Participants take an evening flight (On their own) from the U.S. to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Arriving in Buenos Aires this morning, you transfer by taxi (on your own) to the National Airport (allow two hours in between airports for traffic). At the National Airport you board your flight to Bariloche. Arriving in Bariloche in the early afternoon you transfer by taxi (on your own) to the lake front hotel* where a room will be waiting in you name. The afternoon is free to explore the city of Bariloche. In the early evening we meet the Earth River guide in the lobby for the welcome dinner. *NOTE: Lake front hotel to be announced in September.
After breakfast this morning we board the bus for the 8 hour drive to the river. The first hour takes us past of beautiful lake vistas. Dropping down out of the mountains, we reach the Patagonian steppe, a dry landscape made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who fled to this region in the 1800’s. With the Andes off in the distance to our right, we continue for 4.5 hours to the Argentina and Chile borders. Crossing into Chile, the landscape dramatically changes from the arid steppe to the gorgeous lush mountains of the Futaleufu Valley. We arrive at the Mapu Leufu Cliff Camp trailhead in the late afternoon. A beautiful 1/2 hike, along a rushing creek with waterfalls and pool, takes us into the camp's interior which will be our home base for the trip's duration..
MAPU LEUFU CLIFF CAMP (BASE CAMP)
Secluded and spectacular, the Mapul Leufu Cliff Camp is as beautiful a river camp as can be found anywhere. Situated on a dramatic bluff, boasting a 5 mile view of the the turquoise river and Grand Teton like spires rising directly out of it, this expansive property has over two miles of private river front, is far from roads and can only be accessed by hiking trails or the river. The camp is ideally located with access to raft put ins, take-outs and other mulit-sport activities which helps cut down on driving times. The camp's manuel cable car allows guests to easily cross the river where there are additional miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback trails. Hand-hewn wooden cliff dwellings with beds offer breathtaking views of granite towers rising from the turquoise river. Dramatically perched on a 100 foot cliff is an 18-person wooden hot tub. Meals are served outdoors at the cliff-side dining area at tables with stunning views of granite spires rising from the turquoise river in one direction and glacier-capped, Alp-like peaks in the other. The camp also has a tributary stream with waterfalls and deep pools for swimming, a deep, spring-fed pond for kayak lessons, a cliffside ordeurve area with campfire and a wonderful, private fishing eddy. Camp amenities include; flush toilets, hot showers, cook, professional masseuse, thick matress pads, pillows warm sleeping bags with flannel liners and a covered dining area in case of inclement weather. Meals are served with wine and beer. This evening we meet the guides and receive a camp orientation.
Today begins with a hike (1/2 mile) out to the bus and a ten minute drive to our raft put in. After a safety talk, and practice session in the calm water above the first rapid, we run a series of marvelous class 4 rapids including; Mundoca, Wina and Tiburon. Two safety catarafts escort us down the river. In the early afternoon we take out and drive 20 minutes back to the Cliff Camp trailhead. The rest of the afternoon is free to fish, hike to a series of lakes in an old growth forest, mountain bike, swim or relax in the cliffside hot tub.
After breakfast we embark on a beautiful hike downstream that takes us along Terminador, the river's most challenging rapid, which we will run later in the trip. A beautiful trail winds through the trees the entire length of the rapid offering stunning views of the wild water which churns the river into every imaginable shade of azure, white and turquoise while creating dozens of waterfalls as it spills over a myriad of giant, sculpted white granite boulders. Just below the trail, at water level, is the stone couch. This smooth, mableized chunk of granite gives one the feeling of being right out in the river, seats up to six people and has an unimpeded view down the entire mile long rapid. At the bottom of Terminador rapid, we board the rafts. Imediately downstream run the impressive class 4+ Kyburz Pass Rapid and then the 15 foot waves of the Himalayas (The river's most fun rapid). Downstream we run the nine class four rapids in the Bridge to Bridge section but continue past the previous day's take out and run two of the biggest rapids on the river; Mas o Menos and Casa De Piedra. After the last major rapid we pull over at a beach. After an introduction to kayaking from the guides, we will paddle for an hour beneath a breathtaking landscape of glacier-capped peaks. At the take out we board the bus and drive 1/2 hour to the Cliff Camp trailhead.
Today we board the bus and drive an hour to the town of Futaleufu. We stop for an hour to explore the quaint town and then drive a short distance to our inflatable kayaking put in on the Rio Espolon, a beautiful teal colored tributary of the Futaleufu. The Espolon is a bit more challenging then the section of the lower Futaleufu River we did the day before. We take out and drive back to Mapu Leufu Camp for lunch. In the afternoon, cross the on a manual cable car to go canyoneering through the spectacular, 400 foot deep Rio Blanco slot canyon. Wearing wetsuits and river shoes, we hike, climb, and swim through this incredible natural labyrinth of white boulders, clear azure pools and waterfalls. Those people not wishing to partake in the Rio Blanco canyoning, can gor for a mountain bike ride, fish, go swimming or relax in the hot tub.
