Futaleufu general information


Trip Insurance for your flights and expedition is mandatory on all Futaleufu lodge trips. It is difficult to fill a spot that is left vacant by a cancellation and these small, boutique lodges are reserved and paid for by Earth River many months in advance. If by any chance you have to cancel your trip, only trip insurance will protect your investment. Insurance will cover every aspect of your trip including: your deposit, lost baggage and unforeseeable medical emergencies and evacuation. It will also cover additional transportation costs in case you have to be caught up to the expedition due to delays with your international flight.

ALL GUESTS must e-mail their flight information in and out of Puerto Montt to Earth River’s office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we know your schedule. The e- mail should include; Futaleufu trip date, date leaving US, flight # and arrival time into Puerto Montt as well as the flight # and departure time leaving Puerto Montt at the end of the trip.


YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: International flight from your country to Santiago, Chile. Transfer (in same airport) to flight south to Puerto Montt. Fly to Puerto Montt (1.7 hrs.). Taxi to hotel in Puerto Varas (1/2 hr.)

EARTH RIVER'S RESPONSIBILITY: Van in morning to airport (1/2 hr.). Commuter flight to Chaiten (45 min.). Bus to river (*3 hrs.) 

MEETING PLACE: We will be meeting at the Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel in Puerto Varas which is located at: Imperial 0561, Puerto Varas, Chile. (http:hotelcumbrespatagonicas.com/en Phone: 065-222000.) You should plan to arrive at the hotel anytime on Friday afternoon (except for private charters and the Dec. 26th departure). When you arrive in Puerto Montt, walk outside the airport and hire a taxi (12,500 pesos or $25) to take you to the hotel where a room will be waiting in your name. The group will meet the Earth River guide that evening in the hotel lobby at 6:30 for our welcome dinner. The Earth River land guide in Puerto Montt, Maria, speaks English and will be there to greet you. In case you have any problems (travel related, etc.) she can be reached as follows: Cell phone (calling her from the U.S.) 011-569-93212995, Calling from Santiago, Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas; 09-93212995. Her email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure Maria's contact information is with you in case you have any problems. She accessible by phone at all times.

Important note: It is possible to do this trip in 10 days rather then 11. If you are only able to take a week off from work it is possible to do the trip leaving the U.S. on Friday evening rather than Thursday evening. In order to do this, you will need to schedule an international flight that arrives into Santiago early enough Saturday morning to catch a flight down to Puerto Montt that arrives no later than 10:30 AM. There are a number carriers that offer such flights. If you need help coordinating this please contact our travel agent, Gilda (see below).


All Futaleufu expeditions include: Hotel in Puerto Varas (night one), 7 additional nights in spectacular private lodges in the Futaleufu Valley,  R/T commuter flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, ground transportation from Chaiten to the river and back. All meals from dinner (Puerto Varas) day 2 until breakfast day 9  (wine & beer with dinner). Earth River transports you from the hotel in Puerto Varas to the river at the start of the trip and back to the Puerto Montt Airport at the trip’s conclusion.

Note:  A masseuse separate charge) is available at certain lodges. 


International air to Santiago and inner country air to Puerto Montt, taxi from Puerto Montt Airport to hotel and other travel related expenses such as, but not limited to: insurance, passports, medical costs, or other transportation costs resulting from a deviation from our itinerary are not included. End of trip gratuities to the guides are also not included as is the masseuse. If you are delayed for any reason (missed flight) and unable to reach Puerto Montt in time to make the commuter flight to Chaiten, we can catch you up but you will be responsible for the cost of a new seat on the next charter flight and any extra hotels and meals as well as the ground transportation in Chaiten necessary to catch you up to the trip (an Earth River agent will help you arrange these things). Trip insurance will cover these additional expenses. 


