- Class: III-V+
- Distance: 32k (20 miles)
- Average Gradient: 15m / km (75 ft / mile)
- Maximum Gradient: Waterfalls / Cascadas
- Temperature: 10 C (50 F)
- Water Quality: Clear, Turquiose
- Character: Mixed: Drop-Pool, Continuous sections, Waterfalls
- Nearby Rivers: Enco River, Neltume River, San Pedro River
The Rio Fuy is located in the Chilean Lakes District between Lago Pirehueico and Lago Panguipulli. It sits along the northern foothills of the double peaked stratovolcano Mocho-Choshuenco. The river starts in the town of Puerto Fuy goes through the town of Neltume and the through the town of Choshuenco. The Rio Fuy has one major tributary, the warm Rio Neltume that flows into the Fuy at the midway point. The river has just about everything a whitewater paddler would want, from great play features to adrenaline packed waterfall runs that push the limits and skills of the best creek-boaters. The Fuy can be enjoyed by class III to V boaters and offers something for everyone. The nearby Neltume and Enco offer great introductory and beginner runs.
In the saltos (waterfall) sections, the Rio Fuy is a very hazardous river. Pinning and broaching on this river are very real possibilities and even experienced paddlers have been known to come out of their boats after running a bad line on one of these drops. For swimmers, the rapids are continuous and lacerations and bruises are a possibility on the sharp rocks. There have even been reports of broken femurs and medical evacuations after bad broaches. Scouting is IMPERATIVE on the Rio Fuy, especially on the big drops of the upper and waterfall sections. Don't take anything for granted on this river.
River Flows / Gauge Information / Season
There are three major water sources of the Rio Fuy that impact the flow: 1] Lago Pirehueico, 2] Rio Neltume, and 3] numerous underground springs that flow into the river. Therefore, there is a noticable difference between the upper and lower sections of the river. Typically the upper sections will flow around 28 cms (1000 cfs) with the lower sections having double that flow 56 cms (2000 cfs) During the Spring and early Summer, when the snowpack is still melting and the rains are more frequent, the flows can increase to 140cms to 200 cms (5000 to 7000 cfs) that will give the river a real big-water feel and increase the difficulty level dramatically.
Sections of the Rio Fuy
The Upper Fuy: (5k) The Upper Fuy (Lago Pirehueico to Las Leonas Falls). This action-packed Class IV run begins on the tranquil waters of Lago Pirihueico. In a lush tropical setting with dense trees and overhanging vines, the river falls away from the lake with drop-pool rapids continuous enough to keep you on your toes. There is a small play hole about halfway down the run and several surf waves just upstream of Las Leonas Falls which marks the end of the Upper Fuy. There you may opt to take out and leaving the waterfalls and Class IV stretch of the second section for another time ... or continue on downstream.
The Falls of the Upper Fuy: (3k) The Falls of the Upper Fuy, with five impressive drops, is a steep creeker’s Class IV paradise stretching from Las Leonas Falls to where the river meets the road just upstream of the village of Neltume. The kayak run begins in a small pool just above Las Leonas Falls - a 28-footer (9 meters) - that can be run or portaged. Immediately below the plunge there is another 12-foot (3 meter) drop followed by a mile of assorted falls and steep slides. This is an adrenaline-charged section of whitewater.
Section X (un-runnable, class VI): (7k) Beneath the Falls Section, past the town of Neltume, there are a couple of miles of flatwater before the rapids pick up into an unrunnable section that leads into the overwhelming spectacular Huilo Huilo Falls, a 35-meter (115 foot)drop of into a clean deep pool. This unrunnable drop is in a stunning fern and forested setting with good access to views with a great pool for swimming below. For the next two miles there are numerous unrunnable falls over 10 meters (33 feet) in height. Afterward the river mellows out.
The Middle Fuy: (5k) (Above Endessa gauge to the First Bridge) The put-in for the Middle Fuy, below the un-runnable class VI section, is at a point along the road above the Endessa gauge on river-right above a series of mid-river islands. The put-in is within sight of the most difficult drop of this section, a 10-foot ledge drop right into another rapid. This class IV section, starts off with a bang. The remainder of the run goes through a boulder-strewn river bed with countless eddies to catch and holes to surf. The run gets progresively easier as you head downstream.
