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Patagonia Travel: Secrets of Patagonia

Nestled among the high volcanic peaks of southern Chile, generally referred to as Patagonia, lies a heavily forested region known as the “Andean Corridor of Lakes”. This vastly undeveloped region of Chile is by far the most stunning landscape you could ever imagine. Containing hundreds of pristine glacial lakes and thousands of kilometers of wild rivers, the heart of which is the Futaleufu River, home of the "Greatest Whitewater on Earth".

" Flying over the headwaters of the Futaleufu on Expediciones Chile 's direct flight"

The Andes:
Formed by the collision of tectonic plates over 70 million years ago, the landscape of the Andes is more than merely impressive. If laid across North America, the mountain range would stretch from Havana to Juneau Alaska, some 4,500 miles in length. Towering at heights of up to 22,000 feet, these peaks are second only in magnitude to the Himalayas. The range's lofty spine creates a naturally defined border that is shared by Chile and Argentina along a 2,000-mile section. To the north, the range is high and arid while to the south - in the Andean Corridor of Lakes - the peaks are less extreme (14,000 feet around the city of Temuco), glaciated, and blessed with hundreds of pristine lakes joined by wild rivers. This Andean Corridor of Lakes lies both in Chile and Argentina and is commonly referred to as the Lake District-Chileno and Lake District-Argentino. This region is a dramatic wonderland of glaciers, native old growth forests, lakes, rivers, fjords, volcanoes and sentinel mountains making for a spectacular Patagonia travel destination.

A brief look at the lay of the land and the region's moisture patterns explains why the world's best whitewater rafting, kayaking and fly fishing is found here. This is a region of geological and climatic extremes. If you were to take a cross sectional slice of the continent and trace a vertical line down the highest peak of the Andes, you would note that on the Chilean side the land descends quickly towards a central valley then rises to a much smaller coastal range, finally descending to the ocean. On the Argentinean side, the land gently plateaus off into an arid region known as the Patagonia Steppe. Our Patagonia travel and adventure trips run during the peak of both Chile and Argentina's summer season. December in Chile is the equivalent of June in the U.S. and thus January like July and so on, and so forth. So when you join us for a winter getaway you’ll return home tanned and happy!


Geographically speaking, Patagonia is primarily located in Argentina between the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean. At the extreme southern end of Chile, however, the border jogs eastward to reach the Atlantic Ocean thus becoming part of Patagonia. Patagón means "big feet," referring to the Tehuelche Indians who, when first seen by Fernando de Magallanes, in 1520, were wearing raw leather footwear rapped around their feet, which left big footprints where they walked. Thus, Patagonia is the place of the people with big feet. The regional governments in both Chile and Argentina are embracing the name Patagonia as a collective name for this southern region. The idea is to assist both countries in the development of tourism within this sparsely populated and rarely traveled area. For maps of this region of the world, go to: Patagonia Maps.

" One of the most beautiful drives in Chile. From the Ocean to the border"

Chile was derived from an Indian word, Tchili, meaning "the deepest point of the Earth." If the country were superimposed on North America (as we did with the Andes Mountains) it would stretch as a narrow ribbon - averaging 110 miles in width - from Mexico City to Juneau Alaska (2610 miles). Its total square mileage is slightly larger than the state of Texas and the population of 14 million is weighted with 45% living in Santiago, the capital city. Chile achieved independence in 1818 and now has a democratic form of government under the very popular president Ricardo Lagos. The area in which we raft, kayak and fly fish, is the Andean Corridor of Lakes, which spans 800 miles between the cities of Temuco and Coyhaique. The most spectacular section of the Corridor of Lakes is in the heart of Patagonia, the Futaleufu River Valley.

Some 760 miles wider than Chile at its widest point, Argentina is some 500 miles shorter north to south. The country's square mileage is three and a half times that of Chile's and its population is almost two and one third times larger (33,533,256). Buenos Aires, the capital city, is home to 9% of the population. Like Chile, Argentina has a democratic form of government. The current president is Nestor Kirchner of the Peron party, at least for this week. Some of our fly fishing and kayak safari trips venture into Argentina.