Airfare from the US to Puerto Montt, Chile is not included in the trip price and must be arranged either independently or through our travel agent, Gilda Guiterez. Gilda is Chilean citizen based in Florida. She is familiar with our trips as well as with Chile in gerneral for any extra travel you may want to do before or after the Futaleufu trip. She can be reached at G&G Travel, phone # 1-866-498-0530 or 786-206-0710. Her e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Gilda is an expert, often finds better deals than found on the internet and has save our guests thousands of dollars in waived fees and cancellations. Flights from the U.S. to Santiago range from $1,200 to $1,800 depending upon the time of year, availability and departure city. The portion of the ticket from Santiago to Puerto Montt is generally between $275 and $310. These tickets can be purchased from Gilda, who will not only secure an excellent rate, but will also alert you to any changes. She takes great care of Earth River guests. When booking your flight you will need to arrive in Puerto Montt on Friday except on private charters and the December 26th trip. If you're planning on leaving the U.S. a day late (on Friday evening) and skip the Puerto Varas portion of the trip, then you will need to arrive in Puerto Montt by 10:30 AM on Saturday morning in order to catch the commuter flight to Chaiten. On the return (at the end of the trip) you will be back in Puerto Montt by 4:00 PM from Chaiten so book your flight back to back to Santiago at the latest possible time that ensure you can catch your flight back to the U.S. . You do not need more than two hours between your arrival time in Santiago and your departure flight back to the U.S. departure back to Santiago. International flights to the U.S. from Santiago seldom leave before 9:00 P.M. and national flights are rarely delayed so there will be no problem making any connections in Santiago.

*Important note: If you are planning to arrive a day late (because of time constraints) and are delayed on your international flight and unable to make the national flight that arrives in Puerto Montt by 10:30 AM, you will still be able to do the trip but you may have to overnight in Santiago or possibly even Puerto Montt. The Earth River guide in Puerto Montt, Maria, (cell from within Chile: 09-95444941) will help take care of these logistics as well as catching you up to the trip when you arrive in Puerto Montt Saturday evening or Sunday morning. In order to you will need to purchase a new commuter ticket to Chaiten and hire someone to drive you from Chaiten to the river. You will be responsible for these additional expenses which is why it’s best to purchase trip insurance. Remember, travelers insurance should cover the additional expenses due to a delay in flights.


Your first night will be at the Cumbres Puerto Varas Hotel in beautiful Puerto Varas. The seven nights in Patagonia will be spent at 3 small, but spectacular lodges. . 


The Futaleufu trip takes place during our winter and passengers should make sure that they remain in good physical condition. This trip is an “active” vacation, as you will be paddling rafts, inflatable kayaks, packrafts and standup paddle boards. You will also be canyoning, riding horses, hiking and mountain biking. Obsession Lake is the most spectacular and beautiful natural feature in the Futaleufu Valley. Hiking up there and back in one day is the most arduous activity on the expedition. It is worth getting in shape for. For those guests not wanting to do the Obsession hike we have a wonderful alternative which includes horseback riding up the turqupoise Azul River Valley and then inflatable kayaking the class 2-3 lower Espolon River.


Because half a day is dedicated to raft training, it is not necessary to have previous whitewater experience. We have had many first time rafters paddle the entire Futaleufu (see a number articles on web site which were written by first time rafters), but this is up to the guides and the individual. *Note: Anyone not wishing to do the strenuous hike up to Lago Obsession can do a number of other things including a shorter hike or a longer horseback ride.  *Note: Because Earth River can not screen the paddling ability and physical condition of participants prior to the expedition, the guides will ultimately decide who paddles and where. We ask you to respect their professional opinion not only for your own safety, but also for the safety of others. The results of your flip drill and swim test will help the guides with this determination. Running certain portions of the river are water level dependent and there are high water cut offs for some of the more exposed class 5 rapids.  


You will need a current passport for traveling in Chile. You do not need a special visa for Chile, Argentina, or Peru. If you plan on visiting Brazil, a visa must be secured before leaving the USA. If you are planning a side excursion and renting a car, you should consider acquiring an International Drivers License. The Automobile Club of America (800-222-4357) issues them for a nominal fee. It takes about one month to receive your license by mail.


If you have an additional week or few days we highly recommend combining the Futaleufu with a trip to Torres Del Paine National Park. For more information onsetting this trip up, please call our office. If you have less then a week there are a number of excellent possibilities to visit the Chilean lake District or Easter Island. Our travel agent, Gilda, (see Air transportation section above) is from Chile (based in Miami) and is an expert on travel within Chile. She will be able to secure your additional flights, car rentals and hotels. The Earth River office can also help you with a brief itinerariy for your extension. Gilda also has some excellent possibilities for extensions as well.


The final balance is due 90 days prior to the trip's departure. If you paid you deposit by credit card, your balance will automatically be charged to you ard at the stated intervals.


