Trip Name:
The Road to Futaleufu
Skill Level:
For class II, III, IV, and/or IV+ kayakers
Trip Length:
14 Days
Trip Dates:
February 18 – March 3, 2017
Trip Price:
$2,900 (camping) — $3,350 (shared occupancy lodging) USD*
* Price for shared occupancy lodging
DescriptionDay-by-Day Itinerary

The Road to Futa tops the list of ‘road trips of a lifetime’. It’s hard to know where to start describing the incredible journey to this sacred place. Imagine, for just a minute, going back in time to an era when living off the land prevailed over modern technology and convenience. A time when cell phones and Internet were replaced by sitting around fires and sharing family style dinners cooked using a sheep from your neighbor’s flock and vegetables from your garden. The Futaleufu valley is as wide as your imagination, with sweeping vistas dotted by jagged Patagonian mountain peaks and water in every phase of its lifecycle. There is beauty and heartbreak all around – signs of inevitable hardship born from the harsh environment are delicately balanced in a landscape so pristine and expansive it begs to be explored.

For anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit Futaleufu, it’s easy to understand how this remarkable place has remained so well insulated from development and westernization – it’s extremely remote. For kayakers, this isolation is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it’s easy to disconnect, live in the present moment, and focus on kayaking when you’re so far removed from your normal existence. On the other hand, the geography presents a series of logistical challenges that are tricky to solve, even for native Spanish-speakers. PKH has been traveling to the Futaleufu for more than 10 years, and this trip is the culmination of our experience and the genuine belief that the journey is part of the destination.

The Road to Futa starts with the Carretera Austral. Also known as ‘The Southern Highway,’ the route was originally constructed in 1976 and designed to connect the mainland city of Puerto Montt to Chile’s southern territories. These communities had been historically isolated by the natural geography of the coastline; a series of archipelagoes, inlets, fjords, mountains, and bays characterize this region of Chile and much of it is considered inhospitable due to the terrain and violent weather – particularly in winter. As part of our route on the Carretera Austral our group will take three separate ferries beginning in Puerto Montt. The ferry rides are spectacular, with regular sightings of dolphins, penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, and whales – as well as uninhabited islands, salmon farms, pristine alerce forests, numerous volcanoes, and low-lying glaciers. We will arrive to our final port in the town of Chaiten after the third ferry. From here it’s only about 150 kilometers to Futaleufu, but this section of road – a relentless series of potholes, washboard bumps, and dust – takes approximately four bouncy-but-breathtakingly-beautiful hours to drive.

Once you arrive in the Futaleufu valley, you’ll immediately recognize that you are somewhere special. The remoteness is observable in nearly every aspect of life. The grocery stores have limited inventory and an even more limited stock of produce. The high cost of gas, equipment, and supplies – if they are even available – reflect the difficulty of transporting goods to the region. PKH trips are planned well in advance, and as a guest you will benefit from our experience and preparation. That means you can concentrate on soaking up the scenery, playing the guitar, building a fire, reading, telling stories, and perhaps most importantly – kayaking. Now is your time to enjoy the Futa and this is exactly the way to do it.

We will spend our first day in Futaleufu kayaking the river you traveled all this way to see. The Rio Futa offers sections for every skill level of kayaker – from beginners to class V pros and everyone in between. Our coaches will work daily with development kayakers on sticking combat rolls, gaining confidence in big volume water, and progressing through a set of challenges on specific river features – leading up to a descent of the “Wild Mile.” Experts will be challenged too as they learn a new arsenal of whitewater skills including big water freestyle, strokes and techniques for high volume rivers, extreme racing strategies, and new lines to classic Futa rapids in sections like Inferno Canyon, Casa de Piedra, Terminator, and Bridge to Bridge.

 

Arrival City:
Temuco, Chile (airport code ZCO) – Feb 19 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Departure City:
Puerto Montt, Chile (airport code PMC) – Mar 2 after 4:00 pm
Chaiten to Puerto Montt Flight:
PKH will arrange the Chaiten to Puerto Montt flight. Additional flight cost is 40,000 pesos or about $US65. Imagine an hour flight over Patagonia’s Gulfo de Ancud surrounded by volcanos, glaciers, inlets, fjords and islands.

 

Day 1 (Feb 18): Fly to Chile

Depart your home destination for Temuco, Chile.

Day 2 (Feb 19): Arrive to Chile and Kayak

Arrivals to Temuco Airport (ZCO) between 11 am to 5 pm. The earlier the better. Pucon is about an 80 – minute drive from the Temuco airport. After boat outfitting you’ll be on the river paddling in the Chilean summer sun.

Day 3 (Feb 20): Trancura and Palguin

While at the PKH base you’ll have two days to recharge your skills on our backyard Trancura and Palguin sections. Whether you are seeking to blast through eddies, hone your boof, or notch waterfalls we’ve got the best features minutes from your home base.

Day 4 (Feb 21): Trancura or Liucura and Palguin or Maichin
Day 5 (Feb 22): Embark on The Road to Futa!

First stop: Puerto Montt Crafts and Fish Market + Overnight Ferry

Drive to Puerto Montt for Overnight Ferry. Puerto Montt lies on the northern end of the Gulfo de Ancud and serves as the adventure gateway to southern Patagonia. We’ll explore the coastal fish and crafts market as we await our overnight ferry ride. The ride is spectacular as you float past dolphins and penguins, volcanos and glaciers, salmon farms and fishermen.

Day 6 (Feb 23): Drive the world famous Carretera Austral.

AM arrival to Chaiten Port. Drive Patagonia’s Carretera Austral. Arrive to Futaleufu.

In Chaiten we will eat breakfast prior to driving on to the Futaleufu Valley. The Carretera Austral drive crosses rivers, winds along Lago Puelche’s world famous for trophy trout and salmon, offers views of glaciers and makes mountainous passes en route to our Futaleufu destination. We’ll arrive by afternoon ready to paddle our first river section.

Day 7 (Feb 24): Futa Time

First Full Day on the Futa. Will the water be high? Will it be low? Which sections are best? Where are the waves? The dangers? And boofs? Oh my. Relax. We’ve got you covered. Our instructors’ favorite things to do is studying, charging and recon on the Futa. We’ll start slow in order to assess the group and get a feel for both boats and the water levels. Progressively, kayakers will be coached and challenged daily.

AM – Boat outfitting. Skills assessment.

Development Group, Macal Section – Building confidence. Big volume wave rolling with spotter. Boat control fundamentals.

Stout Group, Casa de Piedra + Macal Sections – Just a fun day being led down the Futa’s most continuous sections.

PM – Learning Lines

Development Group, Macal Section – Building confidence. Big volume wave combat rolls with spotter. Boat control fundamentals.

Stout Group, Bridge to Bridge – Let’s begin learning the lines and who wants to accept some challenges?

DAY 8 (Feb 25): Lower Futa Sections

Kayak Theory and Coaching – Learn a series of progressive warm-up drills that teach fundamentals. New School Tricks from Old School Fundamentals. Timing and boof techniques.

AM – Development Group – Macal Section

Stout Group – Bridge to Casa de Piedra + Macal Section

PM – Development Group – Macal Section

Stout Group – Bridge to Casa de Piedra to Macal Section

Day 9 (Feb 26): Inferno Canyon and the Wild Mile or Rio Espolon

AM –Bridge to Bridge and Macal Sections

PM –   Development Group, The Wild Mile to Terminator Bridge or Rio Espolon – There are several big water rapids with the crux being the Wild Mile. Wild Mile is a mile long section of continuous big volume III+. It’s exciting due to it’s speed, length and size of crashing waves. The development group second option is to work on fundamental skills at the Rio Espolon slalom gates. The Rio Espolon is a nearby Futa tributary with mild rapids and clear waters idea for developing skills with confidence. 

Stout Group, Inferno Canyon + Wild Mile to Terminator Bridge or Rio Espolon – On this afternoon you will be surrounded by walls of the Inferno Canyon. Deep in the canyon you’ll scout rapids like Inferno, Zeta and Thrown Room from above and get a sense of how huge the Futa river is. As always the Futa provides the volume and speed for every kayaker’s challenge or portage. 

Day 10 (Feb 27): Futa Festival and Paddling

Futa Festivities – With the festival comes many activities such as racing against the pros. Or how about just watching them compete on giant slalom class V courses? To keep our day exciting we’ll boat our classic challenge sections. On this night we’ll make a group trip to the town of Futa to let anyone interested in the Futa Fest party enjoy that atmosphere too. We’ll have an early vehicle return to camp and a late vehicle stay with party-goers.