Getting Here: Patagonia Travel

The Futaleufu river valley is in the heart of northern Patagonia, one of the most secluded regions on our planet. To get here you will fly to Santiago, Chile's capital, and then fly to Puerto Montt. Part of the reason Futaleufu is so pristine is that it is very difficult to travel here. There is no direct road through Chile. One needs to fly, or take a ferry. Expediciones Chile knows the ropes and will make all Patagonia travel reservations for you, recieve you at the Puerto Montt airport and again in Chaiten. Once you are in Futaleufu you will not need a car. This is a walking village and we provide transportation to all the activities.

The small coastal town of Chaitén (population 3,000) has the feel of an Alaskan fishing village. This is our gateway to the Futaleufú. The airport may appear small, but don’t let that fool you, this airport has a paved runway, a tower, and instruments for landings, even in variable weather. It is a only a forty-minute twin-engine turbo prop flight on a commercial carrier from/to Puerto Montt. Expediciones Chile can charter a direct flight from Puerto Montt to Futaleufu that is a spectacular aerial sight seeing trip and saves four hours of driving.

From Chaitén we travel three and one-half hours up the valley, crossing rivers, ascending mountain passes with hanging glaciers, and traversing a lake to get to the Futaleufu valley. After crossing the Río Azul we turn down a narrow unpaved lane untill we near the confluence of the Azul and Futaleufu rivers. At this point those headed to ClubFuta/Tres Monjas get out and take a short walk down a wooded trail to these joining rivers. Here we’ll load up our double canoe and ferry across the river to our spectacular and remote ClubFuta,

" ClubFuta at Campo Tres Monja. This is their bell service. Crossing into paradise"

at Campo Tres Monjas. If one’s destination is the Centro Aventura Lodge, you’ll travel on up to the town of Futaleufu for an additional twenty-five minutes.

Town of Futaleufu (population 1.826, elevation 1,181 ft, or 360 meters)
This remarkable area is truly an ideal destination for the vacation of a lifetime. This town is probably like no other you've ever seen before. Imagine a setting that is a blend of both Glacier and Yosemite National Parks with their spectacular views of snow-capped peaks. Nestled deep in an emerald green valley with unusual looking vegetation, this little village resembles that of a small Colorado mountain mining town of the early 1900’s. No vehicles are needed here. One can easily walk to any part of town with in minutes. The locals are friendly and welcoming, cowboys still make their way around on horseback and greet everyone they meet along the streets. Right outside our doorstep are the legendary Ríos (Rivers) Futaleufú, Espolón and Azul, as well as numerous lakes, canyons and trails. This is the home of the Expediciones Chile’s Centro Aventura Lodge and operations offfice. We are the experts for getting you here smoothly and are prepared to give you the Patagonia travel and adventure trip you desire.

" Home of Centro Aventura Futaleufu in the little village of Futaleufu" photo Jim Repine


Río Futaleufu (Rafting, Kayaking, Fly-fishing, Trekking, Sea Kayaking, Horseback Riding)

Imagine a fantasy river, majestic beauty in an alpine setting, brilliant blue water, ultimate exploding waves, adrenaline-charged rapids, sunshine and warm weather. The fantasy is real. It is the Futaleufu, the crown jewel of South America, set in Patagonia. This river flows from a chain of high, sunny lakes in Argentina through a rugged, glaciated area of Chilean Mountains. During the southern summer, (December to April) the Futaleufu runs between 7,000 and 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The rapids drop into crystal clear pools where huge trout are often seen. Chosen as the site for World White Water Rafting Championships in 2000, this is truly a world-class whitewater river. We often refer to these Class 5 rapids as the BIG FIVE: Inferno, Zeta, Throne Room, Terminator, and Casa de Piedra. Other sections of the Futa are continuous, action-packed Class 3 and Class 4, with huge, pulsing waves and steep drops. Many sections of the Futaleufu are slower and are great fishing spots for brown and rainbow trout. The Futaleufu has it all. At high water levels some of the Class 5 rapids are considered unrunnable in rafts. Even some of the best kayakers have been known to walk these occasionaly. Expediciones Chile was the first to lead trips on the river in 1986 and have been running safe trips ever since. Our founder Chris Spelius named many of the rapids.