If you request a single room for the duration of the trip (8 hotel/lodge nights) you will be charged an additional $2,400 U.S.D. . If you are willing to share a room with a guest of the same sex, there will be a subsidized (by Earth River) rate of $1,200. If a single traveler pays this amount before a roomate is available and we later find that person a roomate, Earth River will refund the $1,200 (note: it is also possible to share a room with someone of the opposite sex if both parties agree. Individuals have done this with no problem in the past to avoid paying the single suppliment fee.)


Earth River provides wetsuits. For a list of all additional gear you will need to bring for the expedition please see the gear list.


Generally, $700 per person will be adequate for the taxi, any shopping and river guide tips. If you are planning a side excursion you will want to bring considerably more. Remember, Chile is not inexpensive and most things are similarly priced to the U.S. Car rentals and gasoline are considerably higher while public transportation much lower. You will be able to exchange money at the airport when you arrive in Santiago or at the airport in Puerto Montt. The exchange rate at the airport is similar to what you will find at a bank and much more convenient (banks often have long lines).


Gratuities for the guides and help are not included. If you think the guides and help have done an absolutely outstanding job, 10 percent of the expedition cost per person is considered a generous tip. Usually a member of the group will collect the tip and hand it to the trip leader who will distribute it evenly among the guides and employees.


Each season a few people (approx. 2 %) end up in Chile without their belongings. By the time they receive them from the airline, often the trip is nearly over. Because this is a real possibility we highly recommend the following steps to protect yourself. Pack all necessary river gear (fleece, paddle jacket, river shoes, hat, sun glasses, bathing suit, etc.) into the largest legal carry on bag you can find and don’t check it. Pack everything else in a regular suitcase. This way if you become separated from you checked bag you will have the most important things for the river as well as the clothes on your back for camp.


Because space and weight are limited on the charter plane from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, you will be allowed one bag, which cannot weigh over 28 pounds. The Earth River representative, Maria, will give you a medium size duffle bag for the trip to the river. Any additional things needed for extension trips and the personal bag you flew down with can be left with Maria and safely stored until you return to the airport at the end of the trip. Remember unless you’re spending additional time in Chile before or after the expedition, pack only what’s on the Earth River gear list which will fit into the duffle bag Earth River provides. Once you reach the river, we can collect your passports and other valuables and safely store them until the end of the river portion of the trip. NOTE: Upon your return to Puerto Montt, at the trip’s conclusion, the bags you left will be waiting for you at the airport with the Earth River representative.


The Futaleufu is in Northern Patagonia and although December, January, February, March and April are mild months, the weather can vary from sunny in the low eighties, to rainy in the sixties and even fifties. The nights are generally in the low fifties but can go into the forties and on occasion upper thirties. You will definitely get wet from running the rapids or possibly rain and although the river water is 60 degrees, all participants must have on  a wetsuit. (We will supply you with a sleeveless, farmer John wetsuit.). You must also have high quality paddle gear and a good rain jacket with a hood.  Note: It is not possible to get an accurate current or future picture of the weather for the Futaleufu area via the internet. Often what you will be seeing is the weather for the Puerto Montt area, which is far cooler and wetter. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU BRING ALL THE WARM THINGS INCLUDED IN THE PACKING LIST IN CASE WE HAVE SOME COLD WEATHER WHEN YOU ARE DOWN THERE.


There are no required shots or health precautions that you need to take when traveling in Chile with the exception of a current tetanus booster, which is a good idea for any international travel. Although the water in the cities is generally safe to drink, we recommend that you drink either bottled water or soft drinks during the land portions of the trip. We boil the drinking water on the river. If you should need medical attention, there are modern clinics and hospitals throughout the country.


We have a sat. phone on the trip and can have a helicopter to the river in two to three hours. We also carry a defibulator on the rafts.  The guides are all EMTs or Wilderness first responders.


In case there is an emergency at home while you are away the following phone number should be given to a relative or friend: 845-626-2165 or 845-626-4361. The person should ask for Troy or Eric. In most cases we will be able to get important Information to you within a few hours. Remember, these numbers should only be used in case of an emergency. If you have a problem with a delayed flight while still in the U.S. contact Troy or Eric at the above number. Once you arrive in Chile if you have any problems or flight delays please contact the Earth River land guide, Maria. (Calling from Santiago, Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas; 09-95444941. Her email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Make sure to take her number with you.

“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"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."
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