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Upper Futaleufu Rapids

The upper Futaleufu is one of the most awe inspiring sections of whitewater in the world. Within this section are three of the major class V rapids of the river: The Infierno Canyon, Zeta and the Throne Room.

Because of the difficulty of this stretch of whitewater Expediciones Chile runs it only after your rafting team has run the easier sections and has built their skills and confidence needed to run this section. Running the upper Futaleufu is optional for all of our guests and is water level dependent. At certain times of the year, or during abnormally wet years, the upper gorge can become too powerful to allow rafts to safely pass through.

Rapid by Rapid:

Mini-Canyon (IV)
The mini canyon is our introduction to the upper Futaleufu. Here we get a tasteof what is to come within the powerful class V rapids of the Infierno Canyon. The mini canyon is as narrow and turbulent as the Infierno Canyon but it is short and has a huge pool beneath, making it a great practice run. The safety sets up below in the pool. The route is down the middle and your team needs to paddle aggressively to the left, away from the wall that the current runs into. A few minutes later we arrive at the exit rapid. Here the route is down the right where we emerge from a slot cut through a black rock into a calm pool. A few minute float and we come to the confluence where the turquoise Rio Epsolon enters from river right. We float another mile as the two different colors of these rivers mix. With each paddle stroke the excitement builds, as we get closer to the massive black rock walls that are the dramatic entry to the Gates of the Infierno. Just to the right lies a white sand beach that we call last chance beach. This is our final opportunity to stretch or exit the river before entering one of the most dramatic whitewater stretches in the world.

Infierno Canyon (V)
Running Infierno Canyon is a totally committing experience. Once we enter the gates of the Infierno we must run in its entirety, although there is an emergency exit trail there are no portage trails to walk around the rapids. Because of that we give this whole section of water a class V rating even though some of the rapids in the canyon are rated below that.

1. Gates of Infierno (V)
Infierno Canyon starts off with a bang. As we scout this rapid we’ll notice the constricted nature of the river and the huge drop that causes the water to accelerate. On the left a towering wall causes a massive series of exploding reactionary waves. We’ll be tempted to go right, but our pre-run scout will have revealed a dramatic ledge hole on the right side of the river. You and your guides will thread the needle piloting your raft close enough to the wall to avoid the ledge hole, but not so close as to be flipped by the reactionary waves coming off the wall. The perfect line will put you on a dramatic wave train between the two hazards. But first the suspense builds as our safety cats and kayaks run the rapids and set up below for safety. Each raft will run when the signal is given getting the full attention of our triangle safety system. Immediately after this rapid there is a short calm between storms where our safety system is ready to help with regrouping before flowing into the spectacular Wall-Shot rapid.

2. Wall Shot (V)
Scouting is not an option but your guides know this rapid by heart. Floating towards it they will point out the pass and start paddling to the right between the peaks of the explosion waves below. The safety cat and kayaks sprint ahead again to set up our unique safety system. You will enjoy the paddle through this whitewater chaos.

3. Dance of Angels (IV-)
After coming out of the spectacular Wall Shot we regroup and review our team work. We look downstream where we will encounter a steep fun ramp leading to a train of huge standing waves, a welcome break from the adrenaline charged Wall Shot. We ride down the center of the river through this fun- filled towering wave train.

4. Dynamite (New!!)(V)
Dynamite is the newest rapid on the Futaleufu River. It was formed in December of 2006 by overzealous road crews blasting along the rim of the Infierno Canyon. The debris that entered the river from the collapsed the river-left canyon wall causing a significant constriction at the very bottom of Dance of Angels. The result is that central wavetrain associated with Dance of Angels now runs directly into Dynamite without a break.
Looking at the rapid from above one can’t help but be reminded of a giant pinball machine. The biggest, “marquee wave” in the rapid is Flipper Diagonal, which not only will flip anything that enters it, but whose position, at the bottom of the drop, also resembles the flipper of a pinball machine.

5. The Perfect Storm (Tormenta Perfecta)(V)

We regroup above the final exit rapid of the Infierno canyon and discuss our strategy as the safety craft sprint ahead to set up our triangle safety. This rapid again is difficult to scout and the guides will explain the strategy. The entry towards the horizon line of this drop is very fast with smooth waves so you will not see the ramp on the left until you are almost on top of it. As soon as your team hits the explosion wave at the bottom of the ramp we angle to the right to get around a house size rock below, then just as quickly we angle back to the center of the river to avoid a problematic eddy that our safety kayaker is waiting in, just in case we have a swimmer. Elation is felt by all as we exit into the flatwater below and share in our experience as the towering black wall subside into the open valley below.

Las Escalas Valley (II)

This open roadless valley has a sprinkling of farms connected by a trail leading down the Futaleufu valley. We can enjoy the beauty of the water and the wide open valley as we have a chance to unbuckle our helmets, relax and stop for lunch on a white beach with a view of the surrounding peaks that mark the border with Argentina.

False Zeta (IV)
After exiting Las Escalas Valley we will notice the river begin to constrict and pick up speed. We will see a severe constriction in the river and a black rock wall. This leads into the False Zeta an extremely turbulent rapid, but without much drop. The turbulent route is on the left, and the sneak shoot is on the right. We are back into flat water before we know it. Be sure to watch the safety kayaker deal with the severe whirlpools; sometime they will swallow the kayaker up for a few seconds.

Zeta (V+)
After cleaning False Zeta all eyes will be on the look out for a constriction in the river and a significant horizon line that leads to the spectacular twisting Zeta rapid that leads into an undercut wall. This will be our first mandatory portage of the day. The guides will ghost boat or line the rafts through the narrow constriction as you watch from the cliffs above and watch one of the guides rappel down to row the rafts out of the room of doom eddy. Your guide will take you to the overlook and explain the kayak route through this world class rapid. But do not be surprised if your safety kayaker walks it. This rapid is run by expert kayakers, and only at certain levels. It is considered class VI for rafts because of the extreme danger posed by the undercut and the room of doom eddy. Below the rapid you will notice the champagne like bubbles surfacing hundreds of yards below the rapid that has churned white by the violence of the drop.

Throne Room (V+)
After a 20 minute float you will notice a roar that crescendos, sounding like a 747 taking off. The horizon line will look as if there is a waterfall below, and a huge black rock cliff on river left provides a tower to view the “Throne” the granddaddy of whitewater power storms. Here the river drops the greatest in the shortest distance on its entire trip to the ocean. Because of the danger to swimmers from this massive cataract we portage this rapid on the left where we can view from a high cliff the guides ghost boating rafts down the Throne Room. If one of the safety kayakers decides to run this rapid you will have the best seat in the house. This rapid is an elite kayaking run for those rugged kayakers who have a bomb proof Eskimo roll. Swimming in the Throne Room is simply not an option. After our walk around the rapid the rafts join us on a gravel beach in one of the most spectacular pools on the river. Often we see huge fish jumping in this seldom fished spot.

Wild Mile (III-IV)
Entering the section we call the Wild Mile will be one of the high points of your trip. During this day you will have successfully negotiated the Infierno gorge, viewed two world class class rapids, and now you are starting a continuous stretch of interconnected rapids rushing you past scenery that is nothing short of awesome. The unusually dramatic mountains are accented by huge and strange Coyhue trees on the banks. We run an S turn between Waves that look like giant beach breakers. We regroup in a small eddy before the last rapid of the Wild mile. Again our safety boats go down before us. We negotiate this energetic and challenging stretch by entering on the right and sliding towards the center. After huge standing waves we come upon the last constriction gorge of the day. This time, however it is flat and opens into one of the most spectacular views anywhere. A light blue Azul river flows in on the right, a small creek on the left. The sun lit spires of the Tres Monjas peak tower overhead. Beneath this incredible confluence of beautiful features waits the ultimate river camp and white sand beach of ClubFuta at Campo Tres Monjas. Wine, cheese, beer and guacamole await. The sauna and masseuse are ready. There is nothing better than paddling up to the sand beach in the wilds and to know all the luxuries of ClubFuta, and your personal belongings are awaiting you

Continue the Futaleufu river rapids tour: Middle Futaleufu >>

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