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Middle Futaleufu Rapids

The Middle Futaleufu, from the Azul confluence to the first swinging bridge of the “Bridge to Bridge Section” is a step up in difficulty from our runs earlier in the week. We usually raft this section after your group has successfully rafted the Bridge to Bridge section and the Casa de Piedra section. For those individuals who don’t want to experience the rapids on the Upper Futaleufu this middle section often serves as the penultimate day of big water rafting. The Middle section of the Futaleufu contains only one of the “big five” Class V rapids on the river, but it is truly spectacular. Called the Terminator, this rapid is the longest and most technically demanding on the river.

Because 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.

Rapid by Rapid:

Asleep at the Wheel (IV)
We will push off from the private sand beach of our luxury eco-camp at the confluence of the Futaleufu and Azul rivers with the Tres Monjas Peaks towering overhead. The first mile of this run is class II-III which will allow us plenty of time to warm up for the power storm of whitewater to come. You will enjoy the spectacular waterfalls cascading off the rock cliffs on the left. Asleep at the Wheel earned its name because it often catches napping paddlers by surprise. We will look out for the broad horizon line that marks the start of this rapid. Asleep at the wheel requires our team to be precise; the route here is left to right. We angle right towards the rock wall as the river accelerates. Driving into the big diagonal waves coming off the wall keeps us from being pushed into a gigantic raft flipping hole at the center of the river. Be sure to look left for a view into one of the bigger holes on the river.

Terminator is probably the most challenging commercially run rapid in the world; earning its name because of the huge terminating hole at the center of the river. This hydraulic temporarily halted the first rafting expedition on the Futaleufu river back in 1985. Since then the Class V “sneak chute” on river left has been successfully run countless times without major incident. This is perhaps the heftiest “sneak” route found anywhere. We will scout the rapid from the left shore as we plan and memorize the three parts of this rapid that make it the longest and most technically demanding rapid on the river. The rapid characterized by intricate boulder gardens, massive hydraulics and large reactionary type waves.

The first scout of this rapid will be preplanned. Walking is best done well above the rapid on a little beach river right just beneath a kayakers pillow play spot. It is a half mile walk to fully scout the three parts of the Terminator.

The important scout of the “sneak chute” is best done on river left just 100 yards beneath the Terminator play wave. From the shore you will get to watch the safety team run down the exact route that you will challenge. Once the safety is set up, on the left, below the first two parts of the rapid, you will understand the objective. The excitement is overwhelming as we push off, snaking down the left route, cutting over horizon lines and drops, keeping to the planned path for this first part of this run. Then, at the precise moment, after passing the Terminator hole, your guide will yell “right turn!” as you angle the raft towards the center, passing a rock pour-over then back toward river left avoiding some of the biggest explosion waves seen anywhere. You will want to yell with excitement, but this rapid is not over yet! We regroup and on the "all-is-ok" sign, our safety team once again sprints ahead to set up below the last part of the Terminator beneath a huge recirculating hole that must be missed. We will get the high sign and enter the left channel while cutting to the raft to the right which allows us to finally relax and look back upstream. Looking back upstream we will see the entire Terminator rapid with the Tres Monjas peak standing majestically in the background.

Khyber Pass(IV+)
There is no more than 100 meters between the end of the Terminator and the Khyber pass. Khyber requires a simple diagonal move across the rapid. We enter on a smooth left ramp and start our diagonal journey to the right. Your guide will warn the team that we need to make traction on our diagonal route because the current wants to push a non-powered raft directly straight into a group of standing waves where the China hole is hiding, second only to the Terminator hole in it lack of release qualities. This move will position the raft perfectly for entering the next rapid. Khyber Pass earned its name because it serves as the gateway to Himalayas, which contains some of the largest standing waves in the Hemisphere.
We want to regroup on the right and we need to power into the eddy because only 50 meters below waits the Himalayas…

Himalayas (III+)
The entire Futaleufu drops down a steep ramp producing a series of standing waves that are some of the biggest in the world. This is your well earned reward for a day well done. Your team has had to unite to get to this point. Now waiting are the biggest standing waves you will ever experience! There is a huge pool waiting below. Our triangle safety team sprints ahead to wait in case of a flip. If your team is ready and willing, your guide will take it down the middle. Six waves each one increasing in stature. The last wave so big that it blocks out the afternoon sun. Rafting in Chile doesn't get any better than this! Afterwards a quiet paddle down to our take out. We will take out just above the first swinging bridge, where we put in for the Bridge to Bridge section and the Casa de Piedra section.

Continue the Futaleufu river rapids tour: Lower Futaleufu >>

Downloadable pdf: Chile Rafting >>


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