Wild waters

Chile’s Río Futaleufú named one of world’s top 15 travel rivers

The major US publication CNN ranks Patagonian waterway as the top adventure sport river in its list of the planet’s premier rivers for travelers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013  
The mighty Río Futaleufú is one of the planet’s top rafting locations. Photo via Earth River Expedit The mighty Río Futaleufú is one of the planet’s top rafting locations. Photo via Earth River Expeditions / Facebook.



From its source in Southern Argentina, the Río Futaleufú channels across the Andes mountains and spills into the wide green wilderness of Chilean Patagonia — a frigid blue vein who’s rushing waters are among the fastest on Earth.

A playground for adventure sport lovers, a paradise for anglers and a pristine haven for lovers of the great outdoors, Río Futaleufú is consistently recognized as one of the top river destinations in the world — most recently by CNN International in its article cataloguing the “World’s 15 best rivers for travelers.

“Framed by thickets of hardwood forest and sheer granite cliffs, this stunning Patagonian waterway is also a popular sport fishing destination, and hiking, biking, rock climbing and horseback riding are all possible from the scenic Chilean hub town which bears the river's name,” the article reads, describing a river where, “adrenalin junkies converge from November to March to tackle its heart-quickening rapids by raft or kayak.”

In a list that includes the slow flowing romance of the Danube, the wild white waters of the Zambezi, and the ancient canyon-carving Colorado, Futaleufú holds its own as the only river to rank 5/5 on the “Adventure” metric.

But don’t take our word for it — Fred Wiedemann, co-founder of Outward Bound and veteran of four dozen river trips ranks the Futaleufú as the most memorable. Wiedemann joined adventure company Earth River — who have been taking guests out on the river’s waters for over a decade — on a five day rafting trip through Patagonia.

“I’ve been on nearly all the challenging, commercially run rivers in the world and I must say that Earth River and the Futaleufú stand out in my memory as the very best of the best,” Wiedemann said in his testimonial. “The scenery could not be grander, nor the water swifter, clearer or more pristine.”

International competitions have been held on the river's class III-IV rapids, though the river also has gentler sections for beginners in both kayaking and rafting.

In Chile's Los Lagos Region, the launch point for most river activities is from Futaleufú, 156 km, approximately 3 hours, from the city of Chaitén. Chaitén can be accessed from Puerto Montt by boat or ferry (four or 10 hours respectively) or by plane (45 minutes). Futaleufú is then accessible by public bus from Chaitén.

For further information on transport and accommodation in Futaleufú, visit the municipality website.

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