of the difficulty of this stretch of whitewater
Expediciones Chile runs it only after your
rafting team has run the easier sections and
has built their skills and confidence needed
to run this section. Running the upper Futaleufu
is optional for all of our guests and is water
level dependent. At certain times of the year,
or during abnormally wet years, the upper
gorge can become too powerful to allow rafts
to safely pass through.
After our safety talk
and maneuvering drills we get our first look
at Entrance, from a river right eddy just
above the drop. This will be your first real
taste of Patagonia rafting and Futaleufu whitewater.
This wide rapid is characterized by a landscape
maze of boulders and offset hydraulics created
by a landslide that tumbled down from the
steep peak on river right.
are so many holes and boulders that it is
difficult to see the rafting route. However
your guide will point out the center right
entry tongue. It will be easier to believe
that this is our route when the safety team
paddles down it to set up below on the left.
Then the route will be clear. We enter down
the tongue paddling to the left so we break
through the diagonal wave to get into the
quieter whitewater behind and downstream of
the ledge holes. This rafting move is important,
as going down the center leads into white
water chaos that can upset a raft. We need
every paddler to drive and listen to the commands
on our frothy route. As soon as the storm
subsides your guide will command a right turn.
We need to avoid a left channel and island
and drive across the river to our regrouping
eddy on the right, just above the next rapid.
Entrance was your very first Futaleufu rapid,
the supposed “easiest” section of the Futaleufu.
Now you know that you have arrived at a very
special river. This is Chile rafting at its
best! After the elation subsides we will have
a quick debriefing with your team before the
The magic carpet has
bigger waves and whitewater than we experienced
in Entrance rapid. The raft route is on the
right, down the tongue. Staying in the flow
keeps us in the huge waves and away from a
hydraulic on the left side of our route. This
is clean big fun and you will notice on this
rapid the safety team surrounds the rafts
as we paddle through. At the bottom once again
we need to paddle hard to eddy out on the
right before we drift into the next rapid.
From the safety of
the eddy we will look down at the horizon
line and a huge rock. The mist blowing up
from below suggests a river wide hydraulic
or worse. This is Pillow and there is a route
just left of the huge rock. Again we get to
see the safety kayakers go through on our
route. However unlike the kayaker, we need
to angle the raft and attack perpendicularly,
into the potential raft flipping pillow wave
coming off the big rock on the right. As we
near the vortex of this rapid the raft will
pick up speed as we square up to impact the
giant pillow wave. The front half of the raft
will be airborne and clear the drop. There
is a pool directly below this rapid on the
left where our safety team waits in case of
an unexpected raft flip or swim. Pillow is
one of the most exciting and memorable rapids
on the Futaleufu river. Paddling as a team
is essential. Photos from this rapid are dramatic
and can be seen on our home page.
As we raft through
this S turn rapid we have a chance to see
our safety kayaker surf on a wave. Looking
to the right we can see boiling turbulence
in the right hand eddy, a wise place to avoid.
de Indio (IV)
We gather up and get
ready for Cara de Indio. The safety team heads
down the middle of the river as we watch their
route. We need to be careful of a hole half
way down, off the left shore at the start
of the standing waves. No relaxing here! Although
this rapid is straightforward we need to be
precise and perfect. There is very little
space between the end of this rapid and the
eddy on the right, just above the most technical
rapid of the Heart of the Futaleufu section.
Named for a local
pioneer family, this rapid is the climax of
this day of spectacular Patagonia rafting.
By now your raft team should be ready, but
the approach to Mundaca is tricky. We will
be rafting near the right shore, so close
to the pourovers that we can almost touch
them with the right side of the raft. We will
weave out towards the center to get around
one pourover that extends further out. The
raft then accelerates into a several breaking
waves that lead into a monster explosion wave
that can flip a raft. Everything we do is
setting us up go right of the monster explosion
wave. You and your guide will use precision
and aggressive strokes to counteract the river
from pushing the raft into the monster wave.
This will be a rapid to remember!
Just beneath Mundaca
we need to regroup because the river speeds
up again quickly. We enter in the center down
the tongue. Big waves and a few holes on the
sides but in this rapid we go with the flow
and attack the big waves. Again our safety
is ahead and the kayaker floats between the
rafts. We eddy out to regroup and get ready
for the next rapid.
Wide open rafting
fun as we follow the flow through the big
standing waves. There are holes on the side
but by staying in the big waves and charging
them we stay out of trouble.
