From Guide

Jump to: navigation, search



Quick Facts

  • Class: III
  • Type: ox-bow, park and play feature
  • Length: 150 meters (500 feet)
  • Alternate Names: Magic Carpet, S-bend, Disco Biscuit
  • Previous Rapid: Pillow
  • Next Rapid: Cara del Indio
  • Interactive Map: Futaleufu River Valley
  • River Section: Lower Futaleufu, Bridge-to-Bridge Section


A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of S-Turn
A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of S-Turn

S-turn consists of a series of river features that includes a good playwave, huge whirlpools and powerful eddies. The river shallows out at first, then constricts and turns, creating some very squirrelly currents and big water phenomena. It is a great place to spend an hour surfing and honing your skills on turbulent eddy lines that will help you later on in the week.

The Giant Whirlpool Eddy with Decision Point on the right.
The Giant Whirlpool Eddy with Decision Point on the right.

High and Low Water

At high water the narrow rock penninsula creating the lower S-turn ox-bow gets covered by flowing water creating a hole behind it. As the water level drops the S-Turn Play-wave develops and keeps getting better with decreasing flows.


Boat scout from river-center.

Where to Portage

The rapid can be walked on river-left on the gravel bar. The rapid can also be accessed from the Cara del Indio Campground.


S-Turn surfwave from below.
S-Turn surfwave from below.

There is a huge recirculating eddy-cove on river-left that can’t be easily exited without paddling back up to the top. If you go in it, and your friends head right you won’t have time to catch them before the next rapid, Cara del Indio. The "stickiness" of these eddies becomes greater as the flow of the river increases.

Play Opportunities

S-Turn Play-wave at good level.
S-Turn Play-wave at good level.

The S-turn Play-wave can be caught from both sides of the river. It lies in the lower middle of the “S”. Give yourself some time to figure out how to get on the wave (easier from river-left) and where the sweet spot is, as it can change dramatically with the river level.

Running the Rapid

Waiting in the river-left eddy for a turn on the S-Turn Play-wave.
Waiting in the river-left eddy for a turn on the S-Turn Play-wave.

Head straight down the center and eddy out river-left above the play-wave. Catch the wave and head to the eddy on the opposite side of the river. You will probably need to ferry back to river-left to get another ride. Don’t spend too much time in the wavetrain as the whirlpools can make it difficult to get back without walking your kayak up the river- left side. When heading out keep your group together, especially when checking out the large recirculating eddy on river-left. You will find the need to go “full circle” in the eddy to get back into the main current, this takes time.


S-Turn at high water. Notice the hydraulic created by the rock peninsula that is underwater. Video

Corran Addison on the S-Turn Play-wave. PaddleQuest 1996 Video

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.

    Read More: Disclaimer
Personal tools