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Old 08-28-2015   #11
GWS, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 133
You can drive "drive south" from puerto montt to chaiten then to futa, there are three public ferries (two are free, one is cheap) on the way to jump you across fjords that have multiple departures a day. Or you can drop cash for the direct ferry.
Flirt with the airline clerk (male or female) and you are 100% certain to get your "surfski" on the plane.
Don't need to go to Argentina to get to the Baker...
Alright, maps probably aren't free. 2500 pesos=3 bucks...going to set you back big!
It is that simple! Don't forget your go-pro.

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Old 08-28-2015   #12
Pucon Kayak Hostel's Avatar
Pucón, Chile
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 41
Some exact costs for the 3 ferries

Yes you can drive around Gulfo de Ancud and take three ferries but I promise you they each cost. I led a group of 10 on this route this past February and loved it. Two of three ferries are cheap (12,000 and 9,000 clp) and run all day. The middle Hornopiren to Leptu ferry only ran twice/day this season (when we went in Feb) at 10 am and 12 am and if I recall correct was around 30,000 clp/vehicle + 5,000/passenger. I highly recommend you have a reservation for this ferry. In my previous post I gave a link with the prices. Here is a little detail on that trip.

Here is a link to the ferries and descriptions that drive around the gulf.
If you review the site you can tell it's confusing.

Description of the drive around the gulf with 3 ferries. This is a cool route to the Futa.
1. From Puerto Montt drive Hwy 7 to La Arena. Take ferry from La Arena to Puelche. Drive to Hornopiren. If I recall correct this is about 12.000 clp/vehicle. Not bad.
2. Take ferry from Hornopiren to Leptu. This is the big one and only runs at 10 and 12 am. Not certain but I think this was around 30,000/vehicle + 5,000/passenger. For prices see link Ferry Hornopiren to Leptu.
3. Drive Leptu about 25 minutes to Fiordo Largo.
4. Take ferry from Fiordo Largo to Caleta Gonzalo. Another ferry around 9,000 pesos.
5. Drive from Caleta Gonzalo to Chaiten and onward to Futa.

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Old 08-28-2015   #13
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 428
This is awesome info. If you were trying to hit pucon and the futaleufu in the same trip, what would be the best timeframe to do this? Mid Jan?
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Old 08-28-2015   #14
carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 165
LOL seems like shitoutta had some serious hand holding to get him paddling on the futa in less than 24 hours with free maps, and ferries on a southern route that is more than just a bit complicated.
Traveling in Chile is not free. But you cant beat the exchange rate now.
If you consider sitting on a ferry for as much as 10 hours "driving" your rental Hilux then I suppose thats some free gas in your truck.
If you rent, and your chilean is good, you can arrange to get your rental out of the country and drive east from P Varas (north from P montt) through arg then directly to Futa town. You have to pay extra, get more stamps and have the real owner, not company, rent you his/her car with stamped written permission to leave country.
As for getting your surf ski/ jungle explorer on the flight with you..... have a plan b when your at the airport winking at the clerk thinking you've out smarted them with your cleverness. Or if you can get it in writing before you show up that would be best.
But why, If you're going straight to futa or pucon it's way easier to travel without a kayak. Then choose the type boat the suits you and whatever you plan on paddling.
If you do get a posse together and have a truck and get to chaiten then don't blow by the michimahuida, it's one of the best runs in the country.
If you're bagging on pucon it's probably because you can't handle your pisco, or waterfalls or women or self.
Listen to those that know. You can get plenty of great advice here on the buzz.
The more time you have, the less planning and logistics you have to do now. If you want to be efficient and are concerned about time and $ then just ask how.
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Old 08-28-2015   #15
carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 165
sorry, correction, to drive direct from P montt to futa you's have to go north to Osorno then east (bag the gol gol at the border) to arg then back south. You'd be better off flying into Osorno and start your drive there.
Ferries are nice enoung from p montt, but like david said book well in advance during peak season, jan or feb.
If you want to do both pucon and futa like paulk just asked. go hang in pucon mid december. boat and meet some people. you should be able to catch a ride from pucon to futa through arg (the easiest way) then hang in futa a couple weeks.
pucon is better in dec, futa better in jan typically. hit the manso south of bariloche on the way to break it up.
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Old 08-28-2015   #16
Durango South, 4CRS
Paddling Since: 07
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 173
I spent 2 or 3? weeks in Futa, and could have easily stayed longer. We ran the entire futa in one long day to give you an idea of time required, but it would be stupid to go down there to only spend a few days. Best river on the planet in my opinion so take your time. Most kayakers stay at cara del indio, or you can stay in town at Las Natalias, which is ran by Nate Mack who was in some of the early demshitz videos.

If you don't mind paying the reciprocity fee then flying into esquel should get you to futa the quickest, but maybe cheaper via puerto montt? The bus system is nice, but traveling with kayak is tough without a car. You can rent a boat/gear in Futa.

Make sure to take some cash, as there are few atms, and most of those don't take visa. Patagonia is pretty cheap so the biggest cost for your trip will be flight/car. Try to learn some spanish before going too, as the people are amazing and it would be a shame to not be able to communicate.

Didn't run the baker, but as suggested by others there will be kayakers heading down from the fu around February.

Pucon is great, but I wouldn't add to this trip unless you have a month+. If so, then hit pucon in Nov/Dec and work your way south.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. - Helen Keller
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Old 08-29-2015   #17
Pucon Kayak Hostel's Avatar
Pucón, Chile
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 41
Pucon Futa Combo Best Time

paulk - This is a common question which is similar to asking, "when is the best time to kayak in Colorado and California?" Here is a blog I wrote this summer, "When is the best time to kayak in Chile?"

Futa tends to be optimum in Jan, Feb, and even March. If you have the life luxury of experiencing a month of Futa in February that is something special. But not many go in March.

Pucon's peak creek season is Oct, Nov and Dec when water is higher. At this time of year the Futa often is too high or ruggedly cold. I know it sounds wimpy but it can be tough living in the Patagonia rain with no place to dry your stuff. So, a Dec/Jan or Jan/Feb Pucon/Futa combo is what many kayakers do. Boating in Pucon in Jan is like Colorado in June. The weather is warm, nights are cool, runs are still good but getting low and everyone starts going to the runs that are still holding water.

There are a few reasons why folks get turned off by Pucon. Some come to Chile and want to see, explore, and kayak all of it. That's impossible in a season. I've been exploring Chile since 1999 and still have rivers I want to do. That's like saying you want to kayak all of the US in one or two months. Pucon is easy and the ease of getting on the river everyday (aka shuttle and a group) keeps folks. Then others come to Chile and try to go out on a mission and get their ass kicked by "over-complicated" logistics like buying a truck and then losing half their trip towing their rig to a mechanic. Or poor planning keeps them from going to some of the greater off the beaten path runs like the Teacups, Golgol, Florine, Baker or Fuy... They wanted to run these rivers that require a truck which requires a group to split the cost which in turn requires a leader whom knows how to make shit happen or the runs. At PKH we see it all. Some guests come and stay for a month and are simply happy getting on the handful of nearby rivers with ease of shuttles.

One of the best last season was Eagle's Nick Bovino. Nick came down hit the local runs, researched the roadtrip runs, organized a crew, rented a truck, got the beta, and "see-ya in two weeks..." He killed it and hit all local runs and made a sick road trip happen and he didn't know a single person prior to the trip. Now, that he knows Chile he's coming back with a crew of 4 or 5 and leading them this season. Is he harshing on Pucon? Instead he's coming into Pucon hitting some December runs, renting rigs, and then they are off to the Golgol and Teacups, and Fuy and wherever they go. All of those rivers are sick but they lack something Pucon and Futa has, community and multiple runs in a central location. First, if you are solo kayaker you can't just showup to the Golgol or Teacups. It would suck to be in the middle of nowhere with no resources or people. So, the group community can go there and kayak for 1 maybe 2 days of boating and check it off. Most spots are like this. But Pucon and Futa offer community and boating options. So kayakers come and some based on the conveniences never organize and leave.

There is a self-realization thing that happens with folks in Chile. After seeing dozens of trips destroyed by buying lemon vehicles I advise most to rent. But if they still want to buy because they think they'll save money then I'll help illustrate the how to process of buying and even give you contacts of reliable folks to help you make it happen. shitoutta is correct when he called it "over complicated."

Spaghettie Monster - shitoutta's 1 month Puerto Montt truck rental for $US1100 is a pretty good deal. That cost split by 4 would be a kickass Futa to Baker road trip. If you can organize a crew and boats and navigate (secure reservations) the ferries then this route is one of the more economical routes you could take.

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Old 08-29-2015   #18
mhelm's Avatar
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 267
Listen to David!

I did a trip to Chile in 2010, and David was a great resource to have. We paddled around Pucon for a little over a week. The Palguin, Maichin, and Fuy were great! Then we headed to the Futa. RX Rivers with Aren and Sarah Rane was a great place to stay on the Rio Azul right above the Terminator section. Use as many connections down there as possible because resources are limited. Enjoy your trip!

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Old 08-29-2015   #19
mhelm's Avatar
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 267

Oh yeah, and my profile photo is from the Rio Llancahue between Pucon and the Rio Fuy near some nice hot springs.
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Old 08-29-2015   #20
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
I am going to take a bit of a different line of advice.

Plenty of good stuff mentioned on this thread.

Some years ago, I went on a guided trip thru some of Chile's awesome rivers. This was before a lot of kayaker oriented services were offered. One of my first of many trips to Central and South America. Based on the posts by David in Pucon, it looks like things have improved a lot. Chris Spelious used to have the luxury set ups for camps on the Bio Bio and the place to be on the Futa. The more feedback you can get from locals - the better.

We arrived in Santiago, and not in any order of locations, went to BioBio, Pucon, Teacups and ended up for a few days on the Fuy. Flew back to Santiago and from there back to Miami. The outfitter had a bus set up in Santiago, provisions, accomaditions along the route and two locals for drivers along with a US born but years of time living and boating in Chile to take care of things. None of us boaters spoke Spanish and our US gent was the most patient person I have met cause every place we ate the ordering procedure was something else. Even with all this local talent, we still ran into some adventures including a shake down by Federales on the way to 7 Teacups and a bus transmission break down on the way to the Fuy - All handled as good as they could have been by the locals and our US guide.

Like I said earlier, things have improved on services since then I bet. My take is no way would I attempt to spend a month down there unless I was a excellent conversationalist in Chilean Spanish, had a bunch of money and finally a bunch of contacts in Chile lined up.

Distances are great down there, roads may be good or bad and even the main highways are not like Interstate's here with rest stops galore and gas every few miles.

Bottom line. I suggest you spend a week down there with a outfitter showing you the ropes maybe on the Futa or maybe in Pucon. Get a good feel for the scene and maybe pick up some kindred souls to spend a month traveling around on your own.

Bottom line boating in Chile is a once in a lifetime experience, one you will remember for many years. Enjoy your trip and give us stay at homes a trip report for sure.

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