Frequently asked questions base camp

How long has Earth River been in business and what is your safety record?

Earth River was founded in 1989. We have been running the Futaleufu for 22 years and have never had an incident of any kind.

What is the difference between the “multi-camp” and "base camp" trips?

Although both trips run the entire river, the trips and itineraries are vastly different (see day by day itineraries). "Base Camp" trips begin in Bariloche, Argentina. Participants do multi-sport "day trips", returning to the same outfitted base camp each evening with paticipants spending between 30 to 75 minutes each day driving to and from the day's activities. They pack and unpack only once compared to four times for the multi-camp expedition. Trips may have up to 24 participants and single travelers may have to share accommodations.

“Multi-camp” expeditions begins in Puerto Varas, Chile and do a continuous, top to bottom wilderness journey down the river utilizing four company owned, outfitted camps along the way. Multi-camp trips are limited to 16 participants and individual travelers get private accommodations on six of the seven river nights. Multi-camp trips include a commuter flight which signifigantly shortens the drive to and from the river.

Why is there a price difference between the multi-camp and base camp trips if they both raft the same river?

There are signifigant cost differences in terms of investment, infrastructure, maintenance and personnel running four outfitted camps rather then a single base camp. The multi-camp wilderness expedition is better suited for smaller groups and is therefore limited to just 16 guests (Base camp has up to 24). The multi-camp expedition includes a R/T flight into Patagonia from Puerto Montt to Chaiten.

Can I join the trip through Chile?

Yes. You may join the trip through Chile by flying into Santiago and then down to Puerto Montt. Upon arriving in Puerto Montt, you would need to take the commuter flight to Chaiten. Joining the trip through Chile makes the most economic sense if there are two or more people in your party. This is due to the expense of hiring R/T ground transportation from Chaiten to the river ($600 for a van). You will also need to buy a R/T commuter flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten ($250). All flights, vehicles and logistics can be arranged by the Earth River office.

When is the best time to go in terms of weather and water levels?

The Futaleufu Valley is in a temperate, micro-climate and during the summer does not receive the intense wind and rain often associated with Patagonia. The weather does not fluctuate that much during the four months we run our trip, with days between 60 and 85 degrees and nights between 40 and 60. It rains between 2 and 3 inches per month (roughly the same as the north eastern U.S. in the summer). The river is fed by glaciers which keep it running throughout the season. Rain, which can happen any time, can raise the water level making it necessary to walk around some of the larger rapids. The water temperature is a constant 60 degrees all season long.

Can the trips be shortened by a day, without missing any of the river portion, so I only have to take off one week from work?

Yes. It is not possible to arrive in Bariloche in time to meet the bus when it leaves for the river on Saturday morning, so that arriving a day later would necessitate taking a taxi from the Bariloche Airport to the Chilean border where we will pick you up and transfer you to the river.

What is the typical group size?

The trip may have up to 24 participants. Private camps are exclusive to one Earth River group at a time.

What are the river accommodations like?

You will be sleeping in hand-hewn riverside cliff dwellings with spectacular river views. Cliff dwellings have beds, warm sleeping bags, thick sleeping pads and pillows. A flannel sleeping sack and pillow case are also included.

How do you accommodate guests of varying experience levels and abilities?

Guests from 6 to 80 years old and of all abilities and experience levels have enjoyed our Futaleufu trip. Whether you are a rafter, horseback rider, photographer, hiker or fisherman, you will be able to customize your trip using any combination of these interests without impacting other members of the expedition. All multi-sport activities, including the rafting, are optional. Participants also have the option of paddling in rafts or riding on extremely stable safety-catarafts (mandatory for children under 13). A beautiful hiking trail follows the river making any or all of the rapids optional. One can choose to either raft, hike, ride a horse, fish or any combination of these activities to journey down the river. The trip can be customized by an individual without impacting anyone else's trip.

