I travelled to Futaleufu river in february 2019, here are some insights on the place, the river, the people… I landed in Esquel Argentina and then stayed for one and a half month in Futaleufu with my friends Marlene Devillez and Nicolas Caussanel at Mariann Saether’s place. We would paddle everyday, cook, play card games and enjoy freedom from smartphone as network and internet is only in Futaleufu downtown. It has been an experience to paddle the same river every day for such a long period. It didnt become boring, I would love to go back to Rio Futaleufu again, as well as to explore other rivers of Chile. The sinergy of the place and the people made this trip a valuable experience.
WHAT IS MAGIC ABOUT FUTALEUFU :
1. The river
Rio Futaleufu is beautiful and exciting, but not insanely crazy so that it is also suited for regular training. The water is big and incredibly blue, it flows through the scenic Inferno canyon in its upper part and opens up further down in the Terminator and Puente Puente sections into a large green valley with high summits surroundings. Rio Futaleufu has large watershed and carry enough water consistently – I was told you can virtually paddle it 365 days a year, though some periods of floods could be too scary unless you are a superhero and most people would find it cold in winter time. The riverflow is controlled by a dam in Argentina. Here is a 5min video of the Futaleufu river :
2. The race
Futaleufu XL is totally awesome. It is organised around the last week end of february – first week end of march. The event for a cost of 25000 chilean pesos (about 30 euros) last 3 days with 4 races : sprint, slalom, boater cross and long race. Shuttle and generous lunch is included. There is also a day with competitions for less experienced kayakers and kids.
3. Life in Futaleufu
The people are warm. Day I arrived in Futaleufu we couldnt find each others with my friends and I was instead spontaneously welcomed by the local rafters to share their barbecue and sleep at their place, next morning I tried traditionnal Mate drink for the first time.
The food is good. Empanadas sold by the grandma and sweet bakeries like rasperry sandcake or pie with dolce de leche are delicious. The shops in Futaleufu have decent food supplies to allow you to cook the food you desire.
The climate is not stressful. It is pleasant to live outside without suffering from warm or cold. Apparently this was exceptionnaly good this year and it is normally raining more often (we got in total 3 days of rain in 1 month and a half).
WHAT IS NOT IDEAL…
The good thing is that there is a road ! You can rent a car (which will be a big part of your budget) or ask the rafter company for the shuttle, it is too long to walk. The road is without asphalte and it feels like except you everyone is driving dangerously fast. Road is very dusty too, some hikers or bikers seem to use it as a leisure activity but I am not sure how their lungs appreciate the idea.