Lower Fuy: (6k) (First Bridge to the New Bridge) The Lower Fuy is a class III+ section at optimum levels and is a playboater's paradise. It begins at an awesome play spot, then runs downstream through a boulder garden with countless eddies and surfable waves.
Bottom Fuy: (6k) (New Bridge to the Lago Panguipulli) This less intense, class II/III section, takes us on the last leg of the Rio Fuy’s journey and into Lago Panguipulli. The river widens as the gradient levels off offering amazing views of the surrounding volcanoes. This is the perfect warm-up run for the Class III/IV paddlers. There are plenty of places to practice surfing, ferries, eddy catching and combat rolls.
Upper Fuy Section
1. Horizon line. Scout river-right. The first big rapid comes after a few nice warm-up rapids. It’s an ~8-foot high river-wide ledge into a nice pool. The run is on the right, paddle out, hit the corner of a small curling wave hole (your only orientation that you may see) with left angle, aiming for the hump, this lines you up for a ski-jump into nice foam below.
2. V-Cut. Scout river-left. The second big rapid is immediately after the first. This short rapid is a steep tongue/ramp into a nasty hole at the bottom. Catch the eddy on river-left by a big flat tree trunk on the left bank, ferry out, and cut and drive across the tongue into the eddy in the center of the river. Focus on the eddy that you are aiming for. It’s a simple move, but an intimidating hole.
3. Double Ledge. Eddy scout right. The next big rapid is a double ledge. There are many options here, for example: heading down the river-left side, going right to left. There are two ledges, and the lower one has a stronger hole. This rapid immediately goes left of an island into a “junky” series of waves, holes, and rocks. Running left of the island on the right side of the channel, threading between pour-overs, is an option that typically works. The upper ledge portion could also be run on the right (single ledge) or center (narrow curving chute in the rock). The lower part can also be run on the right IF when coming off the second drop, one pivots quickly and drives to the right of the island.
4. Right Slot. Scout river-right. The next rapid is immediately downstream of the previous rapid. This is a nasty looking river-wide hole. It’s a bad hole most of the way across. On the river right side it drops into a bunch of rocks – some of it flushes through, but the rocks are nasty. The ledge is about 6 feet (2 m)high. On the far right, in the bedrock, at higher flows, there is a sneak chute, which puts you right into a nice pool.
5. V-Pool. Scout from an eddy behind a rock just above the drop, one at a time. This last big rapid is immediately downstream of Right Slot and is upstream of Salto Las Leonas. It is a big powerful drop on the right side of an island. The entrance is on the river-right side of the top ledge hole, quickly turning back to the left to join with the water funneling over the same ledge. Here, half way down the rapid, on the river-right side there is a hole that needs to be agressively punched to prevent back-endering. Punching the hole allows a more direct line after getting around the top ledge. Or you can get fancy and try to slalom left of this hole and staighten up quickly for a clean line down the middle. This is a big, steep rapid and can pack a punch. The pool below has tricky eddies.
The Falls of the Upper Fuy
Los Leones Falls: - (10 ms, 33 feet) Scout on river right. Pull out at the gravel beach above and walk down to look at the falls. Look for the main tounge. Run just right of it. Paddlers running the main tongue can go deep and risk blowing a spray skirt. Run by just floating to the lip and steering. Speed could make one boof which is not advisable at these heights. The goal is to go in vertical so lean forward and put your arms and paddle to the side as if setting up to roll. Do not extend the arms over the shoulders as instinct calls. Hitting the bottom is unlikely running this route.
Photo Op.: Scout this drop before you run Los Leones Falls. The second drop has three possible lines.
1] If the water is high enough you can run over the "dome rock" on river-right. Just hit it flying and boof into the water beyond the base of the rock. Hit it straight - on.
