thank you" letters and web testimonials but have made it a company policy not to solicit reviews for TripAdvisor out of respect for our client’s privacy and their time. We believe the review solicitation (culling) process produces an artificial result rather then a balanced portrayal of the company or the trip. Below you will find a number of letters sent to us throughout the years. We also have a handful of unsolicited reviews on TripAdvisor (under the general Fualeufu rafting section). Perhaps the most comprehensive look at our Futaleufu trip can be found by reading the articles in our library where in most cases the writer actually did the trip.

Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00


Written by

“No self-respecting whitewater aficionado would contest that the Futaleufu is among the greatest stretches of whitewater on the planet. This thread of turquoise winds through an impossibly grand theatre of sky-scraping peaks, sheer granite walls and hardwood forests.”
- National Geographic Adventure

"Intrepid kayakers who had ventured into southern Chile said the Futaleufu could not be rafted"
- New York Times

“In 1986 a rafting company attempted to run the river... For the next five years the Futaleufu was deemed unraftable."
- Robb Report

"It was rapids like Terminator that prevented a successful raft descent until 1991"
- American Way Magazine (American Airlines)

“The white-water outfitter Eric Hertz spent a lifetime searching for the perfect river. In 1990, he finally found it, in Patagonia."
- New York Times

"Driving through the remote mountains of Southern Chile, Hertz saw what appeared to be a narrow tongue of the Caribbean Sea. Hertz, the owner of Earth River Expeditions, had paddled down wild rivers all over the world, but he'd never seen anything like it. In those days, virtually no one in the rafting business had even heard of the far-off blue river with the melodic name, pronounced Foo-ta-lay-oo-foo."I knew in an instant that this was the most beautiful river I had ever seen. " He recalls. "No other river had affected me like that; not the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, not even the Bio Bio. It was like God had designed the perfect whitewater river and laid it at my feet."
- Travels Along the Edge (40 Ultimate Adventures for the modern Nomad)

“Aimed with 20 years of rafting experience, Hertz and a small team of guides and intrepid clients spent the next couple of years, in the early 90’s, making exploratory runs of the Futaleufu. In the beginning Hertz only allowed experienced rafters with class 5 experience to join them on those early commercial explorations."
- Robb Report

"Thanks to a new kind of raft, designed by Hertz and his invention of the safety cataraft that stays with the guest boats in case of a flip or a paddler is ejected, those early trips - and every Every Earth River descent since - were without incident. "
- American Airlines Magazine

"Today most of Earth River's clients on the Futaleufu are beginners"
- Robb Report 

As the sole raft company on the Futaleufu in the formitive years from 1991-1993, Eric Hertz was confronted with numerous challenges other commercial rivers did not have. Not only did Earth River have to negotiate and pioneer the safest raft routes through the Futaleufu’s challenging rapids, the company had to figure out high water level safety cut offs.  Most of the safety innovations Eric introduces (see list below) had never been used on multi-day river expeditions before and are now standard protocal on the Futaleufu:

  1. The Futaleufu was too powerful for straight paddle-rafts, so  customized boats were designed with rowing frames on the back, turning them into oar-paddle hybrid rafts.
  2. Safety kayaks (the industry standard of the time) were not adequate rescue crafts on the Futaleufu because they could not get people safely out of the forcefull current, so the safety cataraft was invented and a second cat was added for additional insurance.
  3. Swimmers passively floating on their backs with their feet up (the industry standard at the time) left people in the water for too long, so guest in the water were instructed to "self rescue" by swiming agressively on their stomachs towards safety.
  4. The river was too challenging for heavy, unwieldy gear boats and there were two portages, so in order not to carry gear, Earth River initially ran a base camp trip for the first few years, utilizing one property that guests would return to each night.  Later, four fully outfitted and supplied camps were build so little had to be transported down river making baggeage baots obsolete. Finally in December of 2014, we began offering he first multi-lodge expeditions in the Futaleufu Valley. 
  5. The natural start of the river had very little warm up before entering a intimidating class 5 Canyon, so a training day, on an accessible class 4 lower section, which included a flip drill and swim test.
Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00


Written by

For over 20 years we offered the only multi-camp expedion on the Futaleufu and for the past 3 years,  the only lodge expeditionon the river.  Our "multi-lodge" Futaleufu trips have a 3 - 1, guide to client ratio and are limited to just 12 guests per expedition, the smallest group size in the industry.  The three remote lodges are on large, remote river and lake front properties with spectacular views from the rooms, decks and hot tubs. The unique combination of a wild rafting and multi-sport activities during the day combined with the comforts of a lodge at night, make this truly the world's wildest, most comfortable river trip. Imagine running one of the world's wildest rivers while enjoying the comfort of beds, hot showers, a masseuse, Chilean wine and chef cooked meals. 


We have made first descents and pioneered commercial rafting on a number of now classic rivers around the world including Quebec's Magpie, Peru's Yavero and Patagonia's Futaleufu. Not only was the Futaleufu considered unraftable when we did the first complete raft descent in 1991, but no one in the whitewater community believed the rapids could ever be safely negotiated with commercial guests. We literally had to invent special boats and a saftey system that is still being employed on the river today.

(See what the New York Times says)


Earth River introduced the rafting safety techniques currently being used on the Futaleufu including the use of oar-paddle hybrid rafts, a class 4 training day including swim test and flip drill and the use of safety catarafts (the first time they were employed in this fashion anywhere in the world). We also figured out the safest raft routes in the rapids, set up the river’s original water level gauges and the corresponding high water safety cuts offs for the different sections of the river. Our 3-1 client/guide ratio on the Futaleufu is the highest in the industry and we are the only company in the world that uses 2 safety catarafts (rather than one). In 25 years of rafting the Futaleufu and other challenging rivers around the would, our safety record is impeccable. Earth River guides are hand picked. Beyond their honed river skills and sound judgement, they are unique individuals as demonstrated in the "Personal Reflections" link beneath each guide's bio.

(See what the Boston Globe says)


Since 1990, Earth River has been leading or participating in conservation campaigns to protect wild rivers in North and South America. We have planned, funded and run over a dozen environmental awareness trips on the Bio Bio and Futaleufu Rivers in Chile, the Great Whale and Magpie Rivers in Quebec and Yosemite like Headwall Canyon in British Columbia. 

(See what NRDC says)


Since our conservation work is self funded, it is actually our guests and their patronage who by joining our trips have helped us fund important river conservation work including the Earth River Land Trust on the Futaleufu.

(See what International Audubon says)

“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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