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Quick Facts

  • Class: IV
  • Type: V-Tongue, Drop Pool
  • Length: 45 meters (150 feet)
  • Alternate Names: Mini-Canyon is sometimes called "Chico Canyon"
  • Previous Rapid:
  • Next Rapid: Exit
  • Interactive Map: Futaleufu River Valley
  • River Section: Upper Futaleufu, Mini-Canyon


A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Initiation
A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Initiation

The put-in for the Upper Futaleufu is on a gravel bar above the Puente Gelves (Gelves Bridge). From here the river drops down a series of ledges and chutes that collect at the bottom. This rapid is called Initiation. The main current moves down the river-left side, into a crashing wave-hole that meets a wall. This combination produces a long run-out wavetrain before the river makes another Z-turn to the left. This rapid is the entrance to Mini-Canyon, a turquoise blue paradise of calm water and winding sheer walled canyon that extends for about two kilometers.

Caution: The condition of Initiation provides a good estimate of what will be in store for paddlers in the Infierno Canyon. At higher flows, more than one entry slot-channel of the river will be open. Seeing more than one slot open should give a paddling group great pause for consideration because it means Infierno Canyon will be high.

High and Low Water

At low water the rapid tends to become easier. At high water, there will be enough flow for two or three of the entryway channels to be viable alternatives to the mainline described here.


Scouting Initiation, the first rapid on the Futaleufu.
Scouting Initiation, the first rapid on the Futaleufu.

Scout from river-right, above the rapid, from the gravel-bar beach put-in.


The greatest hazard in Initiation is the wave-hole and the river-left wall combination. Going too far left will lead to bumping along the river-left wall. A flip in the wave-hole will often lead a paddler to Upper Eddy or Lower Eddy on river right. At higher flows the Upper Eddy can be difficult to exit, which can create a “room of doom” effect.

Play Opportunities

Whirlpools form below the rapid at higher water levels.

Where to Swim

Paddling through the Mini-Canyon between Initiation and Exit rapids.
Paddling through the Mini-Canyon between Initiation and Exit rapids.

A swimmer should stay in the main wavetrain and swim toward river-left, away from the rock wall, once the water becomes calmer. If a swim occurs at Initiation you should think twice before continuing on with the rest of Upper Section of the Futaleufu.

Where to Rescue

On river-right there is a large rescue eddy and exit point if needed.

Where to Portage

If you feel the need to portage this, think twice about running the Upper Futaleufu. The Mini-Canyon is significantly easier than the Infierno Canyon.

Running the Rapid

Going right of the wave-hole at the bottom of the v-tongue on Initiation.
Going right of the wave-hole at the bottom of the v-tongue on Initiation.

Put-in at the gravel beach on river-right and head upstream. Ferry to the far side of the river. Use the riffles coming off the rocks at river-center to guide you along the entryway to Initiation. Once past these initial rocks look for an entry v-tongue into the large, crashing wave-hole of this horseshoe shaped drop. Cut across the right shoulder of the wave-hole looking for a weak spot and ride the wavetrain to the bottom, or you can eddy-out, river-right, in Lower Eddy. A back-ender in the hole usually means a ride down the wavetrain and a close encounter with the river-left canyon wall.

Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. This guidebook is based on Expediciones Chile's twenty years of experience running the Futaleufu River. However, the diagrams and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get here. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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