We take you step-by-step through the Ten rules of Big Water Paddling. You will come home with incredible experiences and skills. During this week we emphasize river reading skills, eddy hopping, rolling on both sides, boat scouting, boat piloting, boat momentum, and lateral moves - all designed to make river running precise and as effortless as possible. Here you will learn to safely harness the power of the river, and work with it, to put your kayak where it needs to be.
The water levels and big water paddling in our area vary significantly over a season and we will adapt our kayak instruction itineraries to try and take advantage of the best the Futaleufu River Valley and Chile has to offer. In some cases we will repeat sections of the Futaleufu, but will focus on different kayak skills.
Day 1: Arrival and introductions
Arrive at either of our entry points in Puerto Montt, Chile or Esquel, Argentina, the gateways to Patagonia. Connect with our kayak school representative and travel to the remote riverside town of Futaleufu, surrounded by majestic mountains. Here you will find your accommodations at our Tres Monjas, Patagonia Eco-Camp. A hearty meal, hot sauna, and wonderful views welcome you to Chile.
Day 2: Rio Espolon into the Futaleufu
After a delightful breakfast we take a short drive to the put-in of the spectacular Class II/III turquoise blue Rio Espolon. We warm up on the crystal-clear water, review your kayak techniques and continue to the confluence of the Rio Espolon with the Rio Futaleufu. This will be our first taste of big whitewater and the incredible power of the Futaleufu. We will begin our big water kayak instruction by modifying and adapting your kayaking techniques for big water paddling. We will take out just above the spectacular Class IV+ “Infierno Canyon”. Our vehicle is waiting to return you to the comforts of our camp and our native wood sauna.
Day 3: El Macal Section
The entirety of this day will be spent "double running" the lower stretch of the Futaleufu known as the “El Macal” section. The “El Macal” section starts below the spectacular Class V “Casa de Piedra” section, which we will stop and see on our way to the put-in. The water here will be big and fast, providing the perfect introduction and classroom for big water paddling.
Here we will learn the counterintuitive techniques of big water kayaking, such as learning to delay our eddy turns rather than accelerating them, dealing with large boils and whirlpools, crossing elevated and depressed eddy lines, and how to roll effectively in aerated water. After a tough day on the water, we return with sore muscles to the waiting hands of our camp masseuse.
Day 4: Rio Azul into the Rio Futaleufu
Today we are off to paddle the Class III+ Rio Azul and follow it to the confluence of the Futaleufu and beyond. The Rio Azul is a spectacular tributary of the Futaleufu that is not to be missed, being one of the most scenic and breathtaking rivers in the valley. We will continue our big water kayak instruction by noting the differences in technique that big water paddling requires. We will also get the opportunity to do some play paddling on the Azul.
The last part of the day will be spent paddling the Class III “Schoolhouse” rapid on the Futaleufu in front of the Tres Monjas Eco-Camp. Here we will begin to put all of our big water techniques together. The eddy lines and boils of “Schoolhouse” rapid are serious stuff. We will learn about using the river to "pilot our kayaks" and about the “plate tectonics” and “sheer forces” that occur as currents of big water come together. This is the perfect introduction to the upcoming two days of big water kayak instruction.
Day 5: Terminator Section
On this day we will put in at Campo Tres Monjas and paddle through the “Schoolhouse” rapid to experience “Asleep at the Wheel”, the “Kyber Pass” and the awe-inspiring “Himalayas”. This will be our first day of really big Class III/IV whitewater. We will learn about boat piloting, using the river and not our paddles to get us where we want to be on the river.
On this day we will introduce “river reading”, like learning to tell the difference between explosion waves and hydraulics. The highlights of the day will be walking around the spectacular Class V+ “Terminator” Rapid and running the “Himalayas”, which contain some of the biggest standing waves in the hemisphere.
Day 6: Bridge to Bridge Section
This will be a day that combines guided kayaking and teaching. The Bridge to Bridge section contains one of the biggest and most continuous stretches of Class III-IV whitewater in the world. Today it will be our classroom. Before each drop you will discuss with your guides/instructors the best lines and strategies to run the rapid. It will be necessary to rely on boat piloting to get us from place to place on the river. After each drop the group will discuss what went right and wrong in each person's run.
We'll run rapids like “Entrada”, “Pillow”, “Mundaca”, “Last Wave is a Rock” and “El Tiburon”; this will be a day to remember! Afterward we'll head back to the lodge and celebrate this day's run over Pisco Sours at happy hour.
Day 7: Graduation Day on the Upper Futaleufu
Today serves as our big water paddling Graduation Day. We will put in below the Class V Infierno Canyon and paddle down to the Class V+ “Zeta” and “Throne Room” rapids. We'll discuss the big water strategies involved in running these monster chutes, but we use the well worn portage trail around each of them. If we are lucky we may even see some kayakers run these awe-inspiring rapids.
Below the “Throne Room” lays another continuous section of whitewater known as the “Wild Mile”; it will be the last challenge we face before taking out on the white sand beach of Campo Tres Monjas. Our celebration dinner will be prepared while you relax in our camp sauna or enjoy the spray of colors in the sky while the sun settles over the Tres Monjas peak.
Day 8: Departure
Wake up for an early breakfast and drive back to Chaiten, Chile and your flight to Puerto Montt, or relax for a couple of hours and take our shuttle to Esquel, Argentina. As you catch a final view of the Río Futaleufu; surrounded by hanging glaciers and snow capped mountains, take a moment to reflect upon all of the amazing sights and experiences of this past week. After all these years we are still stunned that views like these exist.
Included: All meals, lodging, transportation, kayaks, guides and river gear while paddling with us. Round trip transportation between Futaleufu and Puerto Montt or Esquel.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Chile Outdoor: Water Drifter Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting