I've wanted to write an article of how to travel from Pucon to the Futaleufu for a few years now. It's a challenge most Chile kayakers have to encounter with two routes: ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaiten or drive over the Andes and around Chile's Gulfo de Ancud through Argentina. And either experience always creates those memorable adventures where something goes wrong. The kind of stories that make your trip great. Thanks for the reminder.
Chile like the US has lots of phenomenal river destinations. Hence, the reason people like Kurt Casey, Demshitz, and Bombflow crews are still notching first descents. Once heard a group say about another group, "Their trip must be lame they didn't even goto the Futa."
That's akin to saying a kayak tour of the US would be lame without doing the Grand Canyon.
Class V huckers would look at Chile 180 degrees differently than say a club boater. Huckers might research the Puelo or Cochamo's (the Yosimite of Chile) multiday. While, club boaters might want an all-inclusive trip, or to be led down the Teacups, or a mellow safe trip to the Futa.
Link to an all-inclusive Advanced Intermediate Tour de Pucon Trip.
Know the Regional Whitewater Seasons
This is so so important. Don't come to Chile in November and expect a Futa trip. And don't come in February and expect to get down the Teacups.
Chile has more ecosytems than any country in the world as it crosses more latitudes. The effect is diverse weather climates and varying months of peak whitewater.
Teacups is Best Nov, Dec and early Jan
The Siete Tazas has developed from a class III boaters 7 teacups to having over 80 clean cascades for a range of skills including the best. But it begin getting bony dry sometime in January. Sections include from top to bottom: Veinte dos Saltos (22 Falls), Entres Saltos (Between Falls), Cinco Tazas 5 Teacups), Garganta del Diablo (Throat of the Devil), and the national park name Siete Tazas (7 Teacups).
Futaleufu is typically best Jan, Feb and early March
Futa is Patagonia country and that comes with rugged weather. Futaleufu Outdoor Center owner and Chile kayak pioneer Sergio Vidal is the winter caretaker at Pucon Kayak Hostel. He stays in Pucon for a better climate that still has whitewater due to the harshness of Patagonia extremes like sideways rains, snows, winds... Sergio'll stay in the Pucon area until mid or late December notching runs in the warmer climate. Have some forethought and plan your trip based on timing and regional climates.
Patagonia transportation too is a challenge to consider. Gas is over $US10/gal and a vehicle killer. I own and direct Huge Experiences' high school and will not send the school or PKH vehicles there anymore due to too many truck deaths. The solution we chose is to hire a shuttle service from Cara del Indio. There are lots of outfitters who'd love kayaker business and will offer shuttle services. I bet the forementioned Sergio Vidal could help. If someone needs one then shoot me an email and I'll send you 3 or 4 names of kayak companies and individuals down there. [email protected]
A good rule of thumb for first timer kayak nomads with transportation in Chile is:[LIST]Stick to the northern runs pre-January like Teacup, Ahcibueno, Nuble, Laja...
- Plan your Futa trip for the warmest months and low water when the play is best and the river is at safest levels.
Pucon lies in the middle of these destinations and is super congested with rivers. The region was recently renamed, "The Rivers District." And if your a kayaker with transportation issues your guaranteed water. Thus, a reason kayakers arrive to Pucon.
If you want to do it all then rent or buy a reliable vehicle, plan a couple of months to really enjoy each destination, and research destination peak whitewater seasons.