Kayaking in Chile, part 2

While most kayakers head straight to the Futaleufu from Puerto Montt, we decided to check out the rivers along the way and we were not disappointed!

Our first river - the Puelo was unbelievable. It took us a ferry crossing to get to the remote valley, with no tarmac road it made life a lot easier and smoother with an off-road vehicle, in-fact we would not have been able to get to the take-out of the lower gorge without our 4x4. It took us a while to find the lower gorge but once we were in, it really disappoint. Fantastic whitewater, loads of boils and in a gorge that gives you the feeling of being absolutely in the middle of nowhere!

Another ferry ride got us back onto the main Ruta 5 Patagonia road and our next goal was the Rio Blanco. We spent the night in Horno Piren, a village at the end of the road with a very end of the world feel!  The following morning we managed to not only find a land owner who gave us some invaluable information but he even gave us his keys to the gates so that we could drive our 4x4 up.

The weather was stunning and so was the river. The azur colour of the whitewater combined with the hanging glaciers and mountain scenery really made the Blanco something very special. By the time we had finished the river, we just had enough time to get to the harbour and board the afternoon ferry.

After two ferry journeys, crossing Douglas Tompkins (the founder of North Face) land and finally after an off road drive through the absolute devastation caused by the eruption from Volcano Chaiten we finally arrived at what is now an emerging village. Light was fading and so we decided to stay the night in Chaiten.

As we headed out the next day we were blessed with stunning scenery. Our plan was to get to the Futaleufu to kayak in the afternoon but it seemed as though around every turn in the road was another classic Patagonia view waiting to captured! The weather can be extremely un-predictable and absolutely awful this far south but today we were happy to slow down and just take in the beautiful surroundings!

By late afternoon we arrived at the Futaleufu and managed to get a quick blast down from Cara del Indio. Will had been looking forward to the Futaleufu, it was one of his most anticipated highlights of the trip.  It takes a while to get used to the Futaleufu but once you do then your confidence and paddling really start to get better and better. The next days were spent kayaking this sweet river and making the most of the sun when it appeared every day!  We also managed to run the Rio Azul, a tributary of the Futaleufu too.

To top everything off a Condor was flying just above our heads, trying to make it back up to the cliffs and Will’s Patagonia adventure had just been completed. Since he got to Pucon he asked a lot about Condors and how he really would like to see one. His Patagonia adventure pretty much complete we packed up and headed to Argentina.

The border crossing from Chile into Argentina actually went particularly smooth considering. We now made our way up the famous Argentina Ruta 40 past El Bolson, Bariloche and with a quick stop in San Martin de los Andes to eat a steak and to have a quick chat with el Caminero a friend who we known for many years when he worked in Austria as a ski instructor. We decided to get as close to the border and camp for the rest of the night.  

It was a cold night but the early morning light was amazing and the view of the Volcano Lanin was also special. We were now back in Pucon and it was time for the waterfalls and cascades. Will was going to get shown what Pucon has to offer with Kayak School Arlberg’s local guide, instructor and legend - David Joos.

Diederik Gerbranda