AM – Development Group – Macal Section

Stout Group – Bridge to Casa de Piedra + Macal Section

PM – Development Group – Macal Section

Stout Group – Bridge to Casa de Piedra to Macal Section

Day 11 (Feb 28): Sleep in and Inferno Canyon + Wild Mile

AM – Sleep in or morning Bridge to Bridge Section

PM –   Development Group, The Wild Mile to Terminator Bridge – is a next step up section from Macal. There are several big water rapids with the crux being the Wild Mile. Wild Mile is a mile long section of continuous big volume III+. It’s exciting due to it’s speed, length and size of crashing waves.

Stout Group, Inferno Canyon + Wild Mile to Terminator Bridge – On this afternoon you will be surrounded by walls of the Inferno Canyon. Deep in the canyon you’ll scout rapids like Inferno, Zeta and Thrown Room from above and get a sense of how huge the Futa river is. As always the Futa provides the volume and speed for every kayaker’s challenge or portage.

Day 12 (Mar 1): Total Futa Option

Want to paddle the total Futa in one day? We can make it happen. And with the speed of the Futa’s waters and our logistics coordination it’s very doable. Alternative Option – We’ll discuss and provide options for a group that does not want to do such a big day.

AM – After breakfast we’ll drive to the town of Futaleufu to let folks briefly restock their private supplies of snacks and beverages. Kayakers can geek out on communicating home while our guides set shuttles.

PM – Eat an early lunch prior to charging to notch a Total Futa day. Finishing a Total Futa day is something for every kayaker to be proud of.

Kayakers who want a less intense day will be offered shorter sections like Inferno Canyon, the Wild Mile or others.

Day 13 (Mar 2): Drive to Chaiten. Fly to Puerto Montt.

PKH will arrange 11:00 am guest flights from Chaiten to Puerto Montt. Flight cost is 40.000 pesos or about $US65. Imagine a short hour flight over Patagonia’s Gulfo de Ancud surrounded by volcanos, glaciers, inlets, fjords and islands.

Departure Flights: Puerto Montt flights for after 4:00 pm.

Day 14 (Mar 3):

Return Home.

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LOOKING TO EXTEND YOUR TRIP?

Have more than two weeks to spend in Chile? If so, we offer two excellent trip extensions for this itinerary…

Futa Trip Extension: Option A

Arrive to Pucón early for an extra week of rivers while you develop your skills and confidence and prepare for the Futaleufu. Explore the rivers of the Pucón region and perfect your skills with our expert coaches during the beautiful Pucón summer when rivers are at user-friendly levels and the water is warm.

DATES: 

February 13 – 18

ARRIVAL CITY:   

Temuco, Chile (airport code ZCO) – Feb 14 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

INCLUDES: 

Kayak + Lunch + Dinner + Lodging Choice + Daily Local Transport + 1/2 Day Kayak Instruction 

PRICE: 

$700 USD (for shared occupancy lodging)

Want to extend your trip even longer? 

Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to discuss your logistics needs and prices. 

Futa Trip Extension: Option B

Stay at the Futaleufu with our group for an additional week of kayaking and fun before departing. The bonus? You’ll get to experience the annual Futa Festival. Futa Fest is a grand celebration of the river that attracts hundreds of paddlers from around the world. You can enter events or watch the pros compete. No matter what you decide, we’ll be paddling the same sections every day, continuing to improve our skills, and hang out with the global kayaking community that descends on the Futa this time of year.

DATES:

March 3 – March 8

DEPARTURE CITY:   

Puerto Montt, Chile (airport code PMC) – March 7 after 4:00 pm
Note – Guests will be flying a short one hour flight from Chaiten to Puerto Montt. This Patagon flight cruises over the Gulfo de Ancud’s fjords, volcanos, glaciers, inlets and islands. 

Or Temuco, Chile (airport code ZCO) – guests whom prefer to fly out of Temuco may arrange Futa to Pucon transport. Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to discuss logistics. 

INCLUDES: 

Kayak + Lunch + Dinner + Lodging Choice + Daily Transport + Kayak Instruction. 

PRICE: 

$800 USD (for shared occupancy lodging)

Want to extend your trip even longer? 

Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to discuss your logistics needs and prices.