" The start of the Whitewater section"

A rapid tour
A MUST SEE map for an overview of the Futaleufu valley.

Then return to Continue the Secrets of Patagonia Travel tour:
The upper Futaleufu River

Adventure Travel in Chile, Rafting
Patagonia Adventure Travel in Chile. Rafting in Chile & Argentina Rafting .
Torres del Paine and FitzRoy trekking.

Traveling in Chile & Patagonia
Information on traveling in Patagonia Chile. Secrets of Patagonia Tour on our website.

Rafting in Chile
Whitewater rafting in Chile. Rafting from our weatherproof Futaleufu lodge and our whitewater eco camp.
Weather in Patagonia
Information about the weather in Patagonia Climate in Chile & Argentina. Weather forecasts.
Sea Kayaking in Chile
Go Sea Kayaking in Chile from the Andes to the Ocean on Lago Yelcho. Fjords, hotsprings, extinct volcanos, temperate rainforest.

Raft Guide School Thinking about a rafting guide job on the Futaleufu? Check out our whitewater guide school & swiftwater rescue training course.

Fly Fishing in Chile
Go fly fishing in Chile from our ranch or lodge in Chilean Patagonia. Fly fishing trips on Lago Yelcho.
EcoTours in Chile
Custom ecotours in Chile of the Futaleufu valley that include bird watching and nature treks.

Kayak School
Learn the eskimo kayak roll at our kayak school. Receive world class kayak instruction from our paddling school.

University of Futaleufu
Checkout our large group, instructional and corporate team building programs offered every tear..
Futaleufu Information
Information About the Futaleufu River in Patagonia Chile. Futaleufu guidebook of river sections.
Ex Chile Travel Agent Info
Information on traveling in Chile. Travel agent discounts and commisssions.

Patagonia Horseback Riding
Patagonia horseback riding vacations and holidays with with genuine Huasos & Corralero Horses.

Honeymoon Cabin
Our CondorNest Ranchito is the perfect honeymoon cabin located beneath the Tres Monjas towers.
Snow Skiing in Chile Snow skiing in Chile in the spectacular Andes Mountains during the summer months. Office Internship Jobs  
Office internships and employment opportunities in rafting, kayaking and fly fishing & adventure travel offfice.
Canyoning Vacations
Chile canyoning and rappelling vacations.
Chilean Culture Immersion
Experience genuine Chilean Cultural Immersion on our adventure travel horseback riding and trekking vacations.
Kayak Chile Whitewater
Kayak in the spectacular Patagonia
Andes. Kayak Chile whitewater from our spectacular kayak eco camp.
Patagonia Mountain Biking
Experience a genuine Chile Mountain Biking tour through Chilean Patagonia and Argentina.
Rivers in Chile: For information about the whitewater rivers in Chile see our online guide book. Here you will find the location of the river and descriptions. Futaleufu River Guidebook: An online whitewater guidebook to all the rapids on the Futaleufu River.  
Rafting en el Río Futaleufú
con las mejores aguas blancas de clase mundial (5,4,3,). Kayak de mar, mountain biking, cabalgatas, sit-on-top kayaking cayoning, caminatas, pesca con mosca y mucho más aventuras podrás encontrar en el corazón de la patagonia Chilena, y desde el comfort de nuestro nativo y caluroso Hotel. Rafting en lel Río Futaleufú en Español.

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