What kind of physical condition do I need to be in?

Futaleufu trips are designed to accommodate people or all levels of fitness. A modest workout, three times a week, will enhance your experience. Because there are so many options, people of all different fitness levels can push themselves as hard as they wish without impacting anyone else’s experience.

What do you do with my excess bags and valuables when I’m on the river trip?

We will supply you with a duffle bag in Bariloche. Your extra bags will be stored with the Earth River guide and meet you at the airport at the end of the trip. When you arrive at the first night’s camp, valuables (passports, money etc.) can be given to the trip leader who will safely store them until the end of the river portion of the trip.

What are the main differences between joining the trip through Chile vs. Argentina?
  1. 1 ~ The International and National airports in Buenos Aires, Argentina are two hours apart. The Santiago, Chile facility houses both airports.
  2. Santiago is a safer city but Buenos Aires is more interesting in terms of history, art, architecture, shopping and nightlife.
  3. The internal flight within Argentina costs roughly twice as much as the flight in Chile.
  4. Bariloche is a small Argentina city (pop. 110,000) and Puerto Varas is a quaint Chilean town (pop. 16,000). Both sit on beautiful lakes with Bariloche's being more heavily developed.
  5. Coming in through Chile requires a 1/2 hour charter flight.
  6. Coming in through Argntina requires two additional border crossings.
  7. The drive through Chile is much shorter than through Argentina and the scenery through Chile is more dramatic.
What do you do with my excess bags and valuables when I’m on the river trip?

We will supply you with a duffle bag in Bariloche. Your extra bags will be stored with the Earth River guide and meet you at the airport at the end of the trip. When you arrive at the first night’s camp, valuables (passports, money etc.) can be given to the trip leader who will safely store them until the end of the river portion of the trip.

Are electricity and internet available on the trip ?

Electricity for charging batteries and internet are available on the base camp trip.

In case of a medical emergencies, what are the evacuation procedures?

Evacuation by four wheel drive vehicle is possible in many places in the canyon. An injured or sick person could then be driven to a modern hospital in Esquel, Argentina two hours away. In the more remote locations like the Tree House Camp and Cave Camp it may be necessary to call in a helicopter (one hour away). The guides are Wilderness First Responders.

Are children welcome?

Families with children usually join us over the December holiday departures. This is the Harry Potter of adventure trips where both the parents and children equally enjoy it. On the other hand, all the dramatic natural and man made features that make this such an amazing experience; tree houses 35 feet up in the air, cliffs, granite climbing towers, rapids and deep lakes and ponds are all potential hazards to children who do not listen. We have taken numerous families on this trip with children as young as six. If you call or e-mail our office we can send you out a high definition video on a flash drive depicting this incredible family adventure.

Is there a single supplement for solo travelers?

There is no additional fee for solo travelers so long as they’re willing to share a hotel room the first night. If you request a single hotel room, you will be charged an additional $300 for the night at the Llao Llao. On the river, solo travelers may have private accommodations depending upon the group size. They will share a room at the Llao Llao Resort with someone of the same sex unless a single supplement is specifically requested and paid for in advance.

Do you have special group rates?

Depending upon the size of the group, private charters may be eligible for a group discount. Please call our office for information on group size to qualify.

How many participants do I need for a private charter departure and are customized trips available?

Private groups must have at least 6 participants. Groups smaller than 6 can reserve a private departure but will need to pay for six places. Owning the four private camps along the river allows Earth River to customize private trips in whatever way your group chooses. We have a fifth camp, accessible by horseback, with hand-hewn log cabins which is also available to private groups. We have had family reunions, weddings and corporate retreats. Private departures can be customized by itineraries and activities as well as by food and wine.

“Eric Hertz and Robert Currie have devoted their lives and their company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
“The absolute mastery of Robert Currie guiding in the back of the raft made every element of the Futaleufu river seem heightened, perfected, colorized, almost virtual."
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."