After breakfast we hike out to the bus and drive 1 hour to our raft put in on the Upper Futaleufu River. Soon we enter the wild, sheer- walled Class 5 Infierno Canyon. A gorgeous, primitive, dirt road follows high above the river for those people who would rather be driven or hike around the canyon. Racing between imposing walls, hundreds of feet high, the pulsing river boasts a number of impressive rapids including; Infierno Purgatorio and Escala de Jacobo. Each rapid in Infierno Canyon is separated by a swift pool which allows leaves time for rescue and recovery if necessary. Below Infierno Canyon, we float a few hours down to Earth River's Cave Camp property where we have lunch on the smooth granite ledges above the river's most dramatic rapid, Zeta. Here the entire river slices through a narrow, z-shaped cleft in the white granite. While we eat, the guides "Ghost boat" (push the empty boats) through Zeta. During this time there will be ample opportunity to cliff jump from ledges (up to 40 feet), into the aerated bue pool below the rapid. Carved into the granite ledge by the river in higher flows, is a heart-shaped, three-foot deep water-filled pothole, which we heat to 105°. With smooth, 45° sloping walls to lean against and fresh water every day, this chemical-free, stone hot tub comfortably fits twelve people. After lunch we embark on a wonderful 2 mile hike downstream. The hike first takes us to Laguito Azul (Blue Lake), a gorgeous spring-fed pond/lake. Set within a bowl of massive granite towers as high as 300 feet and surrounded by lush vegetation, Laguito Azul resembles a giant Japanese garden. Its brilliant blue water is so pure you can drink it and so clear you can see giant German brown trout and salmon of up to 25 pounds swimming 30 feet down. We use a "Huck Finn" raft to to cross Lasguito Azul . The trail continues along the lake for a half mile down to Lost Beach on the Futaleufu River. This private beach is so tucked away that many people float by it without knowing it is there. Our hike continues around the backside of the Tower of the Winds, the granite monolith that rises 300 feet out of Laguito Azul and then down to unrunnable Throne Room Rapid. Here we watch as the guides "Ghost boat" the rafts through the rapid from a cliff high above the river. Below Throne Room we board the rafts and the next hour is spent running a series of long, exciting class 4 rapids, down to our first access out of the river, We tie up the boats, board the bus for a 15 minute drive back to the base camp.
Today we board the bus and drive 15 minutes up to the Azul River trailhead where we meet horses and take a beautiful ride up the Azul River Valley, a beautiful turquoise Futaleufu tributary. After lunch, we board inflatable kayaks and paddle down the class II/III Azul to the confluence with the Futaleufu. The inflatable kayaking on the Azul is a step up from what we have previously kayaked earlier on the trip. Upon reaching the confluence with the Futaleufu, we board the rafts and run a couple of class 4 rapids down to the cliff camp for the night. Upon reaching the confluence with the Futaleufu we board the rafts and run some class 4 rapids down to the Cliff Camp. NOTE: The Rio Azul can oly be run at certain water levels. If the river is too high or too low, we wll switch to a different class II/III section of River like the lower Espolon which is downstream of the section we had previously run)
Today is one the most impressive commercial rafting days in the world. * Within minutes of pushing off we enter class 5+ Terminador Rapid, the most demanding rapid on the river. Immediately downstream of Terminador are the 15 foot waves of the Himalayas. In this stretch the rapids flow together making nearly a mile and a half of non-stop Class 5 action. (Class 4 clients can hike around the most exposed sections on a beautiful trail and run the rest). After the Himalayas there is a series of giant Class 4+ rapids (some nearly a mile long) and two Class 5 rapids: Cojin (the cushion) and Mundaca . After another long stretch of Class 4+water, we have lunch. In the afternoon we run two of the most difficult Class 5 rapids on the river; Mas o Menos and Casa De Piedra. After the last rapid, the canyon boasts some of its most impressive scenery with grand vistas of towering mountains and glaciers. In the early afternoon we take out and drive a few minutes to the Mapu Leufu trailhead and hike 1/2 hour on a beautiful trail into Mapu Leufu Cliff Camp where we spend the night. Our farewell dinner that evening is a traditional Chilean Asado (roasted sheep over a fire) prepared by our neighbor and friend, Sugundo Zapata.
*Option: Class 4 participants have the option of hiking on a trail around short sections of the bigger rapids. Often people who chose to walk around Inferno Canyon earlier in the trip feel more comfortable and run many of the large rapids today. This decision, however, is always left up to the guides.
Early this morning we drive 1 hour to the Chile/Argentina border. After crossing into Argentina, we drive a few more hours to the town of Esquel and then on to Bariloche. Arriving into Bariloche in the late afternoon, we transfer to our flight to Buenos Aires. Arriving in Buenos Aires we transfer by taxi (on our own) from the national to the international Airport where we board our intenational flight back to the United States.
NOTE: It is imperitive that you leave at least 2 hours to travel between the national and international airports in Buenos Aires which means you will need to leave a minimum of four hours from the time you land in Buenos Aires to the time you fly out on your international connection.
This morning we arrive in the United States.