Wave is a Rock (IV)
This rapid looks similar
to the last several last rapids… wide open
fun. However there is a surprise…. the last
wave is a rock and at higher levels a hole.
Our safety team is waiting in the eddy on
the right. Be careful since the last wave
looks enticing….. we will drive the raft to
the right to join our safety team in the eddy.
The river gets serious
again and requires caution during high water.
The next two rapids need to be rafted in a
controlled fashion. Casuela has a route down
the right center. However one needs to be
cautious to avoid a pounding hole on the right
at the bottom. On the left there is a very
turbulent eddy with a wall. After we thread
the needle between these two hazards we keep
our raft squared to the huge waves as we drive
into the safe eddy on river right.
Tiburon is marked
by a huge cliff on the left. There is an eddy
underneath this wall that is the most hazardous
feature on the Heart of the Futaleufu. However
this danger is easily avoided by driving right
as one enters the tongue. Once the raft busts
through the diagonal wave on the right we
are safe. On the left wall at water level
you will see a rock outcropping that looks
like the dorsal fin of a shark that the current
runs directly into. Just upstream of this
is the hazardous undercut wall and eddy lines
that we do not play with.
Now we have a few
little rapids before our take out. Here, on
our second run of this section, we will do
our swim test to see if the group is ready
to go into the class V Casa de Piedra. Follow
instructions as the guides tell you when to
slip in the water and where to swim to the
waiting rescue raft. We are always heads up.
The final take out eddy is on river left just
above a concrete bridge and we do not want
to miss it as Class V Mas o Menos is just
around the corner. Here we will find lunch
and our waiting vehicle. This concludes our
first day of Chile rafting; on our second
day we will continue downstream and enter
the Casa de Piedra section.
de Piedra Section
o Menos (V-)
As we pass under the
stone bridge and leave the “Heart” behind
us we'll immediately hear the roar of Mas
o Menos. In Spanish mas o menos means more
or less; the rapid earned its name because
the line is more or less down the left side
between the big holes. This rapid is huge
and radiates power. It is somewhat technical
but the lines are never obvious. They are
more or less!!! We enter the first part of
the rapid and enter an eddy on the left. From
here listen closely as your guide explains
while we watch as the safety craft enter in
the exact spot we will want to attack. You
will smile as they paddle out of sight into
the white water power storm. We enter down
the same tongue towards a huge wave charging
the weak left side of it, as soon as we pass
on the smooth shoulder we angle the raft back
towards the center of the river to miss a
hole. Then we paddle forward and hard and
take our blows from the explosions waves.
The safety craft will wait below on the right
hand side of the river.
Shortly after Mas
o Manos the river makes a big right turn in
easy looking Class II whitewater. The water
flows to the outside of the turn exactly where
a violent hole is hiding 150 meters above
Casa de Piedra. Your team will paddle to the
inside to miss this hole completely. Not a
great idea to have any swimmers so close to
the Class V Casa.
is serious business now. We will eddy out
on river right so we can scout and set up
adequate safety for what awaits us below.
de Piedra (V)
Casa de Piedra. The
name means “house rock” in Spanish and by
looking at the rapid we can see how it might
have got its name. At the center of the river
looms a large house boulder that could be
considered a small island. It splits the river
in two; our line will be on the right side
of the huge rock. The rapid, however, was
not named after this obstacle but after other
house sized rocks that have fallen down from
the steep mountains above on shore. These
huge rocks would over hang a campfire and
provide dry shelter for the pioneers on their
cattle drives to the coast.
the river right side this rapid has several
entries, depending on the water level, but
we must negotiate the entry and we must get
to the right of the house rock. Here on the
right side half way down the rapid we have
our safety kayaker waiting in case of problems.
We will angle the raft and stay right to thread
the needle between two holes and then drive
the raft left for the center of the river
to miss another hole all while taking big
water hits. This is true class five paddling.
For some paddlers this is enough; others will
be asking about what is next on the Class
On any other
river this would be considered non-stop whitewater
but not in Patagonia Chile. On the Futaleufu
we just stay in the center of the current
on the S turns and do not let the current
drive us into the outside banks. We will eddy
out on the right before our last rapid.
de Barco (Freighter Rock) (III+)
There is a world class
kayaker play hole just at the top of the rapid.
Our objective is to go either right of left
of the ship rock but just do not hit it. If
you have a chance to look up and see the view
after this rapid it is one of the most dramatic
on the river.
Macal is our take
covers the first two river days of your Patagonia
rafting vacation. The following day will be
the the Terminator on the middle Futaleufu.