This is a spectacular trek circuit through the lakes, rivers, and old growth forests of the Futaleufu River valley. This trek circumnavigates the core of the untouched Futaleufu Valley, exposing you to Patagonian nature in all of its wild splendor. In addition, we stay at several real working ranches run by pioneer families that are sprinkled along the rivers and lakes of the valley.
Eating your hearty meals around the wood stove, you will gain insight into a way of life that is similar to the frontier days of the American West. This cultural and natural experience cannot be matched anywhere. This trip is the Real Deal. The valley contains lots of exciting history from the days of the pioneers who settled it, and many of them are still alive. As the trip progresses, you realize you are getting to understand this remote section of Patagonia and its people.
Day 1, Saturday: Arrival & introductions
Arrive in Santiago and connect to Puerto Montt. In Puerto Montt you board your 40-minute flight to Chaitén, a flight back in time. We will meet you at the airport where we start our drive across the Andes: volcanoes, fjord-like lakes, hanging glaciers, and the turquoise rapids of the Futaleufu River. We arrive at our Adventure Lodge in Futaleufu, surrounded by majestic mountains. You'll unwind from your trip with a hearty welcome dinner.
Day 2, Sunday: Las Escalas Valley
After breakfast and a morning orientation, you will start your trek mid morning, walking downstream through green rolling hills and ranch land. Within several miles you will enter a deep black rock gorge. Our trail is cut into the side of the canyon, giving a bird’s eye view of the agitated, radiant turquoise Futaleufu River below. Several miles later the gorge opens into the remote Las Escalas Valley. We cross this open area and enter a old growth, temperate forest where we find a remote ranch where we pitch our tents, and eat dinner as the sun sets on the peaks above us.
Day 3, Monday: Throne Room & Rio Azul
We awake in a remote setting. We take breakfast in our host’s kitchen. We learn how life is lived without roads, electricity, or phones. The Futaleufu Valley trail continues downstream, rejoining the Futaleufu River. You will be able to hike to an overlook of the powerful Class 5 “Throne Room” rapid. This Class 5 + rapid is a whitewater powerstorm blasting through a narrowing in the canyon walls. After viewing this maelstrom from a cliff above, we have lunch on a gravel beach on the side of a huge calm pool below. This is a fishing opportunity.
The trail continues with beautiful green meadows and spectacular vistas of the rugged mountains. We arrive at perhaps the climax of beauty when we reach the confluence of the Rio Azul and Rio Futaleufu under the gaze of the Tres Monjas peak. There are several white sand beaches. We cross the Azul in two canoes tied together, and we will spend the night in tents at this eco-camp complete with sauna and hot showers and sit-down dining.
Day 4, Tuesday: Climb to the Tres Monjas Spires
An early morning start allows one to climb as high as one wants to the base of Tres Monjas Peak. This offers a truly spectacular view of the Azul and Futaleufu River Valleys. Near the base is the unusual enchanted forest of the rare Lenga trees. The peak itself defines the border of Chile with Argentina. Carefully hiking down, you return to a sauna, a hot shower, and a great meal at Campo Tres Monjas.
Day 5, Wednesday: Trek to the Terminator Rapid
Today you can choose how far you want to hike. You walk downstream through open meadows looking down on the Futaleufu River. Our destination is the Terminator Rapid and a lunch spot on smooth rapids, one of the best waves on the river. The power and beauty of this river is awe inspiring and will take your breath away. After a relaxing picnic, you will trek back to Campo Tres Monjas.
Day 6, Thursday: Azul Valley & Lago Lonconao
After a hearty breakfast, we cross the Azul in our canoes and walk on a trail up the glacier-ringed Rio Azul Valley. Entering a forest, we wind around the backside of Lake Lonconao. We pitch our tents at a small homestead and experience the local culture. If we are into hiking a 10 mile day, we can reach a improved cabin at the end of Espolon Lake.
Day 7, Friday: Lago & Rio Espolon
After breakfast we depart towards another mountain lake, Lago Espolon. Here the Espolon drains it and plunges over a huge and violent cascade. After viewing this at the overlook, we ride down the side of the Espolon River where white sandy beaches wait for us and where we can swim in the transparent waters of the Espolon. We return to the little village of Futaleufu and our Adventure Center accomodations.
Day 8, Saturday: Farewell breakfast & departure
Wake up for an early breakfast and drive back to Chaitén. As you catch a final view of the Río Futaleufu; surrounded by hanging glaciers, take a moment to reflect upon all of the amazing sights and experiences of last week. After all these years we are still stunned that views like these exist. Fly to Puerto Montt, Santiago and onward towards home.We have an early morning departure to Chaiten and your return flight to Puerto Montt.
Included: Round trip airfare between Puerto Montt and Chaiten. All local transportation, food and lodging while in Futaleufu. All equipment and guides for the week of activities.
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South America Chile Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking