As I was able to spend my fourth winter in a row in Chile it was my first trip where I was guiding customers through this beautiful country on the west coast of South America.
First destination of our journey was Pucon where we did some warm up paddling on the surrounding rivers. Ellies B&B offered a lovely ambience with the view on the Volcano Villarica to relax after the long trip to get there.
In the first few days the group got a taste of some big volume rapids on the Trancura, they mastered the difficulty of running their first waterfalls on the Palguin and they got in touch with some remoteness of the Chilean wilderness on the Maichin.
After Christmas, which would have been described as a summer garden barbecue party in Europe, we started to travel south. With a stopover at the Rio Fuy where the group improved their waterfalls skills our next main destination was the Rio Futaleufu, which is called one of worlds finest kayak destinations for a good reason.
Driving down south took us a whole day and leaded us through pleasant fjords using three ferries as well as down the Carretera Austral and through the “Parque Pumalin” – a gorgeous nature park in the Chaiten region. Unluckily the typical Patagonian constant rain didn´t spare us but once arrived at the Cara del Indio camp we considered ourselves fortune by claiming the last free Cabana that evening.
After a good sleep we started to have our first real big volume paddling day down the Bridge to El Macal section on the next morning. As we barely find any comparable whitewater back home I observed some hectic paddling till we reached the take out. So we decided that another day of warm up paddling down the same section would be necessary till everyone got familiar with that kind of exploding waves and whirlpools and felt ready to venture through the canyon and down the complete 46 kilometer long whitewater section of the Futaleufu, just in time for closing paddeling on New Year´s Eve. Tired but happy to collect the “golden medal” of the Futa we rewarded ourselves with an original Chilean “Asado” – a whole lamb grilled for several hours by the owner of our Camp.
So the group started off their paddling year 2014 by getting more and more comfortable on the extraordinary whitewater of the Futa day-by-day. Due to the continuous rain even the Azul came a little bit up and became an enjoyable run. So relaxing in the traditional Hot-Tub high up on the cliff over the Futa was the last missing thing of the Futa-experience which got ticked off the list before we had to loac up the truck to start our journey back up north again.
On the way our plan was to paddle the Michimahuida, which offers an entire day on the river filled with numerous rapids and scenic waterfalls coming in from the glacier on the sides in the remote Patagonian wilderness. Unfortunately the river was running a little bit to high for us on that day so we took out after the first few kilometres just where the road leaves the river and spent the rest of the day in the nearby “Termas Amarillo”. While half of the group kept relaxing in the nice and clear naturally hot water of the Termas few others felt more pleased resting in the natural mud pool. In the end of the day the sun finally managed to burn all those clouds of the seven five days away and brought us a beautiful last evening on our wild camp on the beach close to Chaiten.
Back in Pucon we spent our last few days on the more and more drying Rios Fuy, Trancura and Palguin and tried to absorb as much sun as we could before we had to fly back to winter in the cold and dark Europe.
Chile is and stays on of the best places on earth to escape Europeans winter season for all paddlers who enjoy paddling class IV whitewater. One can find everything paddlers heart desires – from steep volcano rock built low volume creeks to excellent big volume whitewater. As one of the safest South American countries Chile fascinates with its clean and clear rivers, tasty food, dry and warm climate and tons of breathtaking landscape.
I will be back next year for sure.