2] The second option is to go sideways, facing left, and boof off the tongue just to the left of the "dome rock". This a really sketchy move. This is a "rock shelf" that causes a current, and unless the paddler is really aware it can push the bow straight (pointing nose down) to piton the river bottom. People have been momentarily stopped and pinned doing this. If the boof works it is nice, but this line is risky.
3] The third line is left of the rocks in the middle. Get out on the middle rocks to scout and find the winding channel leading to the lip. Unintentionally ricocheting off the "guard rock" can lead to a Plan B vertical takeoff and landing hitting the bottom, instead of the desired flat boof landing... something which could lead to tweaked ankles.
The Ramp: Gather on the right to boat-scout. At higher water, the chute in the middle works well but at lower levels the de-watered rock becomes an issue for upside down paddlers. The low water run is a two step process on the left. The run is just to left of exposed rocks in the middle that you can paddle up to and get out of the boat to scout. There is enough room for only two paddlers to scout. The other paddlers can watch the run from a staging eddy on the right. If they do not feel good about what they just saw (the previous paddler's boof) they too can come over and scout before their run. Boofing the drop facing river-right sets one up to run the next part with a good start. Placing a safety boater at the top and another in an eddy on the left, after the first drop, to watch the first boof. Afterward, eddy-out on the left and assemble the entire group before the next drop.
Fourth Falls: Scout from the river-left eddy. This is a 8 ft(3 m) drop. Do it as a broad sweeping peel-out from the river-left eddy launching from the right side of the ledge with slight right angle. Position one Guide at the top and one at the bottom with paddle signal coordinating the runs. Be cautious that each paddler gets out of the way before the next one comes flying off. After this there is 100 meters of good technical water to get to the scouting spot on the right above the fifth Falls.
Fifth Falls: Scouting from the right look for a small hydraulic right of center. The run is just thru the left corner of the hole then paddling slight left to keep on track and prevent the kayak from sliding right across a rock flake that tilts downstream and to the right. Straighten out just as one launches for a 45 degree boof. Not flat and not a pencil in you want to be a little away from the hole below. Tighten the stomach to protect yourself and keep the boat under you. We haven’t had anyone hit here in long time, even sliding to far right and running backwards. I have hit bottom here once years ago when I penciled in a big old boat.
Power Plant Falls. Scout right.The most significant rapid on this section is just downstream of the Endesa Power Plant. This rapid consists of 2 bedrock islands that create 3 routes. The majority of the water goes down the left and drops off a big 10-foot ledge, sloping in places. The hole looks nasty, and there is a rumor of wood in there that might not be seen at higher levels. There is a narrow slot in the middle between the bedrock islands – running this is not advised. Also, a portion of the river goes right, then over a massive jumble of nasty rocks. The best run is on the left – run on the right side of the ledge, right next to the bedrock island. This can be accessed via two very squirrelly eddies behind rocks above it.
Put-Ins and Take-Outs
- Put in: Lago Pirehueico at Puerto Fuy.
- Take out: Above Salto la Leones on a gravel beach on river-right.
Falls of the Upper Fuy:
- Put in: Above Salto la Leones on a gravel beach on river-right.
- Take out: On the right, where the road runs along the river, above the town of Neltume.
- Put-In: Just above the Endessa gauge, by the fish farm, just below a class V rapid.
- Take-out: First Bridge on river right.
- Put in: On the right at the bridge.
- Take out: On the left at the second bridge.
- Put in: On the right at the bridge.
- Take out: On Lago Panguipulli.
To paddle the Rio Fuy you will need to get to the town of Choshuenco on Lago Panguipulli. Choshuenco lies between the larger cities of Los Lagos to the southwest and Villarica to the northwest in Chile. San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina is the closest city coming from the east. Map: Los Lagos
Places to Stay / Campgrounds
For places to stay check out the town of Panguipulli on the opposite side of the lake than Choshuenco. Their tourism office website will help you with lodging or camping: www.panguipulli.cl
Maps / Outside Links
Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. This guidebook is based on Expediciones Chile's twenty years of experience running the Futaleufu River. However, the diagrams and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get here. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.Read More